How to Can Your Own Chicken Tutorial

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Last week, we talked about the benefits of canning & a brief overview of the different canning methods. This week Tina (an avid canner) is going to show you how to can your own chicken!

How To Can Your Own Chicken Tutorial
HOME CANNING CHICKEN:
Home canned chicken is great to have on hand for a quick meal such as chicken tacos, soups, casseroles and any recipe calling for chicken. The best time to can chicken is when you find it on sale. You also want to make sure you buy enough to fill your pressure canner since no matter how many jars you process, you will need to run the canner for for the full process time.

FIRST THINGS FIRST:
To can any meat, you need to have a pressure canner. Meat CAN NOT be processed in a  water bath canner. Those are only used for high acid fruits & veggies.

Recommended Pressure Canners:

NOTE: If you are using a used canner or one that had been sitting, make sure you take the canner to your local extension office to make sure it is functioning properly before home canning.

Now that you have your canner, there are a few more basic supplies you will want for home canning:

Let’s get started:

Put your rings and lids in a pan of hot water on the stove or you can also put them in a crockpot of hot water. This softens the seal on the lids.

Choose fresh, good quality chicken (approx. 1 lb will fit in each pint jar). So, if your canner can fit 24 jars, you would want just over 24 lbs of chicken. Keep in mind, after you trim off any unwanted fat from the chicken you will have less than your original 24 lbs so make adjustments for that.

Wash and rinse out your jars so they will be ready. You won’t need to sterilize the jars since you will be using a pressure canner. Inspect jars for cracks, chips or imperfections. Even the smallest chip or imperfection can cause your jars to not seal or even break in the canner.

Add 1/2 tsp. salt to each jar

Remove any fat or unwanted pieces on the chicken (we used chicken breast). Then cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes and place in jars (using jar funnel if you have one). LIGHTLY tap the chicken down into the jar and leaving 1 1/4 inch head space. You don’t want to pack it down tightly however, you can lightly tap it down since it shrinks when you process it.

Once all your jars are filled, take a wet cloth and wipe the rim of each jar to make sure it is clean and to double check for any imperfections on the rim.

Now it is time to get your lids and rings that have been soaking in the hot water. Using your lid lifer, pull out a lid and a ring for your first jar. Put the lid on the jar gasket side down, then screw on the ring finger tight. Now, give the ring one more SMALL little turn about 2 inches. If the ring is too loose, liquid can escape the jar. If you put it too tight, air won’t be able to vent during processing. REPEAT this process until all of your jars have a lid and ring.

NOTE: This tutorial shows the “Raw Pack” method (raw chicken) without adding any liquid. The chicken will create its own broth as it processes.

Getting the canner ready:

We used the Presto 01781 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker for our chicken (love this canner) and we added 3 quarts of water to the bottom of our canner as indicated in our instruction manual. That is the amount of water needed to pressure can our chicken. If you have a different canner, check the booklet for the amount of water needed. It is usually about 2-3 inches.

double stack jarsAdd jars to the canner (the canner we used, double stacks pint jars). Fit lid onto the canner WITH OUT PUTTING ON THE WEIGHT. Turn to med/high heat. Watch for a steady stream of steam to start coming from the vent pipe. Start a timer for 10 minutes. You need to allow your pressure canner to steam for 10 minutes before you begin to pressurize.

Now that your weight is on your canner, keep it on med/high heat and the pressure will begin to build. Once you get it to the desired pressure (see info below based on your elevation) start your timer for 75 minutes. You will need to regulate the heat to keep your canner at the desired pressure for the ENTIRE 75 minutes. If you dip below the desired pressure, you need to start that 75 minute time all over again. Quart jars would need processed for 90 minutes. I recommend canning chicken in pint jars.

Pressure (lbs) needed for canning chicken:

0-2000 ft elevation: 11 lbs for 75 minutes PINTS
2001-4000 ft elevation: 12 lbs for 75 minutes PINTS
4001-6000 ft elevation: 13 lbs for 75 minutes PINTS
6001-8000 ft can using parachute and use 14 lbs for 75 minutes PINTS

canner

Once the timer goes off for the 75 minutes: Turn off the heat source. Let the pressure on the canner drop to ZERO before you remove the weight. Once the pressure is at ZERO, remove the weight. The cool down time is calculated into the processing time so removing that weight early allowing steam to escape can result in an unsafe product and can also cause a steam burn.

