HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Are you making a specialty food? Get great advice

How do you freeze your stock?

nmurawsk Aug 31, 2009 05:28 PM

Made a big pot of chicken stock and froze in individual quart-sized freezer bags, about 2 cups per bag. The bags are now sitting in a baking dish in the freezer until frozen through in case anything leaks out. This seemed like a bit of a messy way to portion out the stock. Anybody have any better ideas?

  1. Chemicalkinetics Dec 28, 2011 06:08 PM

    I partition my stock into different small containers like these (not exactly, but similar):


    1. KarenDW Dec 28, 2011 05:36 PM

      Color me foolish, but I don't understand all the talk of "thawing". In 99% of *my own* applications of stock, I am heating the product to boiling. Starting out on medium low heat, any frozen stock has thawed pretty quickly :) By freezing the stock in heavy zipper bags, and keeping flat (about 1/2" to 1" thick, max), I am also able to break off small amounts of stock, when needed.

      1 Reply
      1. re: KarenDW
        Sooeygun Dec 29, 2011 08:19 AM

        I rarely thaw stock separately either. Comes out of the freezer, into the pot of whatever I am cooking. I freeze in small and large yogurt containers, so the only time I need to thaw it ahead is if I only need a smaller amount and am out of small containers. Even then (or for the rare use where it must be liquid), I probablywouldn't realize until the last minute and would dump it in a pot or microwave it.

      2. rockandroller1 Dec 28, 2011 11:46 AM

        We use the ziplock method too but I don't like microwaving them, you're not supposed to. I usually put the bag in another bag and then in a big bowl of warm water to thaw (so that if the inner bag leaks, you have another bag to catch the leaked liquid). It's imperfect, for sure.

        1. JuniorBalloon Dec 28, 2011 10:08 AM

          Does anyone can their stock? I find it difficult to use frozen stock. When I realize I'd like some it's frozen and I don't have the time to thaw, or I only need a little.

          I don't can, but am thinking about getting the gear for some other items and wondered if it's practical for stock.


          3 Replies
          1. re: JuniorBalloon
            John E. Dec 28, 2011 11:26 AM

            Because of the low acid content I think stock would have to be pressure canned and not a simple water bath.

            1. re: JuniorBalloon
              opinionatedchef Dec 28, 2011 02:09 PM

              if you reduce your stock into demi glace, it loses much of its water content, concentrating the flavors and essence of it; it becomes very easy to cut when frozen. as explained in my post above, i reduce mine significantly, cut into cubes and freeze. i take out a cube and cut off whatever amount i need. Add as is to a pot of hot food (soup, sauce, stew) to concentrate more meat flavor in your recipe, or add enough to very hot water and whisk; adding more if needed, til it tastes like stock; add salt and then use in your recipe.

              1. re: JuniorBalloon
                acgold7 Dec 28, 2011 06:35 PM

                Yes, I can my stock all the time with a large pressure canner. It can fit about six or seven quart jars at a time, or up to something like 22 pint jars.

                I really like being able to store the jars in a cupboard rather than the freezers. I have six or eight flavors available to me all the time, and I usually reduce them to double or quadruple strength before I can them.

                I will say you need to follow the directions exactly or you will die.

                Also, the higher temps involved in pressure canning do give the stock a little bit of that canned meat aroma you get from canned chili and the like. This dissipates a bit when you use it in other items, but I wouldn't use canned stock for a clear soup where the stock is the star.

              2. k
                Kelli2006 Dec 28, 2011 09:54 AM

                I freeze stock in ice cube trays and then transfer the frozen cubes to zip-lock freezer bags for long term storage.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Kelli2006
                  dustchick Dec 28, 2011 05:53 PM

                  We do this as well. Works great for portioning out for different recipes.

