Canning Chicken

Our local stores have chicken breasts for $1.39 a pound this week so I pulled out my never-used-before pressure cooker and finally tried canning chicken. Knowing how to process and preserve your own foods is a great self-reliance skill. I admit, though, that I was a little nervous because of an infamous family story of my grandmother's pressure cooker blowing up while full of red beets (no one was hurt, but the walls were RED!).
I thawed the frozen chicken by placing it into a bowl of warm water for about 20 minutes. This is about five pounds of chicken. I did a total of 20 pounds.
When it was completely thawed, I trimmed off any fat on the chicken (which wasn't much). I then put the breasts into clean jars with about 1 inch of head space. I didn't add any water. I could have added a 1/2 teaspoon of salt, but because the chicken had already been injected with some broth, I choose not to add the salt.
After wiping the jar tops and fastening lids and rings onto the pint jars, I placed them into my pressure canner with 3 quarts of water and fastened the pressure-cooker lid (the water amount will vary - see your own manual for specific instructions). My 16-quart pressure canner states that it will process 10 pints at a time, but it really only did 8 - maybe because I used wide-mouth jars. Each jar held about one pound of chicken.

My pressure canner manual states to cook meats at 13 pounds of pressure (adjusted for my own altitude of 5700 feet above sea level) for 75 minutes (90 minutes for quarts).

I think this was the hardest part of processing the chicken. Every pressure canner works differently. I had to carefully read the manual several times. Make sure to read yours carefully for water amounts, pressure required, and processing times (always adjusting for altitude as described in your manual). I vented mine for 10 minutes, added the weight, brought up the pressure, processed for 75 minutes and then let the cooker drop pressure and cool. It required some watching to maintain the pressure at 13 pounds. By the third batch, I had a pretty good idea of where to set my stove top and was able to get some other things done.

This is the result! I did 20 pints of chicken (each pint is about one pound of chicken). Prepping the chicken was easy. Learning to use the pressure cooker was a little harder, but now that I've done it, I won't be hesitant to do it again!


Erin said...

I'll admit that I'm terrified of home-canning due to having read too many stories about safety issues with home-canned goods. Is there any way to check and verify afterwards that everything worked correctly and that it's safe?

Wendy said...

Erin -

If you are aware of proper canning methods, I think you can be confident about foods being safe to consume. It's helpful to consult your local extension guides (and they often have phone numbers) to discern between good practices and bad.

One characteristic of home-canning lids is that they suck in when a vacuum has been created in the jar. If the jar is not sealed or processed correctly, usually the center of jar can be pressed down and popped - which is an indicator not to use that jar.

Jeannetta said...

I learned pressure canning with chicken too, and I LOVE my pressure canner now! I did potatoes and carrots for the first time this year, and we're hoping to do fresh tuna soon.
Great tutorial :)

BadVooDooDaddy said...

I am just starting to learn to can and sometimes it can get to be a bit overwhelming. I am thinking of going to a community education class on canning so that I can learn some of the secrets from the people that really know what they are doing. I want to do this for my food storage and it will also save me allot of money on food too.

Wendy said...

Good idea to take a community education on canning!

Jeanetta - let us know how the tuna goes!

Anonymous said...

One thing for those just starting out and who've never pressure canned before, in the text of your post you talk of using a pressure cooker, but from the pictures provided you are actually using a pressure canner.

For others just starting out it's very important to make sure that they are using a pressure canner, not a pressure cooker. A pressure canner can also be used as a pressure cooker, but most pressure cookers cannot be used for pressure canning.

Wendy said...

Supermom -

Thanks for the clarification. You're right, I am using a pressure canner.

I should also mention that my canner uses a gauge to measure pressure. Some canners use different weights instead.

lindaharper said...

Good for you! You will soon be doing all types of meats. They are all so moist and a real convenience food. When I do sirloin tips I call it our roast in a jar! I have canned chicken, turkey, pork, beef tips, hamburger, and sausage. For those who have never done pressure canning before, don't be afraid. Today's canners have many safety values in place that you would have to really be negligent to have one malfunction.

Wendy said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Linda. I would love to hear how you can sirloin tips!

Off Grid Survival said...

I'm with Erin on this one... Canning is the one thing I have been a little nervous to try out of fear of not doing it the right way and getting sick.

Momnmb said...

Great idea! Guess what is on sale at my supermarket today?
PS No class will teach you how to can. Doing it will. Grab someone who knows and just DO IT!

Anonymous said...

Can you can pre-cooked meat as well? Is it done in the same way?

Wendy said...

Anon -
The Utah State Extension guide has a method where you precook the meet to two-thirds done:

"Hot pack: Boil, steam, or bake meat until about two-thirds done. Add 1 teaspoon salt per quart to the jar, if desired. Fill hot jars with pieces and hot broth, leaving 1-1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed.

Raw pack: Add 1 teaspoon salt per quart, if desired. Fill hot jars loosely with raw meat pieces, leaving 1-1/4-inch headspace. Do not add liquid."


Processing times are the same.