People new to traditional cooking and making homemade broth are frequently surprised to learn that bouillon cubes from the store are a heavily processed food. Without exception, they contain large amounts of processed glutamate or MSG. Even organic brands should be avoided! If you wish to use them, it is best to make homemade bouillon cubes instead.
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 an alias for glutamate. Note that there are dozens of aliases 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. (1)
Note that avoidance of MSG and glutamate in processed foods is important. It frequently helps resolve issues with headaches. It also simplifies maintaining a healthy weight. MSG damages and kills neurons in the hypothalamus in the brain stem. This can contribute to obesity over time by damaging metabolism. Neurosurgeon Dr. Russell Blaylock describes the dangers of this food additive in his book The Taste That Kills.
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 bone broth or to add to filtered water along with some veggies, legumes or meat to make a super fast soup in a pinch.
Homemade Bouillon Cubes
The easy and delicious recipe for homemade stock cubes below uses the strong and flavorful herb lovage. It’s 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. She very graciously said I could publish for all to enjoy.
Sarah, please feel free to use my recipe. 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 [glutamate] 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.
Keep up the good work Sarah.
Homemade Bouillon Cubes Recipe
Recipe for homemade bouillon cubes that may be used with homemade stock to improve the flavor or on their own in a pinch as a base for soups.
- 3 bunches fresh lovage
- 1 onion preferably organic
- filtered water
- 1-2 tsp grassfed butter
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.
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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