Meet Bessie, my 18-quart Nesco roaster. Bessie functions as both a second oven and a gianormous crock-pot. She’s big enough to roast a 20-pound whole turkey. She lives on my bar and I’m constantly making stock in her. If you need to make large amounts of stock, batch cook or have a large family, I recommend you consider a similar-sized roaster. I use it as a second oven when we have company or a holiday. It can hold three whole chickens for roasting. When I batch cook, I use it to make up huge batches of sloppy joe filing, chili, roast, and pulled pork or chicken.
Thursday I finished up a batch of beef stock and started some chicken stock. As you can see here, the bones are soaking in the water with vinegar and I’ve put some of the veggie scraps on top. That is the ends and scraps from 6 onions and 2 hearts of celery. I hadn’t filtered enough water, so I took this picture while waiting for my Berkey to finish. I added water until it is about 2/3 full and the carrot tips and peels from a 2-pound bag of carrots after I took the picture. I turned it on at bedtime and this batch will cook until Sunday afternoon.
Sourcing Bones in a Hurry
This batch is being made out of chicken backs from our local health food store along with some bones I already had on hand. Because I’m needing to make a very large amount of stock with little notice, I decided to go with backs. I called the local health food store and ordered a 20-pound case last week after Dad fell. It takes them about a week to get them in and they charge $2 a pound. There are twelve backs in the roaster.
I can’t find chicken feet anywhere. I am looking forward to when a local farm has them available again. I’ll buy all I can get and put them in the freezer. It seems they are becoming more popular so they’re harder to source when farms aren’t processing chickens. Not so long ago, they were more plentiful and easily found during the off season. If this batch of stock doesn’t gel well, I’ll add some Great Lakes gelatin to it.
Sunday afternoon, I will strain this batch then cook it down until it is about one gallon in volume. I will then add a few drops of Concentrace, quick-cool it in the sink and transfer it to mason jars to sit in the fridge until Monday. I will remove the fat that has risen to the top, transfer the remaining stock to ice cube trays and freezer bags, take it to mom’s house and put it in her freezer.
If I am going to freeze the stock, I always cook it down gently to save on freezer space. Today I put up 2 gallons of beef stock concentrated down to 1 beautifully-gelled gallon. This batch of chicken stock will be equal to around two-and-a-half gallons and I’ll cook it down to around one gallon before freezing it.
All of the stock is going over to my parent’s house to help my dad recover. This weekend we are doing a batch cooking marathon to get some food put up in the freezer to help them through this rough spot. He’s recovering at home. I greatly appreciate all of the prayers and well wishes many of you have sent over the last week.
Because dad is recovering, I will not dilute this stock back to normal strength. He needs the extra nutrition and healing power, so he’ll get it all condensed. Under normal conditions, I would dilute the stock back to normal strength before use. If you do have a surplus of bones, it’s perfectly fine to consume the condensed stock. I use condensed stock to help us get through illnesses, times of stress or when we’ve been exposed to a virus.