                2. KarenDW Dec 27, 2011 10:05 PM

                  Count me in the zipper-bag camp. Flattened bags stack nicely in small spaces. It's helpful to freeze stacks in a loaf pan, just to keep things flat. I keep 1 cup and 2 cup sized bags.
                  Messy portioning? Do you use anything to hold the bag up? I find a tumbler/bar-mixing glass works well, and folding the edges of bag over the cup helps to keep the zipper clean :) Rarely leaks, but I often just break the frozen stock into pieces and drop into the pan.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: KarenDW
                    xiaobao12 Dec 27, 2011 10:09 PM

                    Karen, can you elaborate on what you mean by using a tumbler? I can't visualize what you are saying, especially the part about folding the edges of bag over????...=d

                    1. re: xiaobao12
                      KarenDW Dec 27, 2011 11:23 PM

                      Set a pint glass or yogurt tub on the counter. Open the bag and put inside the glass. Roll the edges of the bag over the outside of the glass. The glass/tub will hold the bag firmly while one portions the liquid.
                      Or, recruit an additional set of hands to hold the bag open; with the edges folded/rolled out, of course.

                      1. re: KarenDW
                        xiaobao12 Dec 28, 2011 05:35 AM

                        OK. Gotcha. Thanks!

                    2. re: KarenDW
                      tzurriz Jan 7, 2012 03:23 PM

                      I put the bag in a 2 cup pyrex measuring cup. A 1 qt bag seems to fit perfectly. ;)

                    3. John E. Dec 27, 2011 10:01 PM

                      I just read through this entire thread and cannot believe nobody wrote a post saying they use our method for freezing stock. We use 1/2 liter water bottles. I got the idea about ten years ago from my father. My parents have a winter home in Arizona and have several citrus trees. The have more fruit than they can possibly use so he started to freeze orange, grapefruit, and lemon juice in water bottles. When I freeze the stock I stand them upright until frozen and then stack them on their sides on a freezer shelf. Either put them in the refrigerator to thaw or in the sink with warm water. Once we use the stock the bottles go into the recycle bin. Occasionally I have been impatient and take a serrated knife and cut the bottle in half to get the frozen stock out of the bottle, but that has not happened too often.

                      1. w
                        will47 Oct 13, 2011 04:56 PM

                        Last time, I finally followed the method of reducing the stock down to be really super concentrated and then freezing into ice cubes. It didn't stink up my (silicone) ice cube tray as much as I thought it would, but obviously you'd want to use a dedicated tray if you did this a lot. Tovolo makes some nice large size cube trays - some that are ~ 1" cubes, and some that are even larger.

                        It's worked pretty well so far. I just wish I were more motivated to make / reduce stock to freeze in the first place. It seems like it's always a multi-hour project (I'm a vegetarian, and usually make roasted vegetable stock from the big yellow 'Gourmet' book recipe).

                        1. t
                          tastesgoodwhatisit Oct 10, 2011 07:33 PM

                          I reduce my stock by a factor of four (we have a small freezer). Then I let it cool completely and de fat it. By that point, the stock is pretty jelly like, so I measure it out, ladle it into small labelled freezer bags, seal well, and then let them freeze flat.

                          Once it gets that jelly like, it's easier to scoop into the bags, and there's much less chance of it leaking. For labelling, I just write, for example, "Add 1 1/2 cups for 2 cups stock".

                          I also freeze ~ tablespoons sized portions in a twist of cling wrap, snapped together with a bag clip, for when I just want a little bit of stock.

                          I use the freezing flat in a bag method for things like tomato paste and when I make spice pastes and curry pastes. That way I can easily break off a tablespoon or so when I need it.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit
                            opinionatedchef Oct 11, 2011 10:21 PM

                            For those unfamiliar wth the term, 'demi-glace' is french for ' half ice'; it is stock that is boiled down to a syrup consistency and used as a base (often with reduced wine) for a 'reduction sauce.'
                            Even if you don't want to use it for a sauce, the method of cooking down the stock (releasing the water from the stock and concentrating the flavor) is a great way of using less storage space in your freezer. To get the demi glace back to the consistency of stock- for soup etc, just boil water and add the frozen demi, and stir to combine. Add water til you get the flavor you want.

                            I make huge batches of stock, chill them and remove the fat layer, and boil down the stock to syrup. Then i pour into a rectangular plastic container, cool and then freeze. once frozen, i slide a knife around the edge of the demi; flip out the solid demi rectangle; and cut it into a grid of approx 1/2 or 1 c. size chunks. These i put in a ziplock bag. the frozen demi cubes are very easy to cut with a knife to suit your needs, if you find yourself needing more or less. Chicken stock has a lot less gelatin in it (chicken bones have lesss gelatin than beef and veal bones)so when it is reduced it is not as easy to get neat chunks(veal and beef demi gets like dark brown rubber) but it is still space saving to cook it down and store it in a small container and cut off as much as you need to blend with hot water and get the flavor and amount of stock you need.

