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Date: 29 September 2015. Canning 10 Pounds of Chicken.

Posted late due to life, followed by bandwidth issues. I'll be adding to my bandwidth starting in October. As for Life aboard Seaweed, it's been incredibly busy, and productive. More about that in upcoming articles. J.

Of late the grocery stores have been having sales on chicken. At 49 cents per pound in ten pound bags, that's quite a deal. Of course I could never eat that much before it would spoil. Thus, I broke out the crock pot and pressure cooker, canning the chicken leg quarters into meal sized jars. Here's how I did it.

First, be on the lookout for bargain chicken. The ten pound bags do go on sale every couple months so when you get the opportunity, stock up. I ended up buying six bags over the space of a week, canning one ten pound bag per day.

The initial couple bags frankly were a pain in the posterior. It took experimentation to get it down to a science, and I think I'm there now. The final four bags were a breeze. Today's lesson will cover what I did wrong at the beginning along with the improved version.
 

 

Canning meats is not about saving
money. It is about quality of product.

 
I'm past the half-century mark and goodness knows I don't need any more fat in my system. The canned meats you buy at the grocery or dollar store tend to be very high in sodium (aka salt) and fat.

Plus, I enjoy canning my own food stores.

Additionally, I know what's in my jars, and what's not in them. For example, there is no salt, no fat, and lots of meat. Nothing but a little broth on top of a jam-packed jar of chicken. Yummy!

 


If you're going to opt for the bargain canned
meats found at discount stores, this is what to do:

Pick up can. Shake it. If it's real slushy and you hear water, put it back. There's not much product and too much gooey imitation gravy in the can. The ones that don't slosh are okay. Barely.

Also, do not read the ingredient label unless you've the stomach for "mechanically separated" and words with multiple syllables, none of which are pronounceable unless you have a degree in science. In that case, you'd know what those words mean and would probably opt for a peanut butter sandwich!


So, you've found bags of chicken. Good start. I bought chicken leg quarters because that was the least expensive I could find. Also, I happen to prefer the dark meat. Chicken breasts work too and are less "trouble" in that there are fewer bones.

This is your canning project, so pick what you want to eat. And know this: if you don't eat dark meat now, you won't suddenly like it when you're at sea. Stick with what you like. All too often beginning boaters go with what the "experts" say is necessary. While chicken is one component of my happiness quotient, I realize not everyone is the same.

I found if I didn't like a food ashore, being afloat didn't change a thing.
Only preserve what you enjoy. Otherwise it's just a waste of time and resources.

For me, I opted for chicken leg quarters. The first step in my new improved canning process is to get the chicken naked. Chicken fat migrates to my aft end and goodness knows I don't need more of that!
 

 

For the men-folk who don't know chicken, the easiest way to strip naked a chick is to run their thumb under the skin along the STRAIGHT FLAT AREA. Then pull down the whole skin down and off the end of the leg.

It's not pretty, and takes a bit of tugging. There will be some fatty areas left behind and that's okay. We are not going for perfection here. This is Good Enough territory.

 

This is the finished product:

 


Next, into the crock-pot goes the chicken sans (without) skin. I am using a larger crock-pot belonging to a friend. Mine is just three quarts and fits perfectly in my galley sink when underway. When doing a massive amount of chicken like this however, having a larger crock-pot did make the process quicker.
 

It looks icky when it first starts to cook. Keep the lid on and don't worry: it'll be fine and taste great too.


The observant will notice the broth above is chicken-y. This is one of the later batches. I do not add water except to the first chicken leg quarters I'm cooking. The crock-pot creates liquid. To the first batch of chicken, I add one cup or two of water to the crock pot. Turn the crock-pot on high if you're in a hurry or low if you'd prefer to let things cook overnight.

Side Note: Save the liquid for later batches. I reuse it. You also can pour it off into a Tupperware container. Stick the broth in the refrigerator. When it cools there will be a layer about 1/4" thick of fat. Remove that and you've got yummy fat-free broth for future batches.
 

 

Next, pluck the chicken. With the first two Batches-from-Hades I plucked the skin and bones off for each set as needed for canning. The chicken was hot and my fingers were scorched a bit.

Everything seemed to take longer than it should and I was frustrated. Plus, at first I had not removed the skins.

Ugh.


Finally, I got smarter. When the chicken is falling off the bones in the crock pot, I remove a few pieces at a time. After letting it cool a bit, pulling out the bones is easy. The gristle and bones are set aside for the fish and crabs.

Side Note: In areas without good tidal flow aka current, it is best to bring food scraps to shore for disposal. Here on the Gulf coast, I tap three times on the hull and over the side it goes. See Fish Training 101 for my chumming method.
 

I am currently in St. Pete, on Florida's Gulf coast.


Ten pounds of chicken leg quarters becomes four pounds of chicken without bones.


To can the chicken, you'll next put the plucked chicken into a pan with some of the broth you cooked it in. Get it hot and keep it hot until you process in your pressure cooker.

After the pressure has come up, time for the 1/2 cup jelly jars is 1 hour. I do the half pint jars the same amount of time. Mostly that's because I'm doing batches with both in the pressure cooker.
 

 

How to use your Pressure Cooker:

 


I've written a pair of articles providing specifics on how I can and preserve meat aboard Seaweed.

The novice should begin with:
Canning Primer (Preserving Meats, Part 1)

Those who have experience canning vegetables or jams may start with:
Processing in Pressure Cooker (Preserving Meats, Part 2)
 

 


For me canning is a relaxing way to spend the day or three. I like knowing that the food I eat is good for me. The quality of home canned is better than what I could buy. Plus, the quantity suits my appetite.

A bargain isn't so if the amount of product spoils before I can consume it.

That's why price isn't so critical for me. Often I'll buy smaller quantities at a greater cost per ounce because I know I'll use it all. Too, more and larger are not such a good idea when storage space is limited.

Still, when chicken is 49 cents a pound, its hard to pass up a deal like that. I'm only limited by the number of jars I own, and the desire to have a variety. Fortunately for the budget I like chicken.

Next I'll do some bratwurst. It is three pounds for $10 at Walmart. A few jars of sausage chips (1/4" thick wafers) will be a nice addition to my larder.
 

Update: After buying three pounds of bratwurst at Walmart with high hopes of a bargain sausage for the larder, I tasted 'em. They are not my thing. In the meantime, I'll add them to eggs for my omelets.  To can them for later would be a waste of time.

I've discovered that if I don't like something now, I'm not going to care for it any more in six months time. I'll eat the bratwurst now. To go through the process of canning something I'm not fond of simply won't happen.

For yourself, I'd advise the same: If you don't care
for it now, you won't like it any better while out here!


Are you a canner?
Was canning foods a part of your younger life?

COMMENTS:
 

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