The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
January 24, 2011

Quick and (almost) Plastic-Free Broth / Soup Base Tip

Homemade stock, broth, soup base (whatever you call that watery stuff that is the basis for so many recipes) is delicious and certainly healthy. But it takes time to make, and apparently I’m not the only one who often doesn’t have the time to make soup stock from scratch. I discovered several others like me this weekend while posting a whole slew of Show Your Plastic Trash Challenge tallies. A handful of people ended up with plastic-lined cans or plastic-coated tetrapaks of chicken or other broth in their weekly plastic waste collections. And after leaving the same advice three times in a row, I thought I ought to post it here.

My favorite store-bought broth is called Better Than Bouillon.

Better Than Bouillon

Better Than Bouillon is a concentrated paste that comes in a little glass jar with a metal lid. Of course, there is a plastic coating inside the lid (as there is inside all metal lids), and as I recall, there may have been a clear plastic security seal around the outside of the lid. But each jar makes 38 cups of broth, and since there’s no water in the jar, the packaging to product ratio is much lower than that of cans or boxes of pre-made broth. And the stuff is actually delicious.

Better Than Bouillon comes in both organic and non-organic versions, and flavors include vegetable, mushroom, chicken, beef, turkey, and more. And there are veggie “meat” versions, as well as low sodium.  None of the bases contain MSG.

Another plastic-free option are the powdered broth mixes you can buy from the bulk bins at Whole Foods, health food stores, and coops. But honestly, I have yet to find one that tastes decent. In fact, Better Than Bouillon is so good that BlogHer’s own food blogger Kalyn, from Kalyn’s Kitchen, added it to her ongoing list of Kitchen Picks. She’s a food blogger, not necessarily an eco-blogger, so if she thinks it’s good, it’s good.

And the glass jar is a handy size for storing little bits of leftovers in the fridge after the soup base is all gone.

Nope. I’m not getting paid by Superior Quality Foods to promote their product. I just like it and think it’s a good alternative to buying cans and boxes of broth. Do you have other suggestions?

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42 Comments on "Quick and (almost) Plastic-Free Broth / Soup Base Tip"

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raman
2 years 5 months ago

Great to see the review of the broth. This will be definitely tasty as the name suggests and it will be definitely healthy. These types of products must become more popular in India too. Cheers mate. Keep posting in future also.
http://clickintobusiness.com

BarbaraCrljen
3 years 9 months ago
Great tip for veggie scraps. I have one for storage — why take up room in your freezer — bottle  your broth hot and store in the cupboard – re-uee jars from other productis – the best are the ones that have the little pop button in the middle of the lid — that way you can ensure that what you have bottle is vaccum sealed — if you use flat lids it can be guess work as to whether they sealed effectively — if any lids are faulty, have a dint or such and do not suck in the… Read more »
D.C.
4 years 2 months ago

I know people already mentioned the hidden MSG present and making your own broth, but I thought this added some interesting points about Better than Bouillon: http://www.foodrenegade.com/decoding-labels-better-than-bouillon/
I still have some and I’m not about to chuck it, in case of broth emergency. Now, though, I made my own bone broth and freeze some for back up. Plastic free whole food strategy!

audrey
5 years 1 month ago
Sorry to inform you all, but this product line DOES have MSG in it. Some of their versions (the organic) don’t necessarily have ADDED MSG. I see that in the Vegetarian No Chicken Base, the 3rd ingredient is hydrolyzed protein which is one of MSG’s hidden names (any hydrolyzed protein contains MSG) It also includes Autolyzed Yeast extract which is yet another hidden name for something including MSG in it (they don’t have to report MSG in it since it’s only a part of these other ingredients, it’s just not PURE MSG). It also includes maltrodextrin, which for people who… Read more »
kathleen
5 years 1 month ago

I love this stuff. I found it in my local grocery a few years ago and it is now a staple in my kitchen.

Mary
5 years 2 months ago

I love this product. We have used it for years and we are very happy with it. And after we use up the paste then we put spices or other things in the jar. *grin*

5 years 2 months ago

i have survived for twenty two years as a vegetarian partly because of this product. well ok i exaggerate bc i dont think it was around when i began. but i love it. super time saver.

