Home Canning

Storing Canning Jars

Canning jar storage is almost always an issue for home canners.  I’m not sure an ideal storage solution has ever been found for empty jars.
I store canning jars in an unfinished cellar in clear plastic tote tubs. The jars are stored without the bands.

Mason Jars Stored In Tubs

Mason Jars Stored In Clear Plastic Tubs With Lids

I keep the bands out of the cellar and away from any dampness. In the past when I did keep the bands in the cellar they rusted and pitted.




I like clear tubs for storing Mason jars because I can easily see what size jars are in the tub. I also  can  see approximately how many jars are in a tub. The tote tubs are fairly sturdy and can be carried, stacked and are easily washed.

The only downside to storing canning jars in the cellar is that I have to go down a set of rickety stairs into the cellar to retrieve the jars.
It wasn’t a problem when I was a young woman, but now that I’m getting older, I can only carry up half a laundry basket of jars at a time. In another 10 years or so I probably won’t be able to safely carry any jars up the cellar stairs.
Oh the perils of growing old on a homestead!

Make Jam Without Pectin

Well wasn’t I hopping mad yesterday morning.
I had plans to make peach jam from frozen peaches that had been in the freezer since last September.
I like to use pectin when making jams and jellies because it saves time and stove fuel. I also think pectin jams have a slightly better flavor. But my plans hit a snag.

Free Peaches

Free Peaches





I bought “Ball” brand pectin instead of “Sure-Jell” brand, and didn’t notice until yesterday morning, that I had bought instant pectin instead of regular pectin. Instant pectin is used for freezer jams and is not interchangeable with regular powdered pectin.
I began to do a slow burn.
***(Optional Side Rant)***( All the Ball pectin products look alike to me when they’re on the grocery store shelf. And if you  ask me, Jarden/Ball Brands should work on their labeling so the difference between the two types of pectin is more readily apparent to the consumer. When I called to complain the customer service rep gave me some line about how we the consumers demanded “green” labeling for the Jarden/Ball Brand. Give me a  break!  Next time I’m buying Sure-Jell.)
Well I cooled off, but there was no way I was going to use up gasoline or time going to town for a couple of boxes of pectin. So I decided to make peach jam without pectin.

Peach Jam

Jars Of Peach Jam

Making peach jam without pectin is easy.
It just takes a little bit more boiling. The jam will be darker and have a more old-fashioned cooked taste when compared to jam made with pectin.
The trick to making perfect jams without pectin is a candy thermometer and knowing what “sheeting” looks like on a metal spoon.
When making jam without pectin you first need to determine at what temperature water boils in your location on a given day. The boiling point of water changes by altitude and with atmospheric conditions.To test the temperature of boiling water and jam you’ll need a jelly or candy thermometer.

Testing The Temperature Of Boiling Water

Testing The Temperature Of Boiling Water

Once you know what temperature water boils at, all you have to do is add 9°F to that number for perfect jam every time.

Recipe for Peach Jam

  • 4 ½ cups of peeled, pitted and crushed ripe peaches (I’m assuming you already know how to peel & pit peaches)
  • ¼ cup of fresh lemon juice (that’s 1 medium size lemon)
  • 7 cups of white sugar (do yourself a favor and buy pure cane sugar. Beet sugar is now a GMO)

Measure out crushed peaches and place in the bottom of a large kettle. Flat bottom kettles are perfect for this, but any good heavy 8 quart pan will do.
Add lemon juice and sugar to the peaches and stir well.
Place the kettle or pan on high heat and stir constantly until the mixture comes to a full rolling boil. A full rolling boil is a boil that cannot be stirred down.
Once the jam mixture has begun to boil, occasionally test the mixture for correct temperature and “sheeting”.

To take the temperature of cooking jam, place the candy or jelly thermometer in the center of boiling mixture. But take care that you don’t rest the thermometer on the bottom of the pan. You want the temperature of the jam not the pan. Remember you need a temperature that is 9°F above the boiling point of water.
Sheeting on a spoon is another method to double-check and test jam or jelly.

Jam Mixture Sheeting On A Spoon

Jam Mixture Sheeting On A Metal Spoon

Sheeting is tested by dipping a cool, clean metal spoon into the mixture and quickly lifting it up and to the side.
You are looking to see 2 drops of jam that will run together to form 1 thick drop on the edge of the spoon. The jam mixture forms a jelly sheet on the spoon.
The characteristic layer of jam on a metal spoon is sheeting. It’s the method that our great-grandmothers used when they tested for the correct jelly or jam temperature.

