Friday, May 3, 2013

Canned Chicken Lesson

Last fall, I had decided that I was going to try to can some of the meat birds we butchered instead of just stuffing them in the freezer.  Part of my reasoning was that canned meat stays just fine in a power outage.  If the power goes out, even though we have a generator, the food in the freezers are still at risk.

I has successfully canned chicken breasts and was happy with the results.  I've seen a few articles on canning chicken legs/thighs so figured it should be my next chicken-canning step.

Everything went well during the canning process and my bounty was put into the pantry downstairs.  Every once in a while I'd peek at the chicken shelf and wonder when I would ever try the legs.  I finally broke down a few days ago (mostly because I was too lazy to cook a "real" supper and Paul wasn't going to let me get off presenting him with a bowl of oatmeal).  We had a container full of leftover rice in the fridge from the night before so I made an impromptu chicken and rice meal.

First of all, let me say that the canned chicken legs / thighs are not very pretty looking.  Because of being cooked with the bones, the liquid turned into gelatin.
Looks like something in an old school science lab, don't it??
Mom may never eat over at our house again.
And don't even let me try to put into the words the strange noises it made as I used the spatula to scoop out the contents.  I heated the contents up until the gelatin was liquefied and attempted to pick the meat off the bones.  I say attempted because everything was very, very tender and a lot of the meat was just a squishy mess.

I strained the remaining broth and tiny meat pieces through a sieve and squished out the liquid.  This was made into a very tasty chicken gravy with just the addition of some milk & flour, the bones tossed in the compost heap and the mass of squishy chicken meat went to the very appreciative cats.

The meat I did manage to pick off in somewhat larger pieces was very tender and tasty, but best used in recipes calling for shredded chicken like maybe a BBQ sandwich, pot pie or in my case, plopped on top of a bed of rice and chicken gravy.

Although it didn't turn out as nice as I had hoped, I'm glad that I canned the legs & thighs (and thankful that I only have three more quart jars left in the pantry).  Now I know that when I can chicken, it will be breasts only.


  1. Ok, I commend you for canning meat. I have a pressure cooker, but am freaking scared to death to can meat. I don't know why, I mean, obviously you haven't died yet...

    And you are right, the dark meat looks gross in the jar... But the end product does look tasty!

    What if you tried canning just the meat and not the bones so that the liquid didn't turn to gelatin and make all kinds of funky fart sounds coming out of the jar? I mean, all you'd have to do is cut the meat off the bones, right? Just a thought...

  2. The taste is what counts! I have never canned meat but I would love to try beef. My Sis says it is positively delicious!

    Did it snow at your house?

  3. Carolyn,

    Nice to know when canning chicken the breast is better than the legs and thighs. I've never tried canning chicken, one day I'll have to give it a shot.

  4. One great big health benefit to think about when canning the thighs and legs on the bone is that you DO get that gelatin (from the bones) which makes the most wonderful, nutritious broth to either make gravy with (as you did) or for soups. You don't get that goodness in commercially canned chicken or broth! I know chicken breasts (the big chunks of meat) are nice for some recipes, but for soup, pot pies, sandwiches, etc. . . . heck, pieces of tender creep meat (sorry) are just fine!

  5. I cook chicken thighs in the crockpot for my dogs, and it looks just like that when I fish it out of the broth. I always strain that broth (the dogs love the yuk that's strained off), refrigerate it until the fat hardens and can be removed, then freeze the remaining gelatin for use in our meals (soups, gravy, etc.). It is far and above better than store bought chicken stock. Your creepy meat doesn't creep me out a bit!

  6. I know this comment has nothing to do with chicken but my goat is in the first stage of labor!!!!!! Im sooo excited! The wait is almost over :)

  7. This is really good info. I really want to try canning some of my creepy meats this year. Sometimes chicken in the crock pot turns mushy and if I know before hand, I can plan my meal differently.

  8. I really don't like anything but the breasts. So, this is simple for me. However, when making chicken and dumplings, I love the taste of the dark meat. Falling to pieces is okay with me. Someday, I will can breasts, but other people prefer dark meat, so legs and thighs will be part of my repertoire. They will also be available for chicken and dumplings.

  9. Dark meat lover here. I seem to recall having a similar experience canning chicken eons ago. That long processing time under pressure really overcooks the meat. I think afterwards, I just canned precooked meat already removed from the bone. It takes up less space (a plus) and doesn't do too badly texture-wise, if I'm recalling correctly.

  10. It does look rather science-experiment-y in the jar but as long as it tastes good, that's what counts! :)