Monday, January 17, 2011

Canning Chicken

Recently I noticed chicken being sold in bulk at a great price. Now, we are mostly vegetarian, but I do like the occasional chicken sandwich or chicken tortilla soup. At about $16 for ten pounds of chicken breast, the price was so good that I couldn't pass it up.

We certainly didn't have room in our freezer to store the box of meat, so I decided to try pressure canning it. The process was so easy that I thought I'd share it here. I also found out that cold January days are the perfect time to undertake canning chicken. The meat was frozen when I bought it. To keep it frozen, I left it boxed on my porch for a day. Then I moved my box to the garage, where it took two days to thaw. By then I had some time for the canning.

Here are the supplies: chicken breasts, cans with lids and rings, and a pressure canner. I got my information from the USU Canning Guide, and I did find an extension office in another state that clarified that the meat must be thawed, not frozen, to begin.

Note about glass surface stoves. My sister had heard flat surface ranges will crack under a canner's weight. Here is a letter from a manufacturer addressing that issue. It looks like you can do it, but you have to be careful, and your canner has to have a flat bottom, which mine does.

I trimmed the minimal fat off each piece and cut them in half to fit in the jars a little better. I left about 1 1/2" of headspace. The canning guide says 1 1/4", but for my recipes, I don't need that much meat per can. I used pint jars; quarts are also fine, but again, we don't eat that much meat. Then I wiped the top of the jars with a damp paper towel, topped them with sterilized lids and rings, and loaded the pressure cooker.

I have a weighted gauge cooker, so the processing was 15 lbs. for 90 minutes. The canning guide says 75 minutes for pint jars, but I misread it and did the quart-jar time. An hour-and-a-half later, this is what I had:

They look like something that's been sitting in a high school biology lab for three decades. I suppose if canned chicken or tuna came in clear bottles, we would never buy it. However, I'm glad that the meat cooks in its own juices, which means I now have broth to cook with as well.

The ten pounds of chicken breast made 12 jars. I haven't eaten any yet, but I've heard it shreds very easily. I like having chicken on hand for soups this winter, and I love that the weather was conducive to this project. (Just looking for that silver lining to those gray winter clouds.)


Our family said...

So, I was in my kitchen today thinking about how I really want to can some chicken this week. Great minds think alike I guess. I think I missed the sales, but we're almost through our canned chicken supply already. I didn't know you have a pressure cooker. Maybe I should come babysit at your house one of these days.

mindy said...

Yeah, canned meat just doesn't have the same appeal as canned fruit. I have to give you kudos for your project, though. :o)

Alfie said...

Does the chicken get cooked through the canning process or did you boil it first?

Mary said...

You can cook the chicken and then add water before processing, but I just put the raw meat in and it cooks during processing, releasing its juices as broth.

Pam Williams said...

You brave girl! Good for you! By the way, canned chicken looks just like bottled chicken only you can't see through the side of the can. I've never done it myself, but my mother did and she said a piece with a little fat in each jar, like a leg with skin, adds to the flavor.