Pros: Excellent taste, economical, very long shelf life in refrigerator, easier than bouillon cubes
Cons: May be difficult to find in stores, expensive on-line
When I cook, I find that I can go through a lot of broth or stock. Most often I rely on chicken broth or stock, so keeping a large supply on hand is never an issue. Whether I use 15 oz cans or even a 32 oz carton, I can safely assume that whatever leftover I have can be put in the refrigerator to be used in the next few days. But when it comes to beef broth or stock, the same is not the case.
Although my daughter and I love red meat dishes, my wife isn't much of a fan, so there are a scant number of red meat dishes she'll eat. Those that she enjoys are generally those that are well braised requiring beef stock. But clearly we don't eat them often enough that I'll make room in the pantry for cans or cartons of broth or stock. For years I had always kept a small supply of Knorr Beef Bouillon Cubes on hand for just these types of recipes. For the most part they filled in nicely. Sure they were a little slow to dissolve in boiling water unless I pounded them a bit inside a plastic bag before using them, but generally they did their intended duty. But I've come to understand that Knorr Beef Bouillon Cubes are laced with Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). And while none of us Xenos have a reaction issue with MSG, that's not always the case with our guests.
About a year ago I was serving some Oxtail Soup I had prepared. This is a slow cooked recipe requiring 6 pints of beef stock. The soup came out as good as always, but by the end of the meal one of our guests was sweating profusely. It was the MSG! Okay, lesson learned. I went looking for an alternative.
Better Than Bouillon, Superior Touch, Beef Base
I came across Better Than Bouillon, Beef Base either at Whole Foods or Fresh Market about a year ago. It comes in 8 oz jars and is a thick paste that when added to hot water quickly dissolve to make a flavorful stock. Each teaspoon of beef base makes a cup of stock. So, an 8 oz jar will make over 9 quarts of stock. That's a lot of stock in a very small package. Once opened, the jar can be stored in the refrigerator seemingly forever. We're still working on our first jar.
Roasted Beef with Concentrated Beef Stock, Salt, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Sugar, Corn Syrup Solids, Flavoring (Dried Onion, Dried Garlic and Spice Extractives), Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Dried Whey (Milk), Potato Flour, Caramel Color, Corn Oil, Xanthan Gum. Contains: Milk, Soybean.
Each teaspoon of beef base contains 0 grams of fat, 1 gram of carbohydrate, 1 gram of protein and 680 mg. of sodium (about ½ the sodium of Knorr Beef Bouillon Cubes).
I think I paid about $6 for a jar. While that is considerably more than the cost of Knorr Bouillon, it compares favorably to the cost of cans or cartons of Beef broth or stock that become costlier still if the leftover is allowed to spoil in the refrigerator.
Better Than Bouillon, Superior Touch, Beef Base is an excellent stand-in for store bought broth or stock and a vast improvement over Knorr Bouillon Cubes. It takes up little space in the fridge, is easy to use and seems to last forever in the fridge once opened. I plan to try some of their other flavor bases. I'll let you know.
Now go cook something good tonight.