Friday, November 28, 2008

Frugal Friday: Save the Bones!

I'm guessing there's a good chance you ate turkey yesterday. I'm guessing there's also a good chance that there was a big pile of turkey bones left after the meal. What did you do with them?
Over the holidays many families cook large meals, often with a big meat dish as the focal point. Meat is expensive, and it goes fast, but when the meat is gone, hold onto the bones! Bones are full of nutrients, and can provide several more meals if you know what to do with them. At our house, bones never end up in the garbage can!

The best part of the bird, really!

My cooking blog has (or will have) more detailed recipes for bone broth, but here's a short overview:

  • Bones (in the marrow) have lots of vitamins in them. The best way to get those nutrients out is to leech it out into broth. You know how you always heard that chicken soup was good when you're sick? Well, if it's made with real bone broth, it actually does have immuno-boosting properties! If you add 1 Tbs or so of vinegar to the water, it helps to get the nutrients out of the bone and into the broth.
  • Adding onion, celery, garlic, or other herbs can make for a richer broth, but they are optional.
  • Putting fat and skin in the broth will make it nice and fatty, and it does taste good, but those parts of the animal (especially poultry) tend to hold toxins, so many people prefer to avoid having them in the broth.
  • Putting meat in the broth will not add to flavor, and it will suck the flavor out of the strip off the meat, then make the broth with just the bones. After the broth is done, strain it, and then if you want to make soup go ahead and put the meat back in at the end.
  • Feel free to use bones that have been nibbled...after all, 12 hours of boiling will destroy any germs...
  • If you don't have enough bones to make a broth yet, just save them in the freezer until you do have enough.
  • Once made, bone broth can be canned in a pressure cooker and kept in the pantry, or it can be refrigerated or frozen. My mom puts it in a jar in the fridge to cool, then freezes it in ice cube trays. Once it's frozen into cubes, she stores it in a big ziplock bag in the freezer. Anytime she has a recipe that calls for broth, she can easily grab a cube or two or five and toss them in!
  • Oh yeah, real bone broth tastes better than that canned stuff or *gag*choke* MSG-laden bullion. Use it for soups, sauces, graveys, or even cooking rice.

Chicken and Turkey Put the bones in a crockpot, cover them with water, and let them simmer at least overnight (they can stay as long as 2 days if you don't get to them sooner) . If you don't have a crockpot, you can let them simmer on the stove for at least 4-5 hours (ideally 8-12). At this point the bones will be bending, breaking, and literally falling apart. This is good--it means you've gotten all the nutrients out of them! Strain out all the solids, and voila, the best broth you've ever had.

Beef Same as chicken, just stick the bones in a crockpot or stockpot, and let them simmer for hours...

Ham Take that hambone and stick it in the pot along with any bits of leftover ham, plenty of water, and lots of beans. My mom always used pinto beans, my mother in law uses white 'navy' beans. You can pretty much use whatever you like. Add some onion, garlic, celery, or whatever else strikes your fancy. Let it simmer all day...

Pork (ribs etc) Honestly, we give these ones to the dog. She loves them. I have never tried making stock with them, and I don't know how well it would work. On the other hand, we don't eat pork that often.

Mmmm, nothin like real broth!

(I wish you could smell this picture!)


The Thalman's said...

haha! Honestly the pictures look kind of gross. But, I know what real broth tastes like, and just reading this post is making my mouth water. Of course, it is about time for my lunch!

Mommy Bee said...

Oh I agree--it totally looks gross! But I stand by my comment that it's the best part of the bird! LOL

Katrina said...

Thanks for all these tips! I learned a few things and will apply them as I make my after-Thanksgiving broth this year.

binders said...

I do this with leftover rotissere chicken and any past-their-prime-but-not-yet-rotten veggies I have in my crisper. It makes the yummiest Chicken Noodle Soup EVER!

Great descriptions. Thanks!

RasJane said...

Mmmmm, I have a giant bowl of turkey broth cooling on my counter. It's heading to the freezer this year because I wasn't thinking and put the canner in the storage unit. I do NOT feel like going in and finding it! LOL
One of my most frustrating cooking moments was when I roasted a beautiful, free range, local chicken and hubs threw away the bones! Horror!
The other night we had lentil soup made simply with ham broth, lentils, carrots, bay and salt/pepper. Delish.
Oh, and I've made broth with pork bones, but I usually mix it with other bones for better flavor.

Carolyn said...

My favorite way to store broth is to reduce it down to 1/8 of the original amount (after skimming off all the fat). Then I store it in an old peanut butter jar in the freezer and can take out 2 Tbsp. and reconstitute it to make 1 cup of broth every time I need it.

Thanks for the vinegar tip! I'm going to do that the next time I make broth (which I call "garbage soup").

Jessica said...

Thank you for this! I always feel guilty throwing away bones when I can tell there's more I should be doing with them, I just lack the knowledge of WHAT! From now on, I will be freezing our bones until I have enough to fill the crockpot.

Kimberlee said...

Can you use the Turkey Neck? It is all we have left.

Turkey Soup was my labor food with Isaac. He was due just after Thanksgiving. It took me a while to want to eat Turkey soup again.

Mommy Bee said...

Jessica--you don't need to wait until you have enough bones to fill the crockpot--I like a whole chicken's worth, but 8 drumsticks works too. These pictures show a very full crockpot because it was two full turkey carcasses in there!!!

Kimberlee--I do always throw in the neck. I figure it has bones in it. I don't put in the giblets because they're meat (dog gets those), but the neck is more bone than yeah, I put it in.

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