Learning how to store stock is like making an investment in the flavor future food and cooking projects. Even if you don't have time to make a fresh batch, storing stock properly will ensure that you always have some on hand to use in a number of ways, from braising to a base for hearty Italian soups .
Here are several tips on storing stock, as well as thawing and properly preparing it for use.
Preparing stock for storage
Follow these steps to make sure your stock is properly prepared for storage.
Cool down the soup or stock to cool room temperature. To hurry up the process, you can place the pot of freshly prepared stock in a sink with drain stopped, filled with ice water. Stirring the soup every few minutes can help cool everything down evenly.
Once cool, place the stock in a heavy duty plastic container, or several smaller ones, if you'd like to divide the stock for multiple uses. Leave a about an inch of empty space at the top of the container. This is important -- liquids will expand when stored at cold temperatures, so you want to leave a little room for this expansion.
Seal the containers, and place in the refrigerator or freezer. Stock will keep for about a week in the refrigerator, or 6-8 months in the freezer.
Tips for storing stock
Now that you know how to store stock, here are some tips to make your storage more effective.
When we say "heavy duty plastic container," you should think of the type that you'd get for a to-go order of wonton soup at a Chinese restaurant. In fact, you can save those containers to use for when you'd like to store soup or stock.
However, this is not your only option. For stocks that are highly concentrated in flavor, you can even consider pouring the stock into an ice cube tray. Once frozen, these small cubes can be transferred to a heavy duty freezer bag to further preserve freshness. Quick to thaw, these cubes can add a burst of flavor to dishes, almost like bouillon.
Once cooled, stock can also be poured into heavy duty freezer bags. Just make sure that you have a steady hand while pouring and plenty of room in the bag to seal it tightly, because things can get messy if you spill.
Measuring out commonly used quantities can make recipes easier later. For instance, storing the stock in 1-cup portions can make measuring easier later, giving you more time to think about the ingredients you'll use to transform the stock into a hearty stracciatella soup , for instance.
Be sure to write the quantity on a label the outside of the container, or directly on the outside of the freezer bag. This will be helpful if you stored your stock weeks ago and have since forgotten how much you pre-measured in each container.
Thawing your stock
If using stock that's stored in the refrigerator, let it come to room temperature before incorporating into a recipe unless otherwise specified.
If your stock has been stored in the freezer, you can thaw the stock gradually by placing it in the refrigerator overnight and letting it come to room temperature before using it in your cooking. For quicker results, you can place the container of stock in a vessel full of hot (but not boiling) water to thaw it out quicker.
Freezing the stock may dull the flavor. Taste before serving or incorporating into a recipe; you may want to add a bit more seasoning to make up for the flavor loss.
[box type="shadow"]Learn how to make 10 of Italy's most treasured soups from scratch, including stracciatella, minestrone, ribollita and more, with the Bluprint class Authentic Italian Soups: From Broth to Bowl , taught by celebrated cookbook author Domenica Marchetti .[/box]
Come back to the Bluprint blog on Thursday for a look at some creative garnish ideas that will make your homemade soups shine!