Posts Tagged With: canning

Better Than “Better Than Bouillon” Chicken Base

Chicken Base!

Chicken Base!

It’s here!  I know you’ve been breathlessly waiting for this post!  Or not.  Pretend for me anyway?

Actually, I made this about a month ago.

But then I turned 30 and people threw me a party and gave me a beautiful brand-new road bike and I’ve been gazing longingly at it for a week straight now.  I even took it out for a spin, but the country winds and 20-degree chill encouraged me back home to my warm living room where I could resume gazing:)

Don't judge my outfit...I live in the country!  No one sees me unless I put pictures of myself on the Internet...oh, wait...

Don’t judge my outfit…I live in the country! No one sees me unless I put pictures of myself on the Internet…oh, wait…

Anyway, I mentioned on this podcast that I wanted to learn how to make my own chicken base.  Since then, hundreds of people (ok, one person) have asked me if I’ve made it yet, so I’m happy to report that I have!  And it’s pretty easy to do!

Disclaimer- sorry about the terrible pictures…  I lost my camera for about two weeks and had to use my iPod to take pictures.  Fortunately, my husband found my camera, and it turns out it was right where I left it.  In the last place I looked.  (All those childhood memories of Mom saying those things coming back to you yet?  I have more!)

 

 

 

 

Chicken Base

Read through the directions first!  You need to refrigerate the stock before adding all the veggies!

What you will need:  (Recipe can be doubled)

  • one whole chicken 
  • 2-3 sticks of celery, chopped
  • 1/2 – 1 whole onion (or onion salt if you forgot to buy onions…), chopped
  • 2-3 carrots, chopped
  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic salt
  • turmeric
  • stick blender or food processor

Directions:

  1. Place rinsed whole chicken in large stockpot, cover with water so the water is about 1-2 inches above the top of the chicken.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes or until chicken is completely cooked. 
  2. Remove chicken to cutting board.  Allow to cool slightly, then remove all meat from bones, returning bones to stockpot.  If possible, snap some of the smaller bones in half so the bone marrow will cook into your stock!  I know it sounds gross, but it is very good for you! Reserve chicken meat, you will be adding some of it back in at the end.
  3. Boil the bones for another 30 minutes or until they are “clean” (nearly no meat left on them at all).  At this point, the easiest method for removing all the bones is to strain the broth into a new, smaller pot.
  4. Refrigerate stock overnight.  Once completely cooled, the fat will rise to the top and you can easily skim it off.  Return to stove, bring to a boil.
  5. Add celery, onions, carrots, salt and pepper to taste (like 1/2 tsp of each, you can add more later), turmeric to color.  (By color, I mean add it until your broth is a nice yellow color that looks attractive to you.  Or don’t add it at all if those things don’t matter to you.  Personally, a yellow broth tricks my brain into thinking it’s gourmet.  I know that’s weird, but who am I to argue with my brain?)
  6. Now the boring fun part.  Bring stock to a boil, then reduce heat so it is boiling gently, not too hard.  Now walk away and find something else to for an hour while your stock reduces.  This amount of time will depend heavily on your broth-to-vegetable ratio.  The more broth you have, the longer this will take to reduce, of course.  Once your stock has reduced to about half, add 1 cup of chicken meat back in.  Using a stick blender (also referred to as an immersion blender) or transferring your stock to a food processor, puree all ingredients.  If your base is still thin, continue to gently boil until it is reduced to the thickness you desire.  You could also add more chicken and puree that in, as that will also increase the consistency as well as the protein content!

Whisking in ClearJel

A couple of notes:

  • I added the vegetables after the bones were drained so you wouldn’t have to try to fish all the bones out amongst the veggies.  Since it needs to reduce anyway, there’s time for the veggies to cook down.
  • I added the chicken last after the first reduction because I believe overcooked chicken isn’t going to make this taste all that amazing.
  • You will probably need to add more salt at the end.  When you taste it, it should taste way too salty.  Keep in mind that you are adding this to water or broth to enhance the flavor of your soups!  (It’s also a sneaky way to get picky eaters to eat veggies and chicken!)
  • I looked everywhere on the Internet for chicken base recipes, and didn’t find anything very specific, so this is very unscientific, of course!  I did read somewhere that cooking the bones too long will also result in an undesirable taste, I have never stumbled upon that misfortune though.  But I thought I’d warn you.  Probably cooking them just until all the meat falls off is sufficient.
  • I was going for a very similar product to Better Than Bouillon, because that’s what I buy and like.  I could not get it to the exact consistency to BTB, so I tried adding ClearJel to some of it to experiment (because at that point I was still planning on canning it, and you can use ClearJel to can with, unlike cornstarch).  I do not recommend this to you because while it did thicken it to the consistency I wanted, it also deadened the taste substantially and I had to add a lot more salt than I would have preferred.  The rest of my base that I did not thicken with ClearJel, while thin, did not require as much added salt to achieve the taste my family likes.  The next time I make this, I will add more chicken, which will help it be closer to the BTB consistency I so desire.  The nice part about that is you can always add more and more chicken since it’s the last thing you do!  (I don’t know why I didn’t think of that when I was cooking it.  Hindsight. 20/20. ‘Nuff said.)
Base with ClearJel on the right - Just to show consistency differences

