If you are learning how to can chicken, you first must understand a few things about selecting and preparing the chickens. When canning chicken, one or two year old fowls are better than younger ones. If you are raising your own chickens then I will assume you will be canning those. If you have to purchase the chickens for canning, you can save a lot of time and work if you buy ones ready for canning.
If you are learning how to can chicken and they are ones you have raised, you must learn how to dress them. Dressing poultry is not as complicated as you might think. There are many days in my distant memories when Dad would set up the operation in our backyard to dress chickens. He would build a hot fire in our large fireplace; then he placed a huge kettle of water on the fire.
The main thing to stress in any type of canning is to keep everything clean and sterilized. Dad would set up
a large metal table next to the fireplace and scrub it down. Next he
got all the utensils ready and placed on the table with a large cutting
board. A clean galvanized tub would provide a place to put the chickens
after cleaning. He pulled the hose up to the table to have plenty of
fresh clean cold running water handy to run over the chickens for quick
Now it was time to get the chickens which had already been conveniently penned. It is best to do only a few at a time because it is important that they are processed as quickly as possible. After tying the chickens by the feet to the clothesline, Dad would cut the head off and let all the blood drain from them.
By now the water on the fire was steaming hot. A quick dip in the hot water holding the chicken by the feet, would loosen the feathers. Dad quickly plucked all the feathers from the chickens. By quickly flipping the chicken over the blazing fire took care of any pinfeathers left in the chicken. I must stress “quickly” (few seconds) on these instructions because you do not want the chickens to begin to cook from the hot water or hot flames.
If you are just learning how to can chicken, the hearts, livers and gizzards can also be canned. They are all good to eat but should be canned separately from the other chicken meat. After cutting off the neck reach inside the cavity and pull out the inner parts; reach in and do the same at the bottom end. Clean the heart, liver and chicken gizzard. The gizzard needs to be sliced open and cleaned of sand; there is a lining which needs to be peeled off. Now it is important to quickly cool down the chickens (do not freeze); a constant running of very cold water will work and ice works very well. Chickens need to be chilled to 40F degrees before finishing processing. Raising the chicken’s temperature lowers the quality of meat. For this reason, you need to work quickly and lower the temperature quickly after dipping in boiling water and singing over the flame.
We never cooked chicken immediately after killing and cleaning. Dad usually cleaned them on Saturday and we would have them for Sunday dinner. All poultry should have at least six hours to age after the butchering. This also applies if you are learning how to can chicken. Unless Dad was cleaning the older stewing hens or roasting chickens, he would cut them into pieces.
If you are learning how to can chicken, this can be done with the bones or by removing the bones. Boning the chickens is a lot more work but the pieces will fit into the jars much easier. To bone the chicken, first cut the chicken in regular pieces separating the thighs from the legs, 2 wings and breast. The back is mostly bone so it is not worth canning. Delicious chicken broth can be made with the backs and it can be canned.
If you want to remove the bones, start with the breast. Split the breast in half. Cut along the backbone to make it easier to remove the bone and then cut it in pieces making it easier to pack in jars. By cutting the legs and thighs through to the bone these bones are also easy to remove. There is not much meat on the wings so it is not worth trying to remove the bones. Cut the wings at the joints. Throw away the tips and can the other two pieces. These make great chicken wings. You can them in a sauce or in broth.
Learning how to can chicken the correct way is very important. It is recommended and I agree that chicken should be hot packed (not raw packed). The extra cooking assures that any live spoilage organisms will be destroyed; this is very important with all meats. Sort pieces by size and cook pieces of equal size together until they are medium cooked; to 170F degrees. Pack chicken in hot sterilized (pint or quart) canning jars. Pour boiling hot water or boiling broth over the chicken, leaving 1 inch headspace. If you want added salt, add a little table salt to each jar, wipe the rims clean and adjust lids. Process jars under 10 pounds of pressure 65 minutes for pints; 75 minutes for quarts.
Place 3 chickens (3 to 3 ½ pounds each) in a large stock pot. Cover with 1 ½ Gallons of fresh water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 2 hours or until chicken is falling from the bones. Drain the chicken from the broth. Let the broth cool so the fat rises to the top; when it does, skim off the top. Strain the broth through a fine strainer.
Bring broth to a boil; if you want added salt season it now. Pour hot broth into hot sterilized canning jars leaving 1 inch headspace. Wipe jar rims with clean towel and adjust lids. Process with 10 pounds pressure; 20 minutes for pints and 25 minutes for quarts.
This chicken cranberry salad recipe makes an elegant presentation for parties when you learn how to can chicken.
Sprinkle gelatin over cold water to soften.
Mash cranberry sauce; add orange juice and gelatin.
Place over low heat and stir until gelatin is dissolved.
Remove from heat and chill until texture of unbeaten egg whites.
Fold in celery and walnuts; pour into an 8 inch square dish and chill until firm.
Soften gelatin over cold water and stir into hot broth; chill until partially set.
Fold in remaining ingredients for layer 2; pour on top of layer 1 and chill until firm.
To serve cut in squares and serve on top of lettuce leaves with a dab of mayonnaise.
When you learn how to can chicken, recipes like this cheesy chicken recipe become easy to make.
Preheat oven to 375F degrees.
Combine chicken and ½ cup cheese.
Separate crescent dough into 8 triangles.
Place 2 tablespoons of chicken mixture on wide end of triangle.
Roll up starting at wide end and rolling to opposite point.
Combine ¼ cup cheese, milk and soup in medium saucepan; heat until cheese melts.
Pour half of soup mixture in 9 inch square baking pan; arrange filled crescents on top of soup mixture.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Sprinkle with remaining cheese and return to oven until cheese melts.
Serve with remaining sauce.