Cooking turkey in a pressure cooker

I recently got a lot of frozen turkeys for Christmas and in our family we only care for the white meat. Rather than waste the dark I wanted to can it with carrots and celery as a soup starter. I wanted to cook the whole thawed turkey in a pressure cooker but I am not sure if it would work. Would it make the bones soft and crumbly, or would it work fine? I figured if it was pressure cooked it would take less time then the oven and the breast meat wouldn’t be dry. Any help would be appreciated in this turkey troubles.

Lisa Kukla
Kingsley, Michigan

To tell the truth, I’ve never cooked in a pressure cooker. What I do is to only partially roast the turkey. Then cool it and remove the meat. Boil the carcass to get your broth and pack the meat in jars and pour the boiling broth over the turkey. If you wish to add seasonings or vegetables, do it before pouring in the boiling broth. Your meat won’t end up dry and you’ll love your canned turkey. We, too, prefer the white meat, but I sure do use a whole lot of the dark meat in soups, turkey and dumplings, and casseroles! Good canning! — Jackie

Planting fruit trees

We are planning a move to my parents’ land. They have 5 acres with a large pond. The ground has a lot of clay. We want to plant fruit trees (peach, apple, orange, etc.). Only issue, where should we plant them? Near the pond or far from it? How far apart should the trees be planted from each other? What do you think about the ground? Should better soil be brought in?

Leigh Ann Mitchell
Cypress, Texas

Whether or not you plant your trees, or some of them near the pond depends on how wet the soil is in that area. Some ponds are located in low areas that are prone to wet ground. Fruit trees do not like “wet feet.” Smaller fruit trees, such as plum, peach, apricot, semi-dwarf apples, and pie cherry can be planted 15 feet apart in all directions. Larger maturing trees, such as standard apples need more room; 25 to 30 feet is about right. Be sure that apples do well in your new area. Most have chilling requirements in order to produce fruit, and if you can grow oranges, that would be something I’d check on. Ask the neighbors and the County Extension Agent.

As for the ground being heavy with clay, you can dig a much larger hole for each tree then amend the soil with well-rotted compost and black dirt to make the ground beneath your new trees more tree-friendly.

Backwoods Home Magazine will be running one of my articles you may want to watch for on growing a backyard orchard. I’m sure that will answer many of your questions. Congratulations on your new homestead! — Jackie


  1. Pecan trees like, or can handle, wet roots. Wouldn’t they be a good tree to try, by a pond area? Just wondering, although the wild ones might get to them before the homesteader could.

  2. Jay,

    There’s always some new ideas! When I lived in NM, I planted my orchard, heavily amending my caliche soil with rotted compost and black dirt mixed with the clay. By digging four foot wide holes that were three feet deep, these trees did very well over the years. Never had any that tried to blow over or exhibiting root binding etc. Mulching always helps, especially in arid climates.


  3. Just a heads up on the soil amending in clay soils. Here in NM, the latest I’ve heard is that it’s better not to amend too heavily… because then you’ll basically be planting in a clay pot, w/all the attendant problems: root binding, weak root structure & a tree that blows over in the wind. The Master Gardener program is now recommending that the soil be broken up, LIGHTLY amended, & heavily mulched out to the drip line.

  4. My m-i-l was a school cook for many years. They always cooked the turkeys in pressure canners and then took the meat from the bones for serving. I remember this because she hated doing all those turkeys!

  5. I cook my turkeys in the pressure cooker every year as my oven does not work. The bones get a little soft if cooked too long but not so they turn to mush. I can any left over turkey, which is totally cooked, in chunks with broth and it works great. I also have canned it and chicken with carrots and onions for soup makings.

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