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Stocking Up. Pressure Canning Chicken Stock


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.

All that  was easy (once I realized it), and then it was just a matter of heating, sealing, and pressure canning.

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.

I’m going to see how many pounds of chicken carcasses I can stash away in the freezer before I do this again.

45 thoughts on “Stocking Up. Pressure Canning Chicken Stock”

  1. I am seriously considering buying a small freezer chest for storing stuff like chicken stock, sauces, serving portions of my mac ‘n cheese, etc. They aren’t that expensive to buy or operate. My only problem is that the garage is too hot in the summer here so it would have to go under the house which isn’t that convenient to access. A cook’s dilemma…

    1. Hi Marilyn, I bought a 1 cu. ft. freezer earlier this year with the same intentions. How is it that I’ve filled the whole freezer already, and there’s barely any stock? What’s in there? One duck, 12 boudin blanc, corn, haricot verts (a lot), lima beans, pizza sauce, oven roasted tomatoes, pork belly, beef bones for stock, 2 steaks, puff pastry, phyllo and two pints of chicken stock. Next time, I’d get 2 cu ft. Ha!

    1. Hi Allison, Don’t get me wrong, I only use homemade chicken stock. But storing 10# or more of chicken bones in the freezer takes up as much room as 4 or five gallons of stock, made one gallon at a time. Pressure canning takes time and water and effort and energy, so I want to can 7 qts at a time. In this case, 10# of backs and 5# of feet ($23) resulted in 3.5 qts of stock. I’m not sure it makes sense.

  2. I canned chicken stock recently for the same reason (totally running out of freezer space), but also didn’t strain it enough! Then, I bought a 5 cubic foot chest freezer. So, unless I get crazy and buy a cow, I think I can continue freezing stock – although it is fun to have jars & jars of it in the pantry, isn’t it?

    Have you ever canned vegetable stock? I think I’d like to give that a try….I have some veg friends, and always have to go buy vegetable stock when they’re coming over for dinner.

  3. In regards to the cost ($23 for 3.5 quarts), I have a couple questions:

    1) Could you use half as much (or less) ingredients per batch? Perhaps the same amount of legs and backs could be used for two or more batches with the resulting broth still being flavorful.

    2) Are you including the cost of the veggies?

    Thanks for blogging about this. I too would like to do the same thing and am curious to how it affects the wallet at the end of the day.

    My wife pondered aloud if it might make sense to use whole chickens to make the broth. Then you could freeze the meat and use it for salads and such things. Thought I might pass that along for general consideration.

    1. I just thought of it, but if you are skimming the fat you could store that with the aforementioned meat, in the tradition of confit.

    2. Hi Marcus, I imagine I could have used half the chicken, or a larger pot, but it was the biggest non-reactive pot I had! I will probably do this again, but will try to collect enough chicken carcasses from our meals instead of buying the backs. Yes, I think you could use the fat to store the meat in a confit style, but I find the chicken is pretty tasteless after simmering for six hours.

  4. Great post and you should feel smug! I thought it was a great idea until I read your post to the bottom and looked at the price. However, you know you are getting great broth that you couldn’t buy in the store.

    My family has been hit HARD by whatever “yucky” bug is going around. Although I (or rather Giuliano) enjoy making soup, we’ve all been laid so low that it would have been nice to have it available.
    Thanks,

    1. Hi Lael, I hope you both feel better soon. There’s a dreadful cold going around here, too, and homemade broth is just the best thing when you’re feeling crummy.

  5. I make stock all the time. I use the carcasses of chicken I have roasted. Once the meat is removed from the bones, I put the carcass in a large bag and freeze. I add carcasses until I have enough for a pot of stock.

    I put the carcasses, carrot, celery, onion, thyme,peppercorns in a large pot, bring to a boil and then simmer for a couple of hours. I use a spagetti pot with a built in strainer. When the stock has cooked, I lift the strainer and throw the debris away. Then I cool and refrigerate the pot. Next day I remove the fat, strain the stock through a Chinois and put it in 3 cup freezer containers.

    I NEVER add any salt to the stock. I use it a lot in reduction sauces, and it gets too salty if the stock was salted.

    I took a class on stock at Cordon Bleu in Paris once. One of the participants asked about the use of stock in French restaurants. Chef answered that only the very high end places, like Ducasse would make stock. The majority of chefs use bouillion. How’s that for a suprise!

    1. A note on cost: The carcasses would usually be thrown away, so the only real cost is the veggies–maybe $4 or $5 dollars. If I have three carcasses, I can usually make 30 to 40 cups of stock. Cheap and effective–AND it TASTES GREAT AND CHICKENY!