Keep in mind that jams and jellies will thicken as long as they are heated. And it’s easy to over cook jam if you’re not careful.

If you are lucky enough (or foolish enough) to own a refrigerator (depends upon world view),
there is another and more modern method for testing jam when jam is ready . The test is performed by cooling a small amount of hot jam on a plate and placing the plate in the freezer compartment of a refrigerator.
While conducting the test, you’ll need to remove the kettle from the heat so that the jam doesn’t accidentally over cook.
The way that you do it is to place a small amount of hot jam on a clean plate and put the plate in the freezer for a few minutes. If the jam forms a gel it is probably done. But if the jam is still too runny it needs more time on the stove.

Foam On Peach Jam

Foam On Peach Jam

After the jam is cooked, and you are confident that it’s the right consistency remove it from the heat. Set it aside for about 5 minutes to allow any foam to collect on the top. Now carefully remove and skim as much foam as you can with a slotted metal spoon. It helps to rinse and clean the spoon between skimmings.

The foam does no harm to the jam. It’s simply removed because of appearance. The foam migrates to the top of a sealed jar of jam or jelly and has a “rubbery” look and feel to it. You won’t win any blue ribbons at the local county fair with foamy jam or jelly.

Lawrence County Fair Jams & Jellies

Lawrence County Fair Jams & Jellies

After the foam has been removed, pour the jam into hot ½ pint jars leaving about ¼ inch head space – maybe a little less. Wipe the rims clean and seal the jars with a modern two piece lid system.

Process the jars for 10 minutes in a gentle water bath. Processing time is counted from the time the water begins to boil.

Peach Jam Processing In A Water Bath

Peach Jam Processing In A Water Bath

When processing time is complete, remove the jars and place on a wooden board or a thick towel. Allow the jars to cool undisturbed for 8 – 12 hours. When completely cool, check the seals and remove the bands. Store the jam in a cool dark location.

Jam Tips

  • Make only enough jam for one year. Jams and jellies lose quality if stored for too long.
  • Floating fruit is reduced considerably by stirring the jam mixture after the foam is removed and the jam has cooled down a bit.
  • Canned or frozen fruit may be used when making jams and jellies. In fact a superior strawberry jam is made from frozen strawberries instead of fresh ones. And I think the best pineapple jam comes from crushed canned pineapple.
  • Modern canning lid systems work better for jam than a layer of paraffin. Save the old timey paraffin seals for jelly and not for jam.

When To Make Sauerkraut

Some days are better than others for making sauerkraut. Four generations ago when to pick the best day to cut cabbage for sauerkraut was basic everyday household information. Back then people couldn’t just run to a grocery store for food. What you grew in the family garden and then stored in your home had to last through the lean winter months. Cabbage and sauerkraut have always provided  a measure of food security for the rural poor.




A hundred years ago, even city people recognized that the moon’s monthly cycle had an effect upon the earth and upon agriculture. Today most educated people completely dismiss the notion that the moon’s cycle has any effect on daily life. It’s easy to think that if you’re not a farmer. Or if you are disconnected from the natural world and believe that food will always be available no matter what.

For many hundreds of years folk wisdom has instructed us, that the best time to make sauerkraut is during the time that the moon is new and up until the its first quarter.

Make Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut In A Crock With Plenty Of Juice

When you make sauerkraut during the early days of the moon’s increase there is always plenty of juice in the crock. The top layer of sauerkraut doesn’t dry out and you won’t have to add any extra brine to the crock. To find the lunar days in a particular month where the moon is beginning to wax consult any good current almanac.

Canning Grape Juice

I always prepare grape juice for canning and jelly with a steam juicer. After 40 years of home canning I’ve tried every way known to woman to get grape juice. Some ways are fun. Like putting whole grapes and sugar in a jar and covering the grapes and sugar with boiling water. And some ways are a real pain in the backside. Like boiling mashed grapes and allowing them to filter through a sieve and a flannel so they can drip..drip..drip..overnight.
Trust me. I’ve put plenty of time in with all the different ways and methods of preparing grape juice. A steam juicer is by far the quickest and easiest way to extract juice from ripe Concord grapes, berries and other soft fruits.

Hot Grape Juice

Pure Hot Grape Juice From a Steam Juicer

A stainless steel steam juicer is an expensive piece of kitchen equipment but is worth every penny.
I don’t own a microwave oven, food processor, electric coffee maker – but I do own a steam juicer.
I’ll never go back to the old way of making grape juice.
Never.