5 years 2 months ago
MSG free!! That would be heaven for me, since I just started eating soup for dinner as a part of my weight loss plan. I hate MSG, so I make the broth myself with the veggies of the soup, but since I cook only for myself and share the fridge I can’t buy a huge variety of veggies, which would make a tasty broth. So my soup is pretty lame. Here in Argentina all the broths available have MSG, so I’ll try to find a good recipe for homemade broth that doesn’t require a thousand ingredients. I’m really concerned about… Read more »
Becky
5 years 2 months ago

Hey, for all of you concerned about MSG, I have bad news. MSG goes by a LOT of names, and almost all broths and boullions have it– yeast extract, anything autolyzed or hydrolyzed. Food labels are allowed to say “no MSG” or “no MSG added” if it goes by these other names. Also, “natural flavor” could be MSG, but isn’t necessarily. Whole Foods makes broth in the carton that is actually MSG-free, but I’m not sure if they have any plastic-free alternatives. Does anybody know?

Kristy
5 years 3 months ago
One of my favourite things in my quest to buy less stuff and make more stuff from stratch is the stock bag! I keep a bag in the freezer and whenever I am cooking I throw in anything that would be good for stock – carrot tops, the outer laters of onion, bits of garlic, pumpkin skins, ginger skin, chilli ends, basically anything that would otherwise go in the compost but is good for stock. When the bag gets full I grab a few extras from the garden like bay leaves or kaffir lime leaves, make stock and freeze it… Read more »
Katie M
5 years 3 months ago
What wonderful ideas, and now i am super-inspired to make my own broth or bullion! I have been composting all my veggie scraps, but now i see a second life for them before composting. For bullion, I have been using “Edward & Sons” http://www.edwardandsons.com/es_shop_bouillon.itml cardboard box & foil wrapper, no MSG. I have tried the not-chick’n and the veggie, bought the not-beef but have yet to try it. upon inspection of the box just now, i see that it is a product of Switzerland so that will actually weigh a little heavier in my decision to purchase it again. Hopefully… Read more »
5 years 3 months ago

I LOVE this stuff! it’s been the “secret weapon” in my kitchen for two or three years now. Aside from using it as a broth, you can also use a tiny smidge of it to deepen the flavor of other dishes.

My husband goes nuts for this and it’s dead easy:
-2-3 cups mashed baked/boiled butternut squash
-salt and pepper
-caramelized onions
-1/2 tsp better than bouillon chicken base.

It’s tastes complex but it’s simple and actually very healthy.

5 years 3 months ago

[…] My Plastic-Free Life has a quick and almost plastic free broth recipe. […]

Anne
5 years 3 months ago

Eureka! I’ve been trying to get away from canned chicken broth for over a year and have not been able to find a suitable alternative. Thank you (I use lots and lots of chicken broth)!

Laura
5 years 3 months ago
A second benefit of using BTB is that it’s way cheaper than buying the cans or boxes of stock so you get more for your money. But… the flavor is a bit off – when you don’t taste just that it’s fine (like in a gravy), but I made a risotto and it tasted really strong and not so awesome – now when I make risotto with BTB I water down the concentration about twice as much as the jar recommends and it’s fine. Just wanted to give that heads up. Oh, and I use the vegetable broth base.
Darris
5 years 3 months ago
I second the second-hand dryer purchase in addition to using a clothes rack. You can pick dryers up fairly cheap and there are a lot around right now . . . don’t know where you are but there’s Craigslist here in the Bay Area, and of course Ebay and the Press Democrat ‘under $500’ section where people run free ads for items under $500. Good luck! and . . veg broth is very easy to make. I freeze mine in 1 qt canning jars. I’ve never had one break in over 30 years . . . just make sure you… Read more »
Tanya
5 years 3 months ago

Oh I love it!!! I never thought of saving my vege scaps to make vegetable stock but what a great idea! Thanks for the valuable suggestions. :)