                            1. re: opinionatedchef
                              Sooeygun Oct 12, 2011 06:03 AM

                              Classical Demi glace is 1/2 stock, 1/2 espagnole (brown) sauce that is further reduced. It's not just reduced stock.

                              Some people make a bastardized version that is just reduced stock (sometimes thickened). Julia Child referred to this as "semi-demi-glace" I can't be bothered making proper demi, so more often use the semi-demi.

                              We usually freeze half of each stock batch (made in a 24qt stock pot), just as stock and the other half we reduce to make cubes and pucks. The stock is stored in yogurt and sour cream containers.

                              1. re: Sooeygun
                                opinionatedchef Dec 28, 2011 12:30 AM

                                weird; i'm pretty sure my nomenclature and its definition come from jacques pepin 30 odd years ago (when i firt started doing it.) sauce espagnole not mentioned; demi glace= reduced stock. iirc.i'll have to look for my original recipe for it- from Pleasures of Cooking!
                                yep, 30 yrs ago!

                                i just can't figure out why anyone would not cook down all their stock, for more efficient freezer use. I just finished a 20 lb of chicken bones batch which ultimately cooked down to a shallow fish bin of demi; maybe 15-22 cups. but maybe those people don't keep much in their freezers.

                              2. re: opinionatedchef
                                T.Clark Oct 12, 2011 07:29 AM

                                FWIW.....'demi-glace' is French for half-glaze, not half ice.

                            2. j
                              jmnewel Oct 10, 2011 03:32 PM

                              Am I the only one who uses Kerr Mason jars for freezing stock? I use a range of sizes from 1 qt. to 1/2 pint. Too often I want to thaw some stock quickly, so I gave up on plastic because it is not good to heat plastic in the micro. The glass is no problem. Of course, this is tempered glass made for freezing and pressure canning.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: jmnewel
                                mateo21 Oct 10, 2011 04:25 PM

                                No, you're not! I freeze my stock in leftover jam jars, peanut butter jars... and something else, though I can't remember what it was from. I've never had an issue with breakage.. at least in the freezer, I only have a few mason jars left, as I'm kinda clumsy doing dishes!

                                1. re: jmnewel
                                  al b. darned Oct 10, 2011 04:33 PM

                                  I have a chest freezer and a drawer-type in my fridge. I'd be afraid glass containers would break with all the rummaging around for stuff.

                                  I use Chinese take out soup containers. They are tough and seal tight. When I need stock thawed quickly, I put a quart in the microwave for a couple of minutes, just enough to loosen it from the container, and upend it into a pot, remove the container, and melt it down.

                                  1. re: al b. darned
                                    onrushpam Oct 10, 2011 04:42 PM

                                    I have a whole stack of the Glad "disposable" plastic containers. My daughter bought me a mega-box of them @ Costco as a Christmas present last year. I put 2 cups each in the rectangular ones, which stack well in the freezer. I thaw in the fridge or microwave briefly, then dump out and melt down in pyrex cup for further nuking. I made 9 containers of chicken stock last weekend and will probably do a similar amount of beef stock this coming weekend.

                                  2. re: jmnewel
                                    Allice98 Oct 11, 2011 06:42 AM

                                    I use the glass freezer jars for freezing lots of things. I love being able to stick them in the microwave to defrost and appreciate that when i get it defrosted that on occasion that i can heat the stock in the same glass container(s) for what i am about to use it for.

                                    1. re: jmnewel
                                      Rella Dec 27, 2011 09:31 PM

                                      I've been freezing stock in Ball (glass) jars for years. I've never had a jar break in the freezer. I thaw in the refrigerator. If I'm in a hurry, I will place a smaller jar in a pan of cold wter so that it will slip out easily.

                                      1. re: jmnewel
                                        sandylc Dec 28, 2011 07:42 PM

                                        Thank you! I use glass canning jars with plastic lids for my stock. I hate plastic in my food and avoid it when I can. If I am in a hurry, I can microwave the jars to melt the stock. A quart jar holds 2 cups of stock without bursting.

