It makes me a bit nervous having a freezer full of meats… the grid goes down and we’re up a creek. There’s no way I could can it all fast enough to save it. So, while we’re in a grid UP situation, I try to can a batch of SOMETHING at least once a week, if not more. We try to buy only when there is a really killer deal and buy in bulk at that time. Recently we found a reallllllllly killer deal on locally grown chicken breast, so I loaded up. Canning chicken breast was now on my schedule!
Canning meats is not only handy, pop the seal and VOILA you have prepared food, but it’s also a “stocking the pantry thing”. I like having my food in a state that does not require any ‘grid’ resources. The fact that it is safe and healthy is a win–win.
Canning Chicken Breast is a very simple endeavour, that reaps nice rewards!
My steps for canning chicken breast
First, I get out my Dutch Oven, my chicken breast, my meat scissors, an onion and a quart of chicken broth. Plain water will work in place of the chicken broth.
I like to get all my onion cut up first in fairly small pieces, get my chicken breast cut up in nice bite size-ish pieces and then heat up the Dutch Oven on my stove. Toss in the onion and chicken, add a dash of salt and a big dash of pepper (we like pepper!).
This mixture is going to cook until the chicken is almost cooked through. You may want to pour in a bit of the chicken broth after the onions have cooked up a little bit. Then, I get two pots of hot water going to sanitize my jar lids and another to ladle hot water into my jars to cover my chicken mixture for the actual canning process. Once my chicken is almost cooked, I dump in the rest of my broth, and let it finish cooking until all the chicken, onion, and broth is nice and hot.
Sanitizing and filling the jars
At this point I prep my jars. Some folks warm them in an oven, some folks warm them in a dishwasher, some folks don’t warm them at all. I don’t own a dishwasher, and don’t like to put them in the oven, so I’ve opted to fill them with pretty hot water to temper them that way. I’ve had too many crack and break when I did nothing to pre-warm them, and I do not want to waste my food or a perfectly good jar. Also, a jar breaking in a pressure canner can be a problem.
Once I have my lids hot, my ‘filler water’ hot, my Dutch Oven is done cooking and off to the side, my jars are tempered and I have all my supplies at the ready– it’s time to get started canning chicken breast!
IMPORTANT! Meats must be canned in a PRESSURE CANNER! You cannot use a water bath canner. (A pressure canner is not the same as a pressure cooker.)
I get my pressure canner on the stove and turn up the fire.
I take my first jar and empty that hot water I was using to temper it, into my canner (why waste it!?). Then, I fill my canning jar with chicken. If my chicken is not covered with liquid, that’s fine. That’s why we put on an extra pot of hot water or ‘filler water’ to finish filling up the jars to the thread line.
NOTE: The chicken broth/water used to cook up the chicken breast will not be enough to fill your jars and cover your chicken. This is why I have that extra pot of very hot water standing by.
Once I have my jar filled properly to the thread, or leaving 1 inch head space, I lightly tap my jar down on a surface covered with towels to get any little air bubbles out. You can also use a wooden spoon or a chopstick to poke around in your jar as a method for releasing those air bubbles. At this point, it’s helpful to have a set of canning tools on hand.
Next, I take a clean washcloth and dip a corner of it in hot water and wipe the rim of my jar, where the lid is going to rest and SEAL the jar. For a proper seal, that rim MUST be completely clean — not a speck of food or liquid left or you won’t get a seal between your jar and lid. Once I have wiped down the rim of the jar, I put on my lid and ring and put the jar in the canner.
Into the pressure canner!
I can at 15 pounds pressure for my elevation and 90 minutes for quarts, 75 minutes for pints. It’s very important to refer to your BALL BLUE BOOK or County Extension Office for specifics on canning for your location.
I love canning chicken breast because it can easily be made into a ton of meals! Soups, casseroles, stir frys, drain the liquid and make chicken salad, chicken tacos, etc. The first jar I opened from this batch, I dumped into a hot cast iron skillet, with some minced garlic and made chicken fettucini– quick and easy. It’s a very nice convenience food to have on hand, and in a grid down situation, I can easily make all types of meals with this chicken already prepared! This is a wonderful way to preserve meat and stock the pantry at the same time!