The Time Laura Canned Chicken Broth in a Pressure Cooker and Didn’t Blow Up Her Kitchen

I’ve been putting this off for my entire 22 years of married life.

See, I’ve been canning acidic foods like applesauce and tomato sauce from the time my kids were little because all you have to do is run those jars through a water bath to seal them. Easy. Not scary. Anyone can do it.

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For such a long time, I’ve so badly wanted to branch out and can less acidic food items (like veggies and meat) that have to be processed in a pressure canner.

But alas. I was afraid of blowing myself up.

#truestory
#noshame

Not only have I aspired to learn how to pressure can, I’ve actually had my mom’s pressure canner in my basement for 12 years. Every year I would be determined to learn to use it. Every year I would chicken out. It has provided a wonderful home for several spider families down in our basement, so at least it hasn’t been entirely useless.

I’ve had an excuse (beside the extreme fear thing) for letting it sit idle. The manual that originally came with the canner was long ago misplaced. Also, my mom has been gone for quite some time so I couldn’t ask her to teach me how to use it. I think we all know that we should never use a pressure canner without first knowing how to use it safely.

#feartheexplosion
#saynotobotulism

Don’t even tell me that I could have found a manual online or perhaps could have asked one of many dozens of women or men who could have taught me how to use one. I know this. Apparently I wasn’t ready to face my fears or wash the spider webs out of my canner.

Until now.

This year, I finally washed my pressure canner (goodbye spiders) and guess what? I learned to use it! I think my mama would be proud.

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Have you ever seen a 43-year old act giddy like a little girl? That was me three weeks ago when I pulled my first jar of chicken broth out of my pressure canner. I did it! I DID IT!!!! The jars sealed. The broth is beautiful. More importantly, nothing blew up.

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It truly wasn’t even hard.

Not only am I thankful to have finally conquered my fear of the pressure canner, I’m so excited to now have the ability to make more healthy convenience foods to keep in my pantry! Chick broth, Chili, Veggie Soup, the list goes on and on. This is going to be so amazing! (Once I get over my “don’t open those, they are just for looks” issue. I can’t help it. It’s fun to have and stare at full jars of home-canned food in the pantry.)

How I finally learned to use my pressure canner

After being afraid to even try using my pressure canner, I found what ended up being a wonderful teacher and confidence builder for me. I took the Home Canning With Confidence Mini-eCourse (which was full of videos so I could actually see how it all worked) and now here I am, canning like it’s 1970.

The course taught me about all the parts of my canner, showed me how to put it together and use it safely, gave me some great recipes, and by the time I had watched the videos and read through the downloads, I was so inspired and eager to get started that the spiders living in my canner didn’t have a chance.

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Then I watched all the videos and read the downloads again, just to be safe. Shoot. I knew I was ready to do it but canning with a pressure canner still seemed like such a big deal.

Finally, I went for it!! (I may have also called my friend Tana for some moral support. She’s been pressure canning for years. She affirmed all I was doing and told me I was on the right track. Yay!)

Lookie!! I canned chicken broth in a pressure canner!

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Once I canned my first batch of chicken broth and had busted my way through the learning curve, the pressure canning monster in me was unleashed.

I’ve since canned 14 jars of Chili and 14 jars of Vegetable Soup!!!! (All the exclamation marks show how a 43-year old types like when she feels like a giddy little girl.)

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This is, in some ways, even better than freezer cooking because:

  • Jars go in the pantry, saving freezer space!
  • I don’t have to thaw anything. We have ready-made soups and broth in the pantry ready to go!

Afraid of the Pressure Canner?

Don’t be. I mean, I get it. You know I get it. But all it takes is having someone to teach us how to do it and then boom! A whole new world is opened up to us in the kitchen! Pressure canning is actually not even hard. I thought it would be. But nope. It’s easy.

If you have any interest in canning at all, take this Home Canning With Confidence eCourse. Do you know how much time and money we’ll all save ourselves? It’s even worth buying a pressure canner if you don’t have one. I was ready to click the purchase button on a new one if my mom’s decided it was too old. That’s how motivating the eCourse was to me.

I’d love to hear if you are a fan of pressure canning and how you like to use it!

