Friday, June 24, 2011

Canning Chicken & Chicken Broth

I have received a few questions about our canning experience, so here are a few more details on how we canned our chicken.

We did not pluck our chickens, we skinned them. We put the water hose in between the skin and the muscle of the just-butchered chicken to loosen the connections. This made skinning a bit easier, but it was still tight around the wings and legs.

When canning chicken, one can partially cook the chicken, then add the broth when canning, or can the raw meat.  We chose to can the raw meat, cut up into large chunks. We made sure there was both dark meat and white meat in each jar, but we ran out of dark meat. So we added a bit of extra fat to the jars with only white meat. We added almost a teaspoon of sea salt and no water or other seasonings, as it will create its own juice while cooking.  At first I thought this was an awfully lot of salt, but the final product does not taste salty.

As you can see from the photo, we used large-mouth pint jars for the meat, processing for 1 hour and 20 minutes at 10 pounds pressure.  Each pressure canner is a little different, so be sure and read the instructions for your particular model on how to exhaust, when to start timing, and cooling. Since I bought mine at an estate sale, we didn't have the owner's manual, but we found everything we needed to know online at the brand's website.  I also took the canner to the local hardware store, where they calibrated the meter to make sure 10 pounds was really 10 pounds.  (It was.)  If you have a used canner, or haven't used it in several years, I recommend getting it calibrated.  The hardware store did not charge me for their service.

After the meat was canned, we moved on to all the bones.  This was our first time parting a chicken and removing the meat, so the bones still had quite a bit of meat on them.  I lightly salted the carcasses and put them in the oven on broil.  It only took a few minutes to brown the meat and get the juices flowing.  You want to be sure and broil/roast the birds before boiling, so the bone marrow is available for the broth (plus it just tastes better).  I put three carcasses in our very large soup pot, two in the medium pot and one in the little pot, added 1 bay leaf per bird (dried bay worked better than fresh), 1 teaspoon of salt per bird and a sprig of thyme and brought to a boil  Once boiling, I turned it down to low and let it low-boil for 6 hours. (The next time we do this, I will have the boys crush the backs a bit when they part so they take up less room in the pot.) One book I read said to only boil for 2 hours, but the broth wasn't nearly done in two hours.  Six hours made a very nice, robust broth.

Then I had to let it cool before I could stick my hands in to remove the bones.  For the very large pot, cooling took about an hour.  I pulled out bones, cartilage, and anything else I didn't want to see floating in my chicken soup. If it wasn't salty enough, I added a bit more salt--and the broth was finally ready to can!

We used wide-mouth quart jars for the broth since we love soup around our house.  Processed at 10 pounds for 25 minutes, then cooled, jars cleaned, labeled with the date, and put into our pantry.  They are beautiful to look at. But the taste--oh the taste!  Tender, juicy, full of flavor--I don't think any of us will be able to go back to Costco canned chicken again!! Chicken Salad Sandwiches have never tasted SO good. Pin It

1 comment:

  1. What hardware store did the calibration for you? I haven't used my pressure canner for several years. :p


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