Healthy and Easy Bouillon Cubes RecipeStocks and Soups
People new to traditional cooking are frequently surprised to learn that bouillon cubes from the store are a heavily processed food that without exception contain large amounts of neurotoxic MSG. Even organic bouillon cubes or stock cubes should be avoided!
Take a look at the ingredients of this popular brand of organic chicken bouillon cubes from the healthfood store that falsely proclaims “No MSG Added” on the label:
Organic Chicken Bouillon Cube Ingredients:
yeast extract, corn starch*, non hydrogenated palm oil*, mineral salt, natural chicken and rosemary flavouring, chicken fat*, lovage*, turmeric*, parsley*, chicken meat powder*. *organic
What’s the very first ingredient?
Yeast extract which is just another name for MSG. Note that there are dozens of aliases for neurotoxic MSG (1) used in food labeling that while misleading, is completely legal. It is essentially a cat and mouse game food manufacturers play with consumers. As soon as consumers wise up to one name, they change to another then another.
Note that avoidance of MSG in processed foods is important not only to keep frequent headaches at bay, but also to maintain a healthy weight. MSG damages and kills neurons in the hypothalamus in the brain stem and can contribute to obesity over time by damaging metabolism (2).
How companies get away with these labeling shenanigans is shocking. As a consumer, you really need to be on your toes to keep from falling for these processed food scams.
The good news is that it is simple to make your own healthy bouillon cubes to liven up the flavor of homemade broth or to add to filtered water along with some veggies, legumes or meat to make a super fast soup in a pinch.
This easy and delicious recipe for bouillon cubes uses the strong and flavorful herb lovage, which has been traditionally used for centuries to boost the taste of soups and season broth from Europe to southwestern regions in Asia.
This recipe was sent to me from Joan O., a reader in Ireland who very graciously said I was welcome to publish for all to enjoy, share and benefit from. Here are her words to me via email:
Sarah, please feel free to use my recipe, I am not involved in the food industry so don’t have a blog or website (at present I am writing a very simple whole history of Ireland). One of my daughters has eczema and I knew that MSG exacerbated it, but I had thought that we were an MSG free house until I read your website and found out that yeast extract is MSG.
My family and I were consuming MSG unknown to ourselves in the form of organic bouillon & stock cubes. When we gave them up it was difficult to compensate for the taste but the following Lovage cubes recipe does a really good job, better than just adding fresh lovage as the flavour is much stronger.
A nutritionist has been working with my daughter for the last few months and she is now on a diet to build up her gut as we suspect that she has leaky gut (in spite of being breast fed for 3 and a half years) she is already much much better. Sometimes I use the lovage cubes with homemade stock but really they are pretty strong and can be used instead of stock cubes. I also make chicken and lamb stock and find the slow cooker very useful for this, when I’ve made stock I usually reduce and reduce it and then pour it into ice cube trays to make stock cubes. I find having lots of stock & lovage cubes in the fridge much easier than constantly making stock.
It may interest you to know that I am in touch with Marks & Spencers (a chain of stores in the UK and Ireland who claim to be very concerned with quality in food) about the fact that yeast extract is essentially MSG. So far I haven’t had a satisfactory reply as they say that yeast extract is not MSG but communication is ongoing, and I have referred them to your site and to other relevant sites. My sister works in the food industry and recently found out that doing something about MSG is nowhere on the agenda for the next few years in Europe. Keep up the good work Sarah.
Healthy Bouillon Cubes
Several bunches of fresh lovage or 1/3 the amount in dried lovage leaves (where to find)
1 onion, preferably organic
1-2 tsp grassfed butter, ghee or expeller pressed coconut oil (where to find)
Sweat the onion on low heat using healthy cooking oil of choice for several minutes to draw the moisture out, taking care that little to no browning of the onion occurs.
Add the lovage a few handfuls at a time. It is recommended to use fresh lovage if at all possible for this recipe. If using fresh lovage, note that it will shrink like spinach. In a pinch, dried lovage leaves can be substituted using 1/3 the amount.
Cook for several minutes constantly stirring.
Add enough filtered water to cover.
Simmer for about 20 minutes then whisk with a handheld blender (I use this one). The bouillon should now look like soup.
Simmer uncovered on very low heat to reduce down, a few hours if possible.
Allow to cool to room temperature, and then spoon the thickened mixture into ice cube trays (silicone ice cube trays if possible as the bouillon cubes are easier to remove later). If you don’t like to use silicone, you can use stainless steel ice cube trays instead.
Place ice cube trays filled with bouillon cubes mixture in the freezer.
Once frozen, the bouillon cubes can be removed from the ice cube trays and stored in freezer bags to save space and for very convenient use to add flavor to homemade stock or serve as a stock base alone in a pinch.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
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