Most of us know and understand that our society is a “throw-away society”. People just discard things instead of trying to figure out ways to use them completely. This is one of the many ideas I’ve studied a lot as I learn to live a more sustainable life. One way you can be especially resourceful is around food. No, I’m not talking about just freezing your leftovers for use in future meals. I’m talking about appreciating a harvest to its fullest extent.
We recently started buying whole fryer chickens at Sam’s Club to cook up for dinner. My girlfriend stumbled upon an amazing recipe called Salt Crust Roasted Chicken. It’s awesome and we’ve probably enjoyed the meal three times in the last few weeks. If you’re interested in the recipe head to her blog, Harvest of Daily Life. Once you pick the roasted chicken of the drumsticks, thighs and breasts many people would just consider throwing the rest out. But that chicken carcass still has at least two cups of perfectly good meat left on the bones! Think about all the possibilities for that meat: chicken soup, chicken stock, chicken quesadillas, enchiladas or chicken salad. Anything that would use shredded chicken is perfect.
Here’s the process:
1) Take your chicken carcass and place in a stock pot. Fill the pot with water so most of your chicken carcass is covered and start boiling away. Throughout the process add a couple cut carrots, stalks of celery, onion and some garlic. Just let the mixture boil away on your stove while you do other things. The longer you let it boil, the more rich and intense your chicken stock is going to get. Once it’s boiled for a couple hours, you’re done with the first step.
2) Next, pour your stock out of the pot and into a bowl fitted with a strainer. It will catch all the loose meat and bones. Put your strained stock off to the side. Now take a couple minutes to work your way through the bones, picking off the bits of meat. Discard all the bones, skin and pieces of gristly fat leaving you with a nice helping of chicken meat. At this point, you could recombine your fresh stock and chicken meat to make soup (chicken & rice or chicken noodle) or chicken & dumplings. You can also freeze the chicken stock in small containers for use in other recipes and freeze the chicken meat in small Ziplock baggies for use later too.
Last night, we boiled down the leftover chicken carcass and turned it into fresh chicken noodle soup. It made a huge pot of soup though, more than the two of us could eat in a couple nights! But, that’s ok. Yesterday we spent the day canning our leftover soup so it can be stored in the cupboard just fine. If you don’t want to go through the process of canning, you could also freeze the soup in containers and reheat them in the microwave. While we were at it, we also processed some butternut squash soup that we had stored in the freezer. In the end we came out with 4 quart jars of chicken noodle soup and 2 quarts of butternut squash soup! That will make a lot of meals and save us a lot of money. Plus, the feeling I have from keeping that food from going to waste is so good.
If you’re looking for a great recipe book with complete instructions on home preserving, I recommend the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. I’ve been using this book for more than a year now and I have discovered several recipes to use up extra fruit or other food items before they spoil. One of my favorites is the strawberry lemonade concentrate mix that you make from frozen or fresh berries and bottled lemon juice. Simple and refreshing. I’ll post the recipe below. I had to buy mine piece by piece at the local hardware store. That kit would have saved me a lot of time!
Do you have a favorite way to make the most out of the food you buy and cook? Tell us about it and share your recipes!
Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate
Courtesy: Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
You will need 6 cups hulled strawberries (I use the cheap bags of frozen berries), 4 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice and 6 cups of granulated sugar.
1. Prepare canner, jars and lids for water bath canning.
2. In a blender or food processsor fitted with a metal blade, working in batches, puree strawberries until smooth. Transfer to a large stainless steel saucepan as completed. Add lemon juice and sugar and stir to combine. Heat to 190 degrees F (88 C) over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Do not boil. Remove from heat and skim off foam.
3. Ladle hot concentrate into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch (0.5 cm) headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.
4. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 15 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.
5. To reconstitute, mix one part concentrate with one part water, tonic water or ginger ale. Adjust concentrate to taste.
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