Saturday, April 20, 2013

Making and Canning Chicken Stock

I use a lot of chicken stock, and several years ago I began making my own and freezing it.  The problem with that was that I often forgot to thaw it out, so I ended up having to make do without it once I got home and was ready to cook.  Then the pressure canner entered my life and saved me from this dilemma.  Now, I make and pressure can the stock and it is ready at a moment's notice.  

Homemade stock is far superior to that which is purchased in the grocery store.  It has a deeper flavor making it great for sauces and soups where you really want the taste of the stock to stand out.  It is also superior because you can control the quantity of salt and the ingredients used.  In addition, it is super economical.  When I roast a chicken or have extra bones or veggies on hand, I just freeze them and save them for stock which means that the only real cost to me are the lids needed for the jars.  The other fantastic thing about it is that, even though it is a time consuming process, it leaves me with at least 9 pints of stock to store.  That would cost me 20 dollars or more in the grocery if I purchased quality stock.  

Everyone has their own preferred methods when making stock, and you can use your own "recipe" and then can it accordingly if you prefer.  The canning directions and time for pressure canning chicken stock will remain the same no matter which recipe or method you use.  I make mine using about 3 pounds of chicken bones.  Sometimes these bones are cooked (which results in a darker stock) and sometimes they are raw.  For this batch, I used 3 carcasses from leftover roasted chickens along with the bones from a pound of chicken thighs I had boned for another recipe.  The bones went into a big stock pot with some veggies and aromatics (I don't tie my aromatics up since I am straining the stock later) and were covered with water.  After about 5 hours of simmering on the stove, I removed the solids and strained the liquid through a sieve lined with cheesecloth which produced a clean stock with no solid pieces present.  I don't worry about clarifying my stock because it just doesn't matter to me, but you certainly can if you want.  

Once strained, placed in jars, and pressure canned, you end up with a lovely stock to use whenever you want, no thawing or trips to the store necessary.  

Remember that chicken stock is not safe to can in a regular canner.  You must use a pressure canner.  If you are new to pressure canning, read my Pressure Canning 101 page and study your pressure canning manual before beginning.  I am not going to post all the directions for pressure canning in the recipe because they are too lengthy.  Just follow the above link if you need them.  If you prefer to freeze the stock, that can certainly be done.  Just try to be better than me at thinking ahead and thawing it out. 

Chicken Stock in the Pressure Canner-  makes approximately 8-10 pints

I make stock in a 3 gallon stock pot.  If your pot is not as large, decrease the quantities.  For 8-10 pints of stock, I use somewhere between 1 1/2 and 2 gallons of water.  The quantity of water used will depend on how much it takes to cover your solids, and the amount used will obviously affect the quantity of finished stock you will end up making.    

3-4 pounds chicken bones, from cooked or raw chicken
1-2 tsp salt, depending on how salty you want your broth
3 carrots, washed and cut into large pieces
2 onions, peeled and quartered
2 celery stalks, chopped (add a handful of celery leaves also if you have them)
2 sprigs of thyme
8 sprigs of parsley
1 bay leaf
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed with the back of a knife
2 whole cloves
1 tsp whole peppercorns
Cold water to cover (somewhere between 1 1/2 and 2 gallons)

Place all solid ingredients in a very large stock pot and cover with cold water by at least 1 inch.  Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer slowly for 4-5 hours.  During this time, skim any foam or scum that forms on top.  After cooking, remove all large solid pieces and discard.  Strain the remaining liquid through a fine meshed sieve lined with cheesecloth until no solids remain in the liquid.  

If you wish to remove excess fat from your stock (which I do), you can either spoon the fat from the top or place the cooled stock into the refrigerator overnight.  The next day, remove the stock, and use a spoon to remove the solidified fat from the top.  Then reheat the stock before canning. 

For Pressure Canning-    

Sterilize 8-10 pint jars.  Heat the lids in a small pot of boiling water.  Ready your pressure canner according to the manufacturer's directions and follow this link for Pressure Canning 101 steps.  Once the water in your canner is boiling and your jars are hot, ladle the hot stock into jars, leaving 1 inch headspace.  Place lids and rings on top of each jar.  Place jars back in the canner.  Can according to the pressure canner directions at 11 pounds of pressure (check your altitude to see if this needs to be adjusted) for 20 minutes.  Once the pressure in the canner is zero, remove the jars and allow them to cool on a clean towel before labeling and storing. 

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  1. I definitely make my own stock, but it too goes into the freezer. So I must learn to do this! :)

  2. Hi Virginia,
    I make my own chicken stock and pressure can it also. So wonderful to have on hand for future cooking.It's just so full of flavour. I will be trying lamb stock soon too as I have plenty of access to the bones from our own lambs.(so far our dog(and other family members dogs) has been the major recipient of those. We are in Australia and you can see a little about us on Our Aussie off grid heaven. I will be following your story it looks good.
    Jane from Aus.

  3. Ozzibeth, you are very lucky to have access to bones and meat from your own animals. I bet your lamb stock will be delicious. I am so glad you are commenting on this post as it reminds me that I need to make more chicken stock (I noticed yesterday that I am down to my last jar). It is difficult after you start making it yourself to think of buying it at the store, isn't it?

  4. Use the pressure canner rather than a stock pot. Only fill the canner half full. I use 10 lbs pressure for 15 to 20 minutes and let the pressure come down on it's own. Saves loads of time.

    I do the same thing when I make ham and pea soup. I buy a smoked ham shank, cut it into chunks - saving a nice pc for baking and some chunks for adding to soup later. I put the rest in the canner along with carrots, celery, onion, bay leace and some cloves. Pressure for 20 minutes and you have loads of lovely ham broth to start pea soup with.