I have found that a full bushel of Concord grapes will yield approximately 18 – 20 quarts of grape juice when steam juiced.
It takes about an hour or so for all the juice to be extracted from every load of Concord grapes, and a bushel of grapes is about 4 full loads through a large steam juicer.

Ready To Steam Juice

Grapes Ready To Steam Juice

I have the best success and extract the most juice with a little trick that I employ.
I run the grapes until no more juice is dripping into the collection pan. I then empty the steam softened grapes into a large bowl and let the grape mess rest while I work on another load of grapes.
After I’ve steamed all the grapes, I take the waste grapes and place them back into the colander pan. I steam the entire bushel of waste grapes all at once (they will fit because the bulk has been reduced) for another 30 minutes or so.
The softened, waste grapes will usually yield another 1 ½ or 2 quarts of juice.
Once I’ve collected all the juice available from the grapes I sweeten the grape juice to taste with pure cane sugar before I bottle it up. I use 4 pounds of cane sugar to 18 quarts of juice. You may prefer more or less sweetening. The cane sugar readily dissolves in the hot juice and there’s never a worry about GMO corn syrup or GMO beet sugar.
Traditionally a boiling water bath canner is used to home can grape juice or apple juice.
Here’s how to do it:
Fill hot clean jars with hot juice allowing ¼” of head space. Wipe the rim of the jar and apply a lid that has been simmered and a band to the jar.

Filling Jars

Filling Jars With Hot Grape Juice

Place the jars into a gentle, but boiling water bath canner making sure the water covers at least 1”- 2” over the tops of the jars. By adding the filled jars, the water in the canner will stop boiling. Wait for the water to return to a gentle but steady boil and process according to the chart below.

Processing Time for Grape Juice in a Boiling Water Canner

Processing  Times at Altitudes of

Jar Size

Sea Level – 1,000 Ft.

1,001 – 6,000 Ft.

Above 6,000 Ft.

Pints or Quart Jars

5 minutes

10 minutes

15 minutes

Half-Gallon Jars

10 minutes

15 minutes

20 minutes

 

After the processing time is complete, remove the jars from the canner and allow them to cool undisturbed and free from drafts for 8-12 hrs.
When the jars are cooled, remove the bands and check the seals. Wipe the jars clean, label and store in a cool dark location.
PRESSURE CANNING GRAPE JUICE
I pressure can grape juice even though there’s no food science tested or approved processing time for apple or grape juice in a pressure canner that I’m aware of.
Maybe it’s out there somewhere and I just haven’t seen it.
I live at 1250 ft. above sea level, and usually process my grape juice in a pressure canner at 5 lbs. of pressure for both pints or quarts for 5 or 6 minutes and allow for 1/2 inch of head space in the jar.
When it comes time to use the home canned grape juice, I mix it half and half with water and chill before serving.  Or sometimes for a treat I’ll mix it with club soda and serve it over ice. It’s like grape soda – but better.

Tattler Canning Lids

Tattler lids are a modern and reusable 2-piece lid system for home canning. The lids consist of a BPA free white plastic lid and a red rubber ring or gasket. The two-piece system uses a standard modern jar band to keep the lid and gasket securely on the jar while it is being processed in the canner.

Tattler Canning Lids

Tattler 2-Piece Reusable Canning Lid System

Tattler lids work in principal a little like the old-time zinc lids or wire bail jars. Some of you may be too young to remember, but old-time canning jars used to use a rubber ring or gasket that was attached to the lip or shoulder of a jar, and a zinc lid or glass top was attached to the Mason jar with a bail wire assembly or screw threads.

Wire Bail Jar

Old Fashioned Wire Bail Jar With Rubber and Glass Lid

In those days instead of tightening the bail wire or zinc lid firmly onto the jar before processing in the canner, the lid was left a little loose or the bail wire was left up, so that the food in the jar could vent.

Vent Position

Wire Bail Jar In Vent Position

After the jars were removed from the canner the lid or the wire bail was tighten or clamped down immediately so that a vacuum in the jar could be formed.

Bail Jar in Closed Position

Wire Bail Jar In Closed Position

Reusable canning lids are the ultimate in sustainability and semi self-reliance. Tattler lids are much more expensive than regular one trip lids but will easily pay for themselves over time.





I don’t exclusively use Tattler lids for all my canning needs, but I do keep at least half of my canning jars mated with reusable canning lids.
That’s because I’m old enough to remember the canning lid shortage of 1976 and I don’t ever want to go through that again if I can help it.

Because the lids are reusable I use a wax pencil or a small piece of freezer tape across the top of the lid to mark the date and contents instead of directly on the top of the lid.

