I am sure you were just sitting there at home wondering how to keep chicken on your pantry shelf for years at a time and still be able to eat it at a second's notice, right? It is your lucky day! I have been so busy getting ready for Super Saturday, and will be for the next two weeks, I thought I would get my mind off things with a little canning lesson.
I realize it takes a special person to even think about, let alone actually can their own meat. I was one of those people not too long ago. I will tell you that I stared blankly into my friend Jodi's face when she went on and on about how yummy the meat is and how easy it is to do. Love ya, Jodi! I learned my lesson and have been canning all my meat for almost two years now. Every bite is tender and so full of flavor, not to mention quick and easy to use. I will never buy canned chicken from the store again!
I found this cartoon and thought it fitting for our lesson :0)
So when old Henrietta stops finding egg money and it is time for her to go...I better not even go there...
Start with clean, sterilized jars. Like with the ground beef, I sterilize the jars, but since my chicken is cold when I can it, I don't keep the jars hot. My own personal belief is that it leads to broken jars in the canner when you mix hot and cold.
You wanted to see gross things to get you in the mood for Halloween right? I do apologize for the visuals on this post. It makes me want to scrub everything with Clorox Kitchen Cleaner. Anyway, I usually buy 14-16lbs of chicken. That much chicken will fill 7 wide-mouth quart jars and that is how many jars my canner holds. I wait for the chicken to be on sale for around $1.70lb or so, then buy up a bunch and can it all.
You can cut the chicken into chunks like this, but you don't really have to cut it at all. It is only for the ease of getting it out of the jar. Really, the chicken shreds as you pull it out. I do like to cut it into chunks so it is already an edible size when it comes out of the jar. Then I don't have to cut it later, just throw it into whatever I am cooking.
I load the jar with the chunks, with the aid of my handy dandy wide-mouthed funnel. Normally I fill the jars about half-way, then squish everything around until all the holes are filled. I think I was so worried about taking the picture that I filled this jar, took the picture, then realized I hadn't squished. I took half back out, squished, filled it back in a ways, squished some more, then topped it off. I have learned not to fill the jars exactly 1" from the top. I stop at maybe 1 1/2" or so. I noticed that some of the juices come out of the jar during processing. If you under-pack the jar just a smidge it takes care of that problem.
Other than salt, don't add anything to the chicken. When it cooks, it makes it's own liquid-real, fresh chicken broth! As for the salt, add 1 tsp salt per quart of chicken, or any meat really. If you are using pints, put in 1/2 tsp salt. If you are watching your salt, skip it. It doesn't hurt anything, just adds flavor.
Process for 75 minutes @ 15lbs pressure for Pints
90 minutes @ 15lbs pressure for Quarts.
Due to my painfully cheep tendencies, I use Quarts. I don't want to use two jars, two lids, and twice the processing time to make two jars of meat. I pack my meat into quart jars, then just plan two nights of chicken recipes in a row, or two nights of hamburger meals in a row. The meat, once opened, stays good for 3-4 days in the fridge. I won't tell you we have stretched that a little, but according to the food safety websites, 3-4 days is acceptable.
The canned chicken is stored on the shelf in the pantry, and for up to 2-5 years. No fridge or freezer needed. You don't have to heat it up to eat it either. You can open it and eat it out of the jar if you wanted to, like tuna. Perfect for a cold chicken salad, or throw it in a casserole.
My friend buys bone-in chicken, cooks it in the crockpot all day, peals it off the bones, then cans it. The thought exhausts me. You can do it that way, but I really think the raw pack method is the way to go. The chicken ends up cheaper when you aren't paying for bones and the whole process is so fast when you skip the extra cooking. Also, I took a nutrition class in college where we were beaten over the head with the idea that the more you cook something, the more nutrients you take away from it. I love that when you put the chicken in the can raw, it is cooked in it's own juices and most of the vitamins that are released are kept right there in the can. If you use the broth from the jar, you are still getting most of those vitamins :0) Again, it is all theory according to Vanessa and I really can't vouch for my mind these days. All I can say is that my family really loves the meals I make with my canned chicken :0) You should try it! I am open for any questions you might have along the way!!!
Need a little more chicken humor? Check out this link for some chicken chuckles. They were worth mentioning, but not worth the money they charged to post the pictures :0)