Base with ClearJel on the right – Just to show consistency differences

  • I ended up freezing my base into ice cube trays rather than canning it.  I still plan on canning it in the future, I just ran out of desire to spend any more time in the kitchen this particular day.  The ice cube tray method works perfectly though, and is just as convenient as canning it, I think.  To use it, I just add one or two cubes to my soups and they melt right in!  It’s pretty cool, actually, and I feel a little bit like a genius.  I can see the Pin now:  “One ice cube tray of chicken base equals 8 quarts of broth!”  Or whatever.  Pinterest is annoying.  And cool.  I’m annoyed by all the make-your-life-easier stuff on it and yet I’m wildly addicted to it.  I need a Pinners Anonymous Group or something.  PAG.
  • I’m in a weird mood today.
  • Your base may have turned out differently than mine.  You will have to play around with experimenting to find exactly what your taste buds like.  Start with one cube per quart, and if that isn’t flavorful enough, add another one.  I actually added up to 4 cubes to one soup I made where I had started with water!  If you start with broth, you’ll need less base.
About 2 cubes will flavor 1 quart of water (4 cups) for delicious Chicken Soup!

About 2 cubes will flavor 1 quart of water or broth (4 cups) for delicious Chicken Soup!

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Categories: Freezing, Low-Acid, Poultry, Soup | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Apple Pie Filling in a Jar

Apple season is pretty much over, and applesauce is usually the most popular canning choice when faced with a case of apples, but I decided to switch it up this year.  Well, that and I still have a jar of applesauce left from last year.  My kids go through phases, and they are NOT in an applesauce phase right now.  So anyway, I thought this looked pretty fun!  It took me awhile to find the ClearJel, so I’m going to save you the trouble and tell you right now that you will probably have a hard time finding it in store, too.  Here’s a link to a good price on ClearJel on Amazon.  (Plus if you go through this link I get a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you!  Thanks!)

Why use ClearJel instead of cornstarch?  “ClearJel is a cooking starch that is acceptable for use in home canning.  Not all cooking starches are suitable for home canning, as reheating causes some to lose viscosity.  Making mixtures too thick can interfere with required heat penetration during heat processing.”  (Ball Complete Book of Home Preservation, p. 170)

Apple Pie Filling  Makes about 7 pint jars (or 3 quart jars, if you weren’t paying attention and accidentally filled quart jars instead of pint jars.)

What you will need:

  • 12 cups sliced peeled cored apples, treated to prevent browning (directions below!)
  • 2 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup ClearJel
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 cups cold water
  • 2 1/2 cups unsweetened apple juice
  • 1/2 bottled lemon juice

Directions:

1. Prepare canner, jars and lids.  For more information, click here

2. In a large pot of boiling water, working with 6 cups at a time, blanch apple slices for 1 minute.  Remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm in a covered bowl.

I actually poured a teapot of hot water over the apples instead

(I actually just heated a teapot and poured the water into a large bowl holding all the apple slices.  That seemed easier.)

3. In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine sugar, ClearJel, cinnamon, nutmeg, water and apple juice.

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Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, and cook until mixture thickens and begins to bubble.  Add lemon juice, return to a boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.

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Drain apple slices and immediately fold into hot mixture.

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Before processing, heat, stirring, until apples are heated through.

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4. Ladle hot pie filling into hot jars, leaving 1 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot filling.  Wipe rim.  Center lid on jar.  Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.

5. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water.  Bring to a boil and process for 25 minutes for pint jars and 35 for quarts.  Remove canner lid.  Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.

