Chicken Canning Conundrum

In my quest to become more self-sufficient, my main focus lately has been on food storage.  As most of my readers know by now, my husband and I plan to move up to our future homestead soon – living off the grid and being as self-sufficient, self-reliant, eco-friendly, etc., etc., as possible, without losing the conveniences and advantages of modern life. One excellent way to store food is to can it!  I used to can a lot of jams, jellies and fruits when I was younger (much younger), but that was more for the fun of it.  I didn’t consider canning as an important component of food preservation and survival. I have always had a large freezer for my meats and vegetables, but while living off grid a large freezer would not be feasible.

Growing up I was always hearing about deadly botulism toxins and explosion accidents with pressure canners, which scared the bejeebers out of me, so I never considered canning my meats and vegetables until now! I did a lot of research and apparently botulism isn’t the menace that I thought it was.  When canning meats and vegetables, as long as all steps are followed and pressure and time tables are accurate, there shouldn’t be a problem!  Apparently it is a rare case for anyone to get sick from botulism anymore.  Whew. And pressure canner explosions are pretty much unheard of nowadays, unless you are a monster and make it explode on purpose! So I decided to try my hand at pressure canning.

Many years ago I bought a pressure cooker/canner and made the best roasts and cooked the quickest artichokes in town.  In fact, I think it only took about 5 minutes of cooking the artichokes in the pressure canner to get melt in your mouth artichokes!  Once the cooking was done you are supposed to put the canner under cold running water to get it to cool quickly, so that your artichokes could go from refrigerator to table in less than 8 minutes.  Nice.

So, I decided to get out my old pressure canner and give it a go for pressure canning food!  My first try was with salmon.  Not too bad, but I did encounter a few problems.  You can see that story here:  Canning Salmon. Then I tried to can beef.  This seemed to go okay.  I had a little trouble getting the canner to stop spewing steam from the gasket – just where it isn’t supposed to- but finally got it going!  You can see that story here:  Canning Beef.  Then I tried ground beef.  That’s when we discovered the canner was leaky.  The weld that held the handles onto the pot had cracked just ever so slightly, but that was enough to cause the steam to escape in the wrong spot.  You know, in hind sight, it was probably caused by quickly cooling the pressure canner for those wonderful artichokes!  I don’t think metal is supposed to expand and contract so rapidly. Luckily we ate the beef right away.  But, knowing that I probably didn’t have a good seal on my old canner, I think I should throw away the rest of my canned salmon – just to be safe. :(

Pressure Canning Chicken

My new pressure canner – isn’t she beautiful?!

When my husband said that I should go ahead and get a new canner, I told him “but the one I want is expensive”.  He asked, “how much?”  I told him, “a couple hundred dollars!”  When he said to “buy it anyway”, I was online like a flash to order it. What did I get?  The All-American 921!  I have read others sing praises to this canner, it has no gasket to get old or stretch out, and holds 19 pints or 7 quarts at a time!

Then I read on the inside cover of the instruction manual that you can’t use it on a glass cook top because of it’s weight.  Guess what?  I have a glass cook top range.          Perfect!  {can you hear my sarcasm?}

But wait! I have a propane cooktop in my outdoor kitchen!  I can use that!

Ummm… well…

Pressure Canning Chicken

Here is my set-up to can some chicken in my outdoor kitchen.  Yes, there is a ladder there.  Why, you ask?  Because the counter-top it pretty high to begin with, and was just way too tall for me to be able to safely put the jars into the canner, and then once the steam was vented, to put the weight on!

What are the bricks for?  Well, when I had come up with the idea to use the outdoor stove it was the night before and it was a beautiful day.  Early the next morning as I was setting up the canner (the chicken and stock were all prepared and ready to go) everything seemed to be going well… until the gentle breeze started.  By the time I had everything loaded into the canner and was ready to start the venting process, the breeze turned into wind!  Did you know that Murphy’s Law was written with me in mind?

The make-shift brick and cookie sheet wind-break did the job and helped to keep the flame under the canner fairly steady so that I was able to keep the pressure right at 10 pounds, just where it needed to be.  Everything was going to be alright, until…

I couldn’t get the darned lid on right!  I thought all I had to do was screw down opposite sides and everything would be fine!  Not so fast.  I had to read the instructions again.  First, you need to make sure the lid is sitting EVENLY before you start screwing down.  If the lid isn’t even in the first place, it will screw down crooked and not get a good seal.  Oh.

After fussing with that for about 1/2 hour, it was then that I remembered to add a little bit of olive oil to the metal rim of the canner.  Ugh …….

So, I took the lid back off and added the olive oil to the rim, and then my sweet, wonderful, he-can-do-anything husband helped me to EVENLY screw down the lid, tightening opposite sides as we went along.

Success!

How to pressure can chicken

So, here was my process:

I boiled some chicken breast meat and turkey thighs along with the bones in water with some garlic, onion, black pepper and salt for several hours.  Once cooled, I picked the meat off the bones.  The broth was strained then put into the refrigerator so the fat was consolidate on top.  Once cold enough, I skimmed the fat off the top of the broth and put both the meat and broth into the refrigerator.

Because I was doing the hot pack method, the next morning I heated the broth and chicken seperately over the stove while my canning jars were heating in clean water, along with the canning lids.

