Are you a fan of making homemade ham stock?
It’s a great way to use up leftover ham bones and create a flavorful base for soups and sauces.
But once you’ve made a batch, how long can you keep it in the fridge?
In this article, we’ll explore the shelf life of ham stock and provide tips on how to store it properly.
Plus, we’ll share a delicious recipe for ham and lentil soup that will have you reaching for your leftover ham bones in no time.
So let’s dive in!
How Long Does Ham Stock Last In The Fridge?
Ham stock can be stored in the fridge for up to one week if it has a good, thick layer of fat that has solidified on top of the liquid. This layer helps to preserve the stock and prevent bacteria growth.
However, if your ham stock doesn’t have a good fat layer, it’s best to consume it within 3-4 days to ensure freshness and safety.
To extend the shelf life of your ham stock, consider freezing it in smaller portions. Quart-sized freezer storage bags or glass jars work great for this purpose.
When you’re ready to use your frozen ham stock, simply thaw it in the fridge overnight or in a bowl of cold water.
What Is Ham Stock And How Is It Made?
Ham stock is a flavorful liquid made by simmering a ham bone or ham hock with vegetables and herbs. Like beef or chicken bones, ham bones contain a lot of flavor that can be extracted through simmering to create a rich and savory broth.
To make ham stock, start by placing a ham bone or hock in a large pot with vegetables and herbs such as carrots, celery, onion, garlic, parsley, and a bay leaf. You can also use leftover vegetables and herbs from other recipes. Black peppercorns can be added for extra warmth and spice, but it’s best to hold off on adding salt until the end of cooking.
Cover the ingredients with cold water and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam or impurities that rise to the surface and reduce the heat to a low simmer. Plan to simmer the ham bone for at least 3 hours to allow the water to extract all of the bone’s meaty flavors.
Alternatively, you can make ham stock in a slow cooker by cooking it on high for 8 hours or on low for 12 hours. This provides low, even heat that is perfect for hands-off simmering.
Once the stock has cooked for several hours, remove the ham pieces and vegetables with a slotted spoon and discard them. Taste the stock carefully to check if it needs further concentration of flavors. If needed, turn up the heat to medium and boil gently for 30 minutes or more until some of the water is boiled away.
To strain the stock, use a fine mesh strainer or yogurt strainer to remove any remaining solids. If desired, add ham flavor base or concentrate to intensify the ham flavor. Finally, freeze the stock in small portions using plastic containers with tight-fitting lids or quart-sized freezer storage bags.
Signs That Ham Stock Has Gone Bad
It’s important to know the signs of spoiled ham stock to avoid any potential health risks. Here are some indicators that your ham stock has gone bad:
1. Off smell: If your ham stock smells sour, rancid, or has a strong odor, it’s likely gone bad.
2. Discolorations: If the color of your ham stock has changed significantly or has darkened, it may be an indication that it’s no longer safe to consume.
3. Slime: If you notice any slimy or sticky residue on the surface of your ham stock, it’s a sign that bacteria have started to grow and the stock has gone bad.
4. Bad taste: If your ham stock tastes off or has a bitter aftertaste, it’s likely spoiled and should not be consumed.
If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to discard the ham stock immediately. Consuming spoiled ham stock can lead to food poisoning and other health issues. Always store and handle your ham stock properly to ensure its freshness and safety.
Tips For Storing Ham Stock Properly
To ensure that your ham stock lasts as long as possible in the fridge, follow these tips:
1. Make sure your ham stock has a good, thick layer of fat on top before storing it in the fridge. This layer helps to preserve the stock and prevent bacteria growth.
2. If your ham stock doesn’t have a good fat layer, consume it within 3-4 days to ensure freshness and safety.
3. Store your ham stock in smaller portions to make it easier to thaw and use as needed. Quart-sized freezer storage bags or glass jars work great for this purpose.
4. Label your ham stock with the date you made it before putting it in the fridge or freezer. This will help you keep track of how long it has been stored and when it needs to be used or discarded.
5. When storing ham stock in the freezer, leave some headspace in the container to allow for expansion as the liquid freezes.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your homemade ham stock stays fresh and delicious for as long as possible.
How To Use Leftover Ham Stock In Recipes
Leftover ham stock is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of recipes to add depth and flavor. Here are some ideas for using up your ham stock:
1. Ham and Bean Soup: Use your ham stock as the base for a hearty soup by adding beans, diced ham, and vegetables like carrots and celery.
2. Risotto: Substitute ham stock for chicken or vegetable broth in your favorite risotto recipe for a rich, savory flavor.
3. Gravy: Add ham stock to your gravy recipe for a delicious accompaniment to roasted meats.
4. Braised Greens: Use ham stock as the liquid for braising collard greens or kale. The smoky flavor of the ham will complement the bitterness of the greens.
5. Casseroles: Use ham stock instead of water in casseroles like macaroni and cheese or scalloped potatoes for added flavor.
6. Sauces: Use ham stock as the base for a flavorful sauce to serve with pork chops or other meats.
Remember to taste your recipes as you go, as the saltiness of your ham stock may vary depending on how much salt was used in the original recipe. With these ideas, you’ll be able to use up your leftover ham stock in no time!
Recipe: Ham And Lentil Soup
Ham and lentil soup is a hearty and delicious meal that is perfect for chilly evenings. Here’s a recipe that uses homemade ham stock to add depth of flavor to the dish.
– 1 pint ham stock
– 2 carrots, diced
– 2 cloves garlic, chopped
– Small knob of butter
– 200g lentils (brown or green)
– 3 or 4 sage leaves
– Leftover ham from making the stock
– A dash of Worcestershire sauce
– Salt and pepper to taste
1. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the diced carrots and sauté until they are softened and slightly browned, about 5 minutes.
2. Add in the chopped garlic and sauté for another minute until fragrant.
3. Add in the lentils, sage leaves, ham stock, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let it simmer for about an hour or until the lentils are tender.
4. Add in the leftover ham from making the stock and Worcestershire sauce. Let it simmer for another 10 minutes.
5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Serve hot with a side of jasmine rice, cauliflower rice, crackers, or crusty bread.
This recipe can be stored covered in the fridge for up to five days. To reheat, simply heat on the stovetop or in the microwave until heated through. Alternatively, you can freeze this soup for up to eight weeks in an airtight container or freezer storage bag. Thaw on the stovetop on medium heat or in the fridge overnight before reheating.