Why Yes! Yes I Did Can 40 lbs of Chicken… And Lived to Tell About It!

 

And you can too!  I’ll use the canned chicken for quick meals:  chicken enchiladas, chicken salad, chicken soups… the possibilities are many.  Here’s how it came about:

 

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If you’ve followed along, you likely noticed that life spun me around like a pair of socks in the dryer for the last two or three years.  I’ve had a lot going on and had not been able to get back ‘in the game’, so to speak.

During that time, I’d ordered 40 lbs. of boneless skinless chicken breast from Zaycon Foods.  The delivery came mid-summer last year (or the year before?) and my good intentions for repackaging and handling this big bag of meat did not go as planned.

So, life changed once again – I switched to a different job, a new sector of industry – and I had four days of downtime in between.  Time to can some chicken!

I thawed the block overnight in a larger cooler (sorry, this is not the safest method and I’m not promoting it – just saying that’s how we roll around here, and I cannot recall the last time I had tummy ick).  Then I began the process… a hot vinegar bath for all of the jars and utensils, then cut the chicken into chunks and pack it into the jars, raw.

 

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Chicken can only be canned with a Pressure Canner.  If your canner does not have gauges on it then you need to step away from this sort of project.  Seriously.  You could kill yourself or someone else if you don’t use the proper canner.  Also – a pressure cooker is not the same thing as a pressure canner.  Use the right tools for the job.

For the sterilization step, I simply used tap water as hot as I could get it and added a quarter gallon of vinegar.  Each item was dipped and rinsed in the water and then set out for a quick dry.

These beautiful, functional jars are from Weck.  They’re my favorite for meat processing, as they are a much thicker glass than the standard canning jar – and they look so good on the shelf.

I have several of the Weck jars, but not quite enough for this project, so I filled in with good ol’ Ball jars.  Always add new metal tops when canning, and reuse any of the rings that are not rusty.  The Weck jars will need new rubber seals each time they’re used.

 

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While I packed the jars with the chicken chunks, I got the water into the canner and set it on the stove to heat.  It takes a while, so I knew I could get the jars in before the water was too hot to set cool jars into.

 

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With so much chicken to process, there was no way to do it all in one session.  I cut up and packed the first 20 lbs of chicken and got as many jars as was safe into the canner – a double stack.  As you can see, there is still a lot of chicken in the bowl, and more waiting over yonder in the sink… as shown in that second picture from the top.  It’s a good thing I started this project before noon.

 

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Instructions are so very important when canning.  Raw pack meats are going to go through an intense cooking process and the juices and pressure involved require that you leave a lot of space between the packed food and the top of the jar – head space.  This is for safety purposes, make certain you follow this step.

 

 

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Once the water was in the canner (see your instructions to make sure you’ve put sufficient water in your canner), and the jars were packed in, I was ready for the first batch.  Use a reputable source for the instructions, aided with the instruction booklet from your canner.  Quarts of raw pack chicken take 90 minutes processing time.  This is serious business folks – always follow the instructions to the letter when you’re canning foods.  Safety is key.

 

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In between batches, it’s important to allow the canner to cool and release pressure on its own.  Forcing the cool down will do serious damage to the canner, your kitchen or your body.  Be patient and allow for this down time.  Once the pressure has returned to zero, you are ready to pull out those steaming batches of canned goodness and start the next batch.

Take a serious cue from me and start waaaay before noon, not just before.  This is a time consuming process, but oh so very worth it in the long run.

Til’ later…

Dreamin’

 

Expansions and Contractions

A while ago, I posted about a treasure hunt.

My son and his lovely lady had come for a weekend visit, during which we three took Hubby’s truck and scoured the area for rocks to use in the garden.

During the visit, I noticed a ring on the finger – yes, the indicative finger – of said lovely lady.  It turned out to be a ring of promise.  A promise of more to come, intentions yet unspoken, but certainly in mind.

The ring now resides on the right hand.

In its place is this wonderful family gem:

engagement ring

And next Saturday, this gem will be worn on the finger of my daughter-in-law:  The Beautiful Bride.

A wonderfully matched woman for my son.

A spectacular expansion for our family.

Needless to say, this Dreamin’ Gal has been developing a case of nerves:   checklists and fashion checks and appointments and products and planning and more.

Thankfully, I was able to emerge from the shroud of a depression so deep that it nearly consumed me.  Just in time.

We students of efficiency recognize an opportunity when we see one.

My depression-fed flab was targeted for a 90 day onslaught.  I began to think of prior exercise regimes and nixed them one by one.  Then I put my dreams into action.

  • A remodeled kitchen
  • A permanent garden area with laid paths
  • A toned body

By combining the three dream elements, I’ve been able to drop ten pounds without a single change to my diet.  I notice no more dimples in the back of my arms (and if you see dimples on them, by gosh and by golly, keep yer’ darned mouth shut!), and my energy levels have soared.

Contracted flab, tightened thighs, and now Hubby has made mention of  my improved derriere.

Good things.  Great things.  And more to come.

My other son is engaged too!  And his lovely lady will bring us instant grandkids to boot.

Happy Dreams!  Happy Expansions and contractions!

:)

Let It Roll

It’s been two fast-moving months of Moments in Dreamin’ Girl world.  Moments that have had ripple effects, but not those moments where you take the direct hit, ya know?

I’m quite relieved to be moving past that period of time, and thankful that there were also many happy moments inserted within.

Hubby and I quietly celebrated our 22nd anniversary.

Our middle son turned 27.

Our grandson turned ONE!

Our oldest son and his wife moved to temporary quarters as they wait for their new home to be built.  It will happen just in time for them to get settled in with their son, before their twins arrive in 2013.   Grandma news is always good news!

Our middle son and his lovely lady are now engaged, and pending word on a house for which they have made an offer.

Our youngest son has moved to a new location and has taken on more responsibility at his workplace.

Hubby has now returned to work, post-surgery, after a successful recuperative period.

I’ve had a good share of pool time so far this summer, and we’ve had family visitors who were able to share that pool time.

I was able to attend a family reunion with all of my siblings, and introduced my son and his fiance to family I had not seen in nearly twenty years.

My brother taught me to shoot clay pigeons, with a 12 gauge, and I not only survived the ordeal, but found it somewhat exhilarating

We were able to get all three of the new family babes together for a picture, a very special picture of three cousins born on the same morning.  How often can you say that?

Many good things, and many good times, with more to come.

But it has been a trying two months:

Hubby had back surgery and was not allowed to do any house or yard work

A disabled (and needy) friend has been rooming with us due to domestic issues

My workplace has moved into its third stage of major change in two months

Our area is in drought conditions so the garden has become small enclaves of critical care or survivor plants

A special uncle died while his wife, a special aunt, was in the hospital

Our A/C quit on a triple digit day, while we were hosting a family gathering

Each event, each moment on its own brings those ripples of effect into our life.  Combined, these moments have felt like large storm surges, crashing in upon us and pulling us under with the mighty force of surrender.  But surrender we have not.

We just roll with it, because that’s what we can do.

Wake up and stretch, and be thankful for each new day.  Then prepare for whatever ripple comes along.

Let it roll.

Later!

Dreamin’ Girl