Below is a short video that I made the demonstrating the use of Tattler lids.

Can Whole Apple Applesauce With A Pressure Canner

This past weekend I made home canned applesauce and thought you might like to see how I make it.
I almost always make canned applesauce over the course of two days and use a pressure canner to can it. On the first day the applesauce is made and on the second day I can it.
My applesauce is a “whole apple” applesauce. That means the entire apple is used except for the core. I frankly don’t have the time or patience to peel apples for applesauce and I prefer the rosy or caramel color of whole apple applesauce. If you want white applesauce you’ll have to peel the apples to get it.

Whole Apple Applesauce

Whole Apple Applesauce Isn’t White

I save time and cooking fuel by pressure canning applesauce instead of water bath canning it. By pressure canning applesauce the canning processing time is cut by more than half.

WHOLE APPLE APPLESAUCE

First apples are gathered and washed in warm soapy water and thoroughly rinsed. You’d be shocked at how dirty fresh picked apples can be. If you are buying apples from a farm stand or from a grocery store, your apples are probably already washed and you can skip this step. I get about  25 pints of applesauce from a bushel of apples.

Washing Apples

Washing Fresh Picked Organic Apples

After washing, the apples are cored and any bad spots are cut away. Then the apples are placed in a large pot with just enough water so that they won’t stick to the  bottom of the pan. About a cup of water is a good place to start.

The apples then are heated slowly and cooked until they are soft and mushy. It is usually a good idea to stir the pot every now and then to prevent burning or scorching the apples. It takes a few hours to properly cook down about a half bushel of apples. And about another 4 – 5 hours to cool down the apples enough to comfortably handle them and proceed to the next step.

Cooked Apples

Cooked Apples For Applesauce

This is where I often stop for the day. Unless I happened to have started my day very early, the apples are put some place cool overnight like a refrigerator or on a cold porch.
The next day I pick up where I left off, and use a food mill to puree the cooled apples into a large pot.

I suppose if you didn’t have a food mill you could use an electric blender or food processor.

Using A Food Mill

Using A Food Mill To Puree Cooked Apples

I never sweeten my applesauce. But if you prefer sweet applesauce this is the point to add sugar to your personal taste. The applesauce is next heated to very hot. Be mindful and stir it often because it will burn.

Once the applesauce is very hot, it is ladled into pint or quart jars leaving a ½” of head space. I slide a non-metallic object down the side of the jar (I use my trusty wooden chop stick) to release any trapped air bubbles. The rim of the jar is carefully wiped clean and a hot lid and band is applied to the jar.

Lid & Band

A Lid & Band Are Applied To A Filled Jar

The jars are then placed into a pressure canner and the pressure canner is vented according to the manufacturer’s instructions – usually about 7 – 10 minutes. After the canner has been vented the weighted gauge is applied.

The processing time for hot pack applesauce in a weighted gauge pressure canner is:

Jar Size Process Time Sea Level – 1000ft Above 1000ft
Pint 8 Minutes 5 lb. 10 lb.
Quart 10 Minutes 5 lb. 10 lb.

Processing time is counted from the moment the first “jiggle” of the weight gauge is heard.

After the processing time is complete, the canner is allowed to return to normal pressure. The jars are then removed from the canner and allowed to cool away from a draft and undisturbed for 8 – 12 hours.

Cooling Jars

Allow The Jars To Cool For 8 – 12 Hours

After jars are cooled remove bands and check the seals. Wipe the jars clean, label and date the jars and store in a cool dark location.

****

You can most definitely water bath can applesauce. The processing time is 20 minutes for both pints and quarts.  Processing time is counted from the time the water begins to boil after the jars have been placed in the canner. Applesauce can also be frozen for up to 9 -12 months.




The Final Steps Of Skillful Home Canning

Lots of different types of home canned foods benefit from being wiped clean after the bands are removed from the jars and the seals are tested. And all home canned foods benefit from a date and labeling the contents.
Very often the outside of a home processed canning jar will be sticky or greasy. That’s because during the actual canning process most jars will vent a little allowing some of the contents of the jar to escape.
It’s one of the reasons that sometimes fluid is lost in a jar during processing and is the reason that it is important to maintain a proper “head space” for the particular food product that is being canned. Too much or too little head space can result in a loss of liquid and failure of the jar to seal.

Canning Peaches

Labeling Peaches Before Storage

After canning I always wipe my jars clean with warm soapy water and label and date them. A clean jar will not grow fuzzy mold in storage or attract rodents. Large rodents can and will take the lid off of a canning jar.
In a cool dark root cellar or basement, mold will often grow around the threads of a canning jar that is left sticky or dirty. Mold can make its way from the jar threads, to the rim of the jar, and under the lid and cause a lid to pop off and a seal to fail.

