Forty Pounds of Chicken!!

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Recently I purchased a 40 pound box of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. The chicken came in four bags of 10 pounds each, and this is what I did with it…

(drum roll, please)

What to do with 40 pounds of chickenWith the first bag of chicken, I sliced the breasts into planks and soaked them in marinade.  My dear hubby, Ray, then smoked the chicken planks before grilling them to perfection.  Once they had cooled a bit, I placed them on waxed paper and slid them into the freezer.  An hour or so later, when they were frozen, I used my Food Saver (aka “sucky machine”) to package them into meal sized portions.  We have done this many times before and really enjoy using this chicken sliced onto salads or mixed into pasta. Because of the smoked/grilled flavor and spicy marinade, it’s also great shredded in tacos and enchiladas, or used to make southwestern chicken chili or soup.  Of course, it’s really good just eaten as is – you don’t even need to reheat – just thaw and enjoy!marinated and grilled chicken planks

While Ray was grilling, I took another ten pound bag, sliced the breasts into cubes, then packed them into pint sized canning jars.  After adding plain ole’ water with a generous 1 inch headspace, I wiped the rims with vinegar (to make sure there wasn’t any grease, which could prevent a proper seal) placed the lids and rings finger tight, and pressure canned Canned Chickenthem for 75 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.  I opted not to add salt because this chicken would be used for cooking and/or baking, at which time I would add the appropriate amount of salt. The canned chicken can be used to make pasta dishes, ravioli fillings, chicken tacos, chicken soup – the list goes on and on!  The best part about canning chicken is that no further energy is needed to preserve it once it is properly canned!  If you will be pressure canning at an elevation above 1,000 feet, please follow current guidelines for processing time and pressures. You can get that information here: http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_05/chicken_rabbit.html

Freezing and vacuum sealing chickenNext, I prepared the rest of the chicken breasts for freezing whole.  There wasn’t really much to do except cut the two halves apart, and place them on a waxed paper lined cookie sheet to flash freeze. I used four cookie sheets to do this because it’s important that the chicken doesn’t freeze together.  Also, the air space between the breasts helps to freeze them quicker.  I did cut off that weird nugget piece that goes under the wing of the chicken, and any fat on the chicken, and saved these pieces to make chicken stock. Once frozen, they were individually placed into Ziploc Bags and vacuum sealed.  This ensures freshness for at least six months, usually longer.  Our’s won’t last that long because chicken is our favorite meat protein.vacuum sealed frozen chicken breasts

The bits, pieces and parts that were trimmed off the breasts were slow roasted for several hours (to get that how to make and can chicken stockwonderful flavor),  then dumped into a large pot of cold water and stored in the refrigerator overnight.  The next morning, I skimmed off the fat that was floating on the top of the water, and then simmered for several hours with carrots, onions, garlic, salt, pepper and one bay leaf.  The broth was strained (reserving the chicken meat) and returned to the heat to reduce until it was a beautiful amber color.  I let the broth reduce to about half the volume I started with  because this really intensifies the flavor.  The broth was strained once more as it was ladled into pint sized canning jars, then pressure canned for 20 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure to preserve it’s goodness.  I live lower than 1,000 feet in elevation, so 20 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure are sufficient to stop botulism in it’s track for me.  If you live at a higher elevation, please see the current recommendations for processing time and pressure for your area.  Again, you can read about the current processing times and recommendations on this website:  http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_05/chicken_rabbit.htmlmake and can chicken stock

The final tally from 40 pounds of chicken:

15 bags of marinated smoked and grilled chicken strips, each bag consisting of 5 to 6 planks (which is 2 meal sized portions – perfect for hubby and I)

8 pints of pressure canned chicken breast chunks.

14 frozen whole chicken breasts.

4 pints of canned reduced chicken broth (plus one half pint which is in my refrigerator)

2 cups of shredded chicken from the trimmings used to make the broth.  Chicken enchiladas, anyone?

