I get this question a lot: “How long can I store my stock?” Although it isn’t the most exciting topic on the planet, I’ve got answers!
Homemade Stock vs. Store-bought Stock:
If you bought broth or stock at the grocery store, it is likely in a storage container that isn’t required to be refrigerated until after you open it. Your best bet is to follow the instructions on the box, can or jar about how long it can be stored in the fridge after that. You may also choose to transfer it to a zipper storage container, mason jar or other freezable container for storage. More on that in a minute.
Homemade stock is best kept in the fridge or freezer. While you make your stock, you’ll want to decide how to store it, depending on when you plan to use it. If you won’t be using it within 2-3 days, freezing is the best option. If you’re planning to use it right away you can simply get it into the fridge in well-labeled containers.
Cooling Stock for Storage:
You’ll want to make sure you cool the pot in an ice bath before placing it in the fridge. There are two reasons for that, both relating to temperatures that foster bacteria growth (fun stuff I learned all about in my Texas Food Handlers licensing course). One is to get the stock to a cooler temperature quickly, so as not to allow bacteria to grow. Secondly you don’t want to put a hot pot in the fridge because it will raise the temperature of everything around it until, and make your fridge work overtime to get back to the correct state. This means that until that pot is cooled off, bacterial growth is much more likely for EVERYTHING in that fridge. Ew! Don’t risk it. Food poisoning is no joke.
Containers for Storage:
If you’re putting your stock in the fridge you can even leave it in the pot since you’ll be using it soon. Be sure to cover it tightly after you’ve cooled it (above).
For both fridge or freezer, you can also transfer the stock to zipper storage bags, sealed containers or mason jars. Be sure to label everything with the contents and date clearly marked for future reference, and for other members of the household.
If you’re freezing your stock, be sure to use freezer-grade bags or sealed containers. When using mason jars, be sure to use only the flat-walled jars, which are marked with an indicator line for how full to safely fill for freezing. This leaves about an inch of empty space in the jar that allows for expansion of the liquid during freezing, thus preventing the disastrous broken jar. I always refrigerate my jars first so that there is no chance of shocking the jars with temperature change when placing into the freezer. Just another little insurance policy against broken glass. Always use new lids on your jars, as the seal needs to be clean and tight.
I’m repeating my self here, but please always remember to label your stored foods clearly with contents and date. Use a Sharpie or other permanent marker on freezer tape. Yep! There is an actual type of tape just for this! Of course, lots of zipper bags also have a label space you can write on. Whatever works best for you, label it! Not just for the convenience of having an organized fridge and freezer, but if your stock is past the date you should consume it, you’ll know.
How Long to Freeze Safely?
Stock or broth should be frozen for no longer than three months. This sounds a little disappointing if you have no plans to use it in your near future. But guess what? You can use it in all kinds of unexpected ways. I wrote about that here. Then again, I wrote a cookbook with a load of great recipes for soup, so if you need more inspiration, check it out! Even in the warm weather months, you can make soup in a slow cooker without heating up the house. Yum!
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions, comments, feedback or tips about how you store your stock!