“What’s the point? Isn’t that a waste of time? I mean isn’t it just easier to get it in a box at the store?”
Yes, it probably is easier. A waste of time? Not in my reality!
People waste a lot. You would be surprised at all the uses you can find for stuff that most folks just throw away. Bones are one of those things.
There is something soothing about seeing your own food in your own jars; where you know how it was processed and what’s in it. I’ve had people tell me it’s a waste to can, and easier to freeze.
There is really only one thing that I freeze instead of can, and that is pumpkin. According to the USDA guidelines, canning pumpkin or winter squash purees are not recommended. (more info here: http://www.fcs.uga.edu/pubs/current/FDNS-E-P.html and here: http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/tips/fall/pumpkins.html) This has to do with the consistency of puree.
They do say you can cube and can, but that is too labor intensive for me. So, I prepare and then freeze my pumpkin puree.
And still I have nightmares. I would be devastated to come home some time and discover that while I was away, the motor on the freezer died. Or power had gone out for an extended amount of time which resulted in the need to pitch everything. It seems to me that freezing is higher risk than canning, and a risk I can avoid if I can my food instead.
One of the things I can is stock. Save the bones, and when you get enough, you can make a good amount of chicken, turkey, or beef stock, etc. We use stock for soup bases, gravies, and anything else we can think of. I don’t add salt to my stock, and I usually don’t need to add any bullion, either. The flavor *cannot* be beaten, in my opinion.
Making your own stock is incredibly easy- and I mean that. Before I made stock for the first time, I was intimated by the unknown. Once I made it, though, I determined I would never go back!
It’s basically boil for a few hours or pressure cook the bones in water. You can add stuff like carrots, onion, etc, but since I use my stock as a base, it seems like a waste to me to use those things and then throw them away. You could save those items, but if you can your stock, you are double processing (which is not a “problem,” but things will be extremely soft after that point.) I tend to do what is easiest and least involved.
Once you boil, separate out the bones/meat/fat from the liquid. Depending on how pure you want your liquid, you can strain through a cheesecloth, strainer, or do what I do- use a slotted spoon of some sort to collect the chunks. Then process appropriately.
Another benefit to stock is how fast you can make things. Tonight we did chicken pot pie. I made my roux and then added nearly a quart of stock (I say nearly because it was the bottom of the pot and then wasn’t canned because I couldn’t fit it in the pressure cooker) to complete the gravy. I used leftover chicken (the stuff that was still on the bones plus some more) and mixed vegetables for the filling, and then added it to the round casserole dish that acts as a ramekin of sorts.
When I make my pot pies, I always use a double crust. This could be made in a square baking dish and I may go that route the next time, because we like leftovers. You’d have to tweak your crust recipe and maybe do a double crust plus a single, unless you like a really thin crust.
All told, this dinner took me about 10 minutes to put everything together (including making the crust) and get it the oven. I admit, this one was not made with the focus on “pretty.” This was made in the interest of being late and needing something fast. I figure, you can close your eyes when you eat if you are offended by the way it looks.
The most challenging part of this dish was waiting for it to finish baking in the oven.