Labeling and dating the contents of a jar makes for an easy inventory and food storage rotation.

Not to mention that labeling helps to distinguish food that appear similar –  like cranberry sauce and cherry jam.



How to Can Grapefruit or Orange Sections

Home canning grapefruit or orange sections is easy. It results in a superior product when compared to commercially canned grapefruit or orange sections.
Canning grapefruit or orange sections yourself  is a cost-effective way to increase variety in your long-term food storage.

 Red Grapefruit Sections

Home Canned Red Grapefruit Sections

Grapefruit, oranges and other citrus fruits are considered to be high acid foods.  High acid foods are safely canned by using the water bath method of canning.




Grapefruit can be home canned in a jar alone. But orange sections will taste better if canned they are canned with equal parts of grapefruit sections in the jar.

HERE’S HOW TO DO IT
First gather and assemble the water bath canner, jars, lids, bands, canning funnel, lid lifter, jar lifter, large tea kettle, sauce pan and white sugar for making a light syrup.
Begin to heat the water bath canner. Wash the canning jars and bands in hot soapy water and rinse well. Keep the jars hot.
Simmer the canning lids and keep them warm. Do not allow them to boil.
Wash and rinse the grapefruit in warm soapy water and rinse well.
Next the grapefruit or oranges need to be peeled. When canning oranges or grapefruit sections it’s important that all of the white and fibrous parts of the grapefruit and the seeds be removed.




Only the “heart” of the citrus sections should be used that’s because the white stuff on the grapefruit is bitter and pulpy when canned.

Grapefruit

Grapefruit Sections Being Prepared For Home Canning

When peeling large quantities of citrus fruit for canning I use a special serrated sandwich knife and a smaller paring knife.

I first make a cut in the rind and then proceed around the entire fruit until it has been peeled.

Easy Grapefruit Preparation

Cutting The Peel From A Grapefruit

I then use a small paring knife to free the individual wedges or sections.

Grapefruit Sections are Separated

Paring Knife Is Used To Separate Sections

Once all the sections are removed I squeeze out the empty fruit. The video below will help to more clearly illustrate the process.

There are a couple of different ways to fill canning jars with grapefruit.
Some recipes call for heating the grapefruit sections in light sugar syrup.
Others suggest filling the jars with cold grapefruit sections and then pouring heated light syrup over the sections.
Still others use heated orange juice or heated grapefruit juice poured over the grapefruit sections.

I usually pack cold grapefruit sections into a jar and use the juice that was made by squeezing the grapefruit when I peeled it. If I need more liquid I will pour a small amount of heated light syrup over the sections to achieve a 1/2″ head space.
To make light syrup for canning:
Dissolve 1 ½ cups of cane sugar into 6 cups of water. Heat the sugar and water stirring until the syrup is very hot and all the sugar is dissolved.

Add the grapefruit or orange sections into a clean hot jar. Next pour grapefruit juice, orange juice or light syrup to within a 1/2″ of the rim.

Remove all air pockets or air bubbles with a non-metallic object. Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean wet cloth and apply a hot simmered lid.
Apply the band to the jar.

One by one as the jars are filled they are placed into the hot water bath canner on the stove.

Once all the jars have been filled and placed in the canner turn up the heat to bring the water in the canner to a full rolling boil.
This may take a while if the fruit was cold packed. It is normal for the water in a water bath canner to lose some heat while new jars are being added. It may take some time for the heat to build back up and the water begin to boil.

Processing time is counted from the time the water in the canner comes to a full boil. Once the water begins to boil put the lid on the water bath canner and adjust the heat if necessary to maintain a gentle boil.

Processing time for pints and quarts of grapefruit or orange sections in a water bath canner is:

  • 10 minutes  for altitudes of 1,000ft. sea level or less.
  • 15 minutes for altitudes between 1,000 ft – 6,000 ft.
  • 20 minutes for altitudes above 6,000 ft sea level

Once processing time is complete the jars are removed from the canner and allowed to cool undisturbed for 8 to 12 hours.

When the jars are completely cooled the bands are removed. Check the seals and wiped the jars clean with a damp cloth. Label and store in a dark cool location.

The 20 pounds of grapefruit will yield approximately 6 quarts or 12 pints.
Home canned citrus will store about 12-15 months before any noticeable loss of flavor or color. For best taste chill canned grapefruit or orange sections at least overnight before opening and serving. Enjoy!



