What secrets are lurking in that box of broth?
You might be shocked to learn what really goes into making boxed or canned broth that is shelf-stable.
Let’s start with terminology. “Stock,” “Broth,” or “Bone Broth” are allowed to be used interchangeably. Food conglomerates can use whatever term fits their marketing plans. I’m going to use the term “broth” in this post because it’s the simplest, but everything holds for products that are called stocks and bone broths, too.
Check out the ingredient list on any box of chicken broth and you’ll find the first item is Chicken Broth. Weird, right?
Broth is made with….broth?
Pacific Foods is a great example. As a well-regarded health food brand, you can even find it in Whole Foods Market. Hell! It is even organic! So it can't be too bad, can it?
Pacific Foods (acquired by Campbell’s Soup Company in 2017) purchases highly concentrated broth from one of three of the world’s largest stock and broth manufactures, rehydrates it, and adds a proprietary flavoring mix. Since they use an ingredient sold as “broth” as their base, there is no requirement to spell out how that base is made.
In other words, a consumer really has no idea what goes into this chicken broth.
Turns out that the concentrated base of broth is a mix of liquid from simmering bones (just a couple of hours) plus “natural meat flavoring.” Don’t let “natural” fool you into thinking it’s healthy.
Artificial flavoring and natural flavoring are both made in the lab and can be the same – at least chemically. The only difference is that natural flavoring is derived from plants, meat or dairy and artificial flavoring is completely synthesized from inedible substances (petroleum, for example!).
In fact, many natural meat flavoring additives are derived from plants. Food scientists create the satisfying meat flavor by synthesizing various molecules in the lab and mixing them together to build a flavor profile for a specific brand.
That’s why College Inn or Pacific Foods or Kirkland bands of broth taste slightly different: they each have a different combination of flavor molecules added to the broth.
And it's all a secret.
The food conglomerates don’t want you to know that they’ve created the flavor in the lab. Also, they think of these chemical formulas as proprietary. That means the consumer remains in the dark about what they are eating.
Making broth from natural meat flavoring is easier and cheaper than making it by simmering bones for a long time.
But make no mistake, Pacific Foods Organic Chicken Broth has very little nutritional value.
Each serving has only 1 gram of protein. You now know why - natural meat flavor has no protein. Broth made from simmering bones can have up to 10 grams of protein.
Check out the sodium content! Just one cup of this broth gives you almost 25% of your total sodium content. Yikes! That’s what happens when you try to make broth shelf-stable. (Want to know more about sodium, check out this blog).
There are no secrets at Mountain Meadow Bone Broth. In fact, I’m going to give you our recipe right here and now. I really have nothing to hide.
The ingredients are simple, real food, and the method is straightforward. If you have the time, tolerance for mess, and don’t mind your house stinking up a bit, you should try it!