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What are Bouillons?

  • 4 min read

Hey there, fellow food enthusiasts! It’s your favorite foodie, Mike, back with another exciting culinary exploration. Today, we’re diving into the world of bouillon cubes, those little flavor-packed squares that have been spicing up our dishes for over a century.

Bouillon cubes, also known as stock or broth cubes, are essentially dehydrated stock condensed into a small, hard square. They’re made from a mix of dehydrated meats and/or vegetables, salt, MSG, and a variety of seasonings. The exact blend of spices varies depending on the manufacturer, with big names like Maggi, Knorr, and OXO leading the pack.

These flavor bombs have been around since the early 1900s, with the first bouillon cube introduced by Swiss food manufacturer Julius Maggi in 1908. British company OXO and German food manufacturer Carl Heinrich Theodor Knorr quickly followed suit, launching their own versions in 1910 and 1912, respectively. These three companies continue to dominate the bouillon market today, with their products found in kitchens around the globe.

Bouillon cubes are a convenient and quick way to add a savory, umami-rich punch to a variety of dishes, from soups and sauces to casseroles and curries. They’re a staple in many cultures, used in everything from classic West African dishes like poulet braisé and jollof to Indian curries and Mexican rice and chicken enchiladas.

Now, you might be wondering how bouillon cubes stack up against bone broth. Well, bouillon cubes were actually created as a quicker, more convenient alternative to bone broth, which requires a lot of time, space, and ingredients to make. With bouillon cubes, you can whip up a flavorful broth in the time it takes to boil water, and they take up minimal space in your pantry. However, it’s worth noting that while bouillon cubes are packed with flavor, they don’t contain the collagen found in bone broth.

Bouillon cubes come in several varieties, including chicken, beef, vegetable, and lamb, with each type offering a unique flavor profile. Chicken, beef, and lamb bouillon are made from dehydrated meat from the respective animal, often combined with dehydrated vegetables, spices, and MSG. Vegetable bouillon, on the other hand, is made solely from produce like carrots, onions, and celery.

When it comes to using bouillon cubes, the possibilities are endless. They can be dissolved in water to make an instant broth, melted into a curry to enhance its richness and flavor, or even grated into a powder and used as a seasoning. The taste of bouillon is a robust umami savoriness with a strong, salty kick, though the exact flavor will depend on the brand and type of bouillon you’re using.

If you find yourself without bouillon cubes, don’t fret! Broth and stock make excellent substitutes, as bouillon is often used to make instant stock. Just use chicken stock in place of chicken bouillon cubes, beef stock for beef bouillon cubes, and vegetable stock for veggie bouillon cubes.

You can find bouillon cubes in almost any supermarket or grocery store, typically located in the soup aisle. They have a shelf life of about two years, but be sure to store them in a cool, dry place to keep them fresh. If they start to smell off, taste funky, or change color, it’s time to toss them.

So, there you have it, folks! The next time you’re cooking up a storm in the kitchen, don’t forget to reach for those handy little bouillon cubes to add a burst of flavor to your dishes. Until next time, happy cooking!

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