A few weeks before I arrived in Nephi for “work,” my Mama told me that she could get a killer deal on chicken if I wanted to can some and take it home with me.
It just so happens that she got a pressure canner for Christmas, and it just so happens that I have a glass cooktop at my house, which prohibits the use of heavy pressure canners.
All of the stars aligned to let me bring home almost forty pounds of canned chicken for our pantry!
The chicken was just beautiful, if I may say so about a bunch of raw chicken. I had to trim very little, and they were perfect for stuffing in a jar and applying insane amounts of pressure to cook them!
My first task of the day was to chop up the chicken so that it could easily fit into a jar. Mama bought wide-mouth pint jars, but even that wasn’t enough for these still-frozen beauties.
We took them out of the freezer the night before, but it took over a day for them to get pliable enough to make it into said wide-mouth jars!
However, still being frozen made chopping a little easier.
But I got a nice blister after cutting up forty pounds of frozen chicken. No, you can’t see the blister in this picture. But I know it’s there. And that’s what counts.
I was so tickled to be working alongside my Mama for this project! She cans a lot, and I have really been wanting to learn her skills. It’s hard when we live so far apart, but this weekend allowed some time to can up some chicken boobs.
So we washed the jars to prep them for the canning process.
And then I filled the jars with chicken and half a teaspoon of salt. The jars the next morning were even fuller as the chicken continued to thaw. It’s easier to stuff more chicken into the jar when its pliable!
And I am all about pliable chicken.
This is her new All-American Pressure Canner. I have one on my Amazon wishlist, though we wouldn’t be able to use it until we get a gas stove.
I’m just glad that Mama let me do chicken as the first thing to break this puppy in!
Because of our altitude at over 5,000 feet, we had to let the pressure rise to fifteen pounds-per-square-inch before the chicken could properly cook. First the heat had to build, and then we had to let it “vent” for about ten minutes. Then we placed the weight on and let the pressure rise to fifteen psi. Then we had to let it cook for seventy-five minutes. Then we turned off the heat to let it cool down. When the gauge read “zero,” we removed the weight to let the canner vent the rest of the way. Very quickly after it was vented, to avoid a vacuum from taking over, we removed the lid and removed perfectly-canned chicken.
It was quite a process. With beginners luck, our first batch went off without any problems. The second batch…well, let’s just say that we were up until almost 1:00 AM canning chicken.
The third batch the next morning went well, too.
These cans are ready for their lids, and then ready for the pot. This is second batch ready to go in, while first batch is almost ready to come out of the canner.
Here we go! The heat has been off, and the gauge has dropped to “zero.” Now it’s time to remove the weight so that the rest of the pressure can be released.
This little metal guy is the weight on top of the vent. Once we removed this, a constant stream of steam escaped for another several minutes.
And then it was time to remove the lid to check our handiwork. How exciting!
But we couldn’t get it open! So we had to bring in the Big Guns and his muscles to open the canner for us. He even got out a rubber mallet to tap the lid open. It was all very adventurous, I must say.
And I’ve never been able to use that work to describe canning anything!
Soon, the lid was off. And we all stood around to “oooooo” and “aaaaaahhh” the end result.
Somehow, Mama got lassoed into doing all of the manual labor while I sat back and watched with my camera lens. That doesn’t sound fair, now does it?
But I daresay…that is the prettiest jar of homemade chicken that I have ever seen! And I’ve seen a few (literally, just a few).
What is it about doing something so domestic and self-reliant that feels so amazing?
After they were removed from the piping-hot canner, the jars continued to bubble and boil inside. It was really neat. And then, one by one, we heard them “pop” as they properly sealed!
Per some instructions we found online, we added vinegar to the water bath to prevent the canner from getting stained. The vinegar stained the jar lids instead! Weird, huh?
Dang chemistry. It still confounds me!
After the first batch was so successful, we moved on to our next batch. It took two attempts to get the lid properly sealed, so too much stream escaped during the canning process! But getting to that point had taken over an hour each time. So, by the time that we were finishing this last batch, Mama and I were the only ones still awake.
Even Rosie had gone to bed. Slacker.
This was the clock when we finally finished our sketchy second batch. Silly me…I was thinking that we would finish all three batches today by lunchtime!
Even though we were tired, I couldn’t help but admire all of our hard work on the countertop. Can you believe that I am brining home almost forty pounds of chicken for $1.30 a pound?!
The ones on the towel just came out of the canner, while the ones in the back were from batch numero uno. Lots of chicken going on ‘round these parts!
These boiled until they sealed with some loud pops. Even after going to bed, we could hear them popping out in the kitchen. Ah, the sound of edible success!
And we did pretty well! Out of three batches, processing sixteen jars in each batch, we only lost three jars that never properly sealed.
Mama put them in the fridge and made delicious chicken salad sandwiches and chicken enchiladas out of them. Everyone that I talked to said that they were delicious!
And I managed to bring three cases of chicken home on Gladys. They look rather nice in my pantry, don’t you think?
We have a few chicken cans from Costco to finish first. But I am so proud of the homemade versions next to them! Canned meat doesn’t always look appealing, but I am pretty stoked about this canned meat!
In fact, because I’m so patient, we are going to try our first jar tonight in some Mexican Chicken Wraps. I can hardly wait!
Mama, thanks for all of your help. I can’t imagine doing all of that on my own, and it was so much fun being in the kitchen with you!
Even if it was until the wee hours of the morning…