|The Dutchman's Store in Cantril, Iowa|
After reading about Avian flu being discovered in several backyard flocks of chickens and ducks in several states we thought we might want to replenish our chicken supplies in the pantry and freezer. Monday we made a trip to Cantril to the Dutchman’s...a Mennonite store that often has very good deals on frozen meat and poultry as well as bulk baking supplies, spices, canning supplies and the like. We had not made the 70 mile trip since October of last year. Everything else was 10% to 20% higher than our last trip in the fall, same as our local groceries, except for my poultry purchase. Bulk canning lids were in stock, but the sign said "Imported", not the Ball commercial canning lids they usually carry...I have about 500 lids on hand at home.
I bought what bulk groceries I needed to replenish our pantry, and lucky me, I found 3 pound packages of nice boneless, skinless chicken thighs which are what I like to can for $3.99, or $1.33 per pound! Since I paid $2.79 a pound for the last chicken thighs I purchased for canning, this was a great deal! The local HyVee grocery chain had them on sale for 99¢ a pound a week or so ago, but the store here never got any.
I brought the chicken thighs home and thawed them and canned 6 pounds of them on Tuesday. The other package went in the freezer. I got 19 half pint jars with 4 ½ ounces of cooked meat in each jar and all of them sealed too. If you want to cook them for the freezer instead of canning, check here.
On Thursday, the USDA announced it had found Avian flu in a flock of chickens in Iowa…also a home flock with about 40 birds that had to be destroyed and the location was quarantined. From experience, we know that this problem will eventually spread to commercial flocks and prices for poultry and eggs will skyrocket.
I now have 5 dozen jars of canned chicken from 2021 and this week in my pantry…up from my usual stock of 3 dozen. This will provide us with plenty of cooked chicken for soups, casseroles, chicken salad, and the like .
I use a 16 quart Presto pressure canner. It holds 13 half pint jars so I did two loads in succession, to reduce cleanup.
3 1/3 pounds chicken thigh, no skin, R-T-C -- 4.125# yields 12 jars
3 1/3 cups water
2 1/2 tablespoons chicken base
OR (4.125# yields 12 jars)
4 5 pounds chicken thigh, no skin, R-T-C
4 5 cups water
3 tablespoons chicken base
1 tablespoon chicken marinade -- if desired
Bring meat to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425°. Put racks on the slots above and below the center slot in the oven.
Cut thighs in half so they lay flat, cut in 1-2" pieces. Place chicken on extra wide aluminum foil lined half sheets. Sprinkle with salt. (USE PLASTIC GLOVES). Clean work area with clorox wipes or hot soapy water. Don't let raw chicken contaminate the area or come in contact with cooked chicken.
Place sheets in the oven. Set one timer for 5 minutes and another for 10 minutes.
After 5 minutes reverse pan locations and continue baking until meat looks just set, about another 5-7 minutes.
Total time about 10-15 minutes, depending on how cold the chicken was at the beginning.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining ingredients in the microwave. Prepare jar lids according to package directions.
Place empty half pint jars in pressure canner with 3 quarts of water. Let it come to a low boil, with canner lid on but not tightened. (This is to eliminate thermal shock so your jars don’t break.
Prepare trays to fill jars. Get out rings, lids, jar lifter, lid magnet, plastic knife, ladle, dinner tablespoon.
Remove pans from oven; place at sink and fill each hot jar with 4 1 /4 ounces of meat, weighing jars. Fill jars with broth to within one inch. Remove bubbles with a plastic knife. Adjust lids and place in canner.
Put lid on canner; let vent 10 minutes, cover and time for 1 hour and 15 minutes after rocker starts to move. Turn down gradually to medium low and let process, with rocker just moving slowly.
Remove from heat and let cool on rack until pressure comes down of its own accord, about 25 minutes.
Remove jars to towel-lined trays; let seal. After several hours, remove rings and wash jars in soapy water and store in pantry.
You get one half pint with 4+ ounces from every 5 1/4 - 5 1/2 ounces of raw meat.
Yield: "9 or 10 half pints"