Have you ever noticed how many recipes call for a small amount of broth or stock? Whether you make it homemade (like my homemade chicken broth for chicken soup) or buy ready-made, typically you’ll have much more than the small amount you need. What should you do with the leftovers? Here is a tip for saving leftover broth or stock that will save you time and money.
For food safety reasons, if you refrigerate the leftovers, you should use them within several days after you make it or open the box or can. Exactly how quickly depends on the broth/stock particulars; broth or stock containing meat, poultry or seafood must be used sooner than vegetable-only versions. By the way, generally stock is unseasoned or mildly seasoned, while broth is more robust, with seasonings. Sometimes what is labelled as soup could also be considered broth.
Also, there seems to be a range of time depending on who you look to for guidance. The USDA (U.S. Dept. of Agriculture) recommends 3-4 days for meat-based broth, but the boxed chicken and beef broth I have bought all suggest use within 7 days. I also checked a box of butternut squash soup I bought recently; that container has a label suggesting use within 7-10 days. My seafood stock box recommends use within 7 days of opening it.
Admittedly what to do with leftover broth/stock is not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, but it is annoying especially if you are trying to save money, and at least slightly troubling if you are trying not to waste food.
I’ve just solved this problem. The answer is easy and inexpensive. Freeze the broth or stock in ice cube trays. Once the cubes are frozen, transfer them to a quart or gallon-size freezer bag, date and label the bag, and you’ll have broth for whenever you need it. To use the cubes, simply defrost as many as you need on the stove or in the microwave. It’s a much better solution that freezing the entire batch in a single, large container because this way you can easily and safely defrost small amounts.
According to the FDA (Food & Drug Administration), food that is kept frozen lasts indefinitely, although after a period of months the taste may not be optimal. Use the cubes in a reasonable amount of time – measured in months, not years.
I measured the standard ice cube trays and each cube holds approximately ½ ounce. So, for example, if a recipe calls for ½ cup of broth or stock, that is the equivalent of 4 ounces by volume. Simply defrost 8 cubes (½ ounce per cube x 8 cubes = 4 ounces) either on the stove top or in the microwave.
What’s your best tip for avoiding food waste?