Friday, January 9, 2009

Canning Turkey...

Tool Belt Jim's brother Mule Skinner contacted us about splitting a beef so I needed to free up some freezer space. At Thanksgiving while the turkeys were on sale , I bought about 6 extras and put them in the freezer. Now we all know how much space those turkeys take up so my next project was canning those turkeys.

The first day I unthawed the turkeys and cut them up. Before anyone ever tries this, I want to remind you that doing 4 turkeys at once sounds like a good idea, but practically , not really too smart unless you are a ball of energy and are not a working party of one. I had the dullest knife imaginable, but I have a tendency to cut myself so I try to stay away from the sharp knives. I finally got done cutting up the turkeys and then put them in the oven to bake. I like baking my meat before I pressure it.

After the meat has cooled, I pull the browned skin off and the broth and boil it for a while so I will have some flavored broth. I then put the broth mixture in the frig so I can dip off the fat that comes to the top. I think there is a device out there to separate the fat from the broth and as much as I cook I need to buy one. I refrigerated the cooked turkey because I ran out of steam (translated that means energy) and I pressure canned it the next day. (which is today)

So today, I warmed the turkey in the oven before putting it in quart jars. We really like the white meat of a turkey but it probably is a waste of my time to can the dark meat because no one eats it. I need some good recipes for dark meat that kinda disguises the taste. Anyway, I added salt to the jar and normally I would pour broth over the meat at this point. However, I am going to can the broth separate so today I added some chicken bouillon to water and made my broth that way and poured that over the meat. Real broth is better but this works in a pinch.

I put on the lids and tightened the bands and put them in the pressure canner again following the manual that came with my pressure canner. Meat has to be pressured for 90 minutes for quarts at 10 lbs pressure where I live so it takes a while. I actually bought a new pressure canner this past summer but haven't read the instructions yet on how to use it so I am still plodding along with only one canner. And our house is all electric and an electric stove is not nearly as good to can on as a gas one, but you have what you have.

This year, I tried something my sister told me the Amish do to keep their jars hot. I went ahead and sealed the jars for the second batch and put them in the oven on about 250 degrees. That way they stayed hot while the canner was doing the first batch. My sister told me her friend said some Amish actually can their green beans in the oven this way, but my canner book says they must be pressured, so don't do it in the oven! It may have worked for them, but not worth getting sick over and maybe dying! Follow the canning manual. Some people are scared of pressure canning (my citified daughter for one) but it has been done for years and is perfectly safe if you go by the manual! Now I'll get off my soapbox.

Here's the finished product sitting on the counter cooling. The second batch should be done about midnight tonight. I enjoy canning but in all honesty, it probably is about as cost effective to go to the store and buy those large cans of white chicken when they go on sale and stock up. No more than we eat turkey, it's a lot of work. Or Tool Belt Jim says just raise turkeys and kill one when you get hungry for turkey!

I like to can and who knows when I might have to teach others the art of canning, especially during hard times. And nothing tastes better than going to the pantry and popping the lid off something delicious and ready to eat!

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