The weather is getting cooler. There is a crispness to the air, especially in the morning. We are wearing light jackets in the mornings just to get our animal chores done. Tomorrow its officially Fall.
Where has this year gone by? I can’t believe we are closing out the 2023 harvest season. The gardens are starting to die off as well. The light is changing. The zinnias that we grow in our gardens are starting to lose their luster. There's less and less to harvest from our gardens. And my kitchen is getting more and more crowded. There's so much to be preserved and so much to do this is my busiest time of year.
As if harvesting and putting things up is not enough, I also I'm clearing out freezers. Meat season is upon us. Late fall and into early winter is when we start filling up our freezers with meat that is going to be harvested throughout the winter months and placed into our freezers. This means I need to make space for as much meat as I possibly can. Y
You may have heard that the price of meat is getting ready to skyrocket and I have confirmed and verified that this is true. As I am writing this, I am fully aware that not all of you are in a position to raise your own meat. If you are one of those people who cannot raise their own meat this is the time to start practicing. Try your best to raise what meat you possibly can whether that be rabbit, quail, or a few chickens.
If you absolutely cannot then this is the time to start buying enough meat to get you and your family through the year. Yes, that’s right, I said “through the year”.
There are several reasons why I emphasize through the year. First in the long run it will be cheaper for you. You are buying your meat for the year at today's prices. Unless you have been living under a rock then you know we are all experiencing inflation. And all indicators are it's going to only get worse. That being said purchase as much as your budget will allow you to today because tomorrow the prices are only going to go higher.
The other reason is practice period practice makes perfect as the old adage goes. When you live on a homestead you usually are harvesting an entire animal. That being said, your freezers will quickly fill up within a matter of a day or two or three. So you need to be accustomed to putting up as much meat as you can as quickly as you can within a very short amount of time. By purchasing all of your meat at one time you're getting yourself in the habit of putting up enough meat to satisfy you and your family all at one time.
As time goes on you will develop your own style of homesteading. When it comes to our larger animals yes, we do put them up all at one time. But are smaller animals like our chickens are rabbits we put those up progressively. One animal we do not grow here on our homestead is beef cows. In theory we could but we don't have enough acreage in our opinion to satisfy raising beef cows. So we choose to buy in are beef. It has taken some time for me to locate a farmer that grows out their cows ethically without grain strictly grass fed humanely slaughtered and never dipped in bleach or any other chemicals. However arduous this is to find a local farmer that can produce meat in this fashion, it has been well worth the journey. I am happy to say that I can buy my beef at $4.50 a pound as opposed to the $8 plus a pound that I would have from a local grocery store. When you're looking to homestead you really want to make sure that you are putting up meat that has been ethically raised. Otherwise, why are we doing this? I ask myself this every single year.
The fall season means my house smells of bone broth. Every day that we wake up in the morning it is a beautiful scent of chicken broth, beef broth, vegetable broth, or even seafood broth. The collagen that comes off of these bones that I'm cooking down and making into broth is without a doubt with intention and purpose. When making broth you want your broth to be rich full of collagen that means you need to use bones and tendons and fleshy parts and skin and fat.
I let my bones cook for more than 12 hours and less than 18 hours. Somewhere in that window of time the broth is usually ready. It is so rich and delicious we drink it all the time especially during the winter months. Many people like to make their broth and it Instapot. Over the years I have become somewhat anti Instapot. and there's a reason why.
The main reason has everything to do with the pressure cooking. Pressure cooking in and of itself is not bad but when you're trying to make things like a bone broth, cooking on a high pressure will only destroy the things that you are trying to create, which is a collagen gelatinous rich bone broth that will nourish you. I also do not pressure can any of my bone broth for the same reason. The whole purpose is to add nutrients to your body using the traditional bone broth. By subjecting the bones or the bone broth to high pressure canning and cooking, which is 250 degrees Fahrenheit or more, you are destroying the goodness that you will find in a bone broth.
I highly recommend that you freeze your bone broth rather than can it. By freezing it you're preserving all of the goodness all of the collagen all of the vitamins and things that will nourish your body without destroying them.
What I do pressure cook or pressure can is chicken stock and beef stock and that's a recipe for a different day slightly different from bone broth. So let me give you my recipe for making gelatinous collagen rich chicken stock.
For the best flavor I highly recommend roasting the bones for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. This will add a rich flavor to the broth, especially beef broth.
Next, once the bones have been roasted, place them into a slow cooker, along with enough filtered water to cover the bones.
Add to the water:
A handful of thyme, oregano, parley, and sage.
One whole onion.
Five cloves of garlic.
Four bay leaves.
1 table spoon of salt (this is to taste)
1 table spoon of fresh peppercorns
Add any vegetables you like, such as carrots, and celery.
Allow to cook on a high setting for the first two hours. Then lower the temperature to a setting of "low" and allow to cook on low for 12-18 hours, or until the bones are fragile.
Strain, and with a colander, and allow to cool until it is close to room temperature. Then begin to place either in jars, or freezer bags for long term storage.
Note: If you place your bone broth in glass jars for freezer storage, leave two inches of head space so that the broth may expand in the jar.