You can’t just stick hot soup in the freezer, and you certainly don’t want to water it down by throwing ice cubes into the pot. What’s the best way to cool down soups, stocks, and meat brines fast, so you can safely store them in the freezer?

Chowhound CindyJ recalls seeing so-called cooling paddles in restaurant supply stores—they’re paddle-shaped plastic bottles you fill with water, freeze solid, then use to stir a hot liquid till it’s cool enough to store. Only problem with that solution: You have to buy the cooling paddles. Here’s how Chowhounds improvise quick-chill solutions.

Up first is wyogal, who transfers hot stock to a metal bowl (a large hotel pan would work, too) and adds zipper bags of ice or Blue Ice hard packs, also sealed in zipper bags. Wary of plastic, seamunky floats a stainless steel bowl full of ice cubes in the hot stock, replacing the ice as needed.

TraderJoe thinks commercial cooling paddles are very effective, but notes that a Nalgene bottle filled with ice can work just as well. An ice bath is the solution for kaleokahu, who also recommends the rapid cooling properties of copper pans. And if it’s winter and you happen to be in, say, Canada, you can do as camelicious does: Go outside and plunk your soup pot directly into a snowbank.

Discuss: Do you improvise your own “cooling paddles”?

Photo of turkey brine cooling in a water bath by Flickr member wlayton under Creative Commons

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