    2. Is it safe to can chicken stock without salt? How? What kind of shelf life would it have? How long could you freeze it without freezer burn? Vacuum sealing bags are not possible are they? Wouldn’t it suck out the liquid? I thought of freezing then vacuum sealing. I guess that would help it last until needed. I just love to use broths in recipes but even low sodium versions from the store are too high in sodium for me.

      1. Hello Charlie, Yes it’s perfectly safe to can stock with no salt. I do it all the time! Just to be clear — you must pressure can.

      2. I vacuum seal stock all the time. Put the bag in a bowl and pour the stock in. Then freeze overnight. The next day you can vacuum seal it without sucking up any liquid.

  6. Did you have to do anything special to the feet or where they already cleaned/peeled (ick) when you got them? I have a bag or two of feet from last year’s processing in the freeze and need to make stock, but keep chickening (HAR!) out.

  7. The feet were cleaned, but not peeled. I just threw them in the stockpot, boiled like crazy, and then strained well.

  8. Hi. I read with interest your experience with making chicken stock. I use the following method. I live in a rural area that has Amish and Mennonite farmers close by. Many of them have laying hens. When it comes time to change there flock they sell me (or give me) the chickens. I then have them processed at a cost of $1.75 each. When I get them home I put them in a large stainless steel pot and boil with water, onion, carrots, and garlic. When the chicken is cooked I seperate the chicken from the bones and can it separately. The remaining carcass and bones are placed back in the pot and simmered at a low temperature over nite. The following morning I strain off the stock, refrigerate it, and then scim off the fat. I don’t have a lot of experience with cooking but this method has produced the best stock I’ve ever encountered.

  9. My mom used to do stock/soup the way you described. It cost a ton. My grandmother, on the other hand, did it for almost no money at all. We do it her way so that it is cheaper than dirt and uses up stuff we would throw away.

    Keep your peelings. All of them. Unless it is dirty, rotten, or otherwise inedible save it. Carrot peelings work much better than purchasing new carrots. Onion tops, greens and ends are great (wash them). The butt end of cabbage, the tops and bits of celery, the ends of zucchini, an old squash that is getting kinda shriveled and so on. You just have a Ziplock baggie in the freezer (just one gallon size) that you throw it all into. When it is full, make stock. The chicken is not the prominent feature and so you do not need to use that many feet. When you think about it, the chicken carcass is quite small in actual volume (maybe a pound or two). Mainly, the bones just simmer forever to release the broth or in the case of feet, gelatin. We find chicken stock very worth it with this method and can get 3.5 jars out of about 3 dollars worth of chicken.

    1. This is how I was taught to make stock, by an ex-boyfriend who was a trained chef. He said that in his training kitchen they did not use new veggies, they would get the oldest, gnarliest vegetables they could find – the culls from the farmer, the about-to-be-thrown-out leftovers from the grocer – and mix those with chicken bones from carcasses. He used the method above, which was to freeze old vegetables in a big bag in the freezer. If you ever buy chickens already roasted from Costco or the grocery store, those carcasses are good for keeping for stock. I wait until I have 3-4 good-size carcasses and then scrounge up some gnarly vegetables, throw it all in my huge stockpot, boil boil boil, and then strain and put in the fridge overnight to defat. I have always made it and frozen it in plastic bags, but I recently got into canning and want to start canning it. The one thing about making your own stock is that you can adjust it to your own taste. I like fewer carrots and more onions in my stock and make other adjustments, and end up with a taste that I can’t get from store stock. Plus, I know everything that went into it, and was in control of every step of the process. It’s worth it to me, for those reasons. :)

  10. To cut the cost you need to do it in conjunction with your other cooking. Instead of simmering all day use your pressure cooker to make the stock. We use the pressure cooker to cook whole stewing hens for deboning. We use the deboned meat for making pot pies for freezing, or can or freeze the meat for casseroles and sandwiches. If you throw the vegetables in with the chicken, when the chicken is ready to come out for deboning, the stock is done. We filter it through a flour sack towel while it’s still hot, put it in the fridge overnight, skim the fat and clarify it for use as schmaltz, and then either freeze or can the stock.

    If you really want to get everything out of the bones, after deboning the chicken you can return the bones to the pressure cooker and continue the process.

  11. I realize this was over a year ago, but in seeing if I could can it instead of freeze came across this.

    $23???? 15lbs of chicken and you only netted 5qts??? Ouch. Good store bought stock (not broth) costs about $3 a carton.

