Sunday, November 9, 2008

Canning Chicken--let's begin

I am using a Presto canner for this canning job.  This Presto is a 23 quart pressure canner.  They cost about $90 or so.  I've seen them as cheap as $85 recently online.  Usually with free shipping.

This canner will hold two layers of pints jars for a total of 18 jars.  It also has a pressure gauge as you can see.  This indicates the pressure for the canner.  

I have a smaller Presto canner that doesn't have the dial gauge but just uses the weight jiggling as the measure of pressure.  

I also have an All American Canner which does not have a rubber gasket it inside the lid.  It is all metal on metal.  The All American costs around $200 online.  This canner should last forever because there is no danger of the gasket drying out and going bad.  

Your first step in canning is to prepare your jars.  Clean them thoroughly and check them for cracks or chips.  Especially on the rim.  Run your finger around the top of the rim, if you feel a rough spot or a chip, investigate it.  If it's a chip in the glass, DO NOT use it.  

My scientific explanation is that if there is a chip in the rim and you use the jar, little nasty yucky disease thingies can get into the jar and hurt you.  You probably will not end up with a sealed lid anyway.  Or the lid may seal temporarily and then unseal and you've wasted some food you worked really hard not to eat.

Ok, that's all the scary stuff about canning and it's all out of the way now.  On with the show.  Your jars are clean and ready to go.
I usually add 1/2 tsp of salt (I use sea salt) to the bottom of the jar.  You do not have to use salt at all.  It is completely optional. 
I can most of my meat starting raw.  I'll tell ya right now, canned hamburger that started raw in the jar looks just nasty.  Chicken is not too bad.  You'll see that at the end of the instructions here.  

You can cook your meat first if looks are important to you.  For some, they are.  I have cooked my hamburger first and then canned it and it looks much nicer in the jar.  I'll do a post for hamburger later and show you the difference.

Anyway, back to the chicken.  I typically use chicken tenders because then I don't have to trim any fat or cut it up.  You can use chicken breast or any other cut that you'd like.  

            Just start putting the raw chicken in the jar.  

You are going to want to pack the jar very tightly.  The chicken is going to cook while in the pressure canner and therefore reduce it's size.  Squish it down in there.

I leave about 1/2 inch headspace in my jar.  Head space is the amount of room from the top of the food to the top of the jar.   You can see that I packed them just up between the start of the threads for the jar.
             Pack all your jars and then get ready for the lids and rings.

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