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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.