Those boxes or cans of beef, chicken and vegetable stock seem convenient, but concentrated stock can be much more versatile (and less expensive). Not only does stock concentrate take up less room in the cupboard, but it also lets you get a bit more creative.
We’re all spoiled with the ease and convenience of boxed and canned stock over making our own, but many overlook the benefits of stock concentrate as an alternative. It’s especially handy for cooks who use stock frequently.
If you use stock frequently in your cooking, stock concentrate is actually cheaper than purchasing the boxed and canned versions. If you opt for stock in gel form, such as Knorr Homestyle Stock, you’ll save around $3 by purchasing a four-pack of concentrate over four boxes of the watered-down version.
Concentrated stock is also more versatile. If you buy stock in the box or can, you have to use it as liquid, and unless you add extra ingredients, the flavor you buy is the flavor you get. Concentrated stock, on the other hand, can be used as a rub, can be diluted with more or less water to change its concentration, and can even be used to add an extra zing to dishes not traditionally made with stock. And with a concentrate, storage of leftover stock is a lot simpler. Just pop the concentrate into a freezer-safe storage bag and refrigerate or freeze.
For example, you can rub a small amount of chicken stock concentrate on your next bird, season it with your favorite herbs and spices, and cook it to perfection. Or add a dab of beef stock concentrate to softened cream cheese with some onion powder to make a quick and easy French onion spread.
Quick tip: If you’re trying to switch your family to a lower-fat diet containing less red meat, use ground turkey instead of beef and add a dab of beef stock concentrate while browning. The turkey will have a richer, more authentic “ground beef” flavor, and your family will never miss the flavor of the fattier beef.
Concentrated stock is, well, concentrated. That means the flavors of the ingredients used to make it have to be spot on because you’ll taste them more heavily when you use it. Good concentrated stocks are made of fresher ingredients than their inferior counterparts.
A way of life in the kitchen
Serious cooks keep stock on hand; we need it for a variety of dishes. Instead of losing valuable storage space and cash to boxed or canned stock, give concentrated stock a try — unless, of course, you’re one of the lucky few who have the time and energy (and refrigerator or freezer space) to dedicate to making your own homemade stock from scratch.