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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Cleaning Out the Freezer - Chicken Stock

Stock making is a year round activity because we use a lot of stock.  I prefer stocks over water for cooking many savoury dishes because they add flavour.  The vast majority of the stocks I make are home canned for convenience.  Stocks can be home canned any time of the year but I prefer to can them during the winter months when there is less fresh produce to process.  I also prefer to make stock when there will be enough run the pressure canner at half to full capacity.  I freeze bones to be used for larger batch stock-making during the busier canning season.

chicken stock simmering
This batch started with five large zipper freezer bags of chicken bones.  All stocks are richer and more flavourful when made with roasted bones.  In this case, the bones were from chicken that had been charcoal grilled during the summer months.  This adds an subtle extra flavour element to the stock.

I started the stock with cold water, onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves, and peppercorns.  Stock-making is always a two day process.  The stock is made the first day, strained of the bones and vegetables then cooled overnight for de-fatting.  The large stock pot would over tax the refrigerator for cooling so I often cool the covered pot in the garage in the winter months.  It cools quickly there while being protected from critters.  In milder weather, I quickly cool the pot of stock in a sink with ice cubes surrounding the pot.

solids strained from chicken stock
The easiest way to do the first straining for any stock is using a colander.  This removes the larger solids.  I often take the stained solids, add fresh water to them and bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes and strain again.  This adds flavoured liquid to top up the stock without watering it down by using plain water.

Once the large solids are removed, the stock is cooled to allow the fat to congeal on the surface.  The fat is removed then the stock is heated and strained through a cheesecloth double lined colander to remove the finer particles.  At this point, a couple of egg white can be added to help clarify the stock further if desired.  If the stock is to be canned, it can be reduced slightly if desired but it isn't necessary.  The stock can also be frozen as is or it can be reduced to 25% to freeze as a concentrate.  An alternate is to reduce to a thick syrup consistency then dehydrate for homemade bouillon [I'll show the entire method for this in a future post.]
 
home canned chicken stock
As mentioned, I can the majority of the stocks I make.  If I have extra from a batch of stock, I freeze or concentrate it.  I also make homemade bouillon from time to time.  By far, home canned stock is the most convenient for most applications because you don't have to thaw it.  It's ready to use as is.  Homemade bouillon is ideal for those recipes that call for bouillon.  You get the rich flavour of bouillon without the high sodium content.  When I make stock at our vacation home, it is mainly for fresh use with any left-overs frozen to be used while we are there, not long time storage because we rent out our vacation home for periods of time when we aren't using it.

The yield for this batch of rich chicken stock 4 - 1 L, 3 - 750 ml and 8 - 500 ml jars .  The L and 750 ml jars were processed at 10 lb pressure for 25 minutes; the 500 ml jars were processed at the same pressure for 20 minutes.  The L and 750 ml constituted a full canner load while the 500 ml jars were a half canner load.  I used Tattler reusable lids on the 500 ml jars.  The more I use the Tattler lids, the more impressed I am with them.  Their performance has been problem free after the initial learning curve.  Each time I re-use a Tattler lid instead of using a single use metal snap lid, I'm saving 12¢ which doesn't sound like much but over the course of on average 1,200 jars per year, my savings if using all Tattler lids would work out to a savings of $144.


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