Chicken broth – two ways to make it and two ways to preserve it

The winter months definitely have less opportunities for food preservation than summer, but if you are itching for some canning, now can be a good time to stock up on bone broths. Yes, horrible, horrible pun intended. Making chicken broth is a great way to prevent any part of the chicken from going to waste, it’s good for you, and it’s way better than store-bought. Cook up a chicken or two, and hang onto the bones and scraps.

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Ingredients:
1 chicken
2 stalks celery
2 medium onions, quartered
10 peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp salt

How it’s made:
Combine the bones and any leftover scraps of meat in a large stock pot with the rest of the ingredients and cover with water. These ingredients are as written in Ball, but you can be a bit flexible in making broth – you could also use a carrot if you want, throw in some parsley or garlic, or if you prefer, just make straight bone broth with no added vegetables. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Now, just wait. Occasionally taste the broth; leave it simmering until it reaches the desired strength of flavour. Typically, I let it simmer for the better part of a day.

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A second way to make chicken broth is in the crock pot, and I can’t believe I didn’t think of it myself. I recently purchased 100 Days of Real Food, which is a great book by the way, and in it Lisa has a recipe for overnight chick stock in the crock pot. Dang, why did I never think of that?! Typically, I make a chicken for dinner, chuck the bones and leftovers in the refrigerator, and make the broth the next day because I don’t want to leave my burner on while I sleep (especially on my current stove – don’t get me started). This method is just brilliant because you can leave it over night and deal with it the next morning.

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The next morning it looks and tastes so delicious!

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To remove some of the fat more easily, cool the broth in the refrigerator, and then skim off the fat.

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Strain off the bones and vegetables.

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Broth can be preserved either through canning or freezing. If freezing, simply place the broth in a freezer safe container, leave some head space for expansion when it freezes, and place it in the freezer.

If canning it, prepare your pressure canner, jars and lids, and reheat the broth to boiling. Fill the jars, leaving an inch head space. Wipe the rims, apply the lids, and tighten the bands finger tip tight. Place the jars in the canner containing three quarts of hot water.

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As an aside, broth can vary in colour by what you have in it, how well you strain it, and how long you cook it, but it’s really just a matter or personal preference. I generally don’t strain it until it’s super clear (like though cheese cloth, just through a fine strainer), but if you want it nice and clear go for it.

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With all the jars in the canner, lock the lid in place and bring the water to a boil. Once a steady stream of steam is coming out of the canner, time 10 minutes of vent time, and then place the weight on the vent pipe. Bring the pressure to 11 psi (sea level with a dial gauge canner). Process pints for 20 minutes and quarts for 25 minutes. At the end of the processing time, turn off the heat and wait for the pressure to drop completely. Remove the weight, wait 10 more minutes, remove the canner lid, and remove the jars to a hot pad or towel. Cool 12-24 hours, remove bands, check seals, wipe clean, label and store.

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Ta-da! Way better than store bought!

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The botanist is back!

Wow – I have not written a real blog post in over two months! The last few months are honestly a bit of a blur with finishing up my degree, but I am happy to say that I’ve now defended my MS thesis in Botany and Plant Pathology and I am ready to be back with some new and exciting posts. Thank you for not forgetting about me and thanks to those of you that have still been referring to many of my old posts in my absence, you guys are the best!

In other good news, as a present for passing my mama bought me Ball’s newest invention, pictured below, the FreshTECH Electric Water Bath Canner and Multi-Cooker. This is their picture however, as I don’t actually have it yet (it’s only available for pre-order right now). If you want one, I’d recommend clicking on the link above to amazon since I got free shipping through amazon prime and Ball wants $23 for shipping directly from their site. But anyways – I am super excited about this beast. For one, it’s electric so it frees up one of your burners, and still has the same capacity as a normal full sized canner. This is also a great thing if you have a glass top stove that can be a problem for canning. Also it has a temperature control, so this saves so much headache when you want to do low temperature pasteurization of your pickles! SO AWESOME! However, it doesn’t look to me like it’s actually got temperatures on there, only low, medium, and high, so that’s a bit of a bummer. I’m thinking though that using a thermometer I should be able to pretty easily figure out where to turn it to to keep it at 180-185 F. Then I can mark it on there for the future; but I’ll have to update you on that when it arrives. The electric canner I’ve used for canning class has actual temperatures on it, but no where can I find it for sale (and Janice said it was twice the price of Ball’s when she got them too). See this post for more info on low temp processing of pickles. Finally, it has a spout on the bottom which means no more almost killing yourself dumping out the hot water from the canner. This thing is way cooler than Ball’s last invention, the auto canner. It has a 3 quart capacity – no thank you! For half the price of that thing, which frankly I think is a dumb invention, you can have this awesome canner with a normal capacity and not be limited to only their specific recipes. Note though, this is just hot water bath, not a pressure canner.