I set up my canner, poured in about 3 inches of water and turned on the gas to start heating the water.  Once the water in the canner was getting hot, I packed the hot chicken/turkey meat evenly into the jars and poured the hot broth over.  I had extra broth, so I filled three more jars with the broth.  I carefully cleaned the jar rim with vinegar, just to make sure there weren’t any pieces of chicken or fat on the rims, then placed the hot lid on top and screwed down the ring – not too tight – just finger tight.  The jars were placed into the canner, the lid (finally) screwed down tight and then I waited for the steam to vent for about 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, the weight was placed on the vent and I waited for the weight to jiggle.  Once the weight had jiggled, I checked the gauge and – sure enough – the dial gauge said I had 10 pounds of pressure!  That’s when I started timing.  In my case, I followed the pamphlet that came with the canner that said I would need to process the chicken for 75 minutes, which is what I did.  Once the 75 minutes was up, I turned off the heat but left the canner right where it was for several hours.  After about four hours I checked the canner and it had 0 pressure, so I lifted the weight and carefully pulled out the jars.

The next day I washed the jars and checked the seal.  All six jars had good seals!  The only thing I saw was that the level of the broth was a little lower than what I had put in, so I guess maybe I didn’t get all the bubbles out of the jars before I put the lid on.  At least that’s all I can figure.  Anybody know differently?

So there you have it – the good, bad and the ugly!

I can’t wait to make a batch of chili now.  I have a few canning books I borrowed from the library so I am going to spend some time reading through all the recipes and trying them out!  Do you have a good canning book I should read?

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16 thoughts on “Chicken Canning Conundrum

  1. Looks beautiful! I know all about Murphy lol :) Some of the liquid may have leaked out during the processing but you should be fine. When that happened to me during my canning class, she said it was because I kept letting the pressure go to high (had trouble maintaining 10 lbs., probably averaged 12ish) but as long as it sealed i was good to go! And it was super yummy!!!

    • Thank you! I wish there was a canning class around here that I could attend, so I would feel more comfortable doing this. I wouldn’t be surprised about the pressure being too high because of the way I had to shield the flames from the wind to keep them high enough not to blow out! May be they were too high! Next time I am going to watch our local weatherman more closely. :)

  2. Hello Vickie,
    it looks but still made ​​quite well.
    Also, if it was fraught with difficulties.
    Also, I think it’s good that you’re inventive, how did you made ​​with bricks and baking sheet.
    You’ll hinbekommen all right, just like you want to.
    As with everything else practice makes perfect.

    regards
    Uwe

  3. Your canned meat looks great! You know, here in Australia we do not have to worry so much about the type of jars we use, as almost all the jars sold in the shops (like peanut butter, vegemite, jam, pasta sauce, olives etc) have reusable jars. Many of us Aussie women All the ones I know who do it) have favourite jars that are reused over and over, and we are always on the look out for new and pretty jars!

    • Lucky you to live in Australia! Apparently most of the commercial jars used in the US are not reusable, which seems like such a shame! If the jars were reusable there would be so much less for our garbage dumps (not everyone recycles) and the energy to collect, melt down, purefy, remake and then distribute the glass jars wouldn’t be wasted! I do know my mother in law canned her peaches in old mayonnaise jars and didn’t have a problem. But then, it’s also true that the glass jars have become thinner lately, and may not be able to take the heat required for canning.

  4. It looks great. Some liquid always squeezes out during the canning process. I can my chicken while its raw ~ and I just use water and not stock. I cut it into strips raw and put it in the jars ~ add a tablespoon of canning salt and fill with boiling water. I’ve been doing this for 2 years. The convenience of adding already cooked chicken from a can to your meals is a great timesaver. I started canning because we live in Miss. and could lose power due to tornado or hurricanes. I do pre-brown my ground beef and drain the fat. I’ve found that with the ground beef ~ it ends up in smaller crumbles during the canning process ~ maybe because its precooked. But the smaller size is great for salads or taco’s. Oh, try it on your glass cooktop and see if the pressure holds ~ mine does. I’ve only had a couple of jars over the years that I’ve canned vegies and then meat that the seals didn’t work. We just ate that food immediately.
    donna

    • Hmmm… I would try canning on my stove, except that it’s new and we are just about ready to put our home on the market (so we can move up to our future homestead!), and I certainly don’t want to have the stove ruined! From what I understand, the problem with the stove is the weight of the canner – it could break the glass.
      I think I will try canning some chicken raw, as you do, and see how that goes. I am having a lot of fun learning all of these new skills, and I certainly feel better knowing that when I have a stockpile of canned goods, there will always be food on the table!
      Thanks for stopping by, Donna. Have a wonderful weekend!

  5. Boy can I relate… canning chicken was our first foray into pressure canning and I have to say the whole botulism thing scared the socks off me too until I did enough research to quiet down that inner voice screaming at me “we’re all going to die!” :-) I have to say it was much simpler than I expected and we had really great success. Great post!

    • Thank you for your words of encouragement! I still have a little trepidation, but I have heard that if you boil the food for at least 10 minutes before eating the food would be safe regardless. What is strange, however, is that I thought I remembered my grandmother canning green beans in a water bath canner – and none of us died from eating her green beans!

  6. Thank you for sharing this post at City of Creative Dream’s City of Links on Friday! I appreciate you taking the time to party with me. Hope to see you again this week :)

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