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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ch-Ch-Chicken...I know guys like chicks...

Chicken is PRESSURE CANNED. Let me get that straight right now.

Vent Pressure canner for 7 minutes THEN
Pints: 1 hr 15 minutes @ 10lbs pressure for our location
Quarts: 1 hr 30 minutes @ 10 lbs pressure for our location.

This is for folks who have not yet done this PLEASE buy yourself a Ball Book of Canning - there is a bigger one and a smaller one - get either. Some people swear by one I just use the one that is at my disposal since I cannot spend any loose change on additional things. I also find that certain types of foods generally have the same timing it's just a matter of looking at the book. The quickest way to get a ball canning book for less than $6 is just go to the canning section of your local big box store or wally world. If they don't have it check out and they will do a site to store shipping for free and you can just pick up your purchase at the service counter. Also, some Ace Hardware places have canning supplies so please check them out too.

I have been canning since March 20th of this year. We now have 21 3/4 cases of canned goods that we made ourselves, that is 261 assorted jars of protein, veggies, fruit and preserves. When I first started I think the most difficult thing was figuring out the TIMING of how to do things. I am displaying the canning procedure in the order I do it to maximize the time. Feel free to make your own adjustments - but these things hold true:

Be sanitary.
Be aware that things are HOT.
Follow the times do not cut corners.
Do not overstuff jars beyond advised levels.
Be patient and do NOT burp the canner even after the timing is done.
Respect your equipment because it serves you.
Buy the best ingredients you can afford.
Check jars periodically for cloudiness and broken seals.

I put the jars on a towel on top of a cookie cooling rack. I have a bunch of these that I have picked up at yard sales, thrift stores and 2nd hand stores often for less than a buck.

I also wash and lay out my equipment.

Our local market Sprouts has the best chicken and beef. The regular price is outrageous but on sale - best believe I buy a minimum of 5 packages.

8 lbs makes about 8 pints.

$1.89 a lb is a steal for the quality. You can buy lesser quality chicken here in the Phoenix Metro Area for $1.47 a lb. I also use that. But when I use regular chicken I label it Chicken Breast. If I use Sprouts stuff it says Sprouts chicken. That way I know which is the good stuff.

Let's start canning:

I set the chicken I'd like to use in the sink. This way it isn't so cold that it chills the hot jars. And I will be using it immediately so there is no safety issues.

I select my 8 jars out of the case. I check the rims for cracks or chips.

I wash the jars, lids and caps. I set aside the jars half filled with hot water. I also wash the pressure canner and set the water level to the 2nd line. Some people only do the first line but I am afraid of dry canning which may pop your jars.

I add a splash of vinegar to prevent the glass and lids from cloudiness because our water is very hard here.

I set the half full jars in the canner. I then put this on my 3rd largest burner and turn it on HIGH. I cover it but I do not shut it so that the water gets to a nice temperature.

While the canner is coming to boil - I clean any excess fat and cut the breast in 7 pieces. You can cut them to any size you like. I set all this aside in a stainless steel bowl. I prefer to use gloves coz I don't like yucky stuff under my nails. I also only use a glove on my left hand because my cutting hand does not touch raw meat or poultry.

By the time you are done cutting the chicken the water should have come to a boil. Set the jars and lids in a ceramic or stainless bowl.

Before you take out the jars though dissolve 1 chicken bouillon in 4 cups of water in a separate pan. We pack ours with a bit of liquid you are free to do yours without.

Take the jars out with a jar lifter and pour out the hot water onto the bowls and set aside

Put the jar funnel on the coolest jar first. Pack the chicken to the 1 inch mark. That is the bottom most line on the jar neck.

We add 1 tsp of red chili flakes and a smidgen of sea salt. Once the chicken is divided evenly we add the hot chicken broth.

Run a NON METAL spatula around the sides of your jars to get out the bubbles. We also press the centers to get a good pack on our jars. I have very heat resistant hands so I turn them and pack them while hot - do this at your own risk or use a towel.

If a bit of the chicken peeks out it's ok because the breasts themselves still have liquid.

Now wipe off the jar lips. I wipe them off 2 or 3 times rinsing the dishcloth with soap and water.

Pull the lids from the hot water

Cover each Jar making sure they are nice and centered.

I always check them with my thumb and forefinger to make sure it is lined up evenly then I put the cap (ring thingie) and tighten it up "fingertight." Fingertight is simply a term that is used to say "tighten is as much as you can with one turn of your hand."

Remove the lid from your pressure canner - it should be boiling at this time because you would have left the heat on medium high. I advise that you use a jar canner as the boiling water is no fun. Like I said I'm an old hand at this so I have "asbestos hands" as Mr. Man likes to say.

Close the lid. When the nipple pops up start timing the steam for 7 minutes this is known as venting. Then pop the jiggler on. Once the jiggler dances start the time.

Once the jiggler stops and the nipple deflates you can open your canner and remove the canned chicken. it should still be boiling inside. I set it aside on the cooling rack. I give it a light wipe and wait for the popping sound.

The next day I remove all the lids and wash them with soap and water and air dry. While those air dry I wipe off the lids and crevices of the jar with a soapy washcloth and then later with a clean washcloth. Once it is dry I label it with a sharpie. This is simply a step I take because I am very sanitary in the kitchen.

Check your lids again and make sure they are all sealed and do not "pop" up and down. If they do just throw it in the fridge and eat it as soon as you can.

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