How to Prepare and Can Chicken Stock
Learning how to make and store pure chicken stock can give you a lot of options if you ever need to rely on your food stockpile. You’re not limited to basic soup recipes, and you can improvise as you go by keeping the stock separate from the other ingredients until they’re ready to be prepared. The process is relatively straightforward, and you can build up a nice stockpile that can be useful under normal circumstances as well as during a survival situation. Best of all, it lacks the additives and preservatives of store-bought products, and it can be cheaper as well.
1 four pound chicken, cut up into chunks, bones and all
15-17 cups of water
2-3 celery stalks, broken up
2-3 carrots, cut into chunks
2 bay leaves
2 onions that are cut into quarters
1-2 tablespoons of salt (to taste)
Approximately 10 peppercorns (to taste)
The first step is to prepare the stock. Add the chicken and water into a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer before adding the rest of the ingredients. Give everything a good stir before putting on the lid and letting the stock cook down for at least two hours. Keep in mind that there are different opinions out there as to how long to cook the stock down, and you’re more than welcome to use your own recipe for this part of the process. The longer you allow the chicken to boil, the more of the marrow and nutrients within the carcass will be extracted and infused into the stock. The same could be said for the vegetables and seasonings. Consequently, you don’t want to rush this part of the process.
On a side note, the saltiness of the stock will be far greater after storage than during the processing. So, even if it seems that there isn’t a lot of salt or pepper in the stock now, chances are that you will be happy later. Don’t overdo the salt or pepper, otherwise you can run the risk of ruining the whole batch. The best advice is to add more later, after you open the jars when you’re ready to use the stock.
Preparing the Stock
Once the stock has cooked, remove the carcass and break off the meat. Separate the meat and discard the carcass. Strain the remaining liquid to remove the vegetables and larger particles. Place the stock in the refrigerator overnight to allow the fat to congeal on top and solidify. The next morning, carefully remove the stock and skim off as much fat as possible and discard. Place the stock back over heat and bring to a boil.
You will need to use a pressure canner in order to safely process the stock, and the first step is to get it up and running by adding water and letting it heat up. Place your canning jars in a stockpot of simmering water and allow them to warm as you prepare the recipe. You should also warm the lid assemblies as well so they will expand prior to canning.
Once the jars and lid assemblies have been heated, carefully ladle the stock into each one until an inch of headspace remains. Wipe down the rims and attach the lid assemblies. Place the jars into the pressure canner and cover. Let the canner vent steam for 10 minutes before closing the vent holes and attaching the gauge. Start the processing time once the canner is sealed and the gauge reaches 10PSI, adjusting for altitude. Process pint jars for 20 minutes and quart jars for 25.
When finished, remove the canner from heat, open the vent holes, and allow it to depressurize before removing the lid. Remove the jars and allow them to cool to room temperature overnight before inspecting the quality of the seals. Use any product in defective jars and label, date and store the rest. Expect to have a shelf life ranging anywhere from 6 months to more than a year, but try to rotate out supplies as close to 6 months as possible to minimize spoilage.
Try this for yourself, and see how this addition to your stockpile can give you so many options when it comes to preparing recipes in the near future as well as during a crisis.