    4-5lb whole chicken ($5 depending on sale prices)
    1 large yellow or even white onion (70 cents)
    4-5 ribs of celery (75 cents)
    2 bay leaves (5 cents)
    8 peppercorns (5 cents)
    6 carrots (say $1)
    2-3 whole cloves garlic peeled (15 cents maybe)
    anything else you have to use up in the fridge (waste saving)
    2 gallons water
    2-tbls kosher salt optional
    Tyme/parsley optional
    Give or take, we’re talking maybe $8
    Bring to a boil, and simmer for 4-6 hours, scooping scum off top a few times each hour.
    Nets 5-6 quarts $1.33-$1.62/qt, which is about half the cost of store bought stock (real culinary stock, not the broth with nothing in it, or the cheapo stuff with tiny bits of extracts added in.)

    Using a whole chicken, the meat stands up better than pieces where it’s obliterated at the end, and it’s still good for chicken salad or something of the sort to cut back on the waste.

    Also, I stopped freezing stock in the quart or pint sized plastic containers. Here’s two great ways to save space, though the second is a bit more time consuming.

    1. Small zip lock bags: fill with 1 cup of stock and freeze. Makes taking out what you need for a recipe easier, and they can store in the freezer drawer using less space.
    2. Buy ice cube trays that are 1 to 2 oz cubes. Make chicken stock cubes, and then pour into a big freezer bag, also making it easier to measure. (This is great for fresh herb at the end of a season too. Put the fresh herbs in an ice cube tray, fill with water, freeze, and you always have fresh herbs on hand without the herbs losing much flavor.)

  12. I am about to pressure can a batch of turkey stock today. As to whether or not it is worth it, I think definitely YES if you already have a carcass. Homemade stock always tastes so much better but maybe not worth going out and specifically buying all the ingredients for. I always keep frozen chopped celery (I vacuum seal chopped celery when I don’t use it all), onions and carrots in the freezer. When the meal is done, I take the carcass (turkey, turkey breast, even have done it with grocery store rotisserie chicken!) along with the veggies, a few bay leaves, parsley (fresh if I have it but dried is fine), a few chicken bouillon cubes, put in my Presto pressure cooker, fill about 3/4 full, let it develop a good steam stream, then bring to 15 for 25 minutes. I can easily do this while I’m cleaning up or whatever. After it’s lost pressure, I strain it and put it in the fridge. Next day skim the fat and sometime with in the next few days can it. I get 4+ quarts this way. The cost is about .60/quart all in assuming you’re reusing jars. Even if you buy in bulk which many of us can’t do due to space, that’s half the price of Swanson and it’s way better!

    1. I meant to also add I don’t have an issue with my can stock looking cloudy which it usually does. It would be very difficult to get it as clear as commercial canned stock. It still tastes great and is safe. Some fat is ok as long as it’s processed properly. I can ham and bean soup regularly and it definitely ends up with a layer of fat at the top of the jar after it settles.

  13. I just tried making my own chicken stock yesterday and I have to say I am pretty pleased with how it turned out. I am pretty lucky that my husband works for a poultry farm, so I get all the fresh chicken I need. Because it took so long to cook down, I put it in the fridge last night and figured I would can it today, after reading this, I am glad that I waited so that I can skim the fat off the top. Thank you to all the people who post pages like this to give us first timers step by step instructions and guidelines. Kuddos to you!

  14. Ladies, i live in Florida, and its hot. i bought a large freezer and put it in my garage. its not upright but a chest.(large) and i use it next to my washer and dryer for surface folding of clothes. i hardly hear it running and its great. i can all my food, and my next adventure is chicken stock. i use my freezer for all sale items, meats, butter, veggies, packaged items etc. i was hesitant as well but it has worked out very well and sorry i didn’t take the step earlier. i have canned peaches, apples, jams, marmalade’s, tomatoes, salsas, and now stock. i don’t waste my freezer for these kinds of things. i canned pinto beans, cannelloni beans and now stock. i used a pressure cooker for the later and water bath for the other things.

  15. I just wanted to say that I find canning stock in both quarts for soups and the smaller 1/2 pint jars works best for me. If I am making a sauce or just flavoring a dime-glaze I don’t waste my precious stock. I have also used the ice cube tray in the freezer but I seem to forget about frozen stock until it has accumulated too many ice crystals and smells musty!

  16. Question, I am going to pressure cook chicken broth but I am wondering if it’s ok to add chicken bits that came off the bones?
    Thanks for your time.

    1. Hi Jeanie,
      Sure, that’s just fine. In my pantry, I generally can stock that’s clear, with no meat, as I might want to use it for a sauce or soup in which I don’t want those bits. But I also can soups, with plenty of meat and vegetables.