Wait about 5 minutes after removing the weight before cracking the lid open (open away from you so you don’t get steam burned). Cracking the lid and letting it sit on the canner for a few minutes allows the canner to slowly adjust. If you just rip that lid off the sudden temperature change can cause jar to bubble over. After about 5 minutes, carefully remove the lid and give it 5 more minutes before removing the jars. You might start hearing the jars “ping” as they start sealing.

Remove jars carefully with the jar lifter onto a cutting board. Allow the jars to cool completely for 12-24 hours.

After the 12-24 hours you can inspect the seal for each jar. Begin by pushing down on the center of each lid. If the lid springs up when you release your finger, it did not seal and that product will need to be used or refrigerated. It is not “canned” but it is cooked and ready to eat. It is possible a small particle of food got under the lid and caused it to not seal.

cutting board

The jars that DID properly seal, remove the ring and wash the lid and jar to remove any food residue. Dry the jars and store them in a cool, dark, dry place. It is recommended to store jars without the rings.

Don’t be intimidated to start canning. After a few times, you will have the hang of it.  Save money and store up healthy food for your family!

The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving is a must have reference book to have if you plan on doing regular home canning.

DISCLAIMER: These are basic canning instructions. Raking in the Savings is not responsible for the safety of the final product. Home canning is safe if the correct processing procedures are followed. If you suspect a spoiled home canned item, DO NOT TASTE THE PRODUCT. Contact your local county extension office for further instructions.

Canning Your Own Food: Is It Worth It?

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Many people want to can their own food but get overwhelmed when they start looking into it & want to know if canning your own food is worth it. It can seem like a huge expense to get started, but can save you a lot of money in the long run. Plus, you’ll know exactly what you are eating and can adjust to your own preferences!

Canning Your Own Food: Is It Worth It?

When you first start canning, like most new things, you will spend more time doing it.  After a few canning sessions, you’ll be shocked at how little time you actually spend in the kitchen!

Canning is a safe and effective way to store food by sealing the food in jars and heating them to let out any air, preventing bacteria from growing and spoiling your food.

Before you get started, you need to decide which canning method you are going to use. Water bath canning (covering the jars with water and boiling) works best for fruit, pickling, and canning preserves. Oven & dry canning are reserved for dry goods only. Pressure canning is great for meat, veggies, and some fish.

Oven Canning

Oven canning is the cheapest one to get started on. All you need are canning jars, dry goods (think flour and other grains, and dehydrated foods), and an oven. There is a lot controversy over oven canning so many people choose not to use this method at all, so we aren’t going to teach you how to do it today! If you are just wanting to make sure bugs don’t get in your flour, try putting in an open stick of Wrigley’s Doublemint gum. It helps repel bugs and doesn’t change the flavor at all! 

Dry Canning

Dry canning is similar to oven canning. It’s only used for dry goods (less than 10% moisture) but you don’t use an oven. Instead you use oxygen absorbers to stop bacteria from growing. I typically see this done with items that stay good for very long periods of time, but haven’t tried it myself.

Water Bath Canning

Water bath canning & pressure canning are the only methods endorsed by the USDA and those are the two I stick to. Water bath canning is done by submerging closed jars in a special HUGE pot. These pots come with a lid and a special rack that makes it easy to add and remove the jars safely.

Pressure Canning

If you want to can meat, fish, or low-acidic foods, you’ll need a pressure canner like the one above. They have a steam-tight lid and a special gage.

Although pressure canners can be a little expensive (water bath canners go on sale for about $20 this time of year), it is a one-time expense. Canning is the most cost-effective way to make and store your own food.  It’s even cheaper if you grow your own food, but many people buy organic produce/meat to can. Picking up produce from your local farmer’s market is a great way to support local farmers and is normally cheaper than buying organic produce from the market.

While canning can seem like a time-consuming process, once you are done you can have an entire season’s worth of canned produce and meat that is ready with little effort at dinner time!

For many, the benefits from canning your own food outweigh the time and initial expense!

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