Ever since I wrote my column about wonton soup I have been making my own Asian flavoured stocks with all-natural ingredient dumplings.
Usually I make my own stock from fish heads leftover from my catch, but on this day I was in town and needed some stock pre-made.
Stock traditionally contains meaty bones, some vegetables and herbs and that is it.
Boil it up and you're done.
So I was really shocked to find that this stock had 18 different ingredients including wheat.
The wheat really annoyed me because for the past few weeks I've been avoiding wheat (yes I'm one of those people now) and also I see no reason to put wheat in a simple stock.
Select Salt Reduced Chicken Stock. $3.50 for a litre.
Ingredients (greatest quantity first):
Reconstituted chicken stock (95%):
This means that the chicken stock is made into a concentrate which is then added to water.
Chicken bones are the most vital ingredient in a chicken stock, and it's important to have the bones because what leaches from them is rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus.
Onion, Carrot, Celery, Bay leaf
I had no idea what a chicken pre-mix is so I asked my Uber driver who was also a chef.
He said it is a mix sold to butchers to add to meat to make sausages, and a Google search confirmed this.
From its ingredients it seems to be a flavour concentrate.
Maltodextrin (from tapioca or corn)
This stuff is found in most processed foods these days.
It is a white powder made from a starch - in this case tapioca and corn- which is cooked then acids or enzymes are added to break it down.
The result is a white powder which is water-soluble and has a neutral taste.
It can be used as a thickener, a filler and a preservative in processed foods
Natural Roast Chicken Flavours (salt, yeast extracts, maltodextrin (from potato), lactic acid (270), anticaking agent (551), sunflower oil, natural flavours.)
I don't see roast chicken as an ingredient in this roast chicken flavouring, but it does list natural flavours which are more like to be something meaty tasting such as yeast or similar.
Lactic acid comes from milk and the anticaking agent is silicon dioxide (551) more commonly known as silica.
This is reasonably high in salt at 550mg of sodium per 250ml serving even though it is a salt-reduced stock.
A tiny bit of sugar at 1.2g per 250ml serving, in here for taste.
Vegetable powders (onion, garlic, sweet corn)
These are dehydrated onion, garlic and sweet corn.
This does my head in. Why do you need wheat fibre in a stock which is a liquid? There's no need to thicken it but perhaps if I was making sausages with this pre mix it might be useful.
Vegetable extract powder (Chinese cabbage)
I can only assume the Chinese cabbage is in here as an extra flavour.
More meat flavour - yeast extract is basically Marmite.
Natural celery flavour
More vegetable flavour.
So if Select had simply put stock in this packet instead of adding the very weird chicken pre-mix then I think we'd have a lovely product containing nothing but water, chicken bones, onion, carrot, celery and bay leaf.
Instead they have introduced all sorts of additives we don't need such as maltodextrin, wheat fibre, flavouring, oil and anticaking agent.
Instead go for Campbell's salt reduced stock - it's a whole dollar more, but well worth it for the simple ingredients of water, chicken, carrots, clery, cabbage, onions, parsley, sage extract, rosemary extract, sugar, salt, glucose and yeast extract.
Or - here's an idea - make your own using this recipe:
You can buy chicken carcases at butchers and some supermarkets or you can simply store carcases left over from your roast chickens in the freezer and use them when you have enough.
5 or 6 chicken carcases
1 onion chopped in half
1 carrot, unpeeled chopped in bits
1 leek, thickly sliced
1 celery stick chopped
A good bunch of parsley
1 bay leaf (fresh or dried)
Put all ingredients in a large stockpot and cover with water (about 5 to 6 litres) Bring to the boil and simmer for 4 hours. Strain and let cool. Skim off any fat and then pour into containers to put in the freezer.
• No artificial flavours, colours or preservatives.
• 18 ingredients including wheat.
• Uses chicken pre-mix.