Canning Chicken at home

Last year my mom had me watch Wendy DeWitt's YouTube videos on food storage. She is so classy and funny - definitely not a  'frumpy' like person who is encouraging you to get food storage. I also like how straight-forward she is about not relying on other people in your church, neighborhood or family to take care of you. I grew up in a ward (congregation) where people would always say to my parents, my siblings and I, "We'll just come to your house if there is ever a disaster."

As I have become an adult and built up my own food storage and garden I have people tell me that they will come to my house... and it irks me so much because as my mom has observed, that attitude/behavior is coveting another person's preparation when you won't take the time to get your own food storage and expect others to take care of you should hard times come.

Happily, Wendy DeWitt makes food storage so easy that you will want to prepare your own year supply to ensure that you have the food you and your family likes and is in accordance to any dietary restrictions you may have. If hard times come and you need to borrow a little bit of food to supplement what you already have, then I will share with you if you ask me nicely. :) Her blog is: and a video of her class is available at Seagull Book.
My first home-canned chicken!

One of the things Wendy talks about is canning your own chicken at home. She said it is much more moist and delicious than commercially canned chicken - especially when you can it raw!

Now I grew up where my mom canned chicken and it seemed like a LOT of work to cook the meat and then fill the bottles and then can them and then to have the sulfur smell escape the canner the entire time you are canning meat. To this day canning meat is not my favorite smell. However, the end result makes up for any inconvenient sulfur smell during the process! I can testify that it is so easy to have home canned chicken - it tastes delicious and it makes dinner preparation so easy when I don't want to cook!

Here is how easy it is to can chicken: buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts on sale. Bring them home, fill your sterile pint or quart bottles. Add some salt but NO water (1 tsp for quarts, 1/2 tsp for pints). Leave 1-1/4-inch headspace for poultry. Wipe the rim of the bottle clean. Put the lids on (pre-softened in boiling water). Screw on the bands. Place bottles in pressure canner (which should already have water in it per your canner's instruction booklet). Secure lid on canner. Turn on burner to high. Begin babysitting of pressure canner - I always have a book to read while I am canning food and just hang out in the kitchen watching the dial pressure gauge on my pressure canner.

I had a friend tell me that she would never can raw chicken because she knows people who have gotten sick from eating their raw, home-canned chicken (which thoroughly cooks during the canning process). When I was telling my mom about it yesterday she said she could see how that happened if the person wasn't canning the meat at the right pressure - but then they would have still gotten sick even if the meat was cooked prior to canning.

Case in point: my mom has a friend who used to live down near the Gulf of Mexico near sea level. She grew up canning food and did it as an adult while she was raising her children. About 10 years ago she and her adult daughter moved up to Idaho where my parents live. My mom asked her to can some green beans while they (my parents) would be on vacation. The friend was surprised because a week before she had canned green beans and it didn't work - the beans didn't cook all the way through. My mom asked her what pressure she had canned them at and she said, "ten pounds" (she has a weighted gauge so it is either 10 or 15 pounds). Therein lies the problem! She was canning food at 4,000 feet altitude just like she did at sea level when there is a significant difference at the amount of pressure needed for each!

The following is a standard guide as found in The Joy of Cooking, pg 891 as well as the user manual for my Presto Pressure Canner

Dial Gauge
0 - 2,000 feet: 11 pounds
2,001 - 4,000: 12 pounds
4,001 - 6,000: 13 pounds
6,001 - 8,000: 14 pounds
8,001 - 10,000: 15 pounds

Weighted Gauge
0 - 1,000 feet: 10 pounds
1,001 - 10,000 feet: 15 pounds

If you don't understand why this is a problem, let me clarify it for you. Pressure canners work by boiling water building up steam in a canner so that it creates pressure inside the canner. The pressure from the steam is what helps cook the food all the way through. Water boils at a lower temperature at 4,000 feet altitude than it does at sea level - so in order to cook the food thoroughly and properly at higher altitudes, you will need to build up pressure in the canner a little bit longer than you would at sea level or lower altitudes than at higher altitudes. This is also why at altitudes higher than 1,000 feet above sea level you need to add additional time for boiling water canning.

If you ever have any concerns about canning at home, be sure to read and re-read your user manual for your canner. If it is your first time canning anything, then follow my tutorial for canning water to test out your water bath canner and or your pressure canner and follow those instructions EXACTLY! When food isn't processed correctly, a bacteria called botulism grows inside the sealed cans of food and it can make you VERY sick if you eat improperly canned food. Botulism can happen in either water-bath canned food or pressure-canned foods when directions are not followed exactly!

If you have never canned anything before in your life using either a water-bath canner or a pressure canner, then read my tutorial on doing a trial run of canning water to get the process down first!

Good luck!


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