The Home Canning Of Rabbit, Chicken & Small Game

Home canning meat, chicken, rabbit or small game can help families economically achieve sensible food storage goals. Raising a part of your own food is not complicated and a good amount of food can be produced yourself whether you live on a small town lot or in the suburbs.




Chickens and rabbits are usually the first meat animals that a new small holder or garden farmer will acquire. They are small animals and easily managed. Both animals are a good fit with backyard gardens. I’m surprised that more people don’t keep them. Rabbits and chickens require less daily care than 1 or 2 neurotic house cats.

Meat Chicken

Cornish X Rock Meat Chicken

While not all towns or municipalities permit keeping chickens, many people find a way to raise rabbits for food. Fact is your neighbors do not need to know that the rabbits in your basement or garage are for food and are not pets. Rabbits reproduce very quickly and can be harvested with little trouble several times in a year. By canning rabbit you can meet some of your food storage goals.

Meat Rabbit

A California Giant Meat Rabbit

For the most part, rabbit and chicken recipes are interchangeable except a rabbit has less fat than a chicken. Keep that in mind for recipes when you are cooking a fresh rabbit. Like chicken, if you cook rabbit too fast the meat can end up tough and stringy. Except for frying, try to use the slower methods when cooking rabbit. When using canned rabbit or chicken you don’t have to worry about tough meat. That’s because the meat was already pressured cooked and is very tender and moist. Canned chicken or rabbit on the pantry shelf is a tremendous time saver. I use canned chicken or rabbit in salads, casseroles, barbecue, in white gravies and sauces;  over biscuits and in any recipe that calls for cooked chicken. Chicken pot pie is one of my favorites as is rabbit stew. You can interchange rabbit and chicken in recipes. So a recipe for chicken soup becomes rabbit soup. White chili made with rabbit or chicken is very good and is easily canned. Pick any recipe that calls for chicken and use rabbit instead. The variations in recipes are endless and depend only upon the cook’s imagination and ingenuity.

Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad Made From Home Canned Chicken

There are a couple of different ways to home can chicken, rabbit or small game. You have a choice between the “hot pack “and the “raw/cold pack methods”, and a choice between “bone-in” and “bone-out”. I think best way to can backyard butchered rabbit or chicken is with the hot pack, bone-out method. Hot pack  bone-out produces a product that is ready to use right off the pantry shelf with liquid for gravy or sauce. It is the method that I most often use when I can whole rabbits or a whole chicken. When leaving the bone in the favor of the meat is just a bit stronger. I don’t notice it too much with rabbit but it is noticeable with chicken or squirrel.
The difference in flavor is not a bad difference – just different. To me it’s like the difference between mild, white meat chicken and really dark meat chicken. In certain recipes I don’t care for the stronger flavor from the bone-in method.

Bone-In Chicken

Canned Bone-In Chicken

The bone-in method is most often used in canning chicken, rabbit, squirrel and other small game animals where it may be too much trouble to remove the bones or when extended refrigeration is lacking. Canned meat is a quick and convenient food, but when I’m in a hurry I want to just open the jar, drain it and dump it. I’d rather do the work of boning while I’m canning and not later when I’m in hurry and cooking.
But no matter which method is chosen canning meat with the bone-in or bone-out is a pretty simple affair.
EQUIPMENT
You’ll need a good working pressure canner, canning jars, lids, a jar lifter, hot mitts and the usual kitchen equipment that you’d need for canning.

I find that wide mouth jars work best when canning meat. I try to can all my meat in wide mouth jars if I have enough available to me. That’s because wide mouth jars are easier to fill, empty and clean.
A wide mouth jar is easier to pack and this is especially important when canning meat with the bone left in it.
When bone-in chicken or rabbit is being packed into a canning jar, often you’ll have to fiddle with the pieces and sometimes rearrange them so they fit in jar without wasting too much space in the jar.
No sense packing just one chicken leg into a quart jar, when you actually could have fit a chicken leg, another thigh and two wings in the jar.

Also wide mouth jars are easier to clean after they’ve been used. Sometimes the inside of a jar becomes coated with bits of cooked meat and that makes the jar hard to scrub out even with a bottle brush. With a wide mouth jar it’s much easier to put your hand inside the jar and scrub it clean.
Meat sometimes will pack into a solid, dense mass when canned. With a wide mouth jar removing the meat is much easier. With a regular mouth jar it can be a real struggle to get the meat out of the jar.

