November 21, 2014

Pressure Canning Chicken Stock

Since I am apparently in the business of posting useful holiday cooking tips (see my annual Portland Turkey Guide), here's a quickie about canning your own chicken or turkey stock. You'll likely have a turkey carcass next week, so pop it in the freezer or, if you're not sick of elaborate kitchen projects, into the slow cooker to make and can a flavorful stock that is shelf-stable and about a quarter of the price of store-bought.  

Vrylena and I worked together to can this stock, but we each made our own stock separately, which explains the color difference of the jars pictured above. I bought a rotisserie chicken, picked and saved the meat, then used the carcass to make my stock. I also added homegrown parsley, onions and celery, and some store bought carrots and garlic. V. used veggies and a leftover carcass as well as some raw turkey wings chicken parts. 

After a rough chop, all the vegetables went into the crockpot with the bird, I covered it with water, and let it cook overnight. (Note: because my crockpot is not large enough to hold 4 quarts of water and all the flavoring ingredients, I used as much water as would fit and then diluted the resulting stock with water until I had 4 quarts.)

Poultry stock needs to be pressure canned for safety because it's a low-acid food (with a pH of > 4.6). That means botulism spores can survive the boiling water process and potentially grow into the toxin that can be fatal if left untreated. So very much to be avoided. Pressure canning is very easy, although slightly unnerving until you get used to it (and even after you do, steps of it maybe still so).

Pour the hot stock into quart jars, leaving 1-inch headspace. Wipe the rims of the jar, and apply dome lids and screw bands until fingertip tight. Place into the canner and fill the canner with 3 quarts of boiling water (or the amount specified in your canners owners' manual). Apply the locking lid and properly vent canner (as per the instructions).

Process quarts for 25 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure with a weighted gauge or 11 pounds in a dial gauge. After processing time, let canner cool completely, remove lid, and remove jars. Let cool on the counter, undisturbed, for 12 to 24 hours. Refrigerate or freeze any jars that do not seal.

We were left with 4 quarts and 5-1/2 quarts each and were very satisfied without canning project. The whole thing probably cost me $10 for 4 quarts and at most an hour of active preparation. I highly recommend it. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Read more on the pressure canning process in Pressure Canning: Beets and from the National Center for Home Food Preservation