Electric Canner

So now that I’m back, I wanted to let you in on what I’m planning for the blog. One thing I’m working on is a new resources tab, which will include things like extension service publications and other resources for safe recipes. I’ve found that it can be hard to find these things online and in one place. Each university extension service often only has their pubs, but there are always valuable and interesting resources missing. Each time I refer to a new publication or tool I use, I’ll add it to that page so that these great resources are easy to find and access.

Anyways, there are many fun new posts coming at you soon. I can’t wait for spring and to get back into canning and gardening (although it’s actually starting to feel like spring here already!) The early spring crops will probably be starting soon!

Is there anything you’d like to see from the blog this season?

Have you been missing the babbling botanist?

Hi there blog! I just wanted to post to let you all know that I am still alive and planning on returning to you soon. Maybe you didn’t even notice my absence but yes indeedy I have been missing from the blog lately, but I promise it’s been for a good reason. The master’s thesis took priority for a bit as I am finishing up in a month! Crazy talk! This is what it looks like right now, and honestly I thought I’d be a little more impressed by it when zooming out but actually it kind of looks short to me. HA! Quality though, it is quality. I do still have to finish up a few parts which are not in here yet, this is basically chapter 1 of 2, but getting close. Anyways, stay tuned, the babbling botanist will be back to babbling before you know it! Wish me luck!

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Eat It! Brie and Inferno Wine Jelly

My first “Eat It!” post is going to be short and sweet. Inferno Wine Jelly is amazing with brie and crackers. Dinner party coming up? Brie and homemade jelly. Presto appetizer! So good. Plus it’s the perfect colours for Christmas if you make it with green and red peppers!

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So delicious I have a belly ache from eating too much.

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Teriyaki Beef Jerky

As promised, here is the longer version of my about.com post on making beef jerky at home. Why make jerky? I like making jerky because I can buy beef in bulk, buy the good stuff, and choose my favourite flavours and still make it cheaper than the store-bought jerky – plus it doesn’t have any of those mystery ingredients in it. Or maybe you are a hunter and have some meat you’d like to use up in creative ways, jerky is a great option. Just make sure you follow the safety instructions here to kill anything that could potentially make you sick.

This recipe is for teriyaki beef jerky, but the same procedures may be used for the marinade of your choice. For a couple other marinade options and another detailed look at making jerky, check out Northwest Edible Life, one of my favourite blogs. Also, check out the publication that I refer to for safe jerky making linked here – PNW 632.

Beef jerky

Ingredients
1.5-2 pounds of lean beef
1 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon minced (or dry) garlic
1 tablespoon powdered ginger (or use fresh)

For the beef, I used a flank steak, but any lean cut is good. Chuck, flank, round, rump and sirloin are all good options, and most cuts of game meat are lean so it all works pretty well.

Partially freeze the beef to make it easier to cut. Wrap it in moisture-proof paper or plastic wrap and freeze until firm but not frozen solid. Trim off any excess fat. Slice the meat into long thin strips, an eighth to quarter-inch thick and about an inch wide. You can decide here whether to cut with the grain of the meat or across it. I prefer to slice with the grain because it’s easier to cut, holds together better and makes a chewier, less crumbly jerky. But try a few of each and see what you like best.

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Prepare the marinade by combining everything except the beef.

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So, here is the safety part. To ensure jerky is free of bacteria, it must be heated either before or after it is dried. There are three options for doing this:

1. Dry the jerky, and then heat it in the oven at 275°F for 10 minutes when it’s done

2. Preheat the meat in the oven at 325°F until an internal temperature of 160°F is reached before drying.

3. Preheat the meat in boiling marinade before drying.

Let’s look first at options 1 and 2 because for each of these options you will marinate the meat. Combine marinade and slices of meat in a plastic bag or glass dish and marinate in the refrigerator for 6-12 hours, turning the meat occasionally.