                                        1. re: sandylc
                                          Rella Dec 28, 2011 07:47 PM

                                          I also use either the plastic lids or the regular 2-pc. canning lids, just depending. I avoid the fat/plastic/heat whenever possible.

                                          One reason I do thaw in a glass of water or in the refrigerator is that I discontinued use of a microwave a few years ago.

                                      2. scubadoo97 Oct 10, 2011 07:52 AM

                                        I've done zip bags and plastic containers. Currently I have several plastic containers in the freezer. In the past I used quart bags. The bags freeze flat and you can stack them so they take up little room in the freezer but invariably they leak when defrosted so I place them in a microwaveable container and defrost or drop in a pan on the stove.

                                        1. n
                                          Normandie Sep 2, 2009 04:19 PM

                                          I put a one-cup portion into a quart-sized freezer bag, partially seal the bag, then squeeze the air out and seal it.

                                          Then I put two of those bags, with the stock in them, into another quart-sized bag, squeeze the air out and seal it. I've never had a problem with leakage, but that's why I put two of them into another bag--just in case.

                                          1. r
                                            Reignking Sep 2, 2009 10:05 AM

                                            I bought 4 cheap ice cube trays; anything that doesn't fit there goes into the fridge.

                                            1. a
                                              Allice98 Sep 2, 2009 09:56 AM

                                              In a similar vein to this, what is everyone favorite way of defrosting stock?

                                              I am not a big fan of freezing liquids in bags because like others I have had horrible luck with little holes in the bags and then things leak. When my kitchen is back up and running from redo I am going to be freezing in pint jars.

                                              Do most of you defrost in a microwave? Just thaw in fridge? Put frozen block of stock in a pan and slowly heat?

                                              8 Replies
                                              1. re: Allice98
                                                ScubaSteve Sep 2, 2009 10:03 AM

                                                whack it with a cleaver to the size i want and chuck it in a pan.

                                                1. re: ScubaSteve
                                                  lemons Sep 2, 2009 11:16 AM

                                                  Pretty much the same way. I just figure I'm gonna sacrifice the plastic bag, and I never defrost anything that has liquid right on the counter, anyway; lots of things leak.

                                                2. re: Allice98
                                                  Normandie Sep 2, 2009 04:21 PM

                                                  I usually run the bag under hot water, just enough to loosen the frozen stock from the plastic. Then I heat the block of stock in a pan.

                                                  1. re: Allice98
                                                    tzurriz Oct 11, 2011 07:19 AM

                                                    I put the bag in the microwave for 15-30 seconds, just enough to let me get it out of the bag, and then let it melt in the pot I'm making the soup in. :)

                                                    1. re: tzurriz
                                                      xiaobao12 Oct 11, 2011 06:17 PM

                                                      I thought it wasn't good to microwave any sort of plastic that is touching food?

                                                      1. re: xiaobao12
                                                        tzurriz Oct 11, 2011 06:38 PM

                                                        Probably not, but oh well. ;)

                                                        1. re: xiaobao12
                                                          al b. darned Oct 11, 2011 08:24 PM

                                                          It depends on the type of plastic, how long/high you heat it, and how paranoid you are.

                                                          1. re: xiaobao12
                                                            LabLady Oct 11, 2011 09:55 PM

                                                            I believe zip lock bags have no BPA, because it is added to plastic as part of the hardening process. I'm not an expert, but that's the impression I got when I was searching for whether or not sous vide is a problem.

                                                      2. BeaN Sep 1, 2009 06:19 PM

                                                        I ladle it into plastic cups that I put on a tray in the freezer. The next day I turn the frozen pucks of stock out into a freezer bag. I prefer one cup portions for easier handling.

                                                        1. Jen76 Sep 1, 2009 03:28 PM

                                                          Be careful when you defrost them. The last time I tried this method, the bags ended up getting tiny holes around the seams and when it defrosted, it leaked everywhere. Put them in a bowl to defrost. ;)

                                                          1. h
                                                            Harters Sep 1, 2009 02:35 PM

                                                            Freezer bag lining plastic container. Once frozen, the container is removed, of course and I have nice cubes of stock.

