I realize a homemade clam, lobster or chicken stock or broth is the way to go but what are your thoughts on some of the refrigerated bases that are out there? They're thick and salty but do they have a place in your kitchen?
We use quite a bit of boxed chicken stock -- typically by the case from Costco. I use chicken stop in so many things that I truly can't make enough (and I save all my chicken carcasses and make stock on a regular basis), so -- yes -- it definitely has a place. I've found those "better than Boullion" types to be way too salty for me, so I don't use them. This is a bit old, but it has some good info: http://www.food.com/bb...
Since I started cooking with stocks I rarely use the pre-made versions. Homemade is far superior. To make homemade convenient, I make large batches of veggie stock, chicken stock, and asian chicken stock and store them in old pint sized plastic containers. This way when I need some I run the plastic container under cold water until I can feel the frozen stock release, then I put it in a small pot and it's liquified in less than five minutes. I've found this small size works really well for a lot of my recipes and they stack nicely in my freezer.
Some of them are very good products. Others are just a mess of water, chemicals and flavoring. You need to check the ingredient list (and the sodium content) of each.
Interestingly, having answered this question I then went to the mailbox where the most recent Cook's magazine, where they've just re-reviewed chicken stocks. Their new preference is Swanson Chicken Stock (their prior Swanson Certified Organic... has been reformulated and went to the "not recommended" part of the list). They liked Better than Bouillon with some big reservations about the salt. They tested multiple batches of BB and found a VERY wide swing in the actual sodium content (did you know that labels can legally be as much as 20% off? that was news to me). So, they liked BB (especially for how it keeps and how little it costs to reconstitute) but recommended that it be diluted at a higher amount than BB suggests, simply to manage the saltiness.
I guess I'm more interested in clam and seafood bases. I normally make my own chicken stocks and broths but don't have access to good fish and seafood as I used to. Thanks so much for everyone's input.
inpat: I find More Than Gourmet's fish and seafood bases quite good. They are highly concentrated, and I do add more water to them than called for, but otherwise, there's not anything in them I wouldn't put in my homemade.
Thanks June! I've never seen this brand in the Detroit area but I know I can search online.
I don't know iof you have this option but - our high end grocery makes fish and lobster stock on site and freezes it for sale - I often use that when I don't have my own available. Maybe a fish market would do that too?
Thanks Abbie! I'll check out that option too...now I'm thinking that maybe I'll research making a clam base from scratch..we'll see..