Thursday, July 28, 2011

Canning chicken - Literally!

Having come into yet another case of chickens, Sir Knight and I thought it was high time we tried out our Ives-Way can sealer (a Craigslist find) with pressure canned foods.  Although we only had small cans (about the same diameter as a tuna can and slightly taller), we decided to utilize them and can all the chicken we could.

We put all of our chickens into two pots to simmer the day away and develop a nice, rich broth.  After removing the chickens from the pots, we lined a colander with clean cheese cloth, put the colander on top of a large stainless steel pitcher and poured the broth through the colander.  This step removes all of the little particles and produces a beautiful amber liquid.

Boiling chickens
Large stainless steel pitcher
Cheesecloth lined colander
on top of pitcher
After straining all of the broth, we poured it into clean quart jars.  Using the pitcher to strain the broth into makes pouring into jars a cinch.  After we filled all of our jars, we capped them off with Tatler canning lids, spun rings onto them and put them into the waiting canner.  10 pounds of pressure and 90 minutes later and we had 14 beautiful quarts of chicken broth ready for whatever culinary delight tickles our fancy.

Pouring broth into jars
While the broth was processing, Miss Calamity and I pulled all of the meat off the chickens and proceeded to cut the meat into medium sized chunks.  After all of the meat was cut, we packed it (lightly) into our clean cans and added about 1/4 tsp. of salt to each can.  After salting the chicken, we filled each can with water to about 1/4" from the top.

Chickens waiting to be deboned
Bowls of chicken
Chunks of chicken
Adding salt to the chicken
Pouring water over the chicken
The next step is critical, and not one required when canning with glass jars.  After the cans were filled, we put the cans on cookie sheets and put them in a hot oven.  The contents of the can must reach an internal temperature of 170 degrees.  Because sealed cans cannot expel air during the canning process, the air must be expelled prior to sealing the can.  In order to achieve this requirement, the contents must reach 170 degrees before sealing.  After the the chicken reached 170 degrees (I used a meat thermometer to verify the internal temperature), I removed the first batch from the oven and Sir Knight, using leather gloves, sealed each can.

Heating chicken to170 degrees
Putting lids on cans
Sealing cans of chicken
As soon as all of the cans were sealed, into the canner they went.  The first layer of cans must be on a rack in the bottom of the canner, but the rest of the cans can be stacked on each other as long as they are staggered and not sitting directly on the lid of the can below.  We filled 41 cans and were easily able to fit them all in our 30 quart pressure canner.

The first layer and part of the second layer
A full canner!
The foods processed in tin cans require a longer processing time than a glass jar.  Our little tins processed for 90 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.

Metal cans are not a particularly economical method of home canning.  The cans are somewhat costly, however, the benefits in storage space (cans stack compactly) and ruggedness (an earthquake is less likely to ruin food preserved in cans than in glass jars) can justify the additional expense.

41 cans of home-canned chicken
Back in the day, metal cans could be re-flanged and reused.  Apparently, the modern cans are too thin to withstand the re-flanging process and reusing cans is not recommended.  We have the re-flanging equipment and may get a wild hair and experiment with our used cans.  It would be very economical to use metal cans if all you had to buy were the lids!  If we do experiment with re-flanging, I will be sure to write about the results.

Having canned foods on the shelf is such a comfort.  I am excited to add a new twist to our preparedness efforts.


  1. I love the idea of being able to can meat in the metal cans. I'm going to check ebay for a can sealer.

  2. This is the first time I've seen home canning that actually involved metal cans-all the home canning I've seen used jars. Could reflanging pose a corrosion problem at the new flange? I'm assuming the cans have some sort of coating on the inside. Most of my family have lived in rural areas, and canned(jarred?)what they grew,but I have never seen a canning machine, or empty cans for sale. I had a bottle capper years ago..until someone "borrowed" it on a permanent basis....
    Cans are truly useful things,and can be reused a bazillion ways-from holding parts, emergency exhaust pipes,ductwork(coffee cans),and countless other uses.

  3. I have had the following question about jar canning, but it really comes to mind re what seems to be quite a bit more processing with actual 'canning'. Specifically:
    How much does the processing decrease the nutritional value of the food??

  4. Wishing you were my neighbor so we could share your great equipment!

  5. Wow, first time I've ever seen real canning done. Thanks for another great step-by-step lesson in preparedness.

    NoCal Gal

  6. That's great that you were able to pick up a can sealer on Craigslist, as they are expensive. My only experience with canning food in metal cans was when DH and I went to a LDS cannery and canned up beans, flour rice, etc. in #10 cans. We love that they won't break if they fall, stack easily, and with the oxygen absorber, will last for years to come. I would love to have access to a can sealer and cans. Thanks for sharing. Excellent job, keep up the good work!

  7. wow! i just love learning something new...or rather, something old fashioned that i have never experienced before. great tutorial. i can just about everything but i sure wish i could get a good deal on a case of chicken. or a case of anything these days.

  8. Does the chicken turn out dry with all that cooking?

    I canned chicken breast in jars and they turned out 'gag me' dry. Eating it requires some kind of gravy.

  9. J @ 9:34am,
    I agree that after all that cooking and heating there cannot be much nutritional value left in the food. Maybe this is why people today are overweight and still starving to death because of all of the processing of the store bought foods.
    There must be some way to safely preserve the foods at home without sucking all the nutrition out of it.

  10. Enola,
    Are you overprocessing your broth? My pressure canner manual says to process at 11 pounds for 25 minutes for quarts. I do 12 pounds because I am at 2500 foot elevation.
    No use doing it for longer than necessary as it heats the house up more and sucks out the nutrients.

  11. Enola, I need to know about the flanging tool to reuse the cans. PLEASE post some info about this.
    I too metal can just about everything we grow and raise.

    No, the chicken does not come out "gag me dry"!
    Only if you BOILED it instead of simmering it in the cooking process.
    Art and Science is perfected by trying over and over again until we achieve our desired results.
    There is no perfect, except in God.

  12. Enola,
    Here are the results of a scientific study performed by the Steel Canning Industry.
    In synopsis, there is very little nutritional loss
    in the cooking/canning process IF fresh products are selected to begin with. What values that are lost are posted by item by the process/es used in this study's final result information.
    Read on! and Can on!

  13. Anonymous @ 5:55,
    Look who sponsored the study. The results are always suspect in my book when the study is sponsored by the industry the results promote.
    Trust no one but GOD.

  14. My, my, with a tad of discernment and, if you would have opened the link and read further, you would have read that the study was conducted in 1997, BY the University of Illinois Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, on behalf of the Steel Packaging Council of the American Iron and Steel Institute, in response to requests from health professionals and media.

    The published study, 'Nutrient Conservation In Canned, Frozen and Fresh Foods', provides nutritional analyses of about 35 canned fruits and vegetables, as well as poultry and fish. It shows comparative analysis of a variety of canned, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables that let a little-known secret out of the can, that canned fruits and vegetables ARE as nutritious as their fresh and frozen counterparts.
    For those of us that are interested in can canning,
    here is the link to the entire study if you need more information to curb your suspicions of the findings or the process results.

  15. Woe is me. I forgot to paste the link.

    'Nutrient Conservation In Canned, Frozen and Fresh Foods',