by Tammy Taylor
By far one of the easiest frugal things I do on the ranch is make my own broth. Think about it: Making broth takes the leftovers after you enjoy your meal (the bones) and turns them into nutritious broth. Win/Win! Of course I can purchase broth in a can but around here it runs about $3 each & it’s filled with salt – my broth doesn’t have the additives or the salt that commercial broth does. Plus with my homemade broth there’s no can to throw away and I’m loving that too! During the cold winter months I make endless soup that keeps RancherMan & me in hot soup for lunch for about a week and of course the base of that soup is broth. Since I make my own broth this week-long menu of soup lunches is incredibly inexpensive yet gives us several nutritious and bone-warming meals. And it’s so easy. Really, you’re NOT gonna believe how easy this is!
First I reserve the bones from whatever meat we’ve enjoyed – sometimes beef, sometimes pork, sometimes chicken but today it’s turkey. After we enjoyed our turkey supper RancherMan & I cut the remaining meat off the bones and portioned it into single-meal sizes and put those packets of meat in a freezer bag, properly labeled of course. And here’s my secret: This is the ‘Cook Once, Eat Twice’ method of cooking that I pretty much exclusively utilize here on the ranch. Using this method the pans used to cook this meat were only dirtied once and cleaned once, and the oven heated once but we have six additional servings of turkey that’s as close as our freezer to enjoy. This makes it easy to have a delicious homemade meal every day! (shhhh….)
After the meat is removed I take the bones that remain and chunk them all into my mammoth slow cooker and top it off with water. Finally I add just a splash of vinegar to draw the calcium from the bones, then I cover the slow cooker and put the temp on low and let it slowly cook all night. The next morning our house smells amazing and puts me in the Thanksgiving mood all over again! I’ll strain the bones from the broth and after it cools just a bit I’ll place the pot containing the broth in the fridge to cool completely. In the meantime I tackle those bones that I strained out. There’s always an amazing amount of meat left on those bones even though RancherMan & I were pretty ruthless in removing all we could. I’ll pick the remaining meat from the bones and put it into a refrigerator container and set it in the fridge, there’s plenty for a very meaty pot of turkey soup.
As the broth cools the fat will separate & float to the top making for a lower-fat broth. I usually let my broth stay in the fridge overnight to make sure as much fat as possible has floated to the top. By the next morning the broth itself is semi gelatinous – the sign of a successful and nutritious broth. I take my ladle and drag it lightly over the top of the broth to remove the semi-liquid fat layer.
When I’ve removed all the fat I can, I’ll bring out my repurposed peanut butter jars. I’ve not yet been successful freezing anything in glass so I resort to these jars, but RancherMan loves his peanut butter so I always have a steady supply. I ladle the cold broth into the jars leaving about 1″ headroom and screw the lid onto the jars – only barely fingertight until the broth is frozen when I’ll tighten the lids completely.
Now before these jars go into the freezer I’m sure to label the lid of the jars with a small piece of water-resistent duct tape & a sharpie noting the contents and the date. ‘Cause you know how it is when you dig through the freezer – every frozen chunk looks identical! I carefully label everything that goes into our freezer.
Now that I have several jars of broth put back I will use it for so many things. Broth gives a deeper flavor to rice or pasta and of course there’s my endless soup that will use a steady supply, since it’s so inexpensive & healthy I’m not stingy with it & use it often. This broth will be used in no time so I’ll need to simmer more bones for broth soon. Oh the drudgery! 😉