Canning Meat: Part 1 of 4 – Chicken Soup!
By servantheart, Editor At Large
Just when you thought it was safe to put those canners away…no, indeed! Canning is not a “season”. Look for sales on your favorite meats, and don’t worry about freezer space or power out situations. Let’s get canning!
If you have not read the earlier posts at SCP on canning, you may want to do so before continuing:
ANY FOOD THAT CONTAINS ANY AMOUNT OF MEAT MUST BE PROCESSED AS MEAT, REGARDLESS HOW MUCH OF ANYTHING ELSE IT CONTAINS.
It is possible, of course, to cold pack meats, but I do not recommend it and do not practice such. It is important, IMHO, that meat be at least partially cooked because you don’t want some of that “gunk” that will cook out of meat in your canned food products; you want them ready to eat. This “gunk” also frequently gets under the cap while processing and prevents a seal. It’s also safer practice to hot pack meat than it is to raw pack meat, so, let’s practice “safe canning”!
I use a dial gauge pressure canner. The other type is a weighted gauge. All canning instructions are given using metal caps and rings, not Tattlers.
Even pre-cooked meat will expand while processing. Keep that in mind when packing jars.
When using commercial products, watch for MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) in these mixes and broths folks – they’ve love to put ‘em there! I use only brands that do not add MSG. You do not want neurotoxic food, not now and certainly not post-IHTF!
How about some ready to eat chicken or chicken soup? My idea of fast food!
There are two or three ways I like to can chicken. You will do it your way, as you should, based on what you like, but here’s how I do it.
We’ll be posting chicken soup today, then roast chicken another day, and soon, beef three ways and , yes, even fish for all our “fisherpeople”!! Stay tuned.
For soup, allow one large or two small chicken breasts (about one pound meat) per quart, half of that per pint.
You can never have too much home-made chicken soup on hand. Sometimes, it just tastes good; but when you or someone you love is sick, this is just what you need to give the healing process a helping hand.
We like mostly just white meat, so I usually buy breasts on sale and remove the skins and excess fat.
While you’re prepping meat, CHECK YOUR JARS – run a finger lightly around the lip, making sure there are no “fleabites” or damage. Then, put jars in dishwasher (if you have one) and wash; keep in dishwasher to keep hot. Or, wash by hand in hot, soapy water, rinse in hot water, and keep on cookie trays in 250 deg. F (121 deg. C) oven to keep jars hot and clean until ready to pack. Always prepare at least two extra jars – “stuff happens”!
OK, so, I’ve removed all the skin from my chicken, trimmed any excess fat, and placed it all in a big, deep pot.
Now I add my “Cajun Trinity” – chopped celery, onion, and garlic galore! Never too much garlic! It’s very healing – a super food, “anti-inflammatory”. Also chopped carrots (2 large will do – or several small ones) and 3 large bay leaves. Iodized sea salt (iodine is an important nutrient to the human body, and we are losing it) and cracked pepper to taste. Cover with good clean, water, and bring to a boil.
When chicken starts boiling, turn heat down to medium and cook, covered, until chicken is tender – at least an hour for a pot this large.
Remove lid; allow chicken to cool a bit. Remove bay leaves before packing jars.
Remove meat from broth; allow meat to cool and hand-pick bones.
If you have pets, cook (you can pressure cook them) those picked out chicken bones until they are super soft; allow to cool; grind up or mash (they’ve very soft by now) and feed to pets. It is an excellent source of calcium to strengthen their bones, but, never, ever give just the chicken bones to a pet – they will splinter in their intestines and cause serious health problems, leading to surgery or death. People can eat this, too, BTW, as a ground form, only (for the same reasons).
Strain liquid to remove “gunky stuff”. Use this liquid for hot packing after filling jars with meat but always have extra broth standing by, just in case.
Break, tear or cut meat into bite-size pieces and drop back in hot liquid.
Have a medium pot of water boiling at this point for caps and rings.
Start heating water in pressure canner, but keep heat on low for now.
Hot pack in pint or quart jars. Wipe lids twice: the first time with a piece of fresh, clean paper towel dipped in hot water (kitchen gloves recommended!); the second time with clean paper towel and white vinegar (to remove any lurking fat residue).
Boil caps 30 seconds and place; boil rings 30 seconds and place. Boiling much longer may result in loosening or boiling off of rubber liner to caps, no matter what you see on blog sites, and now they will not seal.
Tighten lids, then check to make sure they aren’t too tight (a common cause of losing liquid in processing jars).
Place hot jars down inside hot water of pressure canner, but remember, temps can’t vary too much (temp of jars and water in canner), else you’ll get thermal shock breakage.
Put lid on canner; on medium heat, cook until the steam spews out of vent pipe; as soon as it starts to spew out at a noticeable rate, time for ten (10) minutes; this is the important “10 minute tornado”. This will remove excess air from pressure canner, allowing it to reach and maintain proper internal temp for safe food canning. If you are using a weighted gauge (such as a Mirro with only 5/10/15 lb. increments), this is not necessary, as it will vent out while cooking. It is ALWAYS necessary with a dial gauge.
After 10 minutes, place your weight on vent pipe. Bring to temp over medium to medium-high heat (I don’t know your stove or how hot it cooks) and hold it there; start timing as soon as it reaches proper pressure. If at any time it drops below the required pressure, bring it back by turning up heat just slightly, and start timing again. Just watch it so it doesn’t have opportunity to drop below temp for very long. You don’t want food cooked to mush. If you get too much pressure, GENTLY release a little using the weight (move it slightly to release pressure) until it reads correctly. Do not get in a hurry in releasing pressure – this can result in extreme temp fluctuations, which forces liquids out of jars.
Process jars 10 lbs. pressure 75 minutes for pints, 90 minutes for quarts, if under 1000 ft. altitude; over, add 2 lbs. pressure to 2000 ft; over that, add 2 more lbs. pressure (14 lbs.) and use same processing times for pints/quarts.
Allow canner to cool on its own (pressure drops to zero on gauge). Remove lid. Wait 5 minutes. Using jar lift tool, remove jars and place on baking racks with towels underneath to cool. When completely cooled (at least 2 hours) test lids for seal (tap outer edges of metal for sound). If any do not seal, refrigerate and use within 7-10 days, or reprocess, cleaning mouth of jar thoroughly and using a NEW boiled metal cap.
When jars are cooled, remove rings, wash in hot, soapy water and rinse in hot water. Return to racks to air dry, but I like to dry top of caps off with paper toweling to prevent water rings on cap. When dry, mark contents and date, replace rings (optional, but I do it) and store away.
Give yourself a “Well done!”.
DO NOT add any kind of starch (noodles, rice, etc.) until you are ready to serve. Cook starches – noodles, rice etc. separately, while you are heating up soup; add pre-cooked starch food (while still hot) to heated soup and simmer together on low heat 10 minutes; then serve. Starch (noodles, rice, etc.) will turn to paste in processing!