After weeks of procrastinating we finally got around to butchering some of the old laying hens that were no longer laying. I’ve been needing to get rid of some of the old birds to make room in one of the coops for the new batch of hens I’ve been raising. Add to that the fact that I’ve been out of canned chicken for some time so I was more than ready to break out the pressure canner and start canning chicken. On this day five of them met their fate at the chopping block; we have more to butcher but this was a start. It’s not the most pleasant job but it has to be done. For the last few months I had been putting colored bands on the legs of the hens that I found laying so I had a pretty good idea of who was doing their job and who wasn’t.
After the deed was done and they were all plucked, cleaned and chilled it was now time to get them in some jars. First I sectioned them into pieces so they fit in a large stock pot. I then added enough water to the pot to just cover the chicken pieces. After bringing them to a boil I turned the heat down and simmered them for a few hours to partially cook the meat. I removed the meat from the pot and let it cool a bit then I separated the meat from the bones. The bones and skin were saved to make bone broth but that is for another blog post. Next I placed the meat back into the broth in the stock pot and reheated it. While it was heating I readied the jars and lids for canning.
(This post contains affiliate links.) When canning chicken you must use a pressure canner, I recommend buying the best quality canner you can afford. I bought mine from Lehman’s Hardware in Kidron, OH. It’s an All American model 915 made in the good ole USA and it is made to last for generations. You can also purchase one from Amazon. This canner is built like a tank and I can highly recommend it.
To can the chicken I packed the hot jars with meat leaving an inch of head space, then I filled the jar with boiling broth to the same level and used a plastic spatula to remove the air bubbles. I ended up filling three quart jars with chicken meat and four jars with broth only. I next wipe the rims of the jars to remove any traces of grease, then a hot lid that has been simmering in water is placed on the jar and a ring is put on and hand tightened. As each jar is ready it goes into the canner, next put on the canner lid and tighten it down evenly. I would add here to be sure to read and follow the instructions that came with your canner. For quart jars of boneless chicken I processed them in the canner for 90 minutes at 10 lbs. pressure.
Once the canner pressure has returned to zero you can remove the lid and lift out the jars and place the jars on a towel to cool in a draft free area. Now listen for the pop of the lids as they cool and seal. I leave my jars sit overnight before moving them to insure the lids have had time to seal properly. I wash off the outside of the jars and lids to remove any grease before labeling and storing them. Be sure to put the date on the label.
Now I have some delicious canned chicken and broth to use in soup and various recipes. The canned chicken is also great for making into chicken salad sandwiches.
Now it’s time to go out and catch five more old hens.
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