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Once marinated, you have two options, dry, then heat; or heat, then dry. Option 1, the post-dry heat is probably the easiest one to do. In this case, remove the meat from the marinade and arrange your strips of meat on the dehydrator tray close together but not touching. You can pat them dry a bit if you like to speed up the drying time. Dry them until they are dry (duh – but I’ll explain how to tell in a minute).

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Once the jerky is dry (sorry, the flash totally makes them still look wet), you’ll transfer them to a baking sheet and heat for 10 minutes in an oven preheated to 275°F. At this point your jerky is done. Cool it on a paper towel to absorb any excess fat and then store.

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If you chose door number 2, you are precooking the meat basically. The oven needs to be a little hotter (325°F), and the meat needs to reach an internal temperature of 160°F. The disadvantage of this is that you really need a thin tipped thermometer to measure such a thin strip of meat. But if you already have one, or would use it for other purposes then great! This method also means less dehydrator time, and since you precooked you don’t have to worry about overcooking it with the 10 minutes at the end which I have felt I did with some ground meat jerky.

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After your precook, dry the strips the same as above. (Yes, this picture is of raw jerky – didn’t have a precooked pic).

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For the third option, do not marinate the meat. Instead, heat the marinade to boiling and add the beef strips a few at a time. Allow the marinade to return to a gentle boil and stir for about two minutes. Remove and repeat until all meat has been precooked, then immediately dry the meat. This precook method also has the advantage of a shorter dry time, and it was actually my MFP teacher’s favourite method, but I find it doesn’t have quite as strong a flavour as the marinade methods, and makes the meat a bit crumbly. But again, try all three and see what you like.

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For all options, dry the meat either in a dehydrator or in the oven. Set the dehydrator to it’s highest setting (mine says 160°F, somewhere 145-155°F is what’s called for). Now I can’t vouch for how well it works in the oven because I have always used my dehydrator, but here’s how you do it. Arrange the meat on a baking sheet, and dry with the door propped open for airflow. Dry at 144-155°F. Now some ovens can’t maintain that low temperature, so make sure that your oven can maintain 145-155°F using an oven thermometer before even attempting jerky. Set the temperature, prop open the door , and monitor it for one hour. If it cannot maintain temperature, use a dehydrator. Trying to dry the meat with the temperature too high can result in the meat drying on the outside, but maintaining pockets of moisture on the inside. Moisture=bad!

Dry for at least 4 hours (oven drying takes longer and marinated jerky takes longer, and a fuller dehydrator takes longer) until the pieces of meat are dry. When dry, jerky should bend and feel leathery, but not snap. Remove a piece from the dehydrator, let it cool, and then bend it to test for dryness. If there are still moisture pockets, or if you are unsure, dry it a little longer. Most people judge it as done before it really is (including me last time I made this. I had to put them back on the dehydrator and that’s OK).

Once dry, cool on a paper towel, and then store in a cool, dark place. Since some pieces may be slightly wetter than others, you should also first condition them at room temperature for a couple days. Basically this just means leave them in a jar together and give it the occasional shake. If you notice condensation, you haven’t dried them enough – back to the dehydrator!

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Jerky will keep for 2 weeks at room temperature, 3-6 months in the refrigerator or up to a year in the freezer. I usually don’t make a ton at a time so keep it in the fridge, but if you do a massive batch it’s nice to freeze some and take it out as needed.

For a comparison of the methods, I tried my best to capture how they came out. Between the two marinaded ones, I couldn’t tell a huge difference, but I could with the boiling marinade version. Here, the left picture is method 1, marinade and post-dry heat, and the right is method 3, boiling marinade. The boiled ones were a bit drier and more crumbly, and less strongly flavoured. But when I added spice on the outside they were very delicious. And Janice loves this method, so you decide! If you try multiple methods, let me know what you like best!

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*this post contains affiliate links, please see the “About the Blogger” page for more information

 

The babbling botanist featured on about.com!

