Averting a Turkey Disaster!

As a canner and food preserver I love the holidays.  The stores are so full of end of season produce that the prices drop way down – especially the prices for turkey!   Besides the one you plan to service on Thanksgiving or Christmas, I like to grab a couple extra.  I used to put them in the freezer, then one winter my freezer died – with 6 big turkeys inside!

Time to use a method of preservation less dependent on technology!

Out came the pressure canner and the roasting pans.  One turkey was placed in the sink to thaw fast in cool water.  The rest were kept in the freezer to stay as cold as possible.  As each went into the oven, another was tossed in the sink.

Each one was roasted then set out to cool.  Once it was cool I turned Aunt Judy loose.  That woman grew up in the depression and can strip a turkey right down to the gobble.  We separated the meaty parts into the stuff that was good for canning and we set aside the skins and uglier looking meats for dog food.  The broth and chopped meats were tossed in a really big stockpot set on low.

Luckily we had boxes of Mason and Ball canning jars out in the shed.  They were washed up and the first set was tossed into the canning kettle full of tap heated water.  You can add a couple inches of water on the bottom of the pot and turn on the heat.  Add a little vinegar to the mix to keep the jars sparkling and boil them to sterilize.

Once the jars and the chopped turkey meat are all boiling you can take each jar out one at a time.  Empty the hot water out and fill the jar with chopped turkey and broth.  When all the jars are full and sitting back in the canner, seal it up and turn up the heat.  Even after doing for 30 years I pull out the Ball Canning Manual to check on how long each jar should be processed and at what pressure setting.

Obviously it took all day and part of the night to finish all six turkeys, and towards the end we decided that the last turkey should be the basis of some good turkey soup.  We added peas, carrots, spices, onion and potatoes to the last set of jars in the canning kettle.

After that we still had a bunch of what I call the “ugly” looking but edible portions of the turkey left.  This makes some tasty treats for Fido.  I tossed these into my food processor.  Most canned dog foods contain vegetables of some kind – a dense doggie stew.  Again I added a few carrots and peas to the mix.  The last canning session produced 7 pints of dog food.  What was left after that the dogs had with their dinner that night.

Each turkey produced 8 pints or 4 quarts of chopped turkey with broth and 1 pint of dog food.  Enough to make a LOT of Green Chili Turkey Enchiladas!

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