Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Canning my day away...

I love to have homemade chicken stock on hand.  I use it in so many recipes that It just makes sense for me to make it, rather than waste money (and unnecessary packaging) on the store bought stuff.  I've frozen it before, which is fine if I'm going to use it right away, but in most cases canning is my storage method of choice.

Chicken stock, duck stock
(surprisingly, the chicken is the darker stuff)

When I first started canning, I was totally intimidated by everything I had to learn...  until I realized that it's all pretty basic stuff, so long as you don't so anything stupid.

I think the most important things to keep in mind are....

  • Protect yourself and your surfaces.  Lay down towels to put hot jars on, use oven mitts, wear an apron...  that sort of thing.  You don't want to melt your counter tops, and you *definitely* don't want to melt your skin.
  • Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize!!!  I love my dishwasher for this.  Jars and rings can go in the dishwasher, just be sure to take 'em out while they're still HOT...  I'm about to explain why...
  • Hot into hot onto hot!  Everything should be hot!  Everything, being what you're canning, and all of your supplies.  Hot stock goes into a hot jar that gets topped with a hot lid and sealed with a hot ring, then it all goes into hot water in the hot pressure canner (or water bath, depending on what you're canning- I'll get into that later).  Keep your stuff hot because heat kills bacteria, which is the whole point of canning- to keep food fresh.  Also, if you don't mix hot and cold, your glass shouldn't break.  Simple as that.
  • Pay attention.  Just watch your stuff.  Especially if you're using a pressure canner, granted they have all sorts of safety features now so it won't explode all over you, you still need to make sure that the pressure is consistent.
I started canning with jams and pickles, which are great things to start with since you don't really need any special equipment.  This was how I discovered pickled green beans, which will have to get their own separate post because their pure awesomeness would end up taking over this post.  But yeah, pickles and jams  (and jellies and preserves) can be canned in a water bath instead of a pressure canner because they are high in acids and therefore don't need the high heat of a pressure canner to kill bacteria since the acids will do all of that dirty work.  In fact, I learned the hard way that using a pressure canner can actually *cook* your pickles and make them mushy.  Gross.

But today I'm telling you how I make my chicken stock...  and anything that has meat or veggies (except for pickled ones, of course) should *always* be done in a pressure canner.

Chicken (or other meat) Stock
printable version of this recipe (with images)
printable version of this recipe (without images)

  • chicken carcass; or other meat of your choice (try to strip as much of the meat off the bones as you can, a little bit will add some flavor, but don't be wasteful about it)
  • water
  • a splash of white vinegar (this helps to pull the calcium from the bones, giving you a heartier stock)
...these are your three main ingredients...  I've made stock before with just chicken and water, which is fine since my chicken stock gets used in cooking and I can always add other flavors later.  The rest of these ingredients add flavor, but are totally optional.

  • sea salt
  • carrots, onion, celery (whole or chopped, it doesn't really matter since it's going to cook for a few hours)
  • herbs of your choice (my favorites for chicken stock are thyme and sage)
Now put everything in a slow cooker or a large stock pot 

and cover with water. 

If you're doing it in a slow cooker, just turn it on low and let it cook overnight.  If you're doing it in a stock pot, simmer it over low heat for 3-5 hours (or until it looks and tastes strong enough for your taste).

Strain through a fine mesh colander into a large bowl or a clean stock pot.

At this point, you can either freeze your stock (after allowing it to cool, of course), or you can choose to can it!  Which is, after all, why we're here today.

So by now, you should have already sanitized your jars and rings in a hot dishwasher or a pot of simmering water, and your canning lids in a saucepan of simmering water.  From here, you need to follow the instructions that came with your pressure canner for processing instructions.  Mine says to process for 20-25 mins at 11 lbs. pressure.  

I have a Presto canner that my mom gave me for Christmas a couple years ago.  I love it and I need to use it more!  This is what Presto has to say about canning "soups" (stocks would also fit into this category).

I hope that you found this all to be interesting and helpful!  Now go get canning!  If you have any questions, please leave a comment below or on my facebook page.  Good luck canning!


  1. This is great! I haven't ever canned before, but I do see it happening in the near future! What kind of jars/cans do you get?

  2. Thanks! Most of my jars are old hand-me-downs, which you need to be extra careful with and check for chips and cracks (which you should do anyway)... but whenever we've purchased new ones, they've been Ball. We also usually get Ball canning lids.

    Let me know if you have any questions when you start canning... I'll help you wherever I can, and if I don't know the answer, I'm sure that one of my many wonderful aunts can help! :)