Tuesday, November 6, 2012


For most gardeners, the busy canning season is all but a blurry memory.  And as our gardens haven't produced anything more than a snack, nibble or a few side dishes, I had plenty of time on my hands when everyone else was messing with bands and lids and trying to limit the number of times steam from the canner caused second-degree burns on their bodies.

But my willy-nilly free time is now up.  It's canning time.  It's shutting up and putting up time.  While I only managed to can a few quarts of deer meat, I was determined to get some of our Cornish meat birds in jars rather than in the freezer.  Sunday afternoon I spent several hours dispatching, skinning, eviscerating and cutting up six of the creepy meats.  Then yesterday, Paul and I butchered another five birds, although they retained their skin and will be put in the freezer (Paul is a die-hard roasted chicken fan, not that I blame him, who doesn't like crispy chicken skin?)

Six chickens turned out to be a nice number for canning as I had two full pressure canner batches.  Out of six skinned chickens, I got 2 quarts of chicken breasts, 2 quarts of chicken legs, 2 quarts of chicken thighs, 7 quarts of chicken stock, plenty of snackies for the cats / dog and a large lunch for me consisting of fried chicken livers and a cup of chicken broth.  I also sent Mom home with a leg quarter, half-dozen chicken wings and three breasts and there are another six wings marinating in the fridge for a tasty appetizer for us tomorrow night.

Normally every single piece of the chicken gets used, with the exception of the offal of course.  I just haven't come up with a good Chicken Head Soup recipe yet.  But this year I got lazy (well, sleepy actually) and didn't make the chicken soup/bone slurry and just tossed the leftover contents from the soup pot into the compost heap.  But compost is still good.

I am a bit disappointed in the size of the chickens though.  There was one that was just barely two and a half pounds (whole, dressed).  The first year we raised Cornish, we had several five-pounders.  Then there was one year that they were large, but very, very fatty.  So the next year I didn't feed them nearly as much and the amount of fat they were carrying was significantly reduced.  But this year, there wasn't a scrap of fat on any of them.  Usually there is some fat on their bottoms, but I was pressed to find more than a little blob, if any.  I don't know if I was "starving" them (in my defense, they always act like they are starving) or if I should have been giving them feed with additional protein or if it was just the hatchery chicks or what.  The first year I ordered from Murry McMurry hatchery.  The following years I ordered them from the farm store and they get them from a hatchery up in Missouri.  So now I have to decide where the next batch is going to come from and if I'm going to just shovel feed into their pens 24/7 or use a higher protein feed.  Or maybe even buy some from each hatchery and tag them and see if there is a difference in chick quality.  Which would be a pretty interesting project anyhow.


  1. Oh, that good canned chicken meat is going to be such a lovely "convenience" food. Our chickens butchered this past Sunday (I have to laugh) don't look anything like your plumb little darlings. (But there were just culls - roosters - from unsexed chicks we ordered as laying hens.) A couple of them had very prominent breast bones and looked like they hadn't developed ANY breasts yet. (Well, duh Mama Pea, they were roosters!) Whadda worker you are to get all those chickens put up within a couple of days. Wanna come visit northern Minnesota next butchering day?

  2. I would highly recommend Murray McMurray - every single chick/bird I have gotten from them has been healthy and turned out the best for what they were (meat/eggs). You were a busy bee, but the Krazo Acre Family will be eating well this winter.

  3. You guys will have some good eatin' this winter! It would be an interesting project to get chicks from several different places and see how they do.

  4. My husband loves his crispy roasted chicken skin too, LOL. I love having canned meat around. Makes for an easier dinner than having to remember to defrost frozen. We've never raised meat chickens though.

  5. I have never canned any meat but my sis says canned roast beef is outstanding.

    If you are referring to Estes in Springfield, you better do a Google search first........

    I think I kept feed before mine 24/7 and then began butchering at around 6 weeks and spread it over a two week period. All weighed in over 4-5 lbs dressed.