So, where did I get this wonderful looking, fresh chicken?how to preserve 40 pounds of chicken

Zaycon Foods.  This is how Zaycon Foods describes their service:

Zaycon Foods is a privately owned company based in Spokane, Washington. The company was founded in 2009 with the simple mission to bring farm fresh meats direct to consumers at wholesale prices. You see, we knew all the farmers who had the best stuff around. Thanks to our experience in the grocery industry, we knew how to quickly move that great stuff from point to point, preserving its freshness, taste, and nutrition. So we asked ourselves: “Why are there middlemen involved? Why aren’t we just getting this food directly from the farms to the people who are going to eat it?” That idea grew into the company we are today. When we started off just a few short years ago, we offered only a few meats in a few areas. But thanks to the overwhelmingly enthusiastic response we’ve gotten from all of you, Zaycon has grown like wildfire!”

That sounded pretty good to me, but I am a skeptic, so I decided to try it out by buying just one forty pound box of boneless, skinless chicken.  I paid $1.89 pound, which is a very good price where I live here in Northern California.  Zaycon calls the delivery of their food an “event”, and there are “events” all over the place!  All I had to do was arrive at a certain parking lot in my city between 5 and 5:30 PM on the specified date.  Easy enough.

how to freeze and or can chickenI was amazed to see just how simple the whole process was.  Ordering was easy. Then, on the appointed day, we got in the line-up of cars (we were #4) and in just a few minutes we were at the front of the line.  The gentleman asked us our last name, confirmed that we had bought one box, and forty pounds of chicken was placed into the trunk of our car.  It took less than 10 minutes and we were already on our way home.

When I got the chicken home and inspected it…

Holy moly!  Heavens to Mergatroyd!

These breasts were huge!  And to be honest, I had never seen chicken breasts sold like this before, still attached to the other breast!  I was also pleased to see that there was very little fat clinging onto the breasts. When I opened the bag containing the chicken, the odor wasn’t at all like the odor ofl store bought chicken.  Ah ha…  so this is what fresh chicken is supposed to smell like!!

Will I use Zaycon Foods again?  Yes!  YES!  This was the best chicken I have ever purchased in my life – seriously!  Cross my heart!

The next “event” in my town that I will be ordering from will be the bacon event.  I have to be careful not to buy too much, because my freezer space will be limited when we move up to the future homestead (hopefully soon!).  But, this will give me a chance to try canning bacon!  To me, having to buy in bulk is really the only disadvantage of buying from Zaycon…   You see, 40 pounds is the smallest box of chicken breasts that they sell.  That being said, having customers buy in bulk is exactly how they are able to keep prices so low – which is okay for me because I am able to can some and freeze some.  However, sharing the cost of a box or two and then processing the meat with friends sounds like an excuse for a party!

If you would like to see the Zaycon web site, click HERE.  I promise, if you buy chicken from Zaycon Foods, you will be impressed!

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46 thoughts on “Forty Pounds of Chicken!!

    • No joke – these were the biggest and freshest chicken breasts I have ever purchased! The next time a chicken breast “event” comes to my city, I will be purchasing two boxes – one to freeze and one to can!

  1. It’s great to see someone else who loves the chicken from Zaycon Foods! I’ve been a loyal customer for about a year now. The bacon wrapped pork tenderloins are already individually packaged and frozen…so convenient!

    Visiting from Freedom Fridays!

    Be Well,
    The Lady Kay

    • Thank you for visiting, Lady Kay! I can’t wait to try out some of Zaycon’s other products. Bacon wrapped pork tenderloins sound absolutely decadent. Unfortunately, the freezer space in my trailer (where we will be living while we build our new house) is very limited, so I will probably have to stick to meats that can also be canned. I loved the treatise on penmanship on your blog!

  2. Hi Vickie,
    You sure made good use of your chicken with some many different delicious ways to enjoy it. Thanks for sharing on Real Food Fridays blog hop.

    • Good morning, Marla! Yes, a few hours spent in the kitchen will go a long way for quick and easy holiday season dinners! I love it when my husband smokes and then grills the chicken – he does such a good job! It’s funny. At first I thought 40 pounds was going to take a long time to prepare, but by preparing the chicken several ways, it didn’t take much time at all! I think the next time I buy from Zaycon, I will get two boxes and can a lot more of the chicken.