Beef jerky

Exciting news folks – a new post by the babbling botanist is on about.com! This past week I was asked by Sean Timberlake, the food preservation expert at about.com, to write a guest post for the site. I decided to discuss how to safely make homemade beef jerky, and the recipe is now available, so go check it out! It’s a delicious and easy homemade snack. Shortly I’ll be posting a slightly longer version here (with more pictures of the steps mostly) and a few additional tips, and I’ll also be posting the ground meat version shortly for those who prefer jerky from ground meat. So stay tuned for that, but in the meantime go check out my post on about.com.

Year End Canning Reflection

When in the world did it get to be mid December?! I can’t believe. At this time of year, most of us have entered our “net loss” phase from the pantry – i.e. we are now eating more than we are putting up. Because of this, I think it’s an appropriate time to reflect on the things we have preserved this year, and on things we were wishing we had taken better advantage of while they were in season, so we can prepare for next year. Here’s a look at my canning list – just over 600 jars, not including the things I did in MFP class. This may partially explain why I haven’t yet defended my masters… Anyways, before judging me on this crazy list, keep in mind that I often can with a friend, so for many of these large batches I only kept half. I also canned jams for two different weddings, so only about 10% of this jam is actually in my house currently.

Jams and Jelly – 214 jars (ya…I know)

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22 rhubarb orange jam
8 strawberry rhubarb jam
8 strawberry lemon marmalade
46 strawberry jam
5 kiwi daiquiri jam
6 cherry marmalade
36 raspberry jam
26 blueberry lime jam
15 orange marmalade
12 zesty watermelon jelly
12 watermelon jelly
6 habanero jelly
6 inferno wine jelly
6 blueberry butter

Summary  – I definitely went crazy, but actually compared to last year it’s not that bad. I did 95 last year and sure I gifted some of them, but this year a massive percent were wedding favours.

Other fruit things – 46 jars

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4 jars cherry pie filling
8 pints strawberry lemonade concentrate
4 pints rhubarb juice concentrate
5 pints cranberry juice
12 half pint Asian plum sauce
9 pints Victorian barbecue sauce
4 half pints cranberry mustard

I am pretty happy with these items, and I certainly think I will eat it all. I do moderately regret not doing a couple other pie fillings as having those is super super nice for when a potluck catches you by surprise. Otherwise yay fruits!

Pickling – 77 jars

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3 quarts refrigerator pickles
20+? jars dill pickles
19 jars pickled carrots
8 pints zesty zucchini relish
9 pints pickled asparagus
14 pints dilly beans
4 quarts sauerkraut

Other than forgetting to pickle beets, my pickling was pretty good this year. And with discovering low temperature pasteurization my pickles are better than ever. Somehow I totally lost track of my cucumber pickle numbers though. My list said 12 – but I am sure I made at least 3 times that considering my pickling experiment alone was 9…but anyways.

Tomatoes – 189 jars

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8 quarts crushed tomatoes
35 pints tomato sauce
115 pints salsa
14 pints two in one barbecue sauce
9 pints ketchup
8 jars tomato “jam”

Yes…115 jars of salsa. I know, I know… I think about 65 went to me. This number makes me very very happy. Last year I had about 40, and I had a couple left when tomato season hit, so we should be golden. I was super stingy with gifting these so this year my family may get a jar or two… maybe. ;) The only thing I kind of would have liked more of is just plain crushed tomatoes. They have so many versatile uses!

Pressure canning – 82 jars

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22 half pints corn
38 half pints tuna
16 jars spicy tomato vegetable soup
6 pints chicken stock

I am pretty happy with my pressure canning additions to my pantry, and actually a little surprised I didn’t do more. But this winter I plan to do some more stock, dried beans, and other things not necessarily season dependent. Winter is a good time to stock up on chicken, beef or ham stock. Ya, very bad pun intended.

Of course this is just canning, I also froze and dehydrated a lot of things. All the berries I froze are already eaten sadly, I need a bigger freezer, but not the freezer jam and dehydrated goods.

How was your 2014 season? Anything you missed out on that you definitely are planning on for next year?

To conclude, I’d like to introduce a new series of posts I’m starting this winter entitled “Eat it!”, which will feature recipe ideas for using all the delicious things we preserve. Like many other preservation bloggers, I have a little less to talk about during the off season, and I think that talking about ways to use the things we preserve is just as important as how to preserve it. There is no point in putting up 500 jars of goodies if you ain’t gonna eat it! I hope to get creative with these and help you use up some of those items lingering in your pantry, and give you some ideas for things you might want to preserve next season.