Canning Chicken Stock

When my mother offered me my grandmother’s pressure cooker a couple of years ago, I only agreed to take it because it meant I could reclaim my freezer from the stockpile of chicken stock it had become.  Unlike jams or even tomatoes, you can’t can meats or stocks in a water bath. Instead, you need the high temperature environment of a pressure cooker. You can, of course, just freeze it, but then you have to remember to remove it at least a day ahead of time, and I always forget. Hence, the need to can.

Step 1: Make the Stock

Don’t be intimidated by stock: it is, after all, the basis of peasant cooking everywhere. All you really need is either a chicken or a chicken carcass and some aromatics. chicken-bits1Carrots, celery, onions, garlic, and parsley are traditional, but you can use cilantro, tomatoes, peppercorns, turnips, ginger, or anything else that tastes good boiled. Don’t add anything that gets bitter or otherwise nasty as it boils, like cabbage, broccoli, or eggplant.

Just toss your odds and ends into a pot, add a few quarts of water, and let it cook for awhile. If you’re using a regular stovetop pot, you should probably let it simmer about an hour. Since I tend to make my stock with leftover bones, I like to use the pressure cooker to extract as much flavor as possible: 12 minutes at 15 pounds pressure. cold-chicken-brothNext, strain the liquid and let it cool for several hours or even overnight. The fat will form a solid layer (see right) that you can skim off, if desired.

Step 2: Can the Stock

I know, I know: this is where people get nervous—and rightly so. Canning low-acid foods can be a dangerous business, but it’s perfectly safe if you follow a few simple steps.

1. Heat up the stock, and use clean jars. Start with clean, sterilized jars. Garden variety commercial jars may not be strong enough to stand up to the temperature and pressure of canning. For this, you want real Mason jars. Meanwhile, heat the stock to near boiling.

2. Heat the lids. While you can reuse the rings, it’s important that you use new lids every time you can. This is because the rubber ring on the lid is not guaranteed to work more than once. It might, but is the risk of botulism worth it? Spend the $1.99 and buy yourself another dozen lids. Soften the rubber and sterilize the lids by heating (but not boiling) them for about 10 minutes.

3. Transfer the stock to the jars, and screw on the lids. You can buy a canning funnel designed especially for regular-mouth jars—it’s totally worth it. For pressure canning, you should leave 1″ headspace. The lids should be screwed on fairly tight.

4. Transfer the jars to the pressure canner. A large pressure canner, like one pictured here, can hold up to 7 quart jars. Be sure to use the rack so the jars don’t break. Next, add 2 quarts of boiling water to the canner. A note to experienced water-bath canners: it is NOT necessary to cover the jars! You just need 2 quarts or so to produce enough steam to raise the pressure to the proper temperature.

canning-lidsscrewing-on-lidsjars-in-canner

5. Seal the canner and evacuate the steam. This is an easily overlooked, but important, step. Close and lock the lid and turn on the heat to high, but don’t add the pressure regulator yet.  After a few minutes, you’ll see a jet of steam coming out of the central valve.

canner-steam
It’s a little hard to see in this picture, but trust me, it’s there. Let it go for about 7 minutes, then add the pressure regulator.

6. Cook at pressure. Most canning guides suggest 25 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure for quart jars, and 20 minutes for pint jars.

7. Let the pressure drop of its own accord. Then wait another hour or so before opening the canner. Even at this point, the contents of the jars may still be shockingly hot, so be very careful before reaching in there. You’ll want to use tongs or potholders to remove the jars from the canner.

8. Cool and store. This is the easy part! Let the jars cool completely, label, and store in a dark place. Do make sure that they’ve sealed: if the lids are springy, they didn’t, and you should refrigerate or freeze them instead. But honestly, with pressure canning, everything seals, every time.

chicken-broth-complete


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18 comments to Canning Chicken Stock

  • edibleaudiblewritable

    Excellent! Glad to see there are other mad canners out there starting up in blogland. It should be fun when the fruits and veggies come in season!

  • [...] my last post, on chicken broth, I referred both to a pressure cooker and a pressure canner. What’s the [...]

  • [...] and clean rings. Rather than re-hash all the canning steps, I’m going to refer you to the chicken broth post where we cover important steps like heating the lids and venting the pressure cooker. Assuming [...]

  • [...] 4) For pressure canners: transfer the jars to the pressure canner and pour in the water (Remember: the water will not cover the jars. It’s there to create steam.). Lock on the lid and turn on the heat. Evacuate the steam for 7 minutes, then put on the pressure regulator. Process pint jars for 5 minutes, quart jars at 10 minutes, either at 10 pounds pressure. There’s a step-by-step refresher on pressure canning on this post on chicken broth. [...]

  • Donna Banks

    Thanks I appreciate the blog on stock I am trying doing this on my own with no prior use of pressure cooker I like pictures to help me understand. Do you ever add vinegar to extract more calcium and minerals from the bones?.

  • I can’t wait to do this! I have always frozen my stock, but don’t like using plastic. Also the thaw time is a pain. This was very helpful. I will post back when I have done it.

  • I’m going to refer you to the chicken broth post where we cover important steps like heating the lids and venting the pressure cooker.

  • Excellent! Glad to see there are other mad canners out there starting up in blogland. It should be fun when the fruits and veggies come in season!

  • Thanks I appreciate the blog on stock I am trying doing this on my own with no prior use of pressure cooker I like pictures to help me understand. Do you ever add vinegar to extract more calcium and minerals from the bones?.

  • I can’t wait to do this! I have always frozen my stock, but don’t like using plastic. Also the thaw time is a pain. This was very helpful. I will post back when I have done it.

  • I’m going to refer you to the chicken broth post where we cover important steps like heating the lids and venting the pressure cooker.

  • Just a quick note, I stumbled upon your site trying to find the time on canning stock. I notice you only cook your stock for an hour. I have found that a good chicken stock takes a good 18-24 hours at a bare simmer(beef or lamb is closer to 48!) to draw out all the gelatin and important minerals. Also, I add a TBL. of vinegar to my pot (prior to cooking) and let it sit for 15 min. before turning on the heat. This also draws out lots of goodies from the bones. Your bones should crumble when they are done. The science behind this can be found through the book “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon or also through the Weston A. Price Foundation. For what its worth, it might be of use to others.

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  • Ann

    I am making the chicken stock as we speak. I heated it up then put it in a large slow cooker, so I can can the stock tomorrow. I also have a bunch of beets Im canning this weekend as well as my potatoes. The potatoes canned are great used in soups and casseroles. And my 91 year old mother-in-law that lives with us love pickled eggs with beet juice, so Ill be making them too. Next week its green beans and tomato sauce,stewed tomatoes and pizza and taco sauce as well. I love this time of year.

  • Robyn

    How long will it keep?

  • This is great and just what I was looking for. I am retired
    and have wanted to get back into canning as I used to help my mother when I was a child. What pride you get for the great taste and joy of canning again.

  • Billie

    Was wondering if anyone knew how long to cook 1/2 gallon jars for in pressure cooker?

  • Rain

    Thank you. I wasn’t sure if I could water bath the jars or not. Now I know :-) . Also, thanks for the tip about 2qts boiling water rather than covering the jars. Excellent. :-)

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