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Canning chicken – Literally!

Wed, Aug 10, 2011

Gardening

From Paratus Familia

Having come into yet another case of chickens, Sir Knight and I thought it was high time we tried out our Ives-Way can sealer (a Craigslist find) with pressure canned foods.  Although we only had small cans (about the same diameter as a tuna can and slightly taller), we decided to utilize them and can all the chicken we could.

We put all of our chickens into two pots to simmer the day away and develop a nice, rich broth.  After removing the chickens from the pots, we lined a colander with clean cheese cloth, put the colander on top of a large stainless steel pitcher and poured the broth through the colander.  This step removes all of the little particles and produces a beautiful amber liquid.

Boiling chickensLarge stainless steel pitcherCheesecloth lined colander
on top of pitcher

After straining all of the broth, we poured it into clean quart jars.  Using the pitcher to strain the broth into makes pouring into jars a cinch.  After we filled all of our jars, we capped them off with Tatler canning lids, spun rings onto them and put them into the waiting canner.  10 pounds of pressure and 90 minutes later and we had 14 beautiful quarts of chicken broth ready for whatever culinary delight tickles our fancy.

Pouring broth into jars

While the broth was processing, Miss Calamity and I pulled all of the meat off the chickens and proceeded to cut the meat into medium sized chunks.  After all of the meat was cut, we packed it (lightly) into our clean cans and added about 1/4 tsp. of salt to each can.  After salting the chicken, we filled each can with water to about 1/4″ from the top.

Chickens waiting to be debonedBowls of chickenChunks of chickenAdding salt to the chickenPouring water over the chicken

The next step is critical, and not one required when canning with glass jars.  After the cans were filled, we put the cans on cookie sheets and put them in a hot oven.  The contents of the can must reach an internal temperature of 170 degrees.  Because sealed cans cannot expel air during the canning process, the air must be expelled prior to sealing the can.  In order to achieve this requirement, the contents must reach 170 degrees before sealing.  After the the chicken reached 170 degrees (I used a meat thermometer to verify the internal temperature), I removed the first batch from the oven and Sir Knight, using leather gloves, sealed each can.

Heating chicken to170 degreesPutting lids on cansSealing cans of chicken

As soon as all of the cans were sealed, into the canner they went.  The first layer of cans must be on a rack in the bottom of the canner, but the rest of the cans can be stacked on each other as long as they are staggered and not sitting directly on the lid of the can below.  We filled 41 cans and were easily able to fit them all in our 30 quart pressure canner.

The first layer and part of the second layerA full canner!

The foods processed in tin cans require a longer processing time than a glass jar.  Our little tins processed for 90 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.

Metal cans are not a particularly economical method of home canning.  The cans are somewhat costly, however, the benefits in storage space (cans stack compactly) and ruggedness (an earthquake is less likely to ruin food preserved in cans than in glass jars) can justify the additional expense.

41 cans of home-canned chicken

Back in the day, metal cans could be re-flanged and reused.  Apparently, the modern cans are too thin to withstand the re-flanging process and reusing cans is not recommended.  We have the re-flanging equipment and may get a wild hair and experiment with our used cans.  It would be very economical to use metal cans if all you had to buy were the lids!  If we do experiment with re-flanging, I will be sure to write about the results.

Having canned foods on the shelf is such a comfort.  I am excited to add a new twist to our preparedness efforts.

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