It makes me a bit nervous having a freezer full of meats… the grid goes down and we’re up a creek–I couldn’t can fast enough to save it all. So, while we’re in a grid UP situation I try to can a batch of SOMETHING at least once a week, if not more. We try and buy only when there is a really killer deal and buy in bulk at that time. Recently we found a reallllllllly killer deal on locally grown chicken breast, so I loaded up.
Canning meats is not only handy, pop the seal and VOILA you have prepared food; but it’s also a stocking the pantry ‘thing’…having my food in a state that does not require any ‘grid’ resources, that is safe and healthy is a ‘win – win’ for us.
Canning Chicken Breast is a very simple endeavour, that reaps nice rewards!
I get out my Dutch Oven, my chicken breast, my meat scissors, an onion and a quart of chicken broth (or just plain water will work in place of the chicken broth too). I like to get all my onion cut up first in fairly small pieces, get my chicken breast cut up in nice bite size-ish pieces and then get the fire going under the Dutch Oven. Toss in my onion and chicken, a dash of salt and a big dash of pepper (we like pepper!) get that cooking up (maybe pour in a bit of the chicken broth after the onions have cooked up a little bit). I then get my pots of hot water going for my lids and another to ladle into my jars to cover my chicken mixture upon canning. So once my chicken is almost cooked up, I’ll dump in the rest of my broth–let it finish cooking and all get nice and hot.
Now I prep my jars, some folks warm them in an oven, some folks warm them in a dishwasher, some folks don’t warm them at all. I don’t own a dishwasher, and don’t like to put them in the oven, and so I’ve opted to fill them with pretty hot water to temper them that way. I’ve had too many crack and break on me just doing ‘nothing’ and I do not want to waste my food, not to mention a jar breaking in a pressure canner can be a problem.
Once I have my lids hot, my ‘filler water’ hot, my Dutch Oven is done cooking and off to the side, my jars are tempered and I have all my supplies at the ready– it’s time to can. Meats must be canned in a PRESSURE CANNER, I get my Pressure Canner on the stove and turn up the fire.
Now….I take my first jar and empty that hot water I was using to temper it, into my canner (why waste it!?). Then I fill my canning jar with chicken, if my chicken is not covered with liquid, that’s fine–that’s why we put on an extra pot of hot water or ‘filler water’ to finish filling up the jars to the thread. (even though I used chicken broth when I cooked up my chicken breast, unless you use a LOT of it it will not be enough to fill your jars and cover your chicken; this is why I top off with hot water) Once I have my jar filled properly to the thread or leaving 1 inch head space, I lightly tap my jar down ( I always work on a surface covered with towels with my hot jars) to get any little air bubbles out, you could also use a wooden spoon or a chopstick to poke around in your jar that will also release those air bubbles. Next, I take a clean washcloth and dip a corner of it in hot water and wipe the rim of my jar, where the lid is going to rest and SEAL the jar. It MUST be completely clean — not a spec of food left or you won’t get a seal between your jar and lid. Once I have wiped down the rim of the jar, I put on my lid and ring and put the jar in the canner!
I can at 15 pounds pressure for my elevation and 90 minutes for Quarts, 75 minutes for pints– refer to your BALL BLUE BOOK or County Extension Office for specifics on canning for your location. The chicken can easily be made into a ton of meals! Soups, casseroles, stir fry’s, drain the liquid and make chicken salad, chicken tacos, etc. The first jar I opened from this batch, I dumped into a hot cast iron skillet, with some minced garlic and made chicken fettucini– quick and easy. A very nice convenience food to have on hand, and in a grid down situation, I can easily make up meals with this chicken already prepared! I am working on canning up more of my chicken breast like this, it turned out great,is a wonderful way to preserve meat and stock the pantry!