Many years ago I started blogging about my family on Blogger, mostly to keep our distant family updated on our adventures. At one point, I shared a simple tutorial for canning your own chicken breasts. That post is still one of my most popular posts, and since I may not keep my blogger site active for much longer, I wanted to share the instructions here, as well. Canned chicken is so easy once you have all the necessary tools. The most important item you need is a pressure canner, since chicken has to be cooked under pressure in order to kill any bacteria. I know many people are intimidated by pressure cookers, but modern pressure cookers are simple and safe with all the built-in regulators and pressure release valves. When you follow the instructions that come with your canner, the likelihood of experiencing a problem is very low.
Pressure canner - My favorite is the Presto 23 Quart canner. At the time of this post, Amazon doesn't carry it, but I was able to find it on the Ace Hardware website. It is so simple to use and I've had mine for over 10 years with no issues.
Extra Canning Rack - This will allow you to stack a second layer of jars inside the canner, letting you can up to 20 pints in one session.
20 pint jars - The first time you start canning requires a little more investment because you have to purchase the jars. Once you have the jars, you can reuse them as long as they are in good condition, and you just have to purchase new lids.
Boneless skinless chicken breasts - About 1 pound of raw meat will fit in each pint jar. I get the best deal on my meat at restaurant supply stores or large warehouse stores.
Jar lifter - This simplifies the task of removing the jars from the canner once the cooking process is complete.
Now that you have all the tools, let's move on to the canning process! Once you're ready to start putting the meat in the jars, put about 3 inches of water into the bottom of your canner, along with the rack that came with the canner. Put on the stove and turn the heat to at least medium high.
Make sure all of your jars, lids, and rings have been thoroughly cleaned. Add 1/2 teaspoon of canning salt to each jar. Fill each jar with chunks of chicken breast. You really only need to cut the meat in order to fit more into the jar. Pack it in, leaving as little air space in the jar as possible. Leave about 1/2 an inch of space between the top of the jar and the top of the meat, this is called headspace.
Wipe the rim of the jar with a damp wash cloth and place the lid on top. Screw the ring into place, making sure not to overtighten. As the chicken cooks, some liquid will escape, so you don't want the lid too tight.
Place the jars into the canner using the jar lifter. Once the bottom is full, place your second rack on top of the jars, and proceed to place a second layer of jars on top. When the canner is full, position the canner lid and close the canner. As the canner heats, I like to leave the weight off until steam releases from the vent in a continuous stream, then replace the weight. This lets the extra air out and helps the canner come to pressure faster after the weight is replaced.
Allow the canner to come to 15 pounds of pressure and then start your timer for 75 minutes. Adjust the temperature on the stove until the weight rocks gently, small amounts of steam are released, and the pressure maintains at 15 pounds.
Once the time has elapsed, turn of the stove, and, if you can, move the canner to another burner on the stove to cool. Allow the pressure to come down naturally, without removing the weight. If you release the pressure too quickly a lot of the juices will boil out of the jars, which means precious flavor escapes!
I usually just let my canner sit overnight and remove the jars in the morning. The jars may be a little oily, so you can remove the rings, check to make sure each of the jars has sealed, and then wash the jars and rings with soap and water (do not put the full jars in the dish washer). Let dry and replace the rings. If any jars didn't seal completely, you can place the jar in the refrigerator and use immediately.
You now have amazing chicken that can be shredded with a fork, eaten straight out of the can, or is perfect to use in tacos, enchiladas, chicken soup, chicken salad sandwiches, quesedillas, casseroles, and any other chicken dishes! When I use it in soup, I cook the other ingredients according to the recipe, and add the shredded chicken at the very end just to let it warm up.