Cool a batch of homemade stock in small batches in the refrigerator, then it can be frozen for later use.

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By Kathleen Purvis

Q. I have just made my first-ever beef stock. How long will it keep in the refrigerator? Or is it best to freeze it all and take it out as I need it?

A. Stock will keep about four days in the refrigerator if you chill it properly. To do that, let it cool first. It’s not a good idea to put a large container of hot liquid straight into your refrigerator. The container won’t cool all the way through quickly enough. And it will raise the temperature in the refrigerator, which is hard on the other food around it.

You can divide the warm stock into smaller containers to chill it quickly. Or you can put the whole container in a large bowl of ice and stir it occasionally until it’s no longer piping hot.

Even if you’re going to freeze the stock, refrigerating it overnight is a good idea. The fat will rise to the top and harden, making it easy to remove.

Freezing is your best long-term option. Make sure you measure the stock, to make it easier to use later. I usually make up freezer bags with 1-cup and 2-cup portions so I can pull out what I need. Use freezer bags or freezer containers, and make sure you label them.

It takes a few minutes of effort, but it pays off. Having stock you made yourself waiting in the freezer is like having a jump start on hundreds of recipes.