What’s in Turkey Stuffing?

Yesterday we wrote about Thanksgiving’s cranberry sauce tradition. Today we’ll take a look inside a turkey – more specifically at the stuffing.

Filling the cavities of poultry dates back to Roman times, and there are many food items that can be used – from grains to vegetables to other pieces of meat. But the U.S. tradition is usually a mixture of bread crumbs, herbs and spices. While there are plenty of great recipes handed down from generation to generation, the supermarket shelves are lined with instant varieties.

We took a look at Kraft’s Stove Top brand to see what store bought turkey stuffing contains.

What you need to know:

The ingredient list is long:

Enriched Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Riboflavin [Vitamin B2], Folic Acid), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Onions (Dried), Salt, Contains Less than 2% of Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Cooked Turkey and Turkey Broth, Yeast, Celery (Dried), Parsley (Dried), Maltodextrin, Spice, Caramel Color, Sugar, Turmeric, Disodium Guanylate, Disodium Inosinate, with BHA, BHT, Citric Acid, and Propyl Gallate as Preservatives.

We’ve highlighted some of the “fun” ingredients for you:

High fructose corn syrup – Note that it’s the second ingredient after the flour. while the debate on whether it’s worse for you than sugar rages on, for us the presence of HFCS is indicative of a low quality product. HFCS is the cheapest way to sweeten a product. In some instances, more than what the recipe calls for.

Partially hydrogenated oil – transfat.

Hydrolyzed soy protein – another name for MSG.

Disodium GuanylateDisodium Inosinate – impart an umami flavor, usually in conjunction with MSG. Help reduce the sodium level of some foods.

BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) – a synthetic antioxidant additive. It is used to extend the shelf life of fats, oils, and oil-containing foods, including cereals, gums, and potato chips. The FDA approves it as safe despite the fact that the  Department of Health and Human Services considers BHA to be “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” Alternatives to BHA are vitamin E or tocopherols, different packaging methods, or simply omitting it.

BHT -Butylated hydroxytoluene – an additive used to retard rancidity in oils and foods containing oils and fats. Some studies have shown it to be carcinogenic. Best to avoid.

Propyl Gallate – an artificial food additive, found in meat products, microwaveable popcorn, soup mixes, chewing gum, mayonnaise, and frozen meals. It has antioxidant properties, which means it helps stop oxygen molecules from mixing with the oil in food, causing the food to go rancid. In addition to being a possible carcinogen, it may cause stomach and skin irritability, as well as allergic reactions that impact breathing. It may also cause kidney and liver problems. Although the FDA considers propyl gallate safe, in other countries it is either banned or very limited in use.
So now we’ll ask, why in the world would you not prepare your own stuffing?

If you have a recipe you’d like to suggest please comment below.

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  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/RVIUFWAR55B45HCIZH46JZKZZQ Maria

    I have never tried the stuffing recipes in my favorite cookbook, Jane Brody’s Good Food Gourmet, but every recipe I have tried in that book has turned out delicious.  As a bonus, they are all low-fat, low-cholesterol, and low-salt.  Link to Google book:  http://books.google.com/books?id=jst-nbnQ_ZUC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false .  Stuffing recipes are on pages 142-144.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Amy Reynaldo

    Last year I made stuffing with a fresh loaf of bread cut into cubes, vegetable broth (because there was a vegetarian at the table), diced apples (skinned first to accommodate the low fiber tolerance of a colitis sufferer), shallots, fresh sage, lots of butter, and a little salt and pepper. I hate the taste of traditional stuffing but loved this version. The picky eaters liked it, too.

  • Larainerose

    D .. I just bought some today.  I make homemade when I do turkey but not usually for chicken.  Guess I’ll have to rethink that one.  Thanks for the warning.

  • Lea

    Homemade corn muffins dried a little and crumbled into sautéed veggies, like carrots celery onions, moisten with broth from turkey, season with sage, put in baking dish and bake on a highish heat till top is golden. Be sure to use plenty of high quality sea salt after each addition and plenty of broth!

  • Lea

    Homemade corn muffins dried a little and crumbled into sautéed veggies, like carrots celery onions, moisten with broth from turkey, season with sage, put in baking dish and bake on a highish heat till top is golden. Be sure to use plenty of high quality sea salt after each addition and plenty of broth!

  • http://blog.firecooked.com/ Deb

    Here is the recipe I put together to replace the Pepperidge Farms “tradition” for our family.  http://blog.firecooked.com/2009/11/28/bread-for-stuffing-and-other-thanksgiving-comments.aspx

    The bread machine makes it easy!

  • Robin Donoghue

    Here is my own stuffing recipe.  It uses all natural and whole ingredients, except for the bread (the bread I use isn’t terrible preservative and additive-wise, but you can always make your own bread first and use that): http://therobinator-foodventures.blogspot.com/2011/11/magic-stuffing.html

  • http://www.amber-hinds.com Amber @ Au Coeur

    Not only do I make my own stuffing, but this year I baked the bread too!  I was talking to my husband about how every year I have to spend at least 30 minutes reading the ingredients on the bread cubes to see which one I consider okay.  That let to the suggestion to just buy bread, which led into baking my own bread since it’s easier and cheaper.  I’ve been using something similar to an “easy artisan bread” recipe (6 cups flour, 1 Tbsp salt, 3 cups warm water, 2 Tbsp. active dry yeast = 2 loaves, no kneading necessary) to bake all our bread, figured I might as well do it for the stuffing too. Sage, thyme, and a little rosemary from our garden, plus vegetable stock, one egg, chopped pecans and fresh cranberries will finish it off.
    http://www.amber-hinds.com

  • Lisa

    It’s Kraft!

  • lanette

    Personally, I *LIKE* Stove-Top much better than homemade, and since I only make it at Thanksgiving and Christmas, I figure twice a year won’t kill us.  So we’ll be eating it along-side our free-range local turkey, garden-grown veggies, homemade bread… and, I confess, cranberry-in-a-jar (also preferred over homemade and only served twice a year.)  :-)

  • Pat

    Gee, you keep wrecking my shopping list! LOL.   Of course my homemade stuffing has no sugar of any kind in it!

  • http://www.lindasdietdelites.com Diet Food

    If ever there was a time to make a feast from scratch, that time would be Thanksgiving and the latest posts prove that even more.

    I think we might need a post on whether to actually stuff your stuffing or whether to bake it. I vote bake it – crusty top.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=725525204 Jim Cooper

    MSG is harmless as you well know. Using sugar in a syrup form may be easier for manufacture, but I can’t see why you need it in stuffing.