After the hunt is over, the real work of processing the meat begins. Once that task is complete, I use the bones to make a nutritious wild game stock on the wood stove to have on hand for all kinds of recipes.
My husband has been on many hunting adventures here in Alaska. From caribou out on the tundra to moose on the flats and black bear in the woods accessed by bush plane. He loves hunting and we love when he brings home delicious and healthy meat for our family.
Our oldest daughter has even become a hunter. She brought home a black bear and a caribou for us this year. You can read more about caribou hunting in this post.
As much preparation and work that goes into each hunt, there is just as much work afterward. Processing the meat takes several days. But once it is all packaged and in the freezer (and some of it jarred up and pressure canned) the job still isn’t quite done.
Homemade stock can’t be compared to the packaged, store-bought version. The taste is so much richer and the health benefits are greater. I make all of our stock using whatever animal we have most recently harvested. Chickens and turkeys that we have raised and butchered as well as the wild game my husband brings home.
I can remember over ten years ago when I was home alone with our three little girls. My husband was deployed and I got sick at some point. A sweet friend dropped off a whole chicken along with some onions and vegetables. She told me to make some stock and drink it to help me feel better. I thanked her but was too embarrassed to mention that I had no clue how to make stock…
Well, I learned how and now I make stock regularly and cook with it all the time. It’s hard to imagine my kitchen without it and I’m thankful for the health benefits that it provides to our family.
Using Bones to Make Stock
After we have processed all of the meat, my husband uses his bone saw to cut the large leg bones down into five to six-inch sections. I place the bones into a large stockpot along with some onions, vegetable scraps, apple cider vinegar, and enough water to cover it all.
Adding vegetables is an option, but not necessary. I keep a jar in my freezer and anytime I’m cutting up vegetables, I put the scraps in the jar to freeze. Then, when I go to make some stock, I have plenty of vegetable scraps to toss in. After the stock is made, the cooked scraps go to our chickens for a tasty treat, reducing waste in our kitchen.
I bring this to a boil and then reduce the heat, allowing it to simmer all day and overnight. The longer the better! There are a few ways to cook homemade wild game stock and I use whatever method is most convenient at the time.
Wild Game Stock on the Wood Stove
I have been learning a lot about cooking on a wood stove since moving into our little log cabin in the woods. During the winter months, we keep a fire going most of the time to warm our home and create a cozy environment. Using the heat produced by the wood stove instead of the extra energy of our electric stove just makes sense. Plus, having a pot of something tasty simmering in the center of our home adds to coziness.
Since we can adjust the level of the fire in the wood stove, I can turn it up to bring the stock to a boil and then turn it back down to keep it at a nice simmer. I can easily monitor and occasionally stir the stock as I go about my day.
On the Electric Range
We have a completely modern kitchen in our home so this is another option for cooking up a pot of stock. The same rules apply, bring the large stockpot to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer for the rest of the day. This was how I first learned to make a stock but I don’t do it this way very often anymore.
In the Slow Cooker
This is definitely the easiest way to make any type of homemade stock and the method that I usually find myself using. All you have to do is toss everything in, fill it with water, and set it to low. I like this method because I can leave it cooking all night without having to worry about checking on it. I purposely bought an extra-large ten-quart slow cooker so that I could make a lot of stock at once.
Storing Homemade Stock
Once the bones have simmered for 12-24 hours using whatever cooking method you prefer, a delicious and healthy stock will be ready to use.
I place a small strainer on top of a jar and ladle the stock into it to collect the scraps for our chickens. Now it can be stored in a few ways:
- Refrigerate-After allowing the stock to cool (leave the lid off and toss in a few ice cubes) cover and store in the fridge to use within two to three days. Don’t add a hot jar to your fridge or it will compromise the temperature of your other foods. If I know I am going to make a soup or stew for supper in a day or so, I do this.
- Freeze-Stock can be frozen for several months. Just be sure to leave plenty of headspace so the glass doesn’t crack. I freeze most of the stock I make but the downside is remembering to thaw a jar before needing it. I often forget until the last minute! Try to pull it out of the freezer a day before to thaw in the refrigerator. During the winter, when the temperature is well below freezing, I keep my jars of stock on the porch for quick access since I use it so often.
- Pressure Can-Although this takes the most work, it ends up being the most convenient. First, it saves precious freezer space, and second, you don’t have to worry about thawing. You can just grab a jar whenever you need it and use it right away! Follow the directions for your specific canner. I use the instructions for Beef Stock in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.
Using Homemade Wild Game Stock
There are endless uses for homemade stock. From soups to stews, pot pies to stroganoffs, and sauces to chowders. I never run out of ways to use stock and it never goes to waste. It is even delicious on its own as a soothing drink for a sick family member.
Making wild game stock on the wood stove (or slow cooker!) is an easy way to save money and reduce kitchen (and hunting) waste while providing your family with incredible nutrition.