each fall we cull our old hens, hens who are not laying anymore and any miscellaneous roosters. these chickens are not tender, but old and tough, not suitable for regular chicken dinners. since we are a sustainable farm, nothing goes to waste, including these old chickens. instead of feeding them to the dogs, i can them up for the pantry shelves.
i originally had an amish woman can up my first batch of old hens. i did not have a pressure canner and had never canned chicken before. mrs. hochstetler told me it was easy to do and i should not be afraid of doing it myself.
my buddy, debbie, gifted me with a pressure canner one summer a few years back. squee! so i decided to try to can my own chickens.
i washed the chickens and loaded 5 birds into the pressure canner. i cooked them at 10 lbs pressure for about an hour after the pressure gauge began to jiggle. i then let them cool and dumped the lot onto a cookie sheet. my son peter and i picked through the chicken, removing the bones and skin. we packed the shredded chicken, along with the broth into quart jars and placed them back into a cleaned pressure canner. i set the timer for 55 minutes after the gauge began to jiggle. when it was done, i had my own canned chicken! i have also canned raw chicken (raw pack). this works well for legs and thighs. i can them for about 90 minutes at 10 lbs pressure when packing raw.
i use the canned chicken all the time. the chicken is nice and tender, after being pressure cooked and then pressure canned. it's great for when i forget to thaw out something for dinner. the quickest chicken and noodles i have ever made! peter likes the chicken tacos i make with the canned chicken. my market buddy, diane, loves my canned chicken. she told me a story the other day of how much her granddaughter loved the chicken and noodles she made. i have given and sold some canned chicken to some of my regular customers. everyone is hesitant at first, but after they try the chicken, they ask for more. last fall i canned up the extra broth, which i used up way too fast. need to can more broth for next year.
i now have three pressure canners/cookers. i have also canned beef broth using the same method. if you are a female member of our csa's, you will learn how to can chicken during our august work days. like mrs. hochstetler told me, it's easy and oh so rewarding!