My feet are killing me and my knees ache but it was well worth it for I am now fully “stock”-ed up with local, home-canned stock. I spent the better part of the last 2 days boiling, reducing, straining, de-fatting, and pressure canning 4 batches of liquid gold totaling 13 quarts of chicken stock, 6 quarts of vegetable stock, and 5 quarts of pumpkin chunks.
I made the chicken stock from 5 local, responsibly raised, raw chicken backs I picked up from the Purcellville Smart Markets and a some bones I froze after roasting whole birds from the farmers market. I also added 1 local yellow onion, a handful of yellow onion skins to add color, and a bunch of local, organic celery (the really dark green, pungent kind, not the pale, blanched, scent-less kind). I boiled it down in my large water bath canner, my biggest stock pot, to get it all cooked in one batch. It simmered and reduced over 5 hours before I strained out the bones and meat and did a little fat skimming on the first half. The second half went into the fridge overnight before canning to make the de-fatting easier. I put it in my pressure cooker at 10lbs for 25 minutes but I could only fit in up to 7 jars at a time. As it canned I pulled the little bits of meat from the remaining carcasses.
I needed more room in my freezer so in addition to pulling out most of the chicken bones I also pulled out the veggies. The vegetable stock was initially made last month and frozen, until today when I it was re-boiled and canned. I have been saving up what I call vegetable remnants, the bits of veggies that don’t get used for their original purpose but are otherwise perfectly good. Woody broccoli stocks that I didn’t use in stir-fry, onions ends chopped off to get a flat edge for slicing, the large white end at the base of a celery stock, mushroom stems leftover from a mushroom cap appetizer, and other bits and pieces all got tossed into several Ziploc bags in the freezer over the summer. I started building the base by sautéing local carrots, celery and onion and then dumped the frozen veggies along with any extra local veggies that were languishing in the fridge at the end of the CSA season (cabbage is the only one i can remember) and covered with water. I boiled it most of the day, reducing it by about half to concentrate the flavor. The smell of if it reheating was heaven.
While I had the pressure canner out and while the broth was cooking I skinned and chopped 3 small pie pumpkins. I have already made 10 quarts of pumpkin puree but that went into the freezer because, according to every respected food preservation reference, winter squash (pumpkin included) is too dense when pureed to allow for the necessary heat distribution for food safety and shelf storage. The chunks were covered with water and brought to a boil for 2 minutes before being hot packed into quart jars and pressure cooked at 10 lbs for 90 minutes.