Stock / Seasoning Cubes - To Use or Not to Use


Typical Stock / Seasoning Cube

There is a whole range of traditional herbs, spices and condiments used by our forefathers to season and flavour our foods, but due to colonialism, international trade etcetera, newly introduced condiments have unfortunately, pushed ours to second place!

Of particular interest are the stock/bouillon cubes introduced to Nigeria back in the seventies as a convenient and quick way to make meat or chicken stock. There are many varieties of this type of condiments but one of the more popular ones is a brand known as Maggi. Lets take a closer look at Maggi stock/seasoning cubes.

Maggi profile:
Maggi was invented in Switzerland around 1886 by a Swiss German named Julius Maggi. It was one of the first industrial mass produced foods intended to make stews and soups taste heartier for factory workers who did not have much money for meat! Today, it has become a global brand and embraced worldwide for cooking. It is particularly quite popular in some parts of Asia, Europe and Sub Saharan African countries, Nigeria, the Philippines, Poland, being a few of the highest consumers.

In fact in these countries, home cooks have adopted the use of these condiments and cannot cook without them. Another peculiar fact is that some people in Nigeria will not eat a dish if the taste of Maggi is missing in it! It is so readily available and used in every household, its no real surprise that the average citizen of these countries believes Maggi condiments are their countries invention!

Maggi comes in a range of different options (sauce, granules/powder, paste, cubes etc.), all manufactured with the same basic ingredients; considerable amounts of salt, mono-sodium glutamate (MSG), spices & herbs and a whole range of chemical additives and preservatives!

Some cubes may contain a very tiny percentage (about 1%) of meat or chicken extract, depending on whether it is a stock or seasoning cube; and on the food laws acceptable in the country where they are sold. In some countries, they cannot be called a stock or bouillon cube if they do not contain some proportion of meat/fish/chicken extract.

Stock vs Seasoning Cube:
As earlier mentioned the Maggi concept was initially developed to substitute meat stock. Over time, the condiment has evolved and variations have been made. These variations include the development of seasoning cube.

There is certainly a difference between a stock (bouillon) cube and a seasoning cube. Difference being, while a Stock cube MUST contain some meat extract, a Seasoning cube does not have to.

The stock cube is made with real meat/chicken/vegetable extract or broth and used as stock substitute while a seasoning cube is a blend of flavour enhancers, salt, spices and herbs, added directly to cooking. Both are used to add flavour and taste.

My inference from this is; if this is the case that stock cube is made from stock and seasoning cube is made from a blend of spices, surely it will be quite possible to make your own seasoning at home to your own preference, WITHOUT too much salt, additives and chemical preservatives! Likewise, you can make far more better quality stock at home using choice cuts of meat, chicken or vegetables.....time permitting!

Stock cubes come in different varieties depending on whether they contain real chicken, beef, fish, crayfish or vegetable extract. Seasoning cubes tend to come in only one variety, but with different ingredient content depending on brand. Artificial flavours of meat, fish or chicken may also be added to "trick" consumers into thinking they are buying real stock cubes.

Health Concerns
Nigerians eat so much stock/seasoning cubes, that they are often referred to as "Nigerian seasoning cube", forgetting that they are actually an import to Nigeria! They are added in dozens to every single dish imaginable; so much so that we seem to have forgotten the natural tastes of our wonderful range of foods!!!

These cubes are very high in salt (sodium chloride - up to 47% of total content in some brands. RDA for daily salt intake - 3-5g per day). Too much salt is linked to high blood pressure and hypertension, particularly in the Black race. They also contain mono-sodium glutamate (MSG - a chemically manufactured flavour enhancer). This substance also can affect health adversely if taken in large quantities (RDA for daily usage - 3g per day).

In addition, seasoning / stock cubes cubes contain a whole load of other chemical preservatives, flavourings and additives and lastly they contain hydrogenated vegetable fat (trans-fat) which again is linked to heart disease and stroke. See below a sample of the ingredient list of Maggi seasoning cube.

Typical Ingredient list on the packaging of Maggi seasoning cube: salt, flavour enhancers: mono-sodium glutamate, inosinate, guanylate; sugar, starch, vegetable fat, hydrolysed soya beans, water, colourant (E150c), onion, ferric pyrophosphate, emulsifier: soya lecithin, spices and spice extracts, savoury flavour, aromatic plants, yeast extract.

Nutritional data:(based on Maggi seasoning cubes - made in Nigeria)
Calories: 167 kcal per 100g - [8.4kcal per cube]
Proteins: 9.3g per 100g - [0.4g per cube]
Fat: 4g per 100g - [0.2g per cube]
Carbohydrate(including sugar): 19.8g per 100g  - [0.7g per cube]
Sodium (salt): 25g per 100g - [1g per cube]

Seeing that over-consumption of these cubes (though convenient and great tasting) could have adverse effects on health over time, the big question then is "What Alternatives Do We Have?......

CONVERSATION

2 comments:

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by and your encouraging comment...

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