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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Turkey Broth - Preserving Thanksgiving

For the first time ever, I decided to keep the bits and pieces of unused turkey to make a broth. I have thought about it several times, but always forgot to have my husband save the unused parts.

Basically, I'm about to take all the bits of turkey gristle, bone, and any meaty bits that were not taken off the bones during carving. We had about an 18 pound turkey this year. 

Put all the bones and unused bits into a very large cooking pot.

Add an onion (with peel removed), a few carrots (these do not need to be peeled if they are washed really well-I used 6) and some celery (I used 7).

Cover with water, bring up to a simmer. You do not want to boil this hard, the harder it boils, the cloudier it will get. So just barely bubbling.

It's basically going to be doing this all day or all night. I just put the wooden spoon there for a photo challenge, but I wanted to share it anyways. I kept the lid on during the cooking process to make sure that not too much was let out to evaporate (again, I don't want it to be any cloudier than it has to be).

At the end of the day, I turned off the burner, and removed the pot from the heat. I used a colander in a large bowl to drain off the bits and pieces. I lined the colander with a white kitchen towel (flour sack towel). I returned the broth to the rinsed pot. I let the pot sit all night on the stove top undisturbed. The fat will float to the top as the mixture cools, and you can then remove the excess fat before reheating and canning.

This broth will need to be pressure canned because it is low acid. Since it is liquid and there are NO chunks in this broth, we only need to can for 20 minutes (for pints)!

Due to my elevation, I checked my chart again at the front of my Ball Blue Book.

My weighted canner needs to have the 15 pound weight on top. 

As in previous posts, I had my jars filled with water sitting in my pressure canner (the water keeps them from floating) while the canner was warming up on the stove with no lid on it. This brings the glass up to temperature so that when I put the boiling broth in it, there will be no breakage. I removed the jars when the broth got to a boil, dumped the water down the sink, and put the now-empty jars onto a towel to protect the counter from the heat and the jars from temperature shifts (the counter is so much colder than the jars).

Fill the jars to one inch from the top with the broth. Wipe the rims, place on lids (I don't preheat the lids when pressure canning, I just make sure they are clean), add the rings, place in the canner (verify the canner has enough water in it (go by manufacturer's instructions).

It's important to make sure the jars have a tiny bit of wiggle room, don't jam them up against the side trying to fit another in, we want to make sure the steam can get to all sides of the jars so everything heats up nicely.

The most important step in pressure canning is to make sure the stem that holds the weight is clean and clear of debris.

I can see straight through it, so we are all good!

Place the lid on the canner, and lock it into place. Let the pot heat up until there is a steady stream of steam coming out the top (we are evacuating the cold air from the top of the canner). My Presto canner is supposed to exhaust a steady stream for ten minutes. But please check your user manual, as each canner is different, and if done for too long you may boil the canner dry and ruin it, or you may not exhaust enough air.

Once the steam has exhausted for 10 minutes, I place the weights on stem, and wait for it to jiggle slow and steady. Once the weights are jiggling to my liking, I start the timer for 20 minutes. Remember, the weights must jiggle the whole time. If they stop, you must restart the time.

After 20 minutes, I can remove the canner from heat and allow the canner to drop pressure. Remember not to force any pressure out as it can lead to jar breakage, seepage of jar contents, and failed seals.

Once the canner has dropped in pressure, I can safely remove the lid and the jars. Once they have completely cooled, test the seals and remove the rings. Label the contents, and move to storage. 

I have a second batch in right now, two didn't seal on the first batch (I really really despise these newer lids). I got a total of 12 pints off the turkey carcass. And that has to be one of the thriftiest things I have ever done. AND, we get to enjoy our Thanksgiving leftovers for a full year (if they last that long!).

You will notice I didn't add any salt or any herbs. I wanted this broth to be just that, a broth. I can add salt and seasonings later to match whatever dish I'm using the broth in. 

'Til next time,



  1. You're so smart to do that! Homemade broth is the best. :)

    1. I'd been wanting to do it for years, but this was the first year I had the common sense to not throw away the bird! :D

  2. I need to order me some mason jars to try this broth. Thanks