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.