The Biggest Mistake You're Making When Freezing Chicken Stock

Making homemade chicken stock is a delicious and economical way to use up leftover chicken bones and veggie or herb scraps. Whether it's stock or broth you're after, making your own can be an incredibly convenient way to always have this ingredient on hand. Use it for meal prep or, as The Kitchn suggests, soups that rely on pantry staples. You can even set it and forget it in the slow cooker, according to The Spruce Eats

When you make stock, you typically make a lot of it at once. If you don't happen to use the entire batch, The Harvest Kitchen notes it'll last about five days in the fridge. If that's not enough time to use it all, they recommend turning to your freezer to preserve the leftovers. There's a ton of resources out there with tips on how to make the best stock, but before you go ahead and plop all of it into the freezer, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Give your stock some space

The most important thing to know when freezing stock — or any liquid really — is that water expands when it freezes. You can expect a roughly 9% increase in volume, according to The International Association for the Properties of Water and Steam. According to Science Facts, this happens because "as water freezes, the hydrogen bonds push the H2O molecules farther apart from each other, increasing the intermolecular space." This can cause some seriously catastrophic results. 

As one Reddit user admits, their biggest mistake was not accounting for this increase. The user overfilled the jar they used to store their stock, and the expansion caused the glass to shatter in the freezer. Some other Reddit users suggest the ingenious solution of skipping the containers altogether and individually portioning stock into ice cubes for easy control over how much to use. The Harvest Kitchen echos the call for an ice cube tray and also circumvents the container issue altogether by freezing the liquid in resealable freezer bags. No matter your choice of vessel, always make sure to account for expansion when freezing chicken stock.