    • My husband has a smoker, but for the chicken he just used a metal box filled with damp wood chips right in the barbeque – works great. This is the best time of year to stock up on easy to make meals. Now I can shop all day long then come home and have a great dinner on the table in less than 15 minutes! Thanks for visiting, Alison!

    • Hi, Christine – Happy Friday to you! Pressure canning the chicken is actually very easy – once you get past the fear factor! 😉 There are quite a few books out there that explain the whole process, and if you buy a new pressure canner, their instructions are usually so precise that if you follow them exactly, you can’t go wrong. The first couple of times I canned chicken it took me f.o.r.e.v.e.r because I wanted to make sure I did everything exactly right! I must have been successful, because the hubs and I haven’t gotten sick yet. 😀 Thanks for stopping by today and commenting, Christine!

  3. Hello Vickie,
    again a very interesting post.
    I think it’s good if you’re so versatile.
    However, Angi and I try mogli waxed the freeze to waive Plastic.
    We use to freeze jars with lids.
    This works very well.
    But this I must also write that some of our glass containers for meat or fish, unfortunately, have a plastic lid.
    But we are looking for alternatives.

    kind regards

    Uwe

    • Greetings, Uwe! Yes, plastic is not such a great thing and it is true that the bags are wasteful. I do plan to buy some of the glass jars that can be vacuum sealed and put into the freezer. Until then, I like to use the Food Saver because it really does make our food last longer in the freezer. I just saw the Christmas Star on your blog – it’s beautiful and I love the colors! Have a great weekend!

  4. I saw your picture of the chicken breast and immediately thought Zaycon!! I had to click just to see if you were a fellow Zayconer. We have been buying from them for a little over two years and I couldn’t be happier with every product I’ve bought. You’re gonna love the bacon. We had to buy a 2nd freezer but there are 14 of us so our needs are different than the average family. You gave me some great ideas for different ways to preserve our meat. I haven’t pressure canned anything yet because of the “fear factor” but I’m going to. We buy 3-4 cases of the chicken and an equal amount of the ground beef. Can you pressure can ground beef? Thanks for all the info.

    • Hello, Kathy! Yes, you can certainly pressure can ground beef! It sure makes meal preparation faster – just and proceed with whatever recipe you are using! This works especially well with hamburger helper type recipes and casseroles, enchiladas, tacos, etc. You can make chili with the ground beef and a jar of pressure canned chili beans! Delicious and all you need to do is reheat! I will be doing this a lot in the next few months as we begin to prepare for life with a very small freezer. I am so glad I found Zaycon and it’s nice to hear from others who have been buying their products for a few years now – thanks!

  5. You really have been busy! So smart to bottle the broth as well. You will love having all of this on hand!! Thanks for sharing with SYC.
    hugs,
    Jann

    • Making broth from the bits and pieces meant that none of the chicken went to waste – and now I have the broth sitting in my pantry waiting to be used! Thanks for Share Your Cup, Jann. One of the best parties around!

    • Yes, I agree! I have a lot more shelf space than freezer space, which is why next time I buy chicken breasts from Zaycon, I will probably do a lot of pressure canning! Thanks for commenting, Amanda.

  6. G’day! WOW that’s a lot of chicken! Great ideas and Thanks for coming to our #SayGdayParty Please make sure to revisit if you haven’t already and say G’day to the hosts and another person at the party Pinned Cheers! Joanne @What’s On The List Sharing is Caring!

  7. I’ve done this with organic grass-finished beef before, but never chicken (the “Beef Lady” delivers to my town, but the chicken people do not). I’m about to be living in Washington though, so that makes this an option!

    • Good morning, Stephanie! Beef Lady? Sounds interesting! Good luck with your move to Washington – I hear it’s absolutely beautiful up there! Once you are settled, you should check out Zaycon Foods again. The company headquarters is actually located up there in the Pacific Northwest!

