Holiday Leftovers: Preserving Turkey Stock

Like “Black Friday” sales, one thing you can always count on seeing right after Thanksgiving are dozens of recipes for leftovers.

You can only reinvent Thanksgiving leftovers so many ways. And, I’m generally tired of turkey after Thanksgiving, anyway. So my favorite way to do leftovers is to make soup and put it in the freezer for later.

I never buy stock for my soups because I love making my own. It’s ridiculously easy. You know exactly what’s in it. It’s economical. And bone broth stock is actually really really good for you–it’s a natural anti-inflamatory. Here’s a great site that explains it much better than I, with all you need to know about why you should make your own stock.

Once processed, it’s better to store your canned goods without the ring, and always label and date them.

 Last year, I started making stock in my crockpot rather than a big stockpot on the stove. The goal in making stock is to slowly cook the bones so they release their flavor, as well as minerals and nutrients into the water. This process is helped by the addition of an acid, like white wine. The crockpot is great for this because it maintains a low simmer for hours, and costs pennies to operate. I usually cook my stock in my crockpot for between one and two days.

This Thanksgiving, I was in New York City, but my mother-in-law saved her turkey carcass for me. I was tickled to death to learn that she’d decided to make a second turkey for Thanksgiving. Two carcasses! Score!

I used the two carcasses in separate batches, which yielded about five quarts of stock each. With the first carcass, I made a pot of turkey vegetable soup with a quart of stock and the meat bits left on the bone, and I froze the rest of the stock. I usually freeze a variety of sizes; quarts, pints and 1/4-cup portions (frozen in a muffin tin and stored in a gallon zip-lock bag in the freezer). However, this time of year, my freezer space is running at a premium. After the first batch of stock, I didn’t think I had room for another pint!

I checked the Ball Blue Book to see if you could can stock, and sure enough, you can! By the way, in my opinion, this book is the authority on canning. Any home canner should have a copy. Because it’s a low-acid food, to can it properly, it needs to be pressure canned. I’m not totally comfortable pressure canning, like I am hot-water bath canning. I’ve only helped my mom pressure canning a couple times, never done it on my own. Luckily, my mom was coming over to my house, so she could supervise me to make sure I wasn’t forgetting any important steps.

Mom reading the directions to me–ALWAYS follow the directions that came with your canner.

I was thrilled to get a pressure canner for Christmas a couple years ago from my in-laws, but I’m ashamed to admit I’d never used it. Chalk it up to my fear of pressure canning, and the fact that I have a glass-top range. It’s not recommended that you use a pressure canner on those, because pressure canners require a high level of heat, which can crack or break the glass.

However, both my mom and mother-in-law have glass-top ranges which they use their pressure canners on, so I put my fears aside and cracked open the box to the pressure canner. I’m the owner of a really nice pressure canner actually. Too bad I waited so long to start using it.

Here’s my step-by-step for making stock:

You will need:

1 turkey carcass (or equivalent amount of chicken or beef bones–about 2 pounds)
1 cup white wine
about 2 cups of vegetable scraps*
1 Tb of kosher salt
2 bay leaves
2 tsp of ground black pepper
1 Tb of minced garlic

Place the bones in the bottom of the crockpot and add the wine. Add the vegetable scraps and fill the crockpot with water to the rim. Add seasonings. Cook on low setting at least 24 to 48 hours. Broth will be improved the longer it is cooked. After cooking, let stock cool slightly. Spoon out large bones and scraps with a slotted spoon, then strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve. You can either freeze or can the stock. Refer to the Ball Blue Book, or another reputable source for canning instructions. Stock will keep in the freezer 4-6 months, or canned up to 1 year.

*I keep a zip-lock bag in the freezer to collect carrot peelings, bits of onion or tomato that you would normally discard when chopping, stems from parsely and other herbs, broccoli stalks, the ends of celery stalks, etc.


One thought on “Holiday Leftovers: Preserving Turkey Stock

  1. Pingback: Stocking Up | Delicious Potager

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