High-quality chicken stock or broth, whether purchased or homemade, is a low carb pantry essential. I should note that, while there are slight differences between stock and broth, they are the same for all practical purposes. So, I use the terms interchangeably.
It goes without saying that homemade stock or bone broth is a better option than purchased stock, both in terms of nutrition and taste. While preparing homemade bone broth is not difficult, many folks don’t have the time or inclination to make it. It’s important to remember that “perfect is the enemy of good,” and sometimes shortcuts are not only the best we can do, they are better than many other alternatives. I will share my recipe for homemade stock another time, but today I want to focus on how to choose a high-quality, shelf-stable stock.
While there are a lot of choices of canned, boxed, and concentrated stocks on the market, not all of them are what I would refer to as high-quality. Often, they taste terrible: bland, vegetal, or salty. If they do taste “meaty,” it’s usually because of added ingredients such as MSG, yeast extract, and sugar. Some brands try to make up for the lack of meaty flavor by overcompensating with vegetable concentrates, but the result is vegetal-tasting. Of course, salt is a common ingredient to add flavor, but it can’t make up for poor quality.
My favorite boxed stock is Kirkland (Costco) brand’s Organic Chicken Stock. Whatever stock you choose should have these features in common with the Kirkland product:
- Natural ingredients — ones that you recognize — such as chicken, vegetables, spices, and water. An “organic” designation is nice, but not as important as the ingredients themselves.
- Labeled “gluten-free.” Unfortunately, gluten can be hidden in many processed ingredients, so I want the manufacturer’s assurance that it is gluten-free.
- No sugar added, and 0-1 carbs per 8 ounce serving (Kirkland has 0). More than that indicates an excessive amount of vegetables used or perhaps some kind of added sugar.
- Moderate sodium. I don’t need salt-free, but I want to be able to reduce (cook down) the stock and not have it end up too salty. Kirkland brand’s has 440 mg of sodium per 8 ounce serving.
Another product I sometimes use is Glace de Poulet Gold, a concentrated chicken stock from More than Gourmet brand. It comes in a 1.5 ounce puck that makes 32 ounces (4 cups) when mixed with hot water. It already has some gelatin added, but I’d still probably add my own. The downside is that it I have to order it online, although I have seen some of their line at a few gourmet stores. Still, it is a good alternative.
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