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!


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