When it comes to having a variety of emergency foods stored up for potential survival purposes meat is traditionally the hardest to accumulate. You can purchase chicken, ham and turkey in small tuna size cans but trust me they do not in any way compare to the taste nor the quality of home canned chicken breast.
If you have never experienced the taste of home canned chicken breast you are missing out on a fabulous treat. Canned chicken is usually more tender and moister than regular chicken and in addition to its delicious taste the finished product is usable for a vast number of soups, stews, salads or simply as a hot dish.
Not only is it a good survival tactic to have plenty of canned chicken in the pantry but it also saves many a trip to the local grocery store or the annoyance of having to pay the usual retail price for the cans. I have three or four dozen of the commercial versions stored away in my emergency food supplies and believe me they were not inexpensive in the least. The homemade versions are also a handy source of chicken when you need to create a last minute meal in a short amount of time.
There are many ways that you can prepare your canned chicken ranging from using your meat for Chicken Marsala to the ever popular Chicken Noodle Soup. Chicken is a low fat food which has a minimum cholesterol rating making it an exceptionally good choice for those who value their health. If you happen to be on a diet then the consumption of chicken is certainly in your best interests as it is low in calories and high in protein.
A few hints are in order when you get ready to can your own chicken breasts. First watch the newspaper and grocery store ads and buy your chicken when it is on sale. If the bone in chicken is less expensive no problem you can use it for your canning however if you purchase your chicken without the skin you can save yourself the trouble of skinning the breasts yourself.
Frequently, you can judge the yield as one pint jar will hold approximately 1 1/2 of the medium to large size chicken breasts. Most modern day pressure canners will comfortably hold 8 pints per load. Make certain to keep the chicken meat chilled until you are prepared to start your canning session.
Prior to beginning your canning session, wash all the jars, the rings and the lids in a dishwasher or in boiling water. Some people contend that since the temperature within the pressure cooker will be about 235 degrees there is no need for separate sterilization to take place however, I like to err on the side of safety when it comes to canning. In either case they must be spotlessly clean. Inspect all the jars for chips or nicks. Anything which can possibly interfere with an effective vacuum seal will result in the food spoiling.
Add two quarts of water to your pressure canner and ensure that the rack is properly sitting in the bottom of it. It is finally time to remove the chicken from the refrigerator and start your session. Carefully wash the chicken breasts very thoroughly removing the skin as well as any noticeable fat. The golden rule for processing meat is that it must be lean with no fat otherwise you will experience interference with proper sealing.
To begin, start by filling a kettle with water and bring it to a boil. Place your pressure canner on the stove and turn to a medium heat. When packing the meat in the jars it must be hot. Next place the chicken breasts in a large pot to which a small amount of water has been added. Cook the breasts until they are nearly done and then remove from the heat and allow them to cool for a few minutes.
At this point you will need to work very quickly in order to keep the meat hot. Cut each breast into portions which will fit into the jar with a sharp knife and a fork. You can add a little variety by mixing both large and small pieces into the same jar. After placing the pieces of chicken breast into the first jar set it aside and progress to the next one until all the jars are completely filled. Don't pack the jars too tightly with the chicken as you want to leave room for the broth to fill the jar. Always leave a one inch head space in each of the jars for expansion.
After you have filled all the jars with the chicken put ? teaspoon of salt within each pint being processed and make sure to even distribute the liquid into the jars. Finally, take the boiling water and fill each jar up to the one inch mark. Never add too much liquid or you will experience a liquid loss. Poke the mixture with a spoon to ensure that all the air bubbles are removed. With a damp cloth wipe around the tops of the jars to clean off any food and than put the lids with rings on the jars making sure not to over tighten.
Put your jars into the pressure canner and replace the lid on the machine. Process according to the manufactures instructions and vent the canner for at least 10 minutes after steam begins escaping from the vent. Add the vent cover to the canner and you are almost finished.
Keep a close eye on the pressure gauge to ensure a steady flow. Under processing of the chicken meat will result in spoilage while overcooking degrades both the flavor and the texture. Cook for approximately 75 minutes than turn off the heat and let the pressure drop naturally. Remove the jars when the pressure has properly drops and allow them to cool.
Copyright @2010 Joseph Parish.
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