How To Can Chicken (and Save Money!)

How To Can Chicken (and Save Money!)

Once upon a time when groceries were much cheaper, canned meats were an inexpensive way of adding proteins to your food storage. Nowadays, not so much.

Canning your own chicken can save you money. You can take advantage of good meat sales and have another option besides freezing or smoking the meat for preservation. Having canned meat is a great source of shelf-stable protein which comes in handy when the budget is tight or meat prices go sky high. Canned chicken is also great to have in your food storage when emergencies happen or you will be home for an extended period of time.

You can add canned chicken to a variety of meals. I use it in my Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup and my Quick Chicken and Noodles. I also have a Chicken Loaf recipe that I love to use canned chicken. You can add it to soups, casseroles, gravy to have over potatoes or rice, one-pot meals, and more. It’s incredibly versatile!

Chicken is probably the easiest meat to start learning how to can. It’s as simple as cubing the chicken, adding it to clean jars, adding broth/stock if you choose, putting lids and rings on the jars, and pressure canning the chicken. You will spend less time canning the chicken than you will canning most of your garden produce.

I took my instructions from the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. This is the most referenced canning book that I own and use. If you don’t have one, I would highly recommend getting one for yourself.

The only way I can chicken is the raw-pack, boneless method. I do not like dealing with bones while canning so I take the chicken off the bones. I also do not want to deal with cooking the meat first, but you can cook the chicken until it is about two-thirds of the way done before you start canning. The process after the meat is cooked (hot packing) is the same as the raw-pack method.

First of all, you will want to wash your jars in hot soapy water and then keep the jars hot until you are ready to use them. I just put them in the oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit and they stay plenty hot. You will also want to put 2-3 inches of water in your pressure canner and get that water hot. It does not need to be boiling at this stage, but it does need to get hot. If you have hot jars, you want hot water in the canner so the jars do not break.

Next, you want to get some broth or water in a small pan and start to get that hot. You can skip this step, but I recommend some broth in the jars.

Now you want to start processing the chicken. Most of the time I use boneless skinless chicken breasts for canning, but you can use the whole bird, chicken thighs, or a combination of both breasts and thighs. It’s whatever floats your boat. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts were on sale for $1.39/lb if you bought ten pounds.

I cut my chicken breasts into roughly 1-inch cubes. You can do strips or cut them even smaller. You can just stuff the whole breast into the jar if it fits into the jar. I prefer the cubes for ease of use and I feel better about them being cooked through.

Next, you want to tightly pack the hot jars with chicken leaving 1-inch headspace. You can add hot broth or water also leaving the 1-inch headspace. Some canners skip this step, but I find it necessary for boneless, skinless chicken breasts. You will want to remove the air bubbles using the handy tool from your canning kit, a butter knife, or a spatula. Skipping this step may result in broken jars. Don’t ask me how I know, but I know.

Because you are dealing with chicken, you will want to wipe the jar rims with white vinegar. Vinegar helps break down grease and meat juices that might have splashed onto the jar rims. Put the jar lids and rings on the jars, screwing the rings on hand tight. Place the jars on the rack in the pressure canner.

Secure the lid onto the pressure canner and let the canner go until it starts the steam out of the steam vent. Once the steam has been going at a steady rate for ten minutes, add the weight to the steam vent. Let the canner come up to pressure. For me, it is ten pounds of pressure, but the pressure you need depends on your altitude. You may need to adjust your heat or your burner to keep the canner at the correct pressure.

Now that the canner has come up to pressure, you can set your timer. For pint jars of boneless chicken, you will need to process the pints for 1 hour and 15 minutes. For quart jars of boneless chicken, you will need to process the quarts for 1 hour and 30 minutes. This time is the same whether you are raw packing or hot-packing the jars.

If you choose to do bone-in chicken, you will need to process the pint jars for 1 hour and 5 minutes. The quart jars will need to process for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Again, this time is the same whether you are raw packing or hot-packing the jars.

After the time is up, you want to shut off the heat to the burner and remove the canner. I just move mine to another burner or unto trivets. You want to let the pressure canner cool down and lose pressure naturally. The air vent will drop signaling the time you can open the canner. I also like to remove the weight and wait 5-10 minutes before I open the canner.

Remove the jars from the canner and place them on a towel or wire rack. These jars will be quite hot yet. Let them sit undisturbed for 24 hours. After 24 hours, you can remove the rings and test the seals to make sure the jars are sealed. You will want to wipe the tops of the jars to remove any film or grease from the canning process.

Now you have shelf-stable meat that will be cheaper than buying a 12-ounce can from the store. It is delicious and easy to use. You can also use this same recipe and process for turkey, duck, goose, and game birds. I have canned leftover Thanksgiving turkey using this same process with excellent results.

Thanks for reading,

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