Okay so you've finally made chicken stock. It was no big deal, right? But then what?! How do you store chicken stock for using later?
Just strain your chicken stock into glass canning jars and freeze the jars. Yep, you read that right. Freeze chicken stock in glass jars! I've been doing it for two, maybe three years. It really works.
And naturally, the same technique also works for vegetable stock, beef stock, shrimp stock and any other kind of stock you can make!
This is the latest in an occasional series of posts I call "One Quick Tip" ... because, well, each one will include a single quick tip, quick to absorb, easy to adopt, memorable to use.
Do you have One Quick Tip you'd like to share? Leave a comment or send me a quick e-mail via firstname.lastname@example.org. This time, I'd love to hear how you made a kitchen change for both convenience and sustainability. Old or new, big or small, I'd love to know what's useful in your own kitchen!
ONCE UPON A TIME Every few days, I carefully ladled still-warm chicken stock, beef stock, seafood stock and other stocks into quart-size freezer bags, then oh-so-carefully, arranged them flat in the freezer to freezer. Ha! I see that in this long how-to post for chicken stock, I even show a freezer bag full of stock!
Trouble was? Despite all my careful work, the whole process was messy: filling the bags, freezing the bags, even thawing the bags.
Trouble was? Those bags had to be closed just-so or they would leak! Trouble was? When it came time to defrost the bags, the bags always-always leaked!! So I'd double-bag them. Pretty soon? I was a major but unhappy shareholder in the Ziplock Freezer Bag Company.
REVELATION! RE-USABLE GLASS! Inspired by this post from Tea & Cookies, I switched to glass canning jars to use over and over again. The stock gets strained straight into wide-mouth glass canning jars, mostly quart jars, some times pint jars. I label the jars with a Sharpie pen, it washes off later, no problem. And then the jars go into the freezer! A few weeks or months later, a jar or two can be defrosted in the fridge overnight or in the microwave, lid off, in three or four minutes.
Two tricks to know.
LEAVE ROOM FOR EXPANSION You can't fill the jars to the top, it's important to leave room for the stock to expand as it freezes. In my experience, that means filling the canning jars just to their "shoulders", where the jars start to curve in to form the mouth.
LOOSE LIDS I also leave the lids slightly loose, well, not loose, exactly, but not tight either. If the jars were on their sides, they'd definitely leak. But since I freeze the jars upright, it's no problem.
DON'T THE JARS CRACK? Honestly, I have lost a couple of jars – but only when I overfilled them. And even then, cleanup was no problem. Since the stock was still frozen, it was easy to lift the cracked jars out of the freezer to let the stock thaw in the sink, then recycled the broken glass. Lesson well learned! Don't over-fill the jars!
WHAT ABOUT THE SCHMALTZ? The chicken fat that forms on the top of chicken stock once it's cooled is called "schmaltz". It seals the stock and acts as a natural preservative, preserving the stock for some while longer. But when the stock is frozen, the schmaltz cracks like ice on top of a river during the spring thaw, it's harder to remove. So some times before freezing the canning jars, I'll chill the stock, letting the chicken fat firm up, then remove it. Other times, I just let it go, so be it.
COOL LIDS, ALANNA! You can use the lids and rings that come with the canning jars. I did for awhile but found them fussy and hard to clean. So now I buy these BPA-free plastic canning jar lids and use them over and over again.
HMMM, COULD YOU RE-PURPOSE LEFTOVER GLASS JARS? Instead of buying canning jars especially to freeze stock, could you just use empty glass jars? Yes, I think so, especially the heavier jars used for spaghetti sauce, etc. I'd want to keep the inside of the lids super-clean, however, so nothing would grow in there.
THAT'S IT! Really! One Quick Tip!
More Quick Tips
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