Friday, October 3, 2008

MoFo 3: Storing Homemade Stock

Freezing Stock
Originally uploaded by Marni Molina
Unless you are a black belt canner, you basically have two options for storing homemade stock:
  1. You can store it in the refrigerator, but you'll need to bring it to a boil every two or three days. Stored this way stock will essentially keep indefinitely. But you won't have it around that long, because it's so freakin' tasty. 
  2. You can freeze your stock into manageable portions. This way is clearly much more efficient. I use repurposed containers - soy yogurt, vegetable shortening, etc. - to freeze my stocks. I like using them because it lessens our contribution to the local landfill (our local recycler doesn't process #2 plastics) and they are already marked with accurate volume measurements. I try to use a variety of sizes in order to keep my options open. Stored and covered in the freezer, stocks will keep for up to six months.
Some tips:
  • Make sure you start with clean containers. I run all mine through the dishwasher just before I fill them. This ensures they are clean and sterile. Cleanliness is the key to successful long-term food storage.
  • When freezing stock, don't forget to leave about one inch of headroom for the liquid to expand as it freezes. 
  • Clearly mark your containers with their contents along with the date you made it and the date you need to use it by. I do this with paper, a marker, and scotch tape. That way, when I change out the contents, I can easily change the label.
  • Do not thaw frozen stock on the counter. Instead, try to plan ahead and move it to the refrigerator to thaw a day or two before you intend to use it. If, for whatever reason, you need to thaw stock in a hurry, either employ the defrost function of your microwave or thaw it as gently as possible on the stovetop. 
  • Full freezers are happy, efficient freezers. If you have lots of empty space in your freezer, fill up the empty space with plastic bottles two-thirds full of water. 
  • Place items for freezing in the coldest part of your freezer. If you have an upright freezer, this is usually the top shelf. For chest freezers, it's the compressor step or bottom floor. 
  • If your freezer has a "fast freeze" button, use it.
  • Never ever ever put hot or even warm food in your freezer. Get it as cold as possible first in the fridge, and then put it in the freezer. Heat makes your freezer work very hard, compromises the other food already in the freezer, and slows the freezing process. 
  • Don't "let all the ping pong balls out."  This is what my mother used to say to me when I was a kid and I'd stand in front of an open freezer.  You really are letting all the cold out.
  • Try to practice smart food rotation practices by using the oldest items in your freezer first.
If you have limited space in your freezer, I've got a couple tricks for you:
  1. Boil your stock down to approximately half its original volume, thereby making stock concentrate. Freeze and store using your preferred method and don't forget to add water to your concentrate when you cook with it.
  2. Freeze your stock or concentrate in ice cube trays. Once frozen, pop your stock cubes out and store them in a freezer bag. Since bags are more pliable than plastic containers, you can work them into odd spaces in your freezer.
Have fun and chill out.

Okay that was a bad joke.  Sorry.


vegan addict said...

I do this too! I just made a huge batch of veggie stock, and found myself lacking freezer space after filling pint jars. It took some reorganizing, but I got them all in the freezer! Thanks for all the helpful freezer tips. You are right, a full freezer is a happy freezer. One simple step toward energy efficiency at home.

Anonymous said...

I never knew that you can store it in to fridge and just keep boiling it. I hate make stock because I hate freezing and thawing it out.

jessy said...

aaaaaaaaaahahahaha! i thought the joke was a good one - and one that i got, too! (you'd be surprised - a lot of jokes get by me quite often)

thanks again for the tips, Marni! now i need to make some veggie stock of awesomeness!

Vegan_Noodle said...

What great information!! I've never made my own stock but have been meaning to...