Today I am sharing a really simple and almost free way to make homemade Turkey stock. I love making homemade stock because I take what would have been simply thrown away – the carcass of my Thanksgiving turkey, and with that I make lots of wonderful stock that can be used for many future meals. All it really costs me is a few vegetables for flavor, and the time it takes to do it.
What is the difference between broth and stock? To me, not much. I use them interchangeably in recipes, I really do. But technically speaking, broth is made from cooking a bird with the meat on. You save the liquid after and use the meat for recipes. Stock is made from cooking the bones, cartilage, and whatever is left after you’ve used as much of that edible bird as you can. Stock usually has a slightly darker color than broth. That’s about it.
Now I use this method for making both turkey stock or chicken stock. The only real difference is the quantity that you get when you are done. A big bird, more stock. Smaller bird, less stock. When I make a turkey, I always make the biggest turkey I can possibly find. This year I was cooking for 5 people, and I made 30 pound turkey! I figure if I’m going to all that work, why not get lots of meals out of it? Half of the turkey was served for Thanksgiving and the usual leftovers. The other half was immediately frozen in portions for future meals.
TIP: Don’t have time to make stock during the crazy holiday time? Freeze the carcass in a large freezer bag and thaw it out when you have time in the next couple weeks.
So how do you make it?
Take the carcass of your turkey or chicken and place it in a pot that is big enough to hold it. You can cut it into pieces if you like. You can also break the bones to give the water better access to the nutritious marrow inside. It’s up to you. Because I cooked an
ostrich really big turkey, I used a canning pot to make my stock in. But generally most people would be able to use a stock pot, soup pot or even a Dutch oven.
Add in 4 stalks of celery, 5 carrots and 2 whole onions – chopped in half, and a tablespoon of peppercorns. You can cut the carrots & celery into chunks if you like, but my pot was huge so I just tossed them in there. For a chicken, or much smaller turkey, you could cut those in half, or use the same amount. It’s up to you. I don’t add salt to my stock when I am making it though, because I like to control it when I am using it for recipes.
TIP: As you make every day meals, don’t discard your vegetable scraps. Celery hearts? Carrot ends & peels? Onion skins and ends? Save them! As you acquire these, store them in a gallon sized zip-lock bag in your freezer. When the bag is full, you can use it for making broth like this, instead of adding the whole vegetables. Or you could make a batch of vegetable broth. Save all those veggie pieces – scraps of herbs are great too! I’m really big on not wasting things and if you can find a use for what normally would be thrown away, why not!? If you do happen to have a bag of veggie scraps, use those and the peppercorns.
Add enough water to the pot to cover the carcass. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer – you don’t want active boiling, but you still want motion in the liquid. Let this cook for 4-6 hours. The longer the better! How do you know when the stock is done? Give it a taste. If it tastes weak, let it cook longer. You could let it cook all day if you wanted. The point is to create a rich, flavorful liquid. When you have that, you are done cooking.
After it has gone through that long simmering process, place a sieve over another pot (or other large containers) and ladle the stock through it.
Discard the carcass and vegetables. Refrigerate the stock for a few hours or overnight. As you do this, the fat will come to the top and harden. Then you can easily scoop it right off. You don’t have to remove the fat, but I find that turkey can be quite oily and prefer to. Chicken doesn’t seem as fatty, and I don’t generally do it for that.
Now – what to do with all of that stock? You really have two options. First, you can pour it into heavy freezer bags and freeze it by the pint or quart. Or you can pressure can it. Freezing is easier, but if you have a pressure canner, jarred stock doesn’t take up freezer space and doesn’t need to stay frozen to stay good.
This is the process I go through for pressure canning. Be sure to know what the elevation is where you live, because it makes a difference as to how you do it!
You’ll need clean, sterile canning jars and lids, a ladle, canning funnel, clean cloths (linen dish towels work great) and canning tongs (jar lifter).
You’ll bring that beautiful stock up to a nice hot simmer, like it was when you made it. Not boiling, but really hot. Add water to your canner – the amount is determined by your pressure canner’s manufacture. Always keep you handbook that comes with it. My pressure canner has a line inside it that you fill the water to. Turn your stove eye on low to let it start getting hot while you jar your stock.
Ladle the hot stock into hot jars using the ladle and funnel. Wipe away any drips from the edges with your clean cloth. Close the jar with the sterile lid and ring and place it in your pressure canner. Once you have jarred enough of your stock to fill the pressure canner (check your handbook to know the capacity), seal your pressure canner and turn the heat up to high. You’ll bring the pressure up to what is needed for where you live, and process for the necessary time.
You’ll process pints for 20 minutes, quarts for 25 minutes.
This is a general guide for reference, but again, know your altitude and check your pressure canner’s handbook to be certain.
After that, you’ll carefully remove your hot jars to a draft-free spot in your kitchen. I put them in the corner of my counter, on a layer of kitchen towels. Then just walk away. You’ll hear the Ping!s of success as the jars cool.
24 hours later, label the jars, remove the rings and store them in a cool, dry place. You have wonderful stock for future meals!
TIP: For a smaller bird, you could make stock in your slow cooker. Simply place the ingredients inside, cover with water and let it cook all day or overnight. When the liquid is nice and flavorful, preserve it by freezing or canning.