This week our local hometown grocery store had their bi-annual meat sale. This is my absolute favorite time to stock up! With the amazing sale on chicken, I knew it was time to get canning. Home canned chicken is so amazing. Every bite is tender and so full of flavor, not to mention quick and easy to use. I will never buy canned chicken from the store again!
First, I use a Presto 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker. I love it, it’s easy to use and I’ve never had a single issue with it. It comes with an in depth instrucion booklet full of recipes. And the best part? Amazon has them on sale right now!
Start with clean, sterilized jars. I run my jars through a cycle in the dishwasher to sterilize them. Being that my chicken is cold when I pack it in, I don’t keep the jars hot. I don’t want to take the chance of having broken jars in the canner. We all know what happens when you mix hot and cold.
I used close to 10 lbs of chicken. That much chicken will fill 9 pint jars and that is how many jars my canner holds.
I cut the chicken into chunks for the ease of getting it out of the jar. As I’m cutting the chicken into chunks, I’m also cutting off any bits of grisle, bone or veins they have on them. I save these little bits and put them in my freezer to use the next time I make homemade chicken broth. The canned chicken will shred easily as you pull it out. I do like to cut it into chunks so it is already an edible size when it comes out of the jar. Then I don’t have to cut it later, just throw it into whatever I am cooking.
In the bottom of each jar, I put a 1/2 tsp of salt. I then pack the chicken chunks in on top. I fill the jars about half-way, then push it down and make sure all the nooks and crannies are filled in. Then packing more chicken chunks in on top.
Make sure you have 1 1/4″ headspace between the chicken and the rim of your jar. I have learned not to fill the jars exactly 1 1/4″ from the top. I stop at maybe 1 1/2″ or so. I noticed that some of the juices come out of the jar during processing. If you under-pack the jar just a smidge it takes care of that problem. In canning, headspace is the amount of space you leave between the rim of the jar and whatever you’re filling it with. Each thing requires a different headspace. I have a funnel that also has markings on the side to measure headspace. Here is a little headspace chart to follow:
- Leave 1-inch headspace for low-acid foods, vegetables and meats.
- Leave 1/2-inch headspace for high-acid foods, fruits and tomatoes.
- Leave 1/4-inch headspace for juicers, jams, jellies, pickles, and relishes.
You don’t need to add any liquid to the chicken. When it cooks, it makes it’s own liquid. Real, fresh, yummy chicken broth!
I topped off each jar with just a sprinkle of garlic powder, for extra flavor.
Wipe the rim of the jar off. Never forget this step! Even when you’re using a funnel, you are bound to get something on the rim. And if the rim isn’t clean, it won’t seal properly.
Put your lids and rings on the jars. Since we are doing a “cold pack” for the chicken, I don’t heat mine up before placing them on the jars.
Also since we are doing a “cold pack”, I didn’t prep my pressure canner ahead of time. Being that my jars were still cold from putting cold chicken in them, I wanted to prevent my jars from breaking once the canning process started. I put 3 quarts of hot tapwater in the pressure canner and sat my jars down in. I gave them enough time to warm up a bit from the water before I even turned the burner on. Make sure to read your directions for your specific canner to see how much water they advise. Also, a little tip, to keep your jars from being “spotty” you’ll want to add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar to the water.
The first thing you need to do is vent your canner. Venting means getting rid of the steam inside the canner so you can build up pressure. To vent, you put your lid on and make sure it’s sealed (follow the manufacturers instructions for this as well) and turn the heat up to medium or medium/high. You DO NOT want your weight on yet. When steam is steadily coming out of the vent, set your timer for 10 minutes. Once the timer goes off, you’re ready for the next step.
Put your weight on the canner, being careful of the steam that’s coming out, and wait for it to come to pressure. Once it’s up to pressure, set your timer for the appropriate time below. Remember to only start the timer once your canner is up to pressure. Waiting for the canner to get up to pressure sometimes takes several minutes, and it will feel like time stands still. Just be patient, it will get there.
75 minutes at 15 lbs for pint jars (if you are under 1,000 ft. altitude, use 10 lbs)
90 minutes at 15 lbs for quart jars (if you are under 1,000 ft. altitude, use 10 lbs)
You may need to adjust the heat up or down during this time. If you see your pressure rising above what it should be, reduce the heat. If you see it falling below what it should be, raise your heat. I normally don’t leave my kitchen while I’m pressure canning, just so I can keep a close watchful eye on the pressure.
When your timer goes off, turn the stove off. Actually, turn the stove off and walk away. Go take a much deserved seat for a while. You HAVE to leave the lid on and allow the pressure canner to return to normal pressure. I just let mine sit for quite a while. Once the pressure is down to normal you can remove the lid and take your jars out. I use the jar lifter to remove them. And I always set them on a kitchen towel then cover them with another towel. I don’t want them to cool down too quickly.
If you are new to pressure canning, I highly suggest purchasing a book on it. There are some variables to consider, like altitude, and a book would be a great resource to get you familiar with pressure canning.
And nothing is quite as satisfying after a long, exhausting day of canning than seeing all those jars full of food you prepared with love for your family. Give yourself a high-five!