how to: canning chicken

First of all, I want to give a big THANK YOU  to my mother for coming over to my house for the day to help me with this post. It’s her hands you will see in most of the pictures so that I could photograph the process. My mom is awesome and I really can’t thank her enough for teaching me about canning when I was younger. I grew up eating out of our family garden and pantry and have an great appreciation for knowing how to can and cook with it. We always lived in places that were not near big grocery stores. They were expensive to shop at and didn’t have a great selection, so canning our foods saved us a lot of money and helped us to eat better.

If you are already familiar with Zaycon Foods and picked up your 40 pound box of chicken in the past few weeks, you might find this post to be something that you find helpful for next time. I typically will freeze half and can the other half, but I had enough chicken in my freezer from last fall, so I canned all 40 pounds of my Zaycon chicken from the February chicken events.

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Be sure you have the right tools for canning. Your jars need to be clean and use new lids every time. Don’t reuse lids. Meat needs to be processed in a pressure canner. We ended up using a different one than the picture shows. You’ll see why in the following photos.
Zaycon FoodsTrim the fat off of all the chicken breast. Zaycon Chicken breasts are huge, as you’ll notice. There is no hormones given to the chickens. They are naturally this big. Typically at grocery stores, they don’t offer you this size and neither do restaurants. We choose to order the bigger sizes. I’ve raised my own chickens and have seen them this size, it is not unnatural.
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I use pint jars for canning chicken. They hold about 1 chicken breast. Just take the fat end and smoosh it down in the jar. Zaycon FoodsZaycon FoodsZaycon FoodsThe chicken doesn’t always fit, so just cut it off.

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You will want to leave a little space at the top and push the chicken into the jar.
Zaycon FoodsMy mom pointed out that you will see space between the chicken and the jar. chicken makes its own juices. This space gives those juices some room.
Zaycon FoodsHeat up your lids to soften up the rubber seals. Zaycon FoodsWhile those warm up clean off the edges of your jars with a damp towel. You don’t want any chicken on the edges to break the seal.
Zaycon FoodsThen measure out 1/2 teaspoon of salt per pint. It you decide to do quarts of chicken, you will need a full teaspoon. Zaycon Foodsjust pour it right on top of your chicken. Zaycon Foodsnext, take your lid and place it on the jar. Tighten the ring just enough so that you just hit some resistance in twisting it on. Don’t go any farther than that.
Zaycon FoodsThis is where I switched out my pressure canner. The one I ended up using can hold two rows of jars and saved me time.

Place your jars on the bottom of the pressure canner. There should be a small lifted plate with holes at the bottom, you don’t want to set it directly on the bottom of the canner. The jars are fine to touch each other. Zaycon foodsput another serration plate between the jars on the bottom and the jars on the top. Zaycon Foodsadd your second row of jars and then fill the pressure canner with water. Zaycon FoodsThe water should be to the bottom of the rings on the top layer of jars. Put the lid on your canner and make sure it is on tight and not leaking.
Zaycon FoodsNow is the boring part…waiting. Since my stove takes forever to heat up this big of a canner, I waited quite a while for the pressure to get up to the 10 lb mark. This is where you want to keep it for a total of 90 minutes once it hits that mark. You do not want to wander off during this process. Stay close and keep an eye on that pressure gauge. Adjust your stove temp and you may need to release pressure by carefully taking that little cap off (shown in picture next to the gauge) and letting some of the steam escape. BE SURE TO USE A POT HOLDER OR SOMETHING TO PROTECT YOUR HAND!! STEAM CAN BURN YOU!) It needs to stay at 10 lbs. of pressure for the full 90 minutes.Zaycon FoodsOnce that 90 minutes is up, take the cap off the steam vent and let it do its thing. It takes a good 5-7 minutes for the pressure to drop down to zero. Do not try to take the lid off until it gets to zero. The water will still most likely be boiling when you do get the lid off.
Zaycon FoodsUse a jar picker upper to take the jars our. I put mine on cooling racks, my mom uses large towels.  Because it took my most of my evening to use the pressure canner and my mom needed to leave, I waited until morning to get photos of the finished canned chicken.

Zaycon FoodsBecause I had 39 jars of chicken to label, I did it the easy way. with a sharpie.
Zaycon FoodsI wipe my jars down with a damp towel in case they are greasy. I make sure the lid is especially clean so that I can write on it.
Zaycon FoodsWhats in it? chicken. What month did you can it? February 2014. I leave it simple and use my older canned chicken first.
Zaycon FoodsFor convenience, I keep the boxes the jars come in. They stack well and are great if you have wire shelving. jars and wire shelving don’t like each other.
Zaycon FoodsI had 4 jars that did not seal. I always prepare for this by having meals that I can use that chicken in right away or I make freezer meals with that chicken.

Chicken is one of the easier foods to can. I like canning my chicken because it makes meal preparation so much faster, There are so many meal options too. We like to make enchiladas, chicken soup, chicken pot pie, tacos, nachos, chili, bbq chicken sandwiches…so many options.

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