Good morning, everyone!
   I have had a rather busy Monday, which is why I did not post yesterday. I knew you were all still absorbing information from the last series we did on growing herbs, and I had a few things to take care of yesterday, even while dealing with a cold.
   As I have shared with you in the past, living on one income can be difficult at times, especially when that income is below what is considered the poverty level, and you have children. However, we have found many ways to make it work, we live very comfortably, and while it is more work on our part, we feel satisfied that we have put our own sweat, blood, and tears into our family, home, and surroundings.
   There was a huge blow out meat sale (with another one coming soon–YES!), where we were able to get good, wholesome chickens for .78 a lb. Being us, we purchased an entire case, and decided immediately that we would put most of them into canned chicken since we loved the convenience and the intense flavor of it last time we did it.
August2012 095
   I can hear some of you now.
   12 chickens, Heather? Really? What did you do with them while you were working on the others? I dont even have space for that many chickens.
   Well, they came frozen in a case. So I got out my huge electric roaster that was a gift from my in-laws a couple years ago, plopped three frozen ones in after rinsing them and carving the bag of stuff out of the middle, and seasoned them. Three chickens at a time, 2 Qts of water, and 3-4 hours later and I had some beautiful chickens ready to process. Plop another three in, follow the same route, and in as much time as I would spend taking care of my children, teaching school, and piano for one day, and I have six chickens, processed, cooled and ready to go. The other six went into the deep freeze as I did not feel well enough to process all 12…………yet.
August2012 096
   Did I tell you we already have six chickens in the freezer for roasted chickens that we bought on another blow out sale about a month ago? Yes, we like chicken. The only way we would like it better is if we could raise our own, but at this point, that is not happening due to city regulations we are trying to work on.
However, all that aside…..
   Those six chickens made 24 pints of shredded chicken, which was processed in its own broth. That means 24 meals for our little family, since we try to limit our meat and make it into other dishes. I also processed another 4 Qts of wonderful chicken broth, and 14 jars of different kinds of beans. We use a lot of food storage, and I make chickpeas and black beans the most–but I tell you, having to cook them from scratch is rather a pain since I tend to be a grab and go kind of cook because I am so busy. Now I have 14 lovely jars ready to go, and plan on doing more today as well as having the regular baking day of bread and pizza crusts.
   I thought some of you would appreciate the tips on how to process a chicken from start to finish. I plan on linking this later this summer to a short series on how to stretch a chicken for four days of meals with a family of five, but for those of you who are curious, here is a good recipe for you!
Many Blessings to you and yours,
Heather
How to roast and process chickens for canning:
Clean them inside and out with running water, then pat dry with a clean towel or washcloth.Rub the outsides with garlic salt and a little pepper if you are not allergic. Place them in the roaster, put two quarts of water in the roaster with them if you are doing 3 chickens. I start mine half frozen, so if yours are thawed, your times will be shorter. Cook on high for 3 hours, until juices come out clear when pricked in-between thigh and side of chicken. I then remove each chicken into its own bowl or platter to cool down for 30 minutes. At that point in time I debone the chicken, putting the meat into a clean ice cream pail or large bowl, and returning the larger bones and carcass, as well as the gizzards, neck and other pieces in the bag back into the broth. I add as much water as needed to make sure the roaster is 3/4 full, add 4 good sized carrots, 8 stalks of celery, 2 onions (skins and all) that have been chopped in quarters, 3 cloves of garlic, one hot pepper, and 3 tsp of sea salt. (remember there is already salt in the broth from the rubbing on the chicken, so you may want to start with two tsp just until you know what your family likes. I cook this on low for 6-8 hours, then strain completely (I use a metal colander and a clean lint-free white cotton towel). The Bones will look whiteish,which means you got all the good stuff out. I cool broth overnight so the fat rises to the top, skim off the fat in the morning, reheat and use this broth over the jars of chicken. To process it, you take each pint jar and stuff with chicken to just below the lowest thread on the mouth, pour boiling broth over the top, make sure there are no bubbles hiding by running a chopstick or bamboo stick around the edges. Wipe the rim clean with another rag dipped in vinegar to get rid of any grease or splashes of broth. Put lids on, put rings on finger tight, then place in PC canner with warmed water that is the same temp as the broth inside it. Lock lid and PC for 75 minutes pints, 90 minutes quarts at 11 lbs pressure (or whatever it is where you are). The chicken, when you use it, is so incredibly flavorful and nummy, you will never go back. If you are just processing the broth, the pressure is still the same because it is meat based, but you only need to process the pints for 12 minutes and the Quarts for 14.
Enjoy!