Author of Be Ready for Anything and Build a Better Pantry on a Budget online course
An added bonus to the Thanksgiving holiday feast is the boon that it can give to your pantry. If you have some jars and fresh lids, your kitchen already contains everything you need to add an abundant amount of food to your stockpile!
Turkey, veggies, and cranberry sauce will all make beautiful additions to your home-canned goods. Use these recipes as a guideline to adapt what you have left over to nutritious homemade meals in jars.
After a few meals of roast turkey, remove most of the meat from the bones and place it in the refrigerator. You’ll be left with a rather desolate-looking carcass. Put that in your crockpot along with the reserved neck and giblets (if you didn’t use those for gravy). Add some veggies from the holiday snack tray – carrots, peppers, and celery are great additions! Add a couple of tablespoons of salt, a head of garlic and 4-6 onions. Note: there’s no need to peel the garlic and onions as long as they are organic – just wash them well. Fill the crockpot with water and add your favorite spices (not sage – it tastes terrible when canned). I used whole peppercorns, salt, oregano and bay leaves.
Put the crockpot on low for 12-14 hours and let it simmer undisturbed overnight. Zzzzzz……
The next day, strain the contents of the crockpot into a large container – I use a big soup pot and a metal colander. After allowing the bones to cool remove any meat that you would like to add to your soup. I always give our dog a big treat – a bowl of turkey with gristle, fat, and skin. (She’s a little on the skinny side because she runs constantly when she’s outside so I think that the occasional fat intake is good for her.) She also likes the mushy carrots.
Take all of the meat that you put in the refrigerator the night before and cut it into bite-sized pieces. I like a mixture of light meat and dark meat for this purpose. Also cut up the meat you removed from the crockpot.
Place approximately 1 cup of turkey in each of your sanitized jars. (I ended up with about a cup and a half in each jar.) Add 1-2 cloves of garlic to the jars.
You will have a rich, dark beautiful stock from the overnight crockpot project. Ladle this into the jars over your cut-up turkey and garlic. Leave 1 inch of headspace at the top of the jars. If you run out of broth, top it up with water – don’t worry – your broth will still be very flavorful.
Your result will be a deep golden, rich meaty soup. This is an excellent base for turkey and dumplings, as well as any type of turkey soup.
Canning cranberry sauce
If you have leftover cranberry sauce, you may can it for future use. I like to use teeny little half-pint jam jars for this.
- Heat the cranberry sauce to a simmer on the stovetop.
- Ladle the sauce into sanitized jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.
- Wipe the rims of the jars, then place the lid on them.
- Process in a waterbath canner for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude.
Round up whatever veggies that you have left over from Thanksgiving. Don’t worry if they have some butter and seasonings on them – it will all add to the rich flavor of your soup.
My soup contains carrots that were cooked in honey, green beans with some butter, some diced sweet potatoes, and corn with butter. Use whatever you have. Don’t be shy about raiding your veggie tray either – chop your crudites into bite-sized pieces and add them raw to your jars – they’ll cook beautifully during the canning process.
- Add one cup of your vegetable mixture to each sanitized quart jar. If you want, throw in some peas and diced potatoes too.
- Add 1 cup of chopped turkey to each jar.
- Season with a clove of garlic and 1-2 tablespoons of chopped onion in each jar. Because the vegetables were already salted, I did not add any additional salt to my soup. If you have it on hand, you can also add some carrots and celery.
- Top your veggies and turkey with one cup of your delicious stock that you made above. Then fill it the rest of the way with water. The flavors will blend – don’t worry!
- Wipe the lip of your jars with a cloth dipped in white vinegar and then place the lids on.
- Process the soup in your pressure canner for 90 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure, adjusting for altitude.
Variation: If you want a different type of soup, add 2 tbsp of tomato paste to each jar and season with some Italian spices like basil and oregano.
At serving time, you can add some cooked rice, barley, or pasta to your soup.
And finally, here are some links to great leftover ideas for all those Thanksgiving goodies: