One Friday, a few months ago, my boss passed me in the hall. She noticed I had a big grin on my face:
Boss (curious): “What are you so happy about?”
Me: “I’ve decided to can chicken stock this weekend!”
Boss (puzzled): “Why does that make you so happy?”
Me (grinning maniacally now): “I have absolutely no idea!”
Thursday had been a bad day and I’d driven home deeply discouraged. I was thinking about what I could do that weekend to make up for it. I remembered I had enough chicken bones to make stock. I love to make stock but typically freeze it to preserve it and the freezer was full to bursting.
I drove on awhile and when I reached the top of the big hill just before home, I gave myself a mighty dopeslap: “I could CAN it!”
But chicken stock can’t be canned like blackberry jelly. It’s a low acid food and requires higher pressure to reach temperatures for safe canning. I didn’t have a pressure canner. I’d have to buy one! Oh, the joy of finding a reason to buy a new tool!
My first canner.
Susan’s Silly Simple Chicken Stock:
- Save chicken bones and leavings in a one gallon ziplock bag in the freezer.
- When the bag is full, empty into a large pot.
- Rough cut strong flavored vegetables and put them in the pot. Any veggie that isn’t a starch will do just fine.
- Add herbs. Thyme and rosemary are always good, but use what you like. Tie them up in a bit of cheesecloth to make them easier to remove later.
- Add enough water to the pot to cover the bones and vegetables, then add a bit more.
- Add a dash of vinegar to help release calcium from the bones into the stock. No more than a tablespoon.
- Simmer for 12 to 36 hours until it tastes like soup. It is best not to let it boil. Slow cooking is better.
- Strain out the chicken bones, vegetables and herbs. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Chill the stock overnight and then skim the fat off the top. You are done!
A brief word before we begin:
Canning, when not done properly, can be dangerous due to a risk of issues such as botulism. This post is NOT intended as a complete how-to. I highly encourage you to try canning yourself but educate yourself first. Read the instructions that come with your canner. I also highly recommend Ball Blue Book Guide to Canning. In the U.S., contact your local Cooperative Extension System office for more information (and it’s free).
Early that Sunday morning, when the chicken stock was ready for canning, I started the process. The first step was to wash the new pressure canner. I gave myself a lovely gash on my arm while washing the inside of the lid. Those new canners bite!
Next, I washed the jars then filled them with hot water so when boiling chicken stock was added, they would be less likely to break.
The world's most boring picture.
I brought the chicken stock to a boil:
Ok. So THIS may be the world's most boring picture.
I put the boiling stock into the pre-heated jars, added a lid and band to each, then carefully loaded them into the canner. (A jar lifter is HIGHLY recommended to make this easier and safer.)
Eight jars of yummies.
After adding water to the canner and clamping down the lid, I turned up the heat to bring the water to a boil and force the air from the canner. The instructions said to allow a “moderate” flow of steam for 10 minutes. Moderate? I assume “minimum” would be invisible and “high” would peel paint off the wall.
Watching steam leave the pot.
Once the steam had run long enough to force all air out of the canner, I put the pressure regulator over the steam vent and watched the pressure rise. When it was at the recommended pressure, I set the timer for 20 minutes and played “Army of Darkness Defense” while I waited. (Supervision, while necessary, requires minimal effort.)
Oh, the pressure!
After a lengthy cool down, I opened the canner to remove 8 lovely jars of canned chicken stock. The lids started popping before I had them out on the table.
My basement shelves are filling with jars of yummy chicken stock. When the zombie apocalypse comes, I’ll be ready.
Yes, it’s all about learning how to do things yourself and being prepared!