Why would you home can stock?
Stock just might be the number one secret weapon in a cook’s bag of tricks. Start with a solid flavour base such as a good stock, and your audience would lap up boiled running shoes.
Commercial stock cubes are okay in an emergency, but they aren’t cheap anymore, and most of their flavour often comes from all the cheap salt manufacturers now use to replace more expensive actual flavour ingredients.
Homemade stock is deceptively easy to make. Storing it, however, by freezing takes up premium freezer space, better saved for other things: canning stock is the most efficient way to store it for easy, future use.
Canning recipes for stock
Ball canned stock recipes
Vegetable stock. In: Ball Blue Book. Muncie, Indiana: Healthmark LLC / Jarden Home Brands. Edition 37. 2014. Page 108. (Identical to the Bernardin Vegetable Stock recipe, below, which is online.)
Note: The Ball / Bernardin Complete Book repeats the same three beef, chicken and vegetable stock recipes above.
Presto canned stock recipes
Beef and Chicken. Presto Pressure Canner and Cooker Manual, 23 quart model, #72-719F. 2014. p 16 and 17.
USDA canned stock recipes
The University of Alaska Extension says that the USDA beef stock recipe can also be used for venison.2 Note, however, that the University of Wisconsin Extension issued this caution about deer stock in 2002; it’s unclear if it still holds today or not, or was just localized to Wisconsin at the time, etc: “….because of concerns related to Chronic Wasting Disease, making broth or stock from deer bones is not recommended at this time.”3
Canning fish and seafood stock
Sadly at this time there don’t seem to be any research-based processing times developed by reputable sources for fish or seafood stock. Freeze instead of canning.
Getting free, no-work stock
This approach does require a small amount of space in the freezer, as it’s an opportunistic, cumulative method. But, if you’ve ever felt guilty about pouring the vitamin and flavour-laden water from your jars of carrots, beans, squash, etc down the drain, this method will turn that previous waste into a treasure.
- keep plastic tubs in the freezer;
- every time you open a jar of home canned veggies, add the water to one of those tubs;
- every time you open a jar of meat, add the water to one of those tubs;
- go ahead and mix liquids in a tub for a wonderful complex depth of flavour;
- soon you have tubs full of nutrient dense, flavour-rich, free stock for no effort;
- thaw and use as your stock for home canned soups, (or for use as stock for non-canning uses as well!)
When you are making the National Center for Home Food Preservations “free-wheeling” soup recipe, the directions are great for canning a safe soup. It can be, however, a bit tricky as a cook adjusting the taste so you aren’t canning bland jars of “soupe à l’eau“. If you use the above “collected stock” as a base for their soup recipe instead of water, when you go to taste the soup at the end of cooking just before canning, half the time you’ll go, “we’re done here….” It will need little if any flavour adjustment owing to the rich, complex layers of flavour you added with your collected broth from your home canned goods.
Cooking stock in a pressure cooker
The USDA oddly only gives boiling in an open pot directions for how to make stock. Oddly because, if they are addressing a pressure-canning crowd, it’s a crowd far less likely to be afraid of pressure cookers. Many people feel that stock from a pressure cooker is better quality than stock from an open pot.
One of the mistakes people make when making stock in a pressure cooker is to cook it for far too long. In a pressure cooker, with stock, you reach a point where no further cooking time will extract any more flavour from the bones or ingredients. You have got all you’re going to out of the ingredients. Going past that is a waste of time and energy and won’t achieve anything except waste the planet’s increasingly scare fuel resources.
Here are stock pressure cooking times given by the Laura Pazzaglia, author of Hip Pressure Cooking.4 (To be clear, these are times for pressure cooking a stock, before canning it. These are not canning times.)
- Beef / pork stock: 55 minutes
- Chicken stock: 30 minutes
- Vegetable stock: 10 minutes
- Seafood stock: 5 minutes
Use natural slow pressure release for all above at the end. You would then proceed with appropriate pressure canning times for the type of stock. (Note: there are no guidelines for canning fish or seafood stock.)
Less is more with stock
When making stock, try to think concentrated flavour and less volume of water.
Sometimes people try to make “more stock” by adding loads of water, but they just dilute the flavour, and increase the amount of storage space required for a banal, bland broth.
If it you keep it less diluted down, fewer jars and lids are needed to can it (or fewer tubs to freeze it.)
When you are cooking stock in a pressure cooker, it’s best to just cover your ingredients with water.
If you really need to, you can just dilute the stock down with water when you open the jar later and go to use it.
Save your stock up in the freezer for batches
Let’s take the example of a chicken carcass.
You cook it in a pressure cooker with just enough water to cover it, on high, for 30 minutes.
You end up with about 1 litre (1 US quart) of stock after straining.
Certainly not enough to justify firing up the pressure canner to process it.
No worries: put in a tub, and freeze. When you get enough saved up to justify a canner run, then process it then. Just thaw and heat to a boiling, then proceed with canning.
Fat-free stock is not only better for you, it also cans better: there’s less fat to possibly interfere with your jar seal, and, less fat to possibly go rancid in storage.
For fat-free stock, place stock you’ve just made in a tub undisturbed overnight in the fridge. In the morning, all the fat will have congealed at the top in a layer for easy scraping off.
Then freeze for future canning in a batch. Or, heat to a boil and proceed with canning then and there if you have enough for a canning run.
Nothing morally wrong with stock cubes
In a pinch, you can always use stock cubes.
There’s nothing “morally” wrong with it, and we all do occasionally. Just hold off on salting what you are making until you have tasted it as the cubes are usually small salt bombs.
Stock cubes can be great for “instant” stock to pressure can jars of meat in.
That being said, if you are going to keep stock cubes on hand, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t, canisters or jars of powdered stock such as those that Bisto and Bovril make are far cheaper than buying small boxes of cubes. A teaspoon of powder equals about one stock cube usually.
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Complete guide to home canning. Agriculture information bulletin No. 539. 2015. Page 5-7. ↩
Ingham, Barbara et al. Canning Meat, Game, Poultry and Fish Safely. Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin-Extension Cooperative. B3345. 2002. Page 10. ↩
Pazzaglia, Laura. Hip Pressure Cooking. New York: St Martin’s Griffin. 2014. Pp 47 – 50. ↩