Ahhh . . . stock. Watch any cooking show on TV, read any mainstream cookbook or food blog and you will come across that beloved ingredient . . . stock. Chicken stock. Beef stock. Veal stock. Vegetable stock.
Stock is nourishing. Stock is flavorful. Stock is frugal.
It’s the best of all worlds.
And, if you make it at home, it’s even better. A simmering pot of chicken stock is pretty much de rigeur around here the day after I roast a chicken, and T. knows better than to disrupt my bags of frozen chicken parts, awaiting their turn in the stockpot.
But then, once you’ve made it, how does one store stock? Sure, at the store, it comes in nice, cute, little, shelf-stable boxes, but at home it’s a bit more difficult of a storage problem. I’ve frozen it, with great success, in both freezer bags and glass jars, but I didn’t find it as useful for me. I’d forget to defrost it in time, or it ended up taking too much space in my small apartment freezers. When we moved to our new home, my freezer got smaller still, but in the interim, I inherited a pressure canner from my grandma, and oh, the places I can go with it!
My favorite (and what I use it the most for) pressure canning recipe? Stock.
It’s changed my life.
No longer will toes get bruised as jars of frozen stock stumble out of the freezer, no longer will an upset tummy or a last-minute decision of risotto have to wait for defrosting, no longer will I have to juggle stock amongst my ice cube stash and frozen peas and herbed butters, NO LONGER. No, my stock is ready and waiting in my pantry (or basement, or floor of the hall closet, or under the bed, get the idea?) and, with the advent of this canning panacea, I have found one more delight . . . having the opportunity to experiment and can different kinds of stock, ready at my will for my use. Whenever I want.
Canning stock for the pantry, in eight simple steps
1. First, make the stock of your choice. (Several recipes are listed below). This technique will work for all stocks that I’ve researched (chicken, beef, veal, lamb, ham, vegetable and fish) – but please note that canning soup is different than canning stock (which has been strained) so please use this technique only for preserving stock. I normally make the stock one day, strain it and let it cool, and process it the next day.
2. Sanitize jars. I sanitize mine in the oven. Just wash, leave slightly damp (do not dry with a towel) and place jars on a baking sheet in the oven for a minimum of 30 minutes at 250 degrees Fahrenheit. I love this approach because it is one less huge pot of boiling water I have to deal with, plus if something happens delaying my canning (like dirty diapers, nap times, whatever), the jars just stay in there, becoming extra sanitized, while they wait for me. I process in both quart and pint jars.
3. Strain stock and place in a pot on the stove. Bring stock up to a boil.
It is essential that the stock is re-boiled after straining and before processing to make sure there is no bacteria that might have begun to grow from the time you “cooked” the stock to the time of processing (as I normally make my stock a day in advance). Plus, pouring hot stock into hot jars that are placed into a hot pressure canner will both insure the jars don’t break and will allow the water in the canner to boil quicker and more efficiently and to come up to pressure quicker once processing begins.
4. Prepare pressure canner for processing. Turn heat on under the canner. Heat two quarts of water (I use my electric kettle for this) and place in bottom of pressure canner with jar insert in.
5. Prepare lids and rings. In a small saucepan, place two-piece lids in a pan of simmering or just steaming (NEVER boiling) water for a few minutes.
6. Fill and seal jars. Remove jars from oven, a few at a time, and place on a towel-lined counter next to your stove, on the side the stock is heating on. Using a ladle and a wide-mouth funnel, fill sanitized jars with stock, leaving about an inch headspace at the top.
Wipe the mouth of the jar with a damp paper towel, then place two-piece lids on jars, tightening to finger tightness.
Place jars in pressure canner as you fill them until your canner is full or the stock is all jarred. My pressure canner will hold 7 quart jars.
7. Begin Processing. Place the lid on your pressure canner and lock it into place. Turn the heat under your canner up to medium-high to high.
Please note: There are two types of pressure canners; a dial gauge and a weighted gauge. I have a dial-gauge type and only have experience with that specific variety. The instructions below are what I use with my dial-gauged canner. If you have a weighted gauge canner, please follow your manufacturer’s instructions and process for the time and pounds pressure as indicated below.
For the dial gauge canners, make sure you keep the petcock open for ten to fifteen minutes to allow the water inside to come to boil and release any excess air in the canner, then close it up tight and, watching the dial gauge, bring the pressure up to 10 pounds pressure, which will take about eight to ten minutes.
Once it reaches 10 pounds pressure, begin timing.
Process quart size jars for 25 minutes at 10 pounds pressure, and pint jars for 20 minutes at 10 pounds pressure.
You will have to reduce the heat under the canner over this time from medium-high to medium low to keep the pressure constant at 10. You do not want it to go under 10 pounds pressure, but if it goes over two or three pounds before you notice to turn it down, it’s not a big deal.
8. Once timing is complete, turn off stove and remove the canner from the heat. DO NOT OPEN OR UNLOCK THE LID. Allow the canner to return to Zero Pounds Pressure on it’s own, which will take about fifteen minutes, before loosening the petcock. Allow to sit, with an open petcock, for about five minutes.
Then (and this is what my canner instructions recommend, which are from circa 1942; if your instructions say differently, follow whatever you’re more comfortable with!), unlock the lid, remove the top of the canner and immediately throw a large dishtowel over the top and allow to cool for about five minutes before removing the jars, using canning jar lifters, out of the canner to a waiting, towel-lined counter. Allow jars to cool completely before testing for seals and tightening lids for storage.
Once cool, stock will keep in correctly processed jars for up to a year in your pantry!
Tips, Notes and Links:
- Before you ask, the answer is no. You cannot can stock in a boiling water canner; you must pressure can stock. If you don’t have a pressure canner accessible (can you borrow one from a friend?) simply freeze it, as I always did before I owned a canner. Stock is a low-acid food and only in a pressure canner can it both be heated high enough at a high enough pressure to kill any inherent botulism that may be lurking about.
- If you’re canning (at the same time) both quart and pint jars, always process for the larger jar; 25 minutes at 10 pounds pressure.
- If you’re concerned about the BPA found in typical canning jar sealants, consider buying re-usable Tattler lids. I hope to buy some for next year, but for now, am just using what I can find at the local hardware store!
- Curious about the different varieties of pressure canners and what else you can use them for? Read this link.
- Here’s my recipe for chicken stock; I always make it with the carcass of a roasted chicken rather than boiling a whole chicken and then eating poached, boiled chicken (I prefer eating roasted). The picture above is turkey stock using this same method. . . Don’t have a large stockpot? I often just throw it all in the slow cooker and cook it on low for ten or twelve hours.
- Stephanie has a great post with details and tips on how to make a really good, gelled stock.
- And Diana has an awesome post on puchero, a traditional Spanish stock made with a combination of three meats, pork, chicken and beef marrow bones.
- Kimi has a neat post on lamb stock, which, like beef stock, uses roasted bones before cooking down.
- I’m planning on making beef stock in the new year (an early resolution!) but until I do and post a recipe, here’s a great pictorial on a traditional roasted beef stock.
- Elk, moose or venison soup bones can be substituted for beef in any beef stock recipe if you’re a hunter . . . and if you hunt waterfowl, try Hank’s dark duck stock.
- Hank also has an awesome crab stock, which, as a bit more delicate, I’d probably freeze rather than pressure can, but I couldn’t resist including it in the links, just in case you’re looking for a recipe!
- And, a classic fish stock . . .
And, of course, one of my favorite “stock’s” of all is not a stock at all, but my raw, salt-cured vegetable bouillon, which I keep in my fridge at all times!
Any other stock recipes I’ve missed? What is your favorite way to use stock?