Twyla
5 years 3 months ago
Have I got a question for you. Its un-related to boullion (though really it sounds like I wish there was rapunzel brand cubes here instead of just knorr since I could never make it at home), hope you don’t mind I didn’t know where to ask and didn’t want to bother you with an direct personal email. SO feel free to move and or delete this as necessary My laundry dryer bit it this weekend. Not only the belt broke but the motor went too – burned out, so it can’t really be reparied. Its an empty vintage husk now.… Read more »
5 years 3 months ago

Hi Twyla. I haven’t really researched dryers, but it sounds like you have. Without doing the research, my first impulse would be to go for a secondhand dryer and then not use it very much. Are you using a clothesline or clothes rack to dry any of your clothes? Here’s the one we use: /2009/10/im-44-years-old-and-finally-got-rack/

Also — are you on Facebook? You could post the question on the My Plasticfree Life fan page and see if you get responses.

http://facebook.com/myplasticfreelife

Shay
5 years 3 months ago

Ditto on Rapunzel. While I’m new to examining packaging, they do not appear to have any plastic on them. I keep a box of the Vegan with Herbs (when I need to add flavor) and the Vegan with Sea Salt (when the recipe already contains plenty of flavor). I like to make my own broth as well, but I use it so much that I have to have another option on standby.

Rebecca
5 years 3 months ago
I have to say, for me its home made or nothing. But stock from scratch isn’t hard nor time consuming. The trick is to roast your bones and veggies before adding the water to get great flavor. I break up my chicken or turkey carcass and add some cleaned veggies to a big roasting pan with some olive oil and roast in the oven till brown and carmelized, maybe and hour stirring once or twice. Then dump everything in a pot and cover with water. I put my roasted bones in a 6qt crockpot with water to the top and… Read more »
Blessed
5 years 3 months ago
BTB (veggie) is my favorite stock base too. Keeps forever, so economical, flavor is great, no MSG and also WAY less sodium than the Knorr and other cubes. Making my own would be ideal, esp. because if you are using your carrot ends and onion peel, you are making a truly waste-free broth. But, I don’t live in the ideal world, and my goals this year are making my own bread and then maybe starting on youghurt, so broth is very low down on the list. But in a pinch you can make your own broth out of dried herbs.… Read more »
Eve
5 years 3 months ago
BTB is wonderful! I’ve used the seafood/lobster base to make the broth for a yummy asparagus risotto…thanks, Beth for letting others know about this option. One veggie and completely plastic free alternative – save the peelings, parings, trimmings, skins from your veggies (in the freezer), and make some vegetable stock when you’ve accumulated enough (about 2 cups worth) scraps. Cook up with about twice the volume of water, some salt & pepper, and strain…it’s amazing what you can make from onion skins, carrot tops, and potato peelings! It’s even good to freeze in smaller portions if needed.
Nic
5 years 3 months ago
I generally make my own soup stocks. But I do always have a selection of Kallo organic stock cubes in the cupboard for those times I’ve run out! Each cube is wrapped in foil, and then the box is cardboard. In fact, there are a number of brands of cubes which I’ve found don’t have plastic packaging (Oxo, Knorr etc) but as has been noted, the ingredients leave quite a bit to be desired. So, I use the Kallo ones. I’m in the UK though – so maybe Kallo isn’t available in the USA. Maybe those big name brands are… Read more »
Darris
5 years 3 months ago

I have used Better Than Bouillon for many years and love the Organic Vegetable. People rave about my vegan dishes especially my marinara and soups ~ I use BTB in all . . . the one downside is that it contains Maltodextrin so I have cut way back on it’s use. I wish they would find a natural alternative to Maltodextrin. Thanks for this post Beth.

5 years 3 months ago

Well… I use Knox Bouillon most times instead of Stock. It also comes in a glass jar and well a plastic lid. I will have to try this “better than bouillon” stuff. Thanks for posting on it!

