Shop Smart: Stocks & Broths
Opt for convenience without sacrificing flavor.
We taste-tested low-sodium options—here are our favorites
’TIS THE SEASON ...
For soups, stews, and stuffings, but who has time to make big batches of stock from scratch? We put store-bought broths and stocks to the test and found plenty of flavorful low-sodium options.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
The terms “broth” and “stock” are often used interchangeably, although they have slightly different definitions. While both bases start with fresh herbs and vegetables simmered in water, stock includes bones while broth includes meat (except for vegetable versions) but no bones. Though the difference is subtle, the bones in stock can make it more gelatinous and can provide a richer consistency and creamier mouthfeel. Because they can be used in the same way, we grouped broths and stocks together for our taste test, and we use the term “broth” to refer to both.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Regular store-bought broth is notoriously high in sodium—a serving can easily exceed 800 mg, which is more than most people should aim to eat in an entire meal! Instead, choose broths labeled “low sodium” or “no salt added.” The FDA requires that products labeled “low sodium” contain no more than 140 mg sodium per serving. If you only plan to use a little broth at a time, broths labeled “reduced sodium” may also be a good option. But the FDA requires products with this label to have just 25 percent less sodium than regular versions, so they may still be high in sodium.
HOW TO STORE
Unopened broths will keep in the pantry until their use-by date. Once open, you can refrigerate broth in an airtight container for up to 7 days. For longer storage, pour the broth into ice cube trays and freeze. (Cubes will keep in a freezer bag for 6 months.) To use, add the cubes directly from the freezer to your pan or pot (typically, 2 ice cubes are equivalent to 1∕4 cup).
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