Last year was my first year canning. I started out slow and just focused on applesauce and apple butter. I wanted to just get the gist of what it was like to use a water bath canner. But, there’s something that nobody tells you, when you start to can, it’s kind of addicting. There is just something very satisfying about putting all that hard work into making delicious food, putting it into jars, processing it and then hearing the ping, ping, ping of lids, letting you know that all your hard work has paid off and the jars have sealed and you now have yummy deliciousness that will last a year.
Once I realized how easy it was to can homemade applesauce and apple butter, I decided I wanted to try my hand at pressure canning. My mother wouldn’t have been thrilled. She wasn’t comfortable working around a pressure canner and she was sure I knew that when I had suggested it back in 2004.
There is one item that my family uses a lot of and that’s chicken broth. I put it in everything from my spaghetti sauce to just roasting a chicken in the oven. I already knew how to make homemade chicken broth (or so I thought), so I figured it couldn’t really be all that hard. Mr. Well Prepared and I headed off to the store, bought a pressure canner and returned home with two whole chickens. But, I made mistakes, a lot of them, and although it wasn’t a complete disaster, I definitely learned a lot from that experience.
I realized in January that I was running a bit low on broth, my local butcher sells whole roasting chickens at a pretty decent price, so I figured now was as good of a time as any to add a bit to my food storage and start getting my stock of chicken broth back up. This time I did things a tad bit differently and the results were amazing!
Pressure Canning Chicken Bone Broth For Beginners
Place the entire chicken into your stock pot, roaster or crock pot
My stock pot is 15 quarts and my roaster is 16 quarts, so this time around, I put two, 4 pound chickens in each. Some folks may want to cook their chickens first in their oven, remove the meat and skin and then just use the bones, which is perfectly fine. I chose not to do mine that way. I’d prefer to have all the meat on the bones and then remove the meat later. I think leaving the meat on gives the broth a much better flavor than if I remove the meat beforehand. I do remove the skin though because I think boiled chicken skin is just nasty and by removing the skin there is less fat and oils in my broth.
Add in veggies and veggie scraps
When I first made my stock, I made the mistake of adding no veggies to it at all. Adding veggies to the stock will add a lot of flavor, as well as many nutrients. I keep a plastic freezer bag in my freezer and I add the ends and peels of any veggies I use into the baggie. You can also throw any veggies like celery, onions, garlic, etc. in that baggie if they are starting to go a little funky on you. Be sure none of the veggies or scraps you put in your veggie baggie are molding.
Spice it up
It is perfectly okay to add whatever seasonings you like to your bone broth. I have found that moderation is the key when home-canning. I always add a little more salt and pepper than I typically would if I wasn’t canning the broth, but I go lighter on seasonings like garlic, thyme and rosemary because they seem to just burst with flavor when they’ve been sealed in a jar for a little while.
Cook for a long time on a low heat
The first time around, I only cooked mine for about 10 hours and then I shut it off and canned it right away. It wasn’t a tragedy, but it definitely wasn’t the ideal way to get great tasting chicken broth. This time around, I did things a lot differently. I cooked my chickens and veggies for 24 hours on a medium setting (I did put it on low when I went to bed), cooled them down and then stored them in my fridge. The next morning, I removed all the meat, strained the broth, threw the bones back in the broth with the veggies and cooked it for another 24 hours on the same temperature. Once it cooled down, I refrigerated it, skimmed the fat off the top, strained it again, and then heated it up before I home-canned it.
Strain the daylights out of your broth
I’ve always seen pictures of broth that has deep color and no graininess to it, my broth has never been that way, but I keep trying. The first time around I would have never taken a picture of it and shown it to the world. There was so much sediment in the broth and so much fat floating around, it was truly embarrassing. I’m getting better at it though and I’ve learned the more I strain it, the better the broth is. I even use my small sieve when I’m filling my jars. I first place my funnel in the jar and then hold the sieve on top while I ladle the broth into the jars, this will catch any sediment that might still be lingering. Trust me, all this straining, made a world of difference this time.
Follow the rules
When home-canning, breaking the rules is a big no, no! There are guidelines to follow and they aren’t there to make our lives difficult, they are there to make sure that we are kept safe and our food isn’t going to spoil on us. Last year, I didn’t follow the rules when canning chili and not only was it a huge disaster, it was a huge waste. I had to throw nearly 24 pint sized jars of chili in the garbage because they weren’t safe to eat. Be sure to read the directions in your pressure canner’s manual and follow them exactly as they are written. Also, there are many tried and tested recipes in the Ball Canning Book that you can be sure won’t cause your family any harm.
Tools you will need
- Jars/Lids/Rings – Quarts/Pints depending on what size you want to store your broth in. I home-can a mixture of the two. Quarts are for soups/stews and pints are for my spaghetti sauce.
- Pressure Canner – Not a pressure cooker, they are different and there is a safety factor here. Although you can pressure cook in a pressure canner, you can not pressure can in a pressure cooker. Be sure that you are using the correct item when you are pressure canning.
- Canning Kit – This includes a jar lifter, jar funnel, lid lifter, and bubble remover/head space tool.
- Stock pot/Roaster/Crockpot or all of the above.