Of all the canning I’ve done, chicken stock was not something I thought about putting in a jar. Not until last year, when my desire to preserve everything for the winter filled my freezer to capacity.
Thanksgiving 2009 was a little tricky, finding places to store gallons of stock in preparation for stuffing and gravy and so on. I had to hope the garage would be super cold. Or the neighbors would go away for the weekend, leaving me the key to their house.
This year, I was determined to pressure can stock. I tried once before, but the resulting stock was cloudy and had a weird scummy layer on the surface. I threw out that batch and did a lot more reading.
I realized stock in a jar needed to be very clear and as fat-free as possible. Unlike freezing stock, which is pretty darn easy, stock-in-a-jar requires straining through a fine sieve to capture all those floating bits. After chilling overnight, I could just peel off the layer of chicken fat.
For this batch, I bought chicken backs and feet from Springfield Farm. It would have made more sense to save up chicken carcasses until I had enough to make a big big batch of stock. Problem with that? In order to save up all those bones, I need freezer space. And really, adding the feet (which are not included with the chickens I usually buy) makes a world of difference.
I filled my 7 quart stainless stockpot with bones and feet (15#) and water and carrots and onions and celery leaves. The recipe is here.
I strained and chilled and de-fatted. I heated it up again to boiling and into hot jars I ladled the golden aromatic liquid. Quarts are pressure canned for 25 minutes at 10# of pressure. For an excellent step by step breakdown of the pressure canning process, Doris and Jilly are a terrific source. In fact, panicked by the fat that rose to the top of the jars two days after processing, I contacted Audra who reassured me that this was just fine.
So, here’s the thing. I love looking at the 3-1/2 quarts of chicken stock on the shelf, and even feel a little smug about them. Then I realize it took two days and cost $23. and I’ve got to ask myself if it’s worth it.