Monday, October 14, 2013

Broth and stock: Trader Joe's v. Costco Wholesale

Trader Joe's sweet potatoes were sliced and boiled before they were added to a frittata, above, and mashed with extra-virgin olive oil, below.

Editor's note: Today, I discuss whether Trader Joe's or Costco Wholesale has the best chicken broth/stock. Also on the table: The magic of sweet potatoes, and a review of food prices.  

By Victor E. Sasson

Trader Joe's boasts of holding the line at $1.99 for a 32-ounce container of Organic Chicken Broth for more than 11 years.

That's pretty impressive -- until you compare that organic broth to Costco Wholesale's Organic Chicken Stock.

Costco says it's Kirkland Signature organic stock is "more versatile" than broth, and has "rich chicken flavor."

Stock is made from chicken bones and gristle, and broth from meat, and many cooks consider the flavor of stock to be richer.

Costco's stock has other clear advantages:

Zero grams of fat, compared to 1 gram per 8-ounce serving of Trader Joe's broth; half the calories, and slightly cheaper (six 32-ounce cartons for $11.59). 

Both are gluten free, and both add flavor to basics like rice, quinoa and mashed sweet potatoes, and make a great base for sauces, gravies and soups.

How sweet it is

When my trainer at the gym recommended a no-bread, no-pizza diet to lose weight a few years ago, he said I could eat sweet potatoes to my heart's content.

It seems our bodies process sweet potatoes better than white potatoes, and I love to boil and mash the former with extra-virgin olive oil or add boiled sweet-potato slices t0 frittatas.

The last time I mashed sweet potatoes, I inadvertently dumped a couple of ounces of black pepper into the pot when the loose-fitting strainer on the bottle of Kirkland Signature Coarse Ground Malabar Black Pepper came off.

Kirkland Signature Organic Brown Eggs from Costco Wholesale.

Costco's organics

My wife found a 10-pound bag of organic carrots at the Costco Wholesale in Hackensack today for $8.59.

A 10-pound bag of Organic Sugar from Brazil was $8.49; Organic Spring Mix from Earthbound Farm was $4.99, and three large hothouse cucumbers were $3.49.

Two of the cheapest items at Costco are 3 pounds of bananas for $1.39, and a bottle of Kirkland Signature Ground Saigon Cinnamon for $2.59, ideal for dusting sodium-free raw almonds I roast at home ($12.99 for a 3-pound bag).

The growing number of organic items at Costco allows me and other consumers to avoid genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

At Trader Joe's, a 2-pound bag of conventional sweet potatoes was $1.69, and a 28-ounce can of marinara sauce with extra-virgin olive oil was $1.99.

Organic Whole Wheat Fusilli was $1.39 for 16 ounces, but the Clifton Trader Joe's I shopped in last week didn't have Organic Whole Wheat Spaghetti. 

Wild-caught sea bass and mustard greens from H Mart in Little Ferry, below. The Little Ferry store is sorely in need of renovation.

Something's fishy

I've been shopping at the Little Ferry H Mart for years, lured by an abundance of fresh fish and a wide variety of Asian greens.

But on Sunday, for the first time, I detected a strong, fishy smell from the seafood department, where a dozen or more kinds of fresh fish were displayed on ice.

I bought four wild-caught sea bass ($4.99 a pound), which I seasoned and roasted in the oven, and they tasted as fresh as could be.

Still, the store is one of the oldest in the Korean supermarket chain, and it's sorely in need of renovation.

Besides fish, I picked up mustard greens for 99 cents a pound and two Golden Pineapples for $3.

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