Versatile Canned Chicken
Posted: September 11, 2012
Canned boneless, skinless chicken can be the basis of many dishes. The soft meat breaks up easily to layer with refried beans, cheese, shredded lettuce, and salsa for a tasty taco. Roll these same ingredients in a soft tortilla for a delicious fajita. In fact, canned chicken is suitable for many Mexican dishes. After opening a jar of canned chicken, the broth can be thickened with a little flour or cornstarch; adding some minced onion, celery and/or parsley flakes, and a few cooked or canned peas makes a hearty creamed dish to serve over waffles, toast, or pancakes. The addition of dry milk powder to the broth produces a richer flavored gravy. Make chicken and dumplings using homemade or commercial biscuit mix; just pour a jar of chicken into a pan adding more broth or water, add some seasonings or vegetables, top with the dumplings and cook the dumplings as directed on the biscuit mix box.
Because the meat has been cooked so long in the canning process, it is very soft. To use it in cold dishes such as chicken salad, chill the meat first before cutting it into cubes. If you want large cubes of meat in dishes such as chicken pot pie, add the chilled meat just before serving and cook only until heated through. Flake canned chicken into a noodle casserole; top with buttered bread crumbs and slivered almonds; bake until golden brown and you have a dish suitable to serve company.
Procedure for Canning Chicken
Dressed poultry should be chilled 6 to 12 hours before canning. If poultry must be held for longer than a few days, freeze it at temperatures of 0°F or lower until you are ready to can it. Rinse the poultry and remove excess fat. Fat left on the meat will melt and climb the sides of the jar during processing. If the fat comes in contact with the sealing edge of the lid, the jar may not seal. Cut poultry into suitable size pieces for canning.
Chicken can be canned with the bone in or boneless. It can be raw packed or hot packed. Hot packed chicken has a clearer broth because the liquid can be skimmed before packing it into jars.
To hot pack boneless chicken, boil, steam, or bake the chicken until about ⅔ done. Remove skin and bones. Pack hot chicken into hot jars, leaving 1¼ inch headspace. If desired, add ½ teaspoon salt to each pint, or 1 teaspoon salt to each quart. Ladle hot cooking liquid, water or chicken broth over chicken, leaving 1¼ inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wiping the edge of the jar with a clean paper towel dipped in vinegar helps to cut the grease from the rim. Adjust two-piece caps. For boneless chicken, process pints 1 hour and 15 minutes, quarts 1 hour and 30 minutes at 11 pounds pressure in a dial gauge canner and 10 pounds pressure in a weighted gauge canner. For chicken with bones, process pints for 65 minutes and quarts 75 minutes. Adjust pressure for higher altitudes.
To raw pack chicken, fill jars loosely with raw chicken leaving 1¼ inch headspace. Do not add liquid. The meat will form its own liquid as it cooks in the canner. There will be a greater amount of space between the liquid and the top of the jar than with hot packing, but the meat will be safe if correct canning procedures have been used. Processing for raw packed chicken is the same as for hot packed chicken above.
Procedures for canning duck, goose, and turkey are the same as for chicken. No canning procedures have been tested for canning ground poultry or poultry sausage.
Traditional chicken soup recipes are not suitable for canning. Noodles, rice, dough balls, or thickening agents as in creamed soups interfere with the transfer of heat in the jar and may allow spoilage organisms to grow. Those ingredients need to be added after the chicken and broth have been opened and just before serving. Chicken vegetable soup made with only vegetables, cooked chicken, and hot liquid may be safely canned following directions for canning plain vegetable soup. Use cooked chicken with the fat removed. Jars should only be half filled with the vegetable-chicken mixture and the rest should be hot liquid—broth, boiling water or tomato juice. Allow 1 inch headspace above the liquid. Pint jars of chicken-vegetable soup should be processed for 60 minutes and quart jars processed for 75 minutes at 11 pounds pressure in a dial gauge canner and 10 pounds pressure in a weighted gauge canner.
For more details on pressure canning meat and poultry, visit the Penn State Food Preservation web site at http://extension.psu.edu/food-safety/food-preservation.