YIELD

The number of jars that any given amount of meat will yield varies with the manner and method by which the jars were packed. The size of the meat pieces, whether or not a raw or hot pack was used; and or whether or not the bone was left in will be factors that determine jar yield and outcome. As a general rule of thumb, allow 2 to 2 ½ pounds of boneless meat per quart. When canning bone in chicken or rabbit, plan to allow for between 2 ½ to 4 ½ pounds of meat per quart. The bone is heavier than you’d think

A WORD ABOUT GIBLETS
If you are processing a large batch of rabbits or chickens and want to can the heart, livers or gizzards, set them aside to be canned in separate jars.
It’s also a good idea to can the livers in their own jar because the liver taste will transfer to the other giblets.
I always save the livers, kidneys, hearts and other bits when processing harvested animals. Even if I don’t eat those parts, my dogs and cats will. To my way of thinking it’s a sin to waste any part of an animal if another animal can use it.

HOT PACK METHOD

FOR CANNING CHICKEN, RABBIT or SMALL GAME WITH BONE IN or BONE OUT

BONE-IN METHOD

Cut the rabbit, chicken or squirrel into pieces that will fit inside the jar. Trim off any fat. You probably won’t have any fat on a rabbit but you will on a chicken,duck,raccoon and turkey. Place the raw pieces into a pan and cover with water or any hot broth of your choosing. The broth can be seasoned. But I would caution you to go easy on the spices and seasoning. Canning will intensify some flavors and not for the good.
Place a lid on the pan and cook the rabbit or chicken over medium heat until the meat just loses its pink color when cut at the meatier parts.

Par Cooked Chicken

Par-Cooked Chicken For Hot Pack Method Of Canning

Pack the chicken or rabbit loosely into a hot jar leaving a 1” head space.Place the big pieces in the center of the jar and fit the smaller pieces around it.

Fitting Chicken In

Fitting Chicken In Canning Jar

Add salt if you like:
½ Teaspoon for pints
1 Teaspoon for quarts
Cover the rabbit or chicken with boiling hot broth and maintain the 1″ head space in the jar.

Pouring Broth Over Chicken Pieces

Pouring Hot Broth Over Chicken Pieces

Wipe the rim of the jar.This is especially important with fatty poultry and some fall harvested small game animals.With rabbit or squirrel it isn’t usually a problem unless you added some type of fat in the broth. Grease on the rim of the jar may prevent a seal. Apply a lid and band to the jar.

Wipe Rim

Wipe Grease Off The Rim Of The Jar

BONE-OUT METHOD
Partially cook the animal just like the above. Remove the pieces from the broth until they are cool enough to handle. Pick the meat from the bones and discard the skin from the chicken (unless you want to can it separately for pets). Pack the hot/warm meat into hot jars, add salt if you like and cover the meat with broth leaving a 1″ head space. Wipe the rim and apply a lid and band.

PROCESSING & TIMING FOR BONE-IN MEAT
You will notice that the processing time for bone in meat is less than that of bone out. It is not a mistake.
This is because it takes less time for the inner core of the jar to reach 240°F when the bones are present. Bone out meat packs solid whereas bone in meat does not. Whether you use the raw or hot pack method for bone in meat the processing time is the same. Process jars at 10 pounds of pressure (240°F.) in a pressure canner for altitudes at 1000 ft. sea level or less.
You will need to adjust pressure accordingly for higher altitudes depending on the type of pressure canner system you are using.

The Amount Of Pressure Required To Reach 240° F

Sea Level-2,000 ft. 11 lb.
2,001-4,000 ft. 12 lb.
4,001-6,000 ft. 13 lb.
6,001-8,000 ft. 14 lb.
8,001-10,000 ft. 15 lb.

PROCESSING TIME FOR BONE-IN HOT PACK
Pints – 65 Minutes
Quarts – 75 Minutes

PROCESSING TIME FOR BONE-OUT HOT PACK
Process jars at 10 pounds of pressure (240°F.) in a pressure canner for altitudes at 1000 ft. sea level or less.Processing time for bone-out is:
Pints – 75 Minutes
Quarts – 90 Minutes
You will need to adjust  pressure accordingly if you live much above 1000 ft. of sea level depending on the type of pressure canner you are using. When processing time is complete, remove the canner from the heat and allow the pressure to return to normal on its own. Don’t hurry the cooling or you may prevent jars from sealing or have a loss of liquid in the jars.



When pressure has returned to normal inside the canner, remove the jars. Place the jars on a dry towel or wooden board well out-of-the-way of drafts and allow the jars to cool undisturbed for 8 – 12 hrs.
After jars have cooled remove the bands and check the seals. Wipe the outside of the jar if it has become greasy.
Label, date, and store the jars in a cool, dry location out of direct sunlight.