Molly
5 years 3 months ago
I bought this stuff once for a shortcut when I only need a little broth or don’t have any extra homemade stuff in the freezer. Maybe I have just been spoiled by the homemade broth I usually make, but I was disappointed in this stuff. Fortunately, it has a pretty long shelf life, so I’ll use it up eventually in recipes where it doesn’t make too much of a difference. I read on the 101 Cookbooks blog that your broth should be delicious enough to eat by itself if you want your soup to be good. I didn’t think this… Read more »
D.C.
5 years 3 months ago

I love love love Rapunzel’s Bouillon cubes. Cardboard box and the cubes are wrapped in foil paper. Comes in different flavors. The not-beef is really good for making vegetarian pho. They sell it at Berkeley Bowl.

5 years 3 months ago

I was wondering about Knorr bouillon cubes ), whether there’s any plastic in the packaging. it definitely has MSG in it (it’s the second ingredient after salt, yikes!), but I think there might not be plastic in it. the cubes are wrapped in foil coated paper and they’re inside a paperboard box, I suppose this might be coated in plastic, I’m not sure. but this brand definitely looks better, I’ll have to pass the tip along to my brother-in-law who does most of the cooking in our house.

Rebeca
5 years 3 months ago

I used to buy Better Than Bouillon organic veg and chicken and love them. But for my veg bouillon, I made my own this fall and I’m totally converted. Here’s the recipe:

http://kitchen-parade-veggieventure.blogspot.com/2010/01/homemade-vegetable-bouillon-recipe.html

It makes a whole lot, is way cheaper and you can use it just as easily as the BTB base. And, as long as you get all the ingredients plastic-free, it’s completely void of any plastic packaging. Give it a try!

5 years 3 months ago

I remember loving this stuff back in my pre-allergy days. But then I had to give up everything and anything that said “flavorings” or “spices” in the ingredient list. But… I wrote to them and am hoping against hope that they might have something vegetarian made without celery, parsely or carrot tops.

Failing that, anybody have any suggestions for how to make homemake broth taste like something without using celery, parsley or carrot tops? I suppose I could bend my vegetarian rules and try chicken broth… but even that’s nearly impossible to find without celery etc in it. Sigh…

Mary Hunt
5 years 3 months ago

Try the brown up a bunch of onions (in butter) and add in the beef broth – instant French onion soup that rivals what you get at restaurants. I love the Better than- product line.

5 years 3 months ago

Although I keep a “broth bag” in my freezer like Katie does, it’s good to know there’s an alternative. I’ll look for BTB next time I shop.

Kristen
5 years 3 months ago

I am writing the name of this stuff down now… I love to make my own broth (at least from chicken) every time I cook a whole bird, but for some reason I just don’t necessarily like the way it tastes and I’ve been looking for some different alternatives to test out.

Thank you!

Katie
5 years 3 months ago

While it’s convenient to have something like BTB around, I think the most eco-friendly thing to do is make your own broths and stocks. It’s not hard to do – I keep scraps of veggies in my freezer (like carrot and celery tops, parsley stems, etc) and when the container is full I put it in my crockpot for several hours with water. If I’ve baked a chicken I do the same thing with the chicken carcass. Fill glass jars with the broth and they freeze beautifully.

5 years 3 months ago

I have been using BTB for years…since way before I cared anything about my plastic consumption. It’s one of the things I keep in my fridge to use in a pinch.

birthrightrose
5 years 3 months ago

Does BTB contain MSG That is a deal breaker for me on most broths/boullions. There is no better way to salt a casserole or soup than with MSG free boullion!

5 years 3 months ago

Good point, birthrightrose. No MSG. Check out the FAQ: I just added that info to my post.

5 years 3 months ago

Yes, I LOVE this stuff! I’m not vegetarian, so I get the low-sodium chicken version and it is amazing! :)

Katherine
5 years 3 months ago

I am so glad to have found your blog. You have great tips! Thanks.

5 years 3 months ago

Thanks for the suggestion. I am going to have to try these. I do make my own and find it to be quite fast actually… an hour of letting veggies simmer on the stove. The issue for me though is that we use veggie broth so much I can’t keep a steady supply, since we only use leftover and discarded veggies.

sui
5 years 3 months ago

Wow, Beth– I just posted a recipe for rice porridge and how much Better than Bouillon makes it SO much more delicious. They make broths taste so delicious. Yummy! :)

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