We like to raise our own meat chickens each year.
We like knowing what our food eats, that it has had a happy life and has been treated humanely, both in life and in processing. You just never know all that with any store bought chickens. Our meat birds have had a happy life, living on the grass and being able to move about as much as possible. You can read more about that here. When it comes time to process them, we do it quickly and humanely so they don’t suffer.
Storing the meat is another issue altogether.
We usually try and freeze some whole, as well as freeze some that are broken down by parts, like breasts, legs, thighs, wings. However, our freezer only holds so much, so we have to can the majority of our chicken meat. It does make it easier to store, there’s no worry about power outtages, and you can basically open a jar and use it as is. It’s really not difficult to can chicken, and once you get the hang of it, you may want to can ALL your chicken!
Of course, if you can’t raise your own chicken, you can still can your own.
Watch the sales at your store, and when the parts or whole chickens go on sale for a good price, this is a great way to stock up without overrunning your freezer!
First, start with a clean bird.
By that, I mean fully rinsed, all feathers removed, and all the insides taken out. I always, always, always have to double check this as my kids are known for forgetting to remove the lungs…but I digress. Simply cut your bird into pieces, along the fat lines and joints. Get the full directions here. Remove all the skin, even from the dark meat. The skin tends to make it greasy and can lead to sealing failures. I leave the bones in the legs and thighs and remove all the bones from the breast meat.Make sure to save the carcass for making bone broth (get the directions here) and you can even can that to store for later use. (get those directions here)
Fill clean jars with the meat.
I use the raw pack method from my canner’s instructions, but you can also cook the chicken to medium done first, if you prefer. I can usually fit 2-3 breasts in a quart jar, 7 legs and thighs in a quart jar. For breast and thighs, I stack them on top of each other whole and for legs, I do 4 pointed down and 3 pointed up, every other one. Then, fill the jars with hot water or broth, leaving one inch headspace. Pressure can at 10 pounds pressure for 90 minutes, adjusting for your altitude. Allow the canner to cool on it’s own accord, remove the jars and set in a cool, non drafty place for 24 hours. Check seals, wipe the jars and store in your pantry. Any that didn’t seal, of course, put in the fridge and use within 2 days.