Old Fashioned Turkey Stock – Make That Bird Last Like Grandma Did

Homemakers in the old days really knew how to stretch a meal!  This image from a 1907 magazine gives the clever cook suggestions for using up all that Thanksgiving turkey.

Using up turkey leftovers is nothing new to the frugal Mom.  We all know about turkey casseroles, salads, and soups.  But, perhaps some of us have missed one of the most basic uses for our turkey – boiling the carcass for stock.

Yes, this may be something you haven’t seen since you were little and had Thanksgiving dinner at Grandma’s house, but this frugal cooking tip is well worth resurrecting.

Making soup stock out of the leftover carcass of the turkey seems to be a process that’s gone by the way of other old fashioned frugal cooking methods.  It’s time we brought it back.

So, I decided to share my simple explanation of how to go about boiling those bones for stock.

In order to get your turkey carcass ready, thoroughly scrape the stuffing out of the turkey and put it in a separate container in the refrigerator.  Then, of course, remove all the big, usable, pieces of turkey meat from the bones.  You’ll save those for casseroles, sandwiches, and soups.  Keep the skin, fat, and gristle with the carcass,  as this adds to the flavor of the stock.  Don’t worry, you’ll be straining this all out and skimming the fat off the stock when it’s all done.

Grab your biggest soup pot and place your turkey carcass and all the drippings, skin, etc. in the pot, breaking the carcass into smaller pieces if necessary until it all fits.  Throw in a couple onions, celery stalks, peppercorns, and salt.  Don’t go crazy with the peppercorns or salt because when you use this stock for soup, you’ll be seasoning again.  Now cover your ingredients with fresh, cold water.  Put on the burner and bring it to a boil, uncovered so it doesn’t get away from you.  Once it’s come to a boil, turn it down to a nice, slow slimmer, cover loosely (tip lid) and continue to simmer for a good couple of hours.

When you’re tired of watching it simmer, remove the pot from the stove and let cool enough to handle.  Then, place a colander or strainer in a large bowl and pour contents of turkey pot through to strain out everything.  Throw out all the bones and vegetables.  They will not have any flavor left and will be basically mushy.  You’ve saved enough turkey meat to add to a future soup recipe when you took the good meat off the bones before you boiled the carcass.

Now, you should be left with a bowl of stock.  Put the stock in the refrigerator, lay a piece of parchment paper or waxed paper loosely over the top of the pot (do not tightly cover), and leave it overnight.

The next day, you will have a layer of fat on top.  You can spoon that off of the surface and throw it away.  Or, you can save it to use in something else if you like.  But, you’ve got enough fat and flavor left in the stock without that extra fat.

If you wish, you may strain the stock again to remove any tiny flecks, but it’s not necessary.  Divide the stock between freezer containers, freeze what you want and put the remaining stock in the refrigerator to use up in the next week in anything that you want.

Believe it or not, you will be hungry for turkey again. Having your own homemade turkey stock on hand makes using up your turkey meat even easier – and better tasting!

Warm regards,

Susanne – The Hillbilly Housewife

p.s. I invite you to stop by HillbillyHousewife.com to see what other frugal, fun tips we have to share. And, while you’re there, be sure to leave a comment and let us know your thoughts.

Graphic courtesy of Vintage123.com – from November 1907 issue of Delineator magazine.


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  1. says

    Quoting Susanne – “When you’re tired of watching it simmer, remove the pot from the stove and let cool enough to handle.”

    That is the kind of cooking I can relate to! It gave me a big chuckle because I often have trouble telling people how I make my turkey stock. Now I have the answer! “When you get tired of watching it.” That’s what normally happens to me, too. After a couple hours, I’ve just got to get that pot off the stove!

    Great read and good point. I don’t know a lot of young homemakers who know what I’m talking about when I say “turkey carcass” or “turkey frame.” It’s a great money saver and the stock is so much better than anything you can buy in a can.

    Thank you!

  2. says

    Have been making turkey stock this way for years! Great recipe and so much better than any stock on the market. Never worry again about the sodium content or the additives, like MSG! Do this for your family and you will never go back to commercial stock……..and like me you will always be disappointed when you run out!! Enjoy……to your health!

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