Homemade Chicken Broth

Making homemade chicken broth is one of my favorite ways to save money and pack in the nourishment too. Learn to preserve it in a Pressure Canner for super convenience! (Read more about how I learned to can broth here.)

How to Make Chicken Broth

Last weekend I had a big party with some chickens in my kitchen.  Three extra large chickens to be exact, purchased from a farm nearby that allows their chickens to do the chicken dance all over their yard while feasting on bugs all day long.   (If you happen to be a local reader, I get my chickens from Northstar Neighbors…they deliver right to my door – love them!)

I decided that since I was going to cook one chicken, I might as well cook three. One mess, one day…all done. You can, of course make this broth using only one chicken…but the pictures below are going to be of the big chicken party.

First, thaw your chicken. Or not. I got my chickens out of the freezer and put them in the fridge overnight, but they were still pretty frozen the next morning when I was ready to start my broth. No matter. Frozen chickens thaw quickly in boiling water (imagine that).

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Check it out, it’s a tower of chickens.

How to Make Chicken Broth

Put your chicken into a large pot. I used my huge stock pot since I was going to be boiling three large birds. Fill the pot three quarters full of water.

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Add veggies to the pot…as many as you want and any variety you want. My favorites are:  carrots, onions, leaks and celery. I pretty much throw in whichever veggies I have at the time. There is no rhyme or reason to my chicken broth making madness…you really can’t hurt your broth by putting in too many veggies. You can overflow your pot, but I’ll just assume you’ll use common sense on that one.

Shake a nice amount of sea salt into the pot.

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Bring your pot of chicken, veggies, water and salt to a boil. Turn the burner down and simmer (with the lid on) for several hours. By several…I mean check it every so often in between clipping your child’s fingernails, matching up a basket of socks and chasing your naked toddler down the street to bring him back into the house for his bath. When the chicken starts to spread apart and the meat is falling off the bone…ding! He’s done.

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Carefully lift the chicken(s) out of the pot and onto another dish. Allow it to cool for a little while (but not too long because de-boning a cold chicken is a lot harder than de-boning a warm one). Take all the meat off the bone once the chicken is cool enough for you to touch it without screaming.

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This is the part I usually like to hand over to Matt. I’m not a big fan of de-boning a chicken, even though it isn’t hard. Matt doesn’t mind doing it because he usually sneaks bites of cooked chicken while he works. And I let him because he’s de-boning the chicken so I don’t have to.

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Throw all the bones and skin back into the pot of broth, and fill the pot with water and veggies again. Now you can make a second round of broth – getting the most out of your chicken and bones!

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Cover the pot and simmer for a couple more hours to really “suck the good stuff out of the bones and into the broth.”

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In the meantime, you can put all your cooked chicken into containers for future meals. I happened to get TEN meals worth of meat from my three extra large chickens because I like to make my chickens stretch as much as I can. These jars went into the freezer (after they cooled completely). Yes, I put lids on them first.

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After the bones and skin have cooked for a couple of hours, strain the carcass out of the broth with a colander. Lookie, a big colander of chicken carcass. I don’t really like the word carcass. And yet, I keep saying carcass. Someone stop me. (What is the plural form of carcass? Carcasses? Carci? Seriously, someone stop me.)

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Mmm, look at that good, rich broth. I always run it through my blender (if I feel like it that day) to smooth out all the veggies. They’re usually pretty mushy by then anyway, and blending them into the broth adds even more nourishment and good flavor.

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Now, I actually have a hard time letting go of my chicken bones and skin (otherwise known as the carcass), so if I have an ounce of energy left at the end of my full day of chicken cooking and de-boning and broth making, I will then put the contents of my colander into my crock pot, fill it with water and leave it on low all night to make yet another round of broth. It isn’t as rich, but it still makes a good broth.

Chicken broth freezes very well, you’ll just want to make sure it has completely cooled before you put it into the freezer. I freeze mine in jars and in freezer bags. If you freeze it in jars, be sure to leave several inches open at the top to allow for the broth to expand. Otherwise your jar will bust and it will be sad.

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And there you have it. If this isn’t a great way to stretch chickens, I don’t know what is. From three big chickens I got four or more meals of chicken broth and ten meals of cooked chicken. LOVE. IT.