                                                            1. Paulustrious Sep 1, 2009 01:07 PM

                                                              I just use yoghurt containers. Leave about 1 inch because the centre swells as it freezes. Easy to remove, just turn upside down and run under warm water. They release a lot faster than square sided containers.
                                                              I don't worry about freezer burn. What is freezer burn to a stock? Once it melts it's gone. There is no detectable change in flavour - at least not to me. They fit in my freezer door stacked two high.

                                                              1. ScubaSteve Aug 31, 2009 06:13 PM

                                                                i use the same system you list. i don't put them in anything during freezing, i just lay them flat until solid then they can go anywhere in the freezer.

                                                                when i need less than a whole bag i just hit it with a cleaver then put the remainder in another bag.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: ScubaSteve
                                                                  lemons Sep 1, 2009 02:11 PM

                                                                  Exactly. Once they're frozen solid I take them out of the 8x8 pan I've put them in, and store them standing up. AND I LABEL THEM FIRST. Very important, that.

                                                                  1. re: lemons
                                                                    ScubaSteve Sep 1, 2009 02:14 PM

                                                                    i usually don't have more than chicken and beef so the color is my label.

                                                                    1. re: lemons
                                                                      xiaobao12 Oct 9, 2011 07:15 PM

                                                                      lol lemons. i found your advice of labeling very helpful and humorous....thank you. all other advices appreciated also - thanks.

                                                                  2. greygarious Aug 31, 2009 06:11 PM

                                                                    This is a superior way of storing frozen stock, because you can open the bag when frozen to press out all remaining air, which enables you to store longer without the freezer burn that eventually afflicts stock frozen in containers, because there's air in the headspace.

                                                                    1. m
                                                                      malisa0607 Aug 31, 2009 05:58 PM

                                                                      I freeze mine in Ziploc Twist 'n Loc containers. I used both the 2 cup and the quart containers. These are the same containers we use for our soup club. Sometimes I will reuse the soup containers from Chinese restaurants.

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: malisa0607
                                                                        nmurawsk Aug 31, 2009 06:09 PM

                                                                        Re-using takeout containers is a good idea. I just don't have that many plastic containers to store in the freezer for several weeks. I'd love to find a way to make 1-2 cup discs, and then store all the discs together in a ziplock bag, if that makes any sense.

                                                                        1. re: nmurawsk
                                                                          malisa0607 Aug 31, 2009 08:21 PM

                                                                          I think I understand what you want. I've never tried making 1 or 2 cup disks with stock but I do freeze demi glace and leftover wine in ice cube trays. Once they are frozen, I remove them and store in a freezer bag (or tupperware container). I think it can work if you adapt this technique to make larger "ice cubes." I think the key is finding the container for freezing. I'm not sure if you can find an ice cube tray that makes larger cubes.

                                                                          Some possible ideas:

                                                                          1. Use one of those silicone baking molds (i think the cupcake or the sheet of mini loaves will work) to freeze your stock. Once frozen, pop them out and then store in freezer bags.

                                                                          2. Freeze stock in round 1 or 2 cup containers and once they are frozen, submerge them in hot water to loosen the frozen stock and then transfer to freezer bags for storage. Alternatively you can probably line the inside of a container with plastic wrap to make it easier to remove the frozen disk.

                                                                          The Ziploc Twist 'n Loc containers are really inexpensive. I buy them on sale and I pay about $1 each. I must have about 20 to 30 of them in both the 2 cup and quart sizes. They are reusable. I avoid using Ziploc bags whenever possible. They are really difficult to reuse and I hate the idea of throwing them out.

                                                                        2. re: malisa0607
                                                                          Querencia Oct 9, 2011 09:24 PM

                                                                          See what a good excuse we all have to buy Baskin-Robbins hand-dipped Jamoca Almond Fudge by the quart. Their sturdy containers with those pink tops are perfect for freezing soup.

                                                                        3. goodhealthgourmet Aug 31, 2009 05:47 PM

                                                                          plastic containers, always. ladle the stock in, leaving a little space at the top to accommodate for expansion, and seal the entire container inside a large freezer (heavy-duty) zipper bag.

                                                                          Show Hidden Posts