Who doesn't like a frozen soup treat?
This week I made A LOT of ham stock and froze it all in silicone muffin molds. Then I popped out these little soupsicles into a freezelock baggie so that I can have homemade stock whenever I need it.
This was the first time that I have made stock in this quantity and it's also the first time I've ever attempted to freeze them into individual use pieces. As it happens whenever I do anything for the first time, I had a few mishaps. I subtitled my blog, "Misadventures in the kitchen" for a reason. I have graciously decided to share my mistakes with you so that you can avoid making the same ham-scented mistakes in your own kitchen.
A. 1.5 pounds of ham makes a lot of stock. I couldn't find the usual little hamhocks of Virginia ham here in Norway (can you imagine??) so I bought a hunk of ham from the local ICA grocery store. I only understood one word on the packaging: skinke, meaning ham. I thought it had the bone in it which was why it was so large and since I planned to trim back the fat, I figured I would have just enough for a 6 quart stockpot. When I got home, I discovered it was all meat and skin and the 6 qt. stock pot was not going to be enough. I made 2 huge pots of stock. I have a lot of soupsicles so if you have any recipes that involve a lot of ham stock, please for the love of my freezer space send them my way.
2. Silicone muffin molds are very bendy. That's good, right? It's GREAT for easily turning out the soupsicles into a baggie but they're TERRIBLE for transportation of unfrozen stock to the freezer. They sag in the middle when you pick them up. On the first round of freezing, I dribbled a trail of ham stock from the counter to the freezer drawer. This photo displays just how bendy they are.
3. Use a tray. After the first mess, I wizened up and created a little carrying tray for transporting my unfrozen stock to the freezer. Here's a picture of my creativity. Unfortunately, I almost always forgot to put the empty silicone molds onto the tray before filling with stock so there was always a little bit of spillage. The only difference was the mess was localized to my counter, instead of my entire kitchen.
4. The measuring cup is your best friend. It's so much easier to pour stock from a measuring cup than to try and ladle the soup into each muffin mold. What with sloshing soup around my kitchen, neatness didn't matter much to me but it might for you.
d. Using a metal muffin tin to freeze soup is a big mistake. BIG. I kind of knew it was but I decided to give it a whirl anyways because I was getting impatient with the freezing process. So when you start to get a little impatient, remember that the metal tins are not your stock-freezing-friend. It might look inviting with its 24 cup molds and its sturdiness but you will curse and kick yourself when you want to get those little soupsicles out of that damned tray. I like to call this picture, "Desperation."
6. Label your plastic baggie of stock. You'll notice I haven't yet done that to mine. It'll probably come back to bite me in the heiny.
Why would I make my own stock when Swanson's is so handy? They don't sell canned broth or stock here as far as I can tell. The only thing I can find is bouillon and I'm not a fan. Also, I like knowing what goes into my food. Just remember: when making stock pops, moderation, measuring cups, trays, and paper towels are your friend.
A good sized piece of your favorite ham, not to exceed 1/2 pound
1 laurel leaf
3 stalks of celery, cut into big pieces
3 carrots, cut into big pieces
1/2 onion, cut into big pieces
1/2 tsp of whole peppercorns
2 cloves garlic, smashed
Fill a 6 qt stock pot with water. You want to leave about 2 inches of space from the top of the pot. Place the laurel leaf, garlic, and peppercorns into the water and let it come to a boil. When it is boiling, put the ham, carrots, and celery into the pot. Bring the water down to a light simmer and let it simmer for 2-3 hours. Check for seasoning but make sure not to oversalt. Strain the soup and discard the meat and vegetables. They don't make for good eating...unless you're into that sort of thing.
Note for those watching their fat intake. Stick your pot of stock into the refrigerator overnight when it's done simmering. The next day, the fat will have solidified making it super easy to just lift off the top of your stock. If you're in Oslo and you have a very limited amount of refrigerator space, try putting your stock outside on the balcony for a few hours. Chances are it's colder outside than it is in your fridge.