All month long, we’re celebrating our Cookbook Club’s first birthday by revisiting every cookbook we covered so far. Members have been posting about a wide range of dishes—revisiting old favorites and diving into books they didn’t get a chance to cook from the first time around.
But the topic that’s really had everyone chiming in so far isn’t a complicated dish or a hard-to-find ingredient, it’s a basic meal building block. We’re all talking about stock, thanks to Sandra Hickman Simmons’ post about making a “giant vat of chicken broth, also called Aunt Renee's Chicken Soup,” from Julia Turshen’s Small Victories. She asked how everyone freezes their stock and hundreds of members weighed in. We gathered four of the smartest ways we heard from the Club below. Plus, read on to find out what books we’ll be covering next in the Club.
Michele Kepinsk says, “I always freeze stock and soup and use wide mouth mason jars. I have various sizes that I use and it works really well for me and I like the fact they are reusable and are environmentally friendly, no BPA issues, and keep the cost down over time. I have amassed a good collection from Walmart and Goodwill. Over the years I have only lost 1 jar when it was pushed against another in the freezer and developed a crack.
Anne Markel concurs, “I do the same, and use metal lids. Just be sure to leave enough head space for the stock to expand, because it's definitely going to expand! I leave at least an inch, maybe a bit more.”
Donna Rautenstrauch uses glass containers rather than jars. She says, “I got mine from IKEA, they were affordable, and since they’re square, there’s no wasted freezer space.”
Don Scott is a fan of portioning stock with a muffin tin, “I chill my stock in an ice bath then use a large muffin tin (mine are exactly one cup) and freeze them. When frozen I vacuum seal them to prevent freezer burn and extend freezer life.”
Shena Peake likes to portion it out too, but goes even smaller, “I freeze stock in ice cube trays so if I just need a bit for deglazing I can grab a few, and if I want to make soup I use the whole bag of cubes!”
Hollie Day shares, “I am a believer in freezing liquids in the zip-top bags. It's nice being able to have them lay flat, you can just Tetris them in the freezer.
Pippa Tabron agrees, adding that she puts them “flat on a baking tray until frozen” first.
Rebecca Levi likes zip-top bags as well, but she uses a different method: “Put zip-top bags in bowls. Fill bags to the size of bowls. Freeze. Take out of the bowl. Stack the bags up frozen in bowl shape.”
The original poster, Sandra Hickman Simmons, says: “I decided halfway into the process I wanted to freeze it in some quart size containers like you get your soup in at a Chinese restaurant so I called ours and asked if I could buy some of their containers. They were initially confused when I didn't want soup, then they had to figure out a price, but eventually, they agreed to sell me some and my husband went and picked them up.”
Laura Ratliff agreed with this suggestion, saying, “My husband used to bring me quart containers all the time when he was working in a restaurant! I need to restock!”
Along similar lines, multiple members suggested visiting a restaurant supply shop for containers. Not all are open to the public though, so double-check before you go. And if you can’t get your hands on restaurant-quality containers, many members recommended other types of plastic storage containers, like these.
Those of you who are familiar with our Cookbook Club know the books we cook through are self-selected by the group. Last week, we held a vote for the cookbooks we'll focus on in next few months. So, without further ado, here's what's ahead for the Club:
March: Smitten Kitchen Every Day by Deb Perelman
April: Simple Thai Food: Classic Recipes from the Thai Home Kitchen by Leela Punyaratabandhu
May: Nopalito: A Mexican Kitchen by Gonzalo Guzmán with Stacy Adimando
June: The Moosewood Restaurant Table: 250 Brand-New Recipes from the Natural Foods Restaurant That Revolutionized Eating in America by The Moosewood Collective
2018 Bonus Book: Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden
What is a bonus book? While we focus on one book a month, this is an extra book that members can cook through the whole year long, too. The group will have more time to cook through McFadden’s book, and members will always have this book as an option to cook from if they don’t have access to the book of the month.
If you’re new to the Club, head here for a primer on how to participate.
Have strong feelings on freezing stock? Or the results of the vote? Tell all in the comments.