If you’re a fan of British cooking, chances are you’ve come across OXO stock cubes. These little silver foil cubes have been a kitchen staple for over 100 years, adding a rich and meaty flavor to everything from stews to casseroles.
But is OXO the same as beef stock? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the history of OXO, its ingredients, and how it compares to traditional beef stock.
So, let’s dive in and find out if OXO is the same as beef stock or not.
Is OXO The Same As Beef Stock?
While OXO is often used as a substitute for beef stock, it is not exactly the same thing. OXO is a brand of food products that includes stock cubes, herbs and spices, dried gravy, and yeast extract. The original product was the beef stock cube, but the company now also markets chicken and other flavor cubes, including versions with Chinese and Indian spices.
The cubes are broken up and used as flavoring in meals or gravy or dissolved into boiling water to produce a bouillon. In contrast, beef stock is made by simmering beef bones, meat chunks, and scraps with vegetables and herbs for several hours. The resulting liquid is then strained to produce a rich and flavorful broth.
While OXO cubes do contain some beef extract, they also contain other ingredients like salt, sugar, and flavor enhancers. This means that the flavor of OXO cubes may not be exactly the same as homemade beef stock.
The History Of OXO Stock Cubes
OXO stock cubes were invented in 1910 by the OXO company, which was founded as an attempt to create a cheaper version of the bottled meat extract sold by the Liebig’s Extract of Meat Company. English chemist Henry Enfield Roscoe developed a liquid, christened Oxo, in 1899. However, this was still rather expensive for the mass market until in 1911 the company developed a bouillon cube that could be sold for a penny.
The timing was perfect for the stock cube to become a stock item for WWI troops – 100 million cubes were consumed and the hand-wrapped foil packaging helped keep them in tip-top condition. The OXO company was an early adopter of all manner of marketing tactics that are commonplace today, such as mail-in offers, outdoor advertising (as seen on London’s OXO Tower), and sponsorship (it provided fortifying drinks to marathon runners at the 1910 Olympics).
The powerful brand name, derived from ‘ox’ to emphasize its beefiness, and the logo have been an enduring strength for more than 100 years. Throughout its history, the cardboard OXO cube containing 12 of the individual blocks has become a staple of the kitchen. What started as a protein substitute has allowed generations of would-be chefs to discover new recipes. It has mirrored Britain’s emergence from the land of meat and two veg to that of the more culinary adventurous with herb-infused stocks and the Shake and Flavour seasoning range.
OXO has also moved on from purely being beef-based to cover other stocks – lamb, ham, chicken, and vegetable – all of which retain the iconic cube pack. However, since 2009 the ‘cubes’ have actually been X-shaped, a design innovation that is supposed to make the sometimes tough little cubes easier to crumble.
Ingredients In OXO Cubes
The ingredients in OXO cubes include wheat flour (with added calcium, iron, niacin, and thiamin), salt, maize starch, yeast extract, flavor enhancers (monosodium glutamate and disodium guanylate), color (ammonia caramel), beef fat (4.5%), autolysed yeast extract, dried beef bonestock, flavorings, sugar, acidity regulator (lactic acid), and onion powder.
While beef extract is one of the ingredients in OXO cubes, it is not the only ingredient. The addition of other ingredients like salt and flavor enhancers can alter the taste of the final product. Additionally, the use of beef fat and dried beef bonestock can add a meaty flavor to the cubes.
It is important to note that OXO cubes may not be suitable for those with certain dietary restrictions or preferences. For example, they contain wheat flour, which may not be suitable for those with gluten sensitivities. They also contain additives like monosodium glutamate and disodium guanylate, which some people may wish to avoid.
How OXO Compares To Beef Stock
When it comes to comparing OXO to beef stock, there are some notable differences. Firstly, OXO cubes are much more convenient and have a longer shelf life than homemade beef stock. OXO cubes can be stored in a pantry and easily dissolved in boiling water whenever needed, while homemade beef stock requires time and effort to make and must be used within a few days or frozen for later use.
In terms of flavor, while OXO cubes do contain some beef extract, they also contain other ingredients like salt, sugar, and flavor enhancers. This means that the flavor of OXO cubes may not be exactly the same as homemade beef stock. Additionally, the texture of OXO cubes is not the same as homemade beef stock, which has a rich and silky mouthfeel that cannot be replicated with a cube.
Using OXO In Recipes
Despite the differences between OXO cubes and beef stock, OXO cubes can be a convenient and tasty addition to many recipes. When using OXO cubes in place of beef stock, it is important to consider the salt content of the cubes. OXO cubes are quite salty, so it is best to use them sparingly and adjust the amount of added salt in the recipe accordingly.
One easy way to use OXO cubes is to dissolve them in boiling water to create a quick and flavorful broth. This broth can then be used as a base for soups, stews, or sauces. For example, try using chicken-flavored OXO cubes to make a quick and easy chicken noodle soup.
OXO cubes can also be used to add flavor to meat dishes. Simply crumble a cube or two over the meat before cooking or mix the crumbled cubes with some oil and herbs to create a flavorful marinade.
Finally, OXO cubes can be used to add depth of flavor to vegetarian dishes. Try using vegetable-flavored OXO cubes in place of chicken or beef stock in vegetarian soups or stews for an extra boost of flavor.