Don’t toss that leftover turkey and the bones away – make turkey stock at home! As seen in Chop & Brew – Episode 43: Making Turkey Stock at Home.
• We use a plug-in roaster oven and pan, partly so we can leave it for long periods of time and not have to check on the flame/temp/etc.; you could use large stock pot, brew kettle.
• Basket Scoop or other straining spoon
• Mesh Strainer
• Gallon Zip-Seal Bags
It’s difficult to put an amount on the herbs and vegetables here because not everyone will use the same size kettle/vessel for simmering the stock. This is a rough outline of what we use. Adjust your ingredients to taste. We use some spices/herbs like garlic and red pepper flakes that others don’t use; you may want to consider holding them for the actual recipe you are going to cook with the stock. We do NOT suggest salting your stock at all. Add salt later when you use the stock for cooking.
• Turkey Carcass – bones, some meat and fat
• Bay Leaves
• Red Pepper Flakes
• Black Pepper
• Chop carrots, celery, onion and garlic into fairly large pieces, not minced or diced; combine in bowl
• Remove most of the usable meat from the turkey, leaving some smaller bits of meat intact on bone; break of turkey carcass into small sections of bone/meat/fat so that they will fit inside a roaster pan or large crock pot; place carcass pieces inside large roaster pan.
• Fill roaster pan with enough water to cover the piece of turkey carcass
• Add carrots, onion, celery mix. Stir to cover with water.
• Add herbs of your choice. We suggest bay leaves, rosemary, sage, Italian-style parsley, red pepper flakes, ground oregano, black pepper. Herbs still on stems can remain on the stem, which also carry a lot of flavor in the stock-making process.
• Add garlic cloves – they can be whole, chopped or minced.
• Stir to incorporate and put lid on roaster.
• Set initial temperature to 250F. We want to bring this mix to a gentle boil before simmering.
• After a couple of hours, this mixture should reach a temperature about 190F. You’ll notice the liquid already starting to darken and get a bit fatty and rich. Stir the mixture. Put the lid back on the roaster and reduce the heat to 190F. We want the stock to simmer now for hours without coming to an actual boil. Leave it overnight.
• The next morning, remove lid. You’ll find the stock is much darker. The veggies have become soft and wilted, the meat and fat has fallen off the bones.
• The temperature of the stock should be around 190F.
• Remove larger pieces carcass pieces and vegetables with basket scoop
• Use paper towels to remove fat from the surface of the stock; you can get more off later when the stock is chilled
• Cool stock outside (one benefit of living in Minnesota) or you could do an ice bath, homebrew style! Last year it was about 20F on our porch which brought the stock down to the upper 40s in about eight hours. Once stock is chilled, skim more fat from the surface.
• Strain stock. Using a measuring cup, scoop stock through fine mesh strainer into a large bowl or even a non-brewing bucket would work. This helps pull out smaller bits of spics, herbs, meat and bone from the stock. We could probably get our stock clearer, but aren’t all that worried about it. We fill our collection vessel with about six cups of stock for individual bagging. You could do less if you wanted smaller increments for using in the future. Some people have even suggested freezing in ice cubes holders and storing small cubes for cooking when you need them.
• Bag Stock. Pour stock into high-quality one-gallon zip-seal bags for storage/freezing. We use an ice cream bucket to hold the bag in place to make this step a bit easier. Try to get as much air out of the bag as you can so the stock has space to expand when it freezes. Six cups of stock should fill a bag about halfway when held upright.
• Freeze, intelligently! After the storage bags are filled place them in the freezer. Consider freezing them flat (and stacked) or in some other container that will contain the liquid. See the Chop & Brew episode above to see how we managed to mess this step up and avoid doing what we did. Again, we suggest you freeze the bags flat or inside of a larger Tupperware or box that will hold the shape while freezing.
• Usage. So now you have frozen stock that will keep for months. Since we freeze fairly large quantities, we generally use our mainly for soups and stews. But if you could certainly freeze smaller amount to use for gravies or general cooking purposes where you want a more flavorful liquid than plain water.