There you have it!  Not too hard, eh?  Now any time of the year you have a yen for apple pie or apple turnovers, all you have to do is buy make pie crusts and open your jar! 😉

PS.  Did you notice my new ladle??  It is so awesome; I am smitten!  It gets into every nook and cranny of the jar and has made my life just that much easier!  I got mine at Meijer, but here’s a link at Amazon if you want to check it out!

Categories: Canning, Fruit, High-Acid | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Last of the Garden: Potatoes!

I was a little late in harvesting my potatoes this year… I got busy trying to get into a new routine that included beginning homeschool for my preschooler!  I didn’t make it out to the garden for over a week, and in that time the potato vines went from “dying” to “dead”.  It wasn’t a big deal, the potatoes were fine for the most part, although they were beginning to get molested by some sort of bug or fungus.

Potatoes are fun to grow.  Have you ever tried growing them?  I didn’t grow nearly as many as I intended to this year.  I completely forgot to even plant sweet potatoes, and I wish I would have at least doubled the white and red potatoes that I planted.   They are so easy to grow, and require absolutely no attention while they grow besides weeding.  As an added bonus, come harvest, you get to dig in the dirt and search for them!  It’s fun for all ages!

This is the first time I’ve ever “preserved” potatoes.  I know I could have stored them in the basement long term just in a brown paper bag, but for one, I didn’t have that many, and secondly I was a little concerned about some of the potatoes that looked like a bug got to them.  I wasn’t sure if they would store well or rot quickly.  Lastly, I actually purchase sliced canned potatoes (*gasp!*) because my husband makes the most delicious fried potatoes with them.  The canned kind cook up so much tastier than a fresh potato sliced does, too.  So anyway, it made sense to me to slice and can my potatoes instead of storing them in the basement and hoping they last, while still purchasing canned potatoes.  Right?  🙂
This was pretty easy to do…once you get all the potatoes peeled, that is.  But after you get through that, the rest is simple!

Sliced Canned Potatoes

What you will need:

  • Food Processor
  • Colander
  • Stainless Steel Stock Pot
  • Peeled white potatoes (I forgot to weigh mine!  The Ball Book says you’ll need 2-3 lbs per pint if CUBING them.  Eyeballing my pile, it looks like around 6-7lbs, and I got 3 quarts of slices out of that.  Don’t quote me on it though.)
  • Boiling Water

Directions:

  1. After you peel each potato, put it into a stainless steel pot filled with cold water to prevent browning.  Once all the potatoes are peeled, drain them into a colander, rinse them, and fill the pot back up with fresh cold water and put the potatoes back in the water.
  2. Using your food processor with the slicing attachment (or a sharp chef knife and careful fingers!), slice each of the potatoes, putting the slices immediately back into the water to keep them from browning.  Once you have sliced all the potatoes, put the full pot on the stove and begin to heat the water.
  3. Begin heating clean jars in your pressure canner on the stove, and lids in a separate pan.  Fill another pot with water and bring to a boil.  (I actually just used my teapot for easier pouring!)
  4. Heat the sliced potatoes until they are hot through.  You don’t need to boil them.  Just pull one slice out with a tongs and check if it’s hot.  Once they are hot, you are ready to fill the jars.  Drain the potatoes back into a colander, then fill the hot jars.
  5. Fill jars with boiling water to a 1-inch headspace.  Using a plastic tool, slide it between the potato slices and the jar, releasing air bubbles.  Adjust headspace if needed.
  6. Wipe rims and place lids on jars.  Tighten rings, and place back in the canner.
  7. Vent 10 minutes, set gauge to 10lbs psi, and let pressure build.  Once 10 or 11 lbs psi is achieved, process pints for 35 minutes and quarts for 40 minutes.
  8. Turn off heat and allow pressure to return to zero naturally.  Once it reaches zero, wait 2 more minutes, then remove gauge and canner lid.  Wait 10 minutes for jars to acclimate to your kitchen temperature, then remove jars to a towel on the counter.
  9. Let jars cool completely, clean lids, label and store up to 1 year!

    Don’t they look kind of neat stacked up in there?

Ty’s Delicious Fried Sliced Potatoes

There’s no specific recipe for these.  You basically just heat some oil and butter in a fry pan, add the potatoes, a little  red wine vinegar, lots of salt and pepper, and some more butter.  Fry them, stirring minimally, until they are brown and the outsides are crispy.  Serve them with a perfectly grilled medium-rare steak.  That is an order!  (I had a picture of these, but for some reason I can’t get it to upload.  Computers are weird when they’re selective.)

Categories: Canning, Low-Acid, Potatoes | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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