Freezing stock in jars

After our vacation in Michigan, book-ended with all the prep that goes into packing for a family of five, and all the laundry/bedtime-adjusting/post-vacay-depression-fighting/reality-facing on return, it had been a couple weeks since I’d made it to the Goodwill Outlet.

What, I’ve not convinced you just how high this is on my priority list? My sister tweeted last weekend that I’m “a yard sale [or trip to Goodwill] shy of an A&E reality show” (hey, if it paid, I’d consider).

Friday afternoon, I saw an opportunity. My husband was taking our older two kids to an event, and as I pondered my options for the evening, it hit me that they bring out new bins at The Outlet at 5pm. I texted my friend Sarah, picked her up 20 minutes later, and was on my way to avoiding a weekend of withdrawal symptoms.

The first thing I picked up to put into my cart was a big box of Poise Undergarments.

Not, of course, filled with its original contents, but rather with 24 quart-sized Ball jars. Glassware costs only 49¢/pound, so the box probably ran about $4.

At home, Tim rolled his eyes and shook his head as I Goo-gone’d, washed, and sanitized the jars. No, I had no specific plans for them, but I knew I needed them. They went right back into the Poise box, and into the basement.*

Only to come out two days later, as I started my first pot of chicken stock, prepping for soup season.

In years past, I’ve frozen my stock in ziplock bags, stacking them flat in the freezer to maximize space. But on many occasions I thawed a bag only to find that, in getting knocked around in the freezer, it had split. Translating into a loss of valuable stock and a royal mess, discovered only after the bag had thawed into a pool that dripped undiscovered, quietly and steadily, to the floor.

But with a deep-freezer in the basement, I can spare a little room for freezing stock in jars. My friend Stefanii cans her stock in a pressure-canner, and I’m hoping to get to that someday. But until then, the freezer will do, with a little care.

A few things are important when freezing liquids in glass jars:

  1. The liquid should be cold. For my stock, I chill it down quickly after cooking by stirring it over an ice bath. Then I ladle the cooled stock into jars and refrigerate them overnight before freezing.
  2. You must leave head room at the top of the liquid — a couple inches, or to be safe don’t fill above the 800ml line (for a quart jar). Liquid expands a lot when frozen, so you need to leave room for that expansion, or the jar can explode under the pressure (a safe-guard is to leave the lids off until the liquid is completely frozen — good to do if you have a level freezing surface).
  3. Don’t freeze liquids in jars larger than a quart. Something about the liquid expansion and the size of the jars makes half-gallon and gallon-sized jars much more likely to break.
  4. (EDITED 9/24) Just read in an Urban Garden magazine that using straight-sided (i.e., wide-mouth) jars is safer than using jars w/ shoulders, as the curved glass is weaker.

Of course, before you freeze stock, you must make it.

Have I mentioned I am a Proselytizer of Homemade Stock? Oh, right. I have. Well, in case some of you weren’t listening, I’ll be covering it again soon.

Assuming I have the time, between trips to The Outlet.


* Note: The fact that I am once again showing you photos of my basement can be construed as nothing short of a cry for help. Recently, Emily descended the steps with me into the abyss, and after taking in “The Room” where junk is piled so high it is questionable whether enough oxygen exists for a human to survive, she could only muster the understatement, “You could use some storage shelves.”


I linked this post up to Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS.


14 thoughts on “Freezing stock in jars

    1. Lori, I also love the jars because it lets you avoid any weird plastic contamination. Although thawing in jars definitely takes longer (I used to soak my bags in cool water to thaw).

  1. Well, as a nearly-native Californian, can I say how lucky you are to have a basement to mess up and fill with possibly useless items? REALLY LUCKY! But I’ll come and help you with your basement organizing if you’ll pay me in stock frozen in glass jars 🙂

    1. Ok, Beth, you’ve convinced me. I am now thankful for my basement rather than overwhelmed by it!

      (Though it’s probably still an enabler for my hoarding, thrift-loving self.)

      And it’s a deal — frozen stock for your organizational help ; )

  2. Talk about stock again soon, Katy! I’m making some later this week, and it’s been awhile. I could use some pointers, if you’ve got some in addition to your several-years-back post (which I’ll surely reference). And I love the idea of freezing in jars. I’ve gotten annoyed with using bags, too.

  3. Dear Katy,

    I wish you would start a cooking advice column. If you did, I would ask your recommendation on what to do in the following situation. Having obtained a (pricey) local, organic, pastured chicken – frozen – I soaked it, secure in it’s plastic wrapping, in cold water. But the plastic wrapping was not secure; it had holes. Water (from the semi-clean sink I foolishly did not more deeply clean beforehand) seeped in, filling the bag . . . and the bird. I am, at the moment, proceeding with cooking the bird for stock and meat, but haven’t yet decided if I’ll actually eat it. But it cost SO much. What would you do??

    Respectfully submitted from One Germaphobe to Another,
    Rebecca Martin

      1. It’s totally fine!!! (as long as you’re cooking it now in fresh water — even if it wasn’t fresh water, as long as you boiled it for as long as it takes to cook through, it would kill any bacteria that had a chance to multiply).

        More than one Thanksgiving, I woke to a still-frozen bird at roasting time. I took the whole bird out of its plastic and soaked it uncovered in cool water (so the water had access to the cavity). Then cooked it an hour or so later.

        Enjoy your chicken and stock!

  4. Thank you, Katy!!! I know you know how huge my relief is. I’d hoped this would be the answer. I probably would have eaten it, anyway, but now I can do that without cringing inwardly at every bite.

  5. I could have used this post last week before I broke two half gallon jars while attempting to freeze stock. I was so mad at myself for wasting such beautiful stock.

    1. Actually, the Goodwill Outlet is probably more organized than my basement.

      Are you willing to intervene? Know any professional organizers that work for loaves of bread?

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