  5. Is it safe to can the stock with the fat still in it?

  6. You can choose not to skim the fat from the surface. It will not affect the safety of the finished stock.

  7. If you have previously canned stock from last year and want to use it as a "broth" in canning chicken this year, will it be ok to re-use the broth that I canned last year for the liquid? I like to "hot pack" my chicken because I want my jars full of broth. Will subjecting it to the high temperatures of another canning make it taste burned or be bad for my canned chicken this year?

  8. Linda Lou, from a safety perspective, recanning the stock is not a problem. It would really be no different than something not sealing properly the first time and you reprocessing it a second time. I would also think that the broth would add great flavor to your chicken and vice versa. I cannot definitively tell you, however, whether the stock will have any kind of off taste after being processed to such a high a temperature twice. I know people who make stock in the crock pot and allow it to simmer several days, adding to it over time, and they have told me that after 3 days or so in the slow cooker, they do notice a slight change in flavor as the stock starts to taste a little "burnt". It takes days for that to happen though. I wouldn't think you would have a problem by recanning it just the once. It would be a great use of stock you haven't used and don't want to waste. Let me know how it goes if you try it. Good luck!

  9. Hey Virginia, Just a update from my previous question. The chicken Thighs that I canned using Canned Stock from last year turned out GREAT. The meat was so moist and tender. Since it was "stock" and not 'broth" I watered it down just a bit so it would be so strong. Thanks for your help and advice, I sure did appreciated it and so I just wanted to let you know that using last years canned stock worked like a charm. I plan on using more of it in the future whenever I can meat.
    Thanks again...Until next time...Take Care

  10. Have you ever had the lids to pop and vent repeatedly after the canning process?

  11. I have never experienced the lids popping and venting repeatedly. Assuming you followed all directions for your pressure canner, I'm afraid I'm not going to be of much help with the situation. I would like to say that if you followed safe canning procedures and all jars formed a tight seal, you should be fine. Did you notice any leakage? I would store the jars without rings (which you should do anyway) so that if there was something amiss regarding the seals, you will catch it easier that way. Sorry I can't be of more help.

    1. Thank you for the reply but now I am really stumped. Followed directions to a T, there was a little leakage but all jars sealed great. We sampled a jar, nothing wrong anywhere with lid or broth. Well anyway thanks and keep up the good work. BTW this isn't the first time something strange has happened to me.

    2. I have noticed that if you let the pressure out of the canner too quickly, I will get leakage out of my jars. I had this happen with tomato sauce. I now let the canner reduce pressure over time (not removing the weight) and I haven't had a problem with leakage since. Not sure if this applies in your case :-)

  12. We make our own chicken broth using a whole chicken and a half of a duck, quartered tomatoes, celery leaves and stalks, whole onion quartered, salt and pepper. You end up with more fat using the duck in your broth but once you skim it the broth is very robust. I learned this from a cook at a restaurant. We stopped in for lunch and had the homemade tortellini and chicken broth. Wow what a flavor. I asked the waitress if she would find out from the cook how he did it and that was his secret. We have been using this ever since.

  13. I don't have a pressure canner, but I have canned stock for years the way my Granny taught me. She would make the stock, strain out the bones, fill the jars with the hot broth, put the lids on really tight, and turn them upside down until they cooled. This caused the can to seal and the lid to sink in like it would had she used a canner. I've never ever been sick as a result of canning this way, and the broth lasts for weeks on my shelf. Should I just keep doing this or invest in a pressure canner? I have a canning kit, but it's a boil system not a pressure one.

  14. People have been canning like your grandmother for years, however, there are a few things about the techniques used back then that cause worry. First, our food system is very different from that of our grandparents as are the vegetables and fruits we grow ourselves. Second, the idea that was prevalent with our grandparents that if a jar seals it is safe is faulty. Botulinum toxin can be found on many foods since it is found naturally in soil. It thrives in low acid, moist environments and must be heated to higher temperatures to be killed. When we can items such as chicken stock with a higher pH (low acid), we are creating the perfect environment for the toxin. In order to kill it, it must be pressure canned since that is the only method by which the stock can reach a high enough temperature to kill the spores. When you turn the jar over and allow it to seal from the heat, the lid may be sealed, creating the idea of a safe product, but in reality you are sealing in the spores in an environment in which they can easily and happily multiply. If you are asking me for advice, I would have to say you should invest in a pressure canner and start canning your stock in one (along with any vegetables you are not pickling). Even though the pressure canner is a bit of an expense (around $70) upfront, it is well worth it and is actually a very easy canning method once you do it once or twice. I don't think you would regret it, and it would offer piece of mind when you are opening those jars of yummy stock you worked so hard to make. :)

  15. Thank you for the advice. May I ask what brand of pressure canner you recommend?

  16. My pressure canner is a 16 qt Presto pressure canner. It is a good, basic canner that holds 10 regular mouth pint jars or 7 quarts. It has done a great job for me over the years I have had it, and I don't pressure can enough to need anything with a larger capacity. It has a dial gauge which makes it easier (in my opinion). It is also pretty affordable as far as pressure canners go. You can get it at Walmart or Amazon for around $70. As time goes on, I may invest in a canner that allows for more jars, but for now, this one works just fine for me.

  17. How long is this good from once canned?

  18. A good rule of thumb is to use it within a year. We usually use ours fairly quickly though because we use a lot of stock throughout the year. If you keep it longer than that, it will not go bad as long as the seal is tight, but the quality will slowly deteriorate over time.