Thursday, May 17, 2012

Turkey, Turkey Everywhere

This is a 24 lb. turkey.

My daughter and granddaughter were kind enough to go to the grocery for me a few weeks ago.  I had been there and had seen these turkeys on sale for 88 cents a pound, which is really cheap for our area.  But they were so big, I didn't think I could fit them into my handy, dandy little old lady shopping cart that I use to haul my groceries home.  The cart works really well for me, especially since I make use of the local circulator bus to go shopping.  And for that price, I wanted four turkeys.

Right after they picked the birds up for me, (I think it nearly killed them off, hauling those big birds up the stairs to my apartment.  Two of them weighed in at about 20 lbs. and the other two at about 24 lbs.  I really appreciate that they did that for me.)  I canned three of them.  I cooked them, de-boned them, cut the meat into small pieces and canned it mostly in pint jars.  I forget just how many I got, but I think I have enough canned turkey to last me a good long time, which is good, because I use it a lot.  Makes great soup, stew, casseroles, macaroni salads and sandwiches.  Canned up the broth that it cooked in, too, because I really like using the broth in homemade soup or for gravy.

Anyway, I had this one turkey left in the freezer.  So I hauled it out and set it in the sink in cold water to thaw.  Once it had thawed, I cut it up into pieces like you would a whole chicken, but with lots more swear words involved.  Cutting up a 24 lb. turkey is not for the faint of heart.  Into the stock pots it went.  Took all three of them.  Covered the meat with water and set them on the stove.

I added some carrot, celery and onion chunks for flavor and let them simmer until the meat was fork tender.  Took the turkey pieces out, let them cool and took the meat off the bone.  Strained the broth and set in the fridge so the fat would harden on top.  Meat went into the fridge, too.

The next morning I got the pressure canner going with the turkey breast meat in half-pint jars.  I have lots of pints already done, and really like the half-pint size for sandwiches or salads.  Just the right amount for one person.  Then I skimmed the hardened fat from the broth and put that in a small container to go back in the fridge.  Really makes fried potatoes taste good, and I use it for that as well as in homemade biscuits or dumplings.

While the pressure canner was doing its thing, I peeled potatoes, carrots and onions and thawed out big bags of peas and corn.  I diced the fresh vegetables and mixed the whole works together.

I filled jars about a third full of turkey pieces and topped that with the vegetables.  Into the canner those went.  With seasonings that I add when I heat it up for a meal, that's going to make some really good soup or stew.  Add some homemade biscuits or dumplings and you have a meal fit for a king.

I think I may have gotten just a wee bit carried away with the vegetables.  I was sort of on a roll, so I just kept on peeling and chopping.

So I jarred up the rest of the vegetables and canned them, too.

This is what I ended up with for canned turkey, turkey vegetable soup and mixed vegetables at the end of two days of non-stop canning.

16 half-pints of turkey breast
25 pints of turkey soup
20 pints and 24 half-pints of mixed vegetables

And at that point, I ran out of jars.  I still had about 12 cups of vegetables left, so I blanched them and onto the dehydrator trays they went, along with two pints that didn't seal.  The 7 quarts of turkey broth went into freezer bags and into the freezer.

I'm thinking that I got a lot of mileage out of that one turkey.  I had been wanting to can up some jars of mixed vegetables, so that worked out OK as well.  Will really taste good next winter.  Or any time.

Finding room to store it all in my tiny apartment, however, should be interesting.

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