RAW or COLD PACK BONE-OUT METHOD

For the most part, the raw/cold pack method of canning chicken or rabbit is identical to the hot pack method except you don’t pre-cook the meat or cover it with broth. This method is the preferred method for people who don’t have a source of home-grown chicken or rabbit.

Grocery Store Chicken

Grocery Store Chicken

During the fall months, boneless chicken breasts and thighs can often be found for a good price at the grocery store. Basically the raw pack method is just cold, raw boneless meat packed tightly into a canning jar, and then it’s processed in a pressure canner. It’s unbelievably simple. Learn to can it yourself and you’ll never have to pay outrageous prices for canned chicken again. Same for beef, pork, venison and fish.

RAW or COLD PACK METHOD
Cut the rabbit or chicken into jar size pieces and pack the pieces into a jar.
Add salt if you like:
½ Teaspoon for pints
1 Teaspoon for quarts

Leave a 1″ head space. Wipe the rim of the jar and apply the lid and band to the jar.

Jars Go Into Pressure Canner

Placing Filled Jars In Pressure Canner

Process jars at 10 pounds of pressure (240°F.) for altitudes at 1000ft. sea level or less. Don’t forget you may need an altitude adjustment.

The Amount Of Pressure Required To Reach 240° F

Sea Level-2,000 ft. 11 lb.
2,001-4,000 ft. 12 lb.
4,001-6,000 ft. 13 lb.
6,001-8,000 ft. 14 lb.
8,001-10,000 ft. 15 lb.

The processing time for all raw pack meat, poultry or fish is:
75 Minutes For Pints
90 Minutes For Quarts
Remove jars from the canner when processing time is complete.
Place the jars on a dry towel or wooden board well out-of-the-way of drafts and allow the jars to cool undisturbed for 8 – 12 hrs.
After jars have cooled remove the bands and check the seals. Wipe the outside jar if it has become greasy. Label the jars and store away from heat and direct sunlight.

  • The advantage to the raw pack method is that it is a time saver.
  • The advantage to the hot pack method is that there is plenty of broth to work with when you open the jar.

Choose whichever method you prefer according to the recipes you will use and your family’s food preferences.



Why A Canning Jar Lid Will Come Unsealed

A canning jar with a failed lid is something I’ll come across once in a blue moon. It’s a fairly rare occurrence and is always a rude surprise.
When I find a jar of home canned food in my pantry with a breached lid I dispose of the food carefully. Well out of the way of people or animals.

Unsealed Lid

A Failed Lid On A Jar Of Lentil Soup

After the offending jar is emptied, it’s thoroughly washed and then closely examined for nicks around the rim or hairline cracks. A Mason jar must be near perfect for a lid to make a good strong seal.

With a faulty jar the vacuum inside the jar is eventually breached and allows spoilage to occur. Bacteria and yeast will begin to grow inside a jar causing fermentation and gas. Sometimes the force of the gas will blow a lid off and sometimes knock the lid to the side of a jar.
Slime and  mold on top of any food product tells me that the jar has been opened for a while.

Failed Lid

The Lid Failed On This Jar

Usually if there is a sealing failure with a jar I’ll catch it with my “lift test” after the jars cool from processing.
My lift test consists of me lifting a jar about 2″ above a table or countertop by the rim of the lid. If the lid holds and doesn’t come loose the seal is good.

Lift Test

Testing A Jar Seal

There are many reasons for a faulty seal on home canned foods.

  • Sometimes jars will not seal properly if the rim of the jar is not wiped perfectly clean before the lid and band are applied.
  • Also if the one trip lids are not simmered long enough problems can occur. The red rubber lining on the lid must soften up a bit for a really strong seal. I simmer lids 3 -5 minutes.
  • If grease or some other material from the food product becomes forced under the lid while processing, many times the lid will not give a good seal. This past summer I had 4 or 5 quart jars of ham & bean soup, from 2 different batches, that gave that kind of trouble. Grease had been forced between the lids and rim of the jars and prevented sealing. When I get food that doesn’t seal or pass the “lift test” I simply freeze it. It’s too much trouble and a waste of LP gas or wood to re-process it.
  • Canning jars that have not been kept hot enough before packing or suffer inadequate processing time will sometimes cause a lid failure. This is especially true when processing cold pack food.
  • Sometimes there is an unseen hairline crack in the jar or a nick on the rim. This is I believe what happened to the jar of green beans above.
  • Often the reason will remain unknown and it can be a guessing game.