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Raising your own meat birds can result in a freezer full of whole chickens. Which isn’t a bad thing, unless you need the freezer space! That’s exactly what happened to us this week. The butcher called to tell us that our beef was ready, so we had to make room in the freezer for over 300 pounds of meat. So I decided to try my hand at pressure canning chicken.
Surprisingly enough, I’ve never used a pressure canner. So, for my Self Reliant Skill of the Week, that’s what I’m doing! Canned chicken, for us, is much easier for meals. We don’t cook whole chickens very often, it’s usually just chunked or shredded chicken that we put into pasta, pot pies, and casseroles. So canning these birds made the most sense for me.
Canned chicken is wonderful for quick, easy meals. But it can be pretty costly from the stores!
Raising your own meat chickens can give you lots of homegrown chicken that you can pressure can pretty inexpensively.
Pressure canning chicken is an especially good method to use if your chicken is on the tough side. We grew our meat birds out a little too long (and put them in the freezer too quickly), so they were a little tough. And home canned chicken tastes so much better than the flavorless stuff you buy in the stores!
- Pressure canner (you can NOT water bath can any kind of meat)
- Glass Mason or Ball jars (you can use pint, pint and a half, or quart)
- Brand new lids
- Debubbler tool (or rubber spatula)
- Raw or cooked chicken, cubed or shredded
- Desired seasoning
- Kosher salt (or any other non-iodized salt)
Preparing to pressure can chicken
- Inspect your jars to make sure there are no nicks or small cracks in the rim or in any other place on the jar.
- Clean and sterilize the jars by running them through the dishwasher, or boiling in water.
- Heat the brand new lids in hot water to soften the wax seal.
- Put about 2 inches of water in the bottom of your pressure canner. Don’t forget to put the rack on the bottom (like I did)!
- Cube or shred your chicken. You can use cooked or raw chicken, whichever you prefer. I was going to do mine raw, but decided it would be too hard to pull the raw meat off the chicken, so I boiled the chickens whole.
Pressure canning chicken
- Put kosher salt, or other non-iodized salt, into the jars. For quart jars, use 1 tablespoon; for pint jars, use 1 teaspoon.
- If using other seasoning, add it now. Powdered garlic, onion powder, and chicken bouillon are good additions.
- Stuff your cubed or shredded chicken into the jars, leaving a 1 inch headspace (1 inch headspace is the bottom outside ring of the jars).
- If your chicken is cooked, you will want to add liquid to your jars as well. Chicken broth is good to use, but you can use water if you don’t have broth. Raw chicken will make its own juices inside the jars while cooking in the pressure canner.
- Run your debubbler tool (or rubber spatula) all around the inside of the jar to release as much air as possible.
- Wipe the rims of your jars after they are filled with a paper towel dipped in vinegar.
- Place warm lids on the jars, and tighten the rings finger-tight.
- Put your jars in the pressure canner, and turn the heat on to the canner.
- Tighten the canner lid as tight as possible.
- When steam is coming out of the vent hole, set a timer for 10 minutes to allow the canner to vent.
- At the end of the 10 minutes, place the weight over the vent hole and continue to monitor the pressure in your canner.
- When the canner gets up to the proper pressure, set a timer. For pints, cook for 75 minutes at the correct pressure. For quarts, cook for 90 minutes. The time is the same for raw or cooked chicken.
- At the end of the cooking time, turn off the heat and leave the canner alone while the pressure goes back down. Don’t remove the weight or try to remove the lid until the pressure is at zero.
Here is the video of me pressure canning chicken for the very first time:
Adjusting for altitude
Adjusting for your altitude is very important, as even at 1000 feet above sea level can change the pressure you need to can your food at. I never realized this before, but even at my altitude (2,300 feet), I have to can at a higher pressure than someone at or near sea level. Healthy Canning has a great article for you to figure out what pressure you need to can your food at.
Based on these recommendations, since my canner has a dial gauge, I pressure canned my chicken at 11 pounds of pressure.
How long does canned chicken last?
If properly canned and kept at a somewhat constant temperature, your home canned chicken should be good for a couple of years. Most lid manufacturers suggest using your food within 18 months, but I believe that’s overly cautious and mostly to cover their butts. I’ve heard of home canned food being good for 10 years or more (though I’m not sure if I’d try that!).
Are you going to try pressure canning chicken?
So tell us! Are you going to try pressure canning chicken? Or have you done it before? Please share your experience in the comments so we can all learn!