Every Thanksgiving I make turkey stock. Whether I roasted the bird or not, I always call dibs on the turkey carcass where ever I go.
The last couple of years, I made a good, strong turkey stock, with lots of herbs and spices. Last year, I decided to make a clear stock.
It’s pretty easy if you follow a couple of rules.
The main reason you’ll get a cloudy stock is because the fat coming off the skin and bones gets emulsified into the stock. It gets suspended in the stock, junk clings to it, and you end up with cloudy stock.
With my normal stock, I wanted all of that flavor and fat. After all, if the stock is being used in an emergency situation, you want to maximize calories for energy, and flavor for mental health and enjoyment.
Well, I’ve got gallons of the stuff in quart jars, and herbs and all, it kind of limits the use of the stock to chicken/turkey soup, or heavier creamed soups. This time around, with the clear stock, it can be used to add a healthful liquid to stir fry, steaming rice or veggies, or whatever you’d use the commercial stuff for. And it wouldn’t scream THANKSGIVING! to all that eat it!
Start by roasting the carcass. I took the bare bones, broke them into smaller pieces and put them into a 350F oven. Twenty minutes, flip them over, twenty more minutes.
Throw them in a BIG stock pot after you removed all of the fatty skin. The one I used is about a 4 gallon pot that will produce 2 gallons of finished stock. Cover the bones and any vegetables (carrot ends, celery ends, onion ends) with COLD WATER. This is the first rule. By the stock heating up slowly, for some reason, the fat stays clumpy and floats to the top, rather than getting distributed in the stock.
Give the whole thing a big stir to make sure everything is covered, crank on the heat, and step away. NO MORE STIRRING. That’s the second rule. You don’t want to get that fat broken down and incorporated into the stock.
Bring it to a boil UNCOVERED. Yeah, that’s the third rule. For some reason, covering the pot makes the stock cloudy. No idea why.
Once the water is boiling, TURN IT DOWN to a simmer. That’s rule four. A hard boil, blah, blah, blah, fat. You get it. Let it simmer for about an hour and a half. Use a ladle every 15 minutes or so to skim off the fat and scum that bubbles to the top of the pot.
When it’s finished, pour the whole mess through a colander to separate the bones and veggies from the stock. Put the stock – covered – in the fridge until it’s cooled off. We want the remaining fat to harden on top.
Skim off the rest of the fat. I then home canned up 7 quarts of the stock (it made 8 quarts, but my pressure canner only holds 7 quarts).
I brought the stock up to a simmer, and poured it into clean, hot jars, to within 1 inch of the top. When I was pouring it into the jars, I held a very fine mesh strainer under the ladle to catch any bits and pieces that might be suspended in the stock. Wipe the rim, and pressure can at 10lbs for 25 minutes (time will vary at altitudes over 1,000 feet – adjust accordingly).
Below, the jar on the left is from 2 years ago. It was a “full Monte” stock, simmered just like the clear stuff for 90 minutes, but with spices and stirring. Notice the fat and herbs stuck to the upper part of the jar. The one on the right is last year’s batch.
There is nothing quite like the flavor of homemade stock. Better yet, in my eyes, all of this is free food. Items that were destined for the garbage in most homes is “recycled” into some of the best stuff on earth.
That whole, “Waste not, want not” philosophy goes a long way in my household.
New to home canning? Go to our Independence Library, scroll down and download the PDF version of the USDA Principles of Home Canning.
Have a great Thanksgiving!