Preserving Meat - How Do I Can Chicken? (Hot Pack Method)

*Note- Meat, when not preserved correctly, is a breeding ground for bacteria. Follow instructions carefully. We do NOT recommend using an InstaPot or a boiling water canner. Rather, we recommend using a pressure canner. Also, this procedure is for fresh meat, not brined, cured, or corned meat. The Ready Store recommends freeze-drying because it has been proven to be the safest way preserve the nutrients and flavor in your meats.

Preserving food isn't just limited to garden produce. People have been safely canning fresh meat for years. Canned meat requires no special refrigeration and is convenient to use in all your favorite recipes. Of course, because it is meat, you need to pay particular attention to the appropriate canning process. We have everything you need to know about canning chicken using the hot pack method.

What You Need:
Pressure Canner
Jars with fitted lids and ring bands
Fresh Chicken
Salt (optional)
Canning funnel

Procedure: Always use fresh, healthy chicken. If you butcher and dress your own animal, refrigerate it for 6-12 hours before you can it. Remove the excess fat and cut the chicken into small enough pieces to accommodate the jars you use. (You can can chicken with or without bones.)

Prepare jars and lids by soaking in hot water, making sure there is no dust or other debris that would compromise the seal.

Boil, steam, or cook meat until it is about 2/3 cooked. The meat will finish cooking during the canning process, so don't cook it all the way.

Using a jar funnel, place chicken in the jars leaving about 1 1/4 inches at the top. Add either salted water or broth to the top of the chicken, still leaving a 1 1/4  inch space at the top of the jar. Wipe the lip of the jar with a paper towel dipped in vinegar. Then add your hot lid and tighten with a ring. (Tighten the ring securely but then loosen a TINY bit.)

Place jars in the pressure canner with water in it that has been heated to 180 degrees on the stovetop. Don't forget to use the rack provided with the canner. (You don't want it to reach boiling at this point.) Check your presser canner lid and gasket to make sure it is in good shape so it will produce a solid seal. Also, check your vent pipes to make sure they are clear from mineral deposits or debris. Make sure your burner is perfectly level.

Follow the specific directions from your canner. Add enough water to cover your jars with an additional 2-3 inches on top, making sure your jars are upright the whole time.

Turn the heat setting on your stovetop to HIGH. Heat until the water boils and the steam flows through the top vent pipe. Let the steam flow for 10 minutes.

Add the counterweight/weighted gauge on the vent pipe or close the petcock (if you don't have weights.) This will cause the canner to pressurize for the next 3-10 minutes. Use weights according to the altitude you are canning.  Use this chart for reference.

Process on the stovetop according to the chart above. When the time is up, using canning tongs, pull the jars out of the water and let sit on the countertop. The jars will be hot, so make sure you have cloth underneath the jars.

Once cooled, test the seals to make sure they are set. Lids will be concave without much give when you pop them on the top. If the seal is compromised at all, put the jars in the refrigerator and use the chicken within the next few days.

What success have you had canning chicken? Do you prefer to prepare your own bone broth or do you use a commercial broth?

Reference and Image thanks to Utah State Extension

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