    • You should get together with your friend and buy a box to share! Then you will know if you like it before committing to a huge amount! We like to use several marinades when we grill and the freeze a bunch of chicken, that way we have a variety on hand for different meals. My husband always likes to make his own concoctions, and I have made my own grilling sauces, but we also use packaged mixes. Thanks, Barb!

  8. Thanks for sharing this at the Say G’Day linky party. I’ve just pinned this to the Say G’Day Saturday board and labelled it “What to do with 40 pounds of chicken”!! Great ideas-thanks!

    Hope you have a great week.

    Best wishes,
    Natasha in Oz

  9. HEY! I am another FAN of Zaycon! I was like you – the first time I was cautious, and only bought one case – and I was so incredibly amazed at the quality of the chicken, that I now buy 2-3 cases when they have their sale. In fact, I was thinking about canning some of it up too. My husband just bought me one of the “suckers” and so I plan on putting up quite a bit of frozen chicken too – as we have three freezers. Zaycon is so awesome – can’t say how much I love them!! Your post was great, really helpful, and may have pushed me over the edge to pressure can up some of that chicken!

    • Pressure canning chicken is so easy, you should do it! It’s also nice to have a bunch of meat “put up” for power outages during the winter. You can keep your freezer door shut to preserve the cold, yet still have nutritious chicken, beef, fish, etc., right on your shelf! I say, “do it!”

  10. I just got my first order of Zaycon chicken, too! The guy told me when I got home, I would be wishing I had ordered more than one box, and he was right! Mine is all in the freezer, but next time I plan to freeze an entire box, and then incorporate some of your ideas for the second box. Thanks for sharing! I do love having all kinds of canned meats in my pantry for those nights I need a quick meal.

    • Boy, are you right – I wish I had bought two more boxes! It would be nice to have more grilled chicken in the freezer and even more canned in jars, but you live and learn. Next time! Although I grind all of my own hamburger, I am tempted to try Zaycon’s hamburger in their next “event” in December, so I can see the quality of their beef. I know I am going to be purchasing their bacon, but that doesn’t go on sale until February for my area, so I will just have to wait. Patiently! 😀 Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Michelle!

  11. I think you used every method of preserving chicken that is possible…unless it is possible to make chicken jerky… We go through a lot of chicken breasts here too. I enjoyed reading about it and I’ve not heard of Zaycon before. Do you know if they are in Pennsylvania? I did not want to create an account if they are only in CA.
    Best wishes!

    • Hello, Jendi! Yes – Zaycon is in Pennsylvania with three stops near Pittsburgh and another one further north on 80. If this still isn’t near your home, you could get some friends together and take a road trip. 🙂 Anyway, the funny thing is – yes, I made chicken jerky just a few days ago!! Hahaha! That post is coming up in a couple of days. Have a great Wednesday, Jendi!

  12. I loved reading about how you preserved your chicken! I actually live near a major chicken producing city (Gainesville, GA) and let me tell you, we go through some chicken! I’ll definitely have to try out some of these ideas in the future. Thank you for sharing!

    -Lara

    • But wait – there’s more! My next post is about making jerky with chicken! Teehee! Between the desserts you posted on your blog and all of this chicken, I think we should get together and have a party!

    • Ooooo… sounds like a great party – thanks for inviting me! Canned chicken is very useful – especially for soups, chicken pot pie, pasta dishes, etc.. It’s really very good and at least you know you aren’t getting the “strange” pieces of chicken like you might in a can from the supermarket. See you soon, Kyla!

  13. I love bulk food projects like this! We just butchered 20 chickens and have already canned some stock. A good day of labor yields many easy days in the kitchen 🙂 Thanks for sharing on the Art of Home-Making Mondays this week!

    • Thank you for your kind comments! I can’t wait until we raise our own chickens. I have never butchered a bird before, but I guess there is always a first time! We will also have laying hens, which (of course) won’t be butchered. Have a great weekend!

  14. Hello cute lady! Great post. Pinned. We really appreciate you taking the time to stop by our party. It wouldn’t be a party without you. Please join us on Monday at 7 pm. Happy Saturday! Lou Lou Girls

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