  17. This is an old thread, but since the last post was yesterday, I’ll toss in my 2 cents. I make stock all the time, and the cost to me is minimal. It does take time, but not my active time, it just simmers away on the stove. My process… I do as one poster said, I save my veggie scraps (carrots, onions, celery) but I keep them in separate ziplock bags, so I can use according to my needs. I buy whole chickens on sale, cut them up, and save all scraps… wing tips, excess fat and/or skin, giblets, nothing goes to waste (except the liver, it can make the stock bitter). I add about 2 feet per chicken carcass (buy a few pounds and separate 2 per snack bag, then put in a larger freezer bag). I give it a manicure (cut off the fingernails – don’t use them, too eye of newt for me), and slit the palm to expose more of the collagen (why you add the feet). I put all the meat in the stockpot that best suits the job (have several), cover with water by about 2 inches, and add some cider vinegar (about 2 Tbs per carcass equiv). You won’t taste the vinegar, but it alters the pH so the bones more readily give up their goodness – calcium, zinc, and other minerals. Cover the pot and let sit for 20-30 minutes. Then put the heat on medium and let come to just below a boil, but not an active boil. Skim the broth as needed (that stuff can make the broth bitter as well) a few skimmings should do it. Then add your veggies from your freezer stash, and some smashed garlic cloves – use your judgment. I’m not stingy with the garlic. Then I add my herbs – parsley, sage, thyme, a couple of bay leaves and peppercorns (ground pepper makes the stock muddy), no salt. I put mine in disposable tea filters for aesthetics, but you can just put them in the stock. Take it to a simmer… bubble, bubble, toil and trouble, – not lots of bubbles, but you can see some simmering going on. I don’t usually cover the pot. I let it simmer for 6-8 hours, give or take. Then using a large spider, I strain the solids into the garbage – nothing worth saving. If I’m canning right away (not likely) I strain into a fine mesh strainer into a gravy separator, into a suitable size pot. It’s now relatively fat-free and I proceed with canning. If canning later (more likely) I strain and de-fat into 1/2 gal mason jars (taller with small footprint), let cool a bit, chill, and can when convenient (day or two, no more). Or I’ll freeze it and be done with it. Regardless, cost is low, and payoff so worth it (to me). I would like to get one of those 18 qt roasters (basically a crockpot on steroids) for larger batches, and a 30 qt All American canner for fewer batches. But that will have to wait. Sorry for rambling, but I have a batch I’m getting ready to process, and I’m taking a break ;-)

      1. Just a thought for you. I like to throw all the bones,(chicken or beef) into my crock pot. Fill half way with water to cover food, then add whatever veggies I have on hand and seasonings of choice. I then let it all simmer on low over night. I usually start this about 8 or 9 o’clock in the evening. 12 hours seems to work for time. In the AM, I shut off cooker. Let cool. Strain. Chill and defat if you want. I personally like it this way, because then I can pressure can it in the evening after my day is over and not so busy. Just an Idea for you all. And the stock is very rich. The longer it cooks in the crock pot the better is seems to be.

        1. Another money-saver for you all. I get free beef bones from my local meat butcher. They only sell meat in bulk. Folks will order a quarter or half a beef for the freezer. They pick up the meat, but dont get the bones. I have my butcher save them for me. And use for beef broth/stock like I do chicken. I can also just call and ask for bones for my dogs. Use them for stock then discard or actually give to the dogs. And they are FREE> because the meat processors throw them away. I will freeze what I get and then make broth at my convenience.

  18. On the cost of canning chicken broth: I start with the leftover carcass and a one person serving of attached remaining meat from a Costco $4.99 roasted chicken (after the 2 of us have already gotten 2-3 meals out of it). I remove scum producers (kidneys, liver bits, vessels etc) and throw it with all its skin, fat etc. into a 6 quart pressure cooker along with any remaining juice and broth gel in the bottom of the roast chicken container, a rough chop of carrots, celery, onion, a couple sprigs of parsley, a bay leaf, some salt, and water. For a more jellied stock, you could add 1-2 chicken feet or anything else you like. I pressure cook it for 1 hour and let it sit undisturbed til cool. I strain it into quart plastic freezer containers and store it overnight in the refrigerator, saving the strained solids. I pick over the cooked solids and save all the vegetable hunks and scrap pieces of meat, combine it with any partial amount of stock beyond 3 quarts, add other goodies, and make yummy chicken and dumplings out of it for another meal. For the stock, the next day I skim off the fat and floating impurity layer at the top, heat to boiling, and strain it again into the jars for pressure canning in quarts (usually 3 quarts). That’s 4 meals plus 3 quarts of stock from a single $4.99 chicken plus the cost of a carrot, onion and couple stalks of celery. The day of canning I pressure cook a 3-4 quart batch of soup that will have the same canning time requirements, and do the quarts of stock and soup at the same time so I don’t waste time and space with a half full canner. No freezer or fridge stuffed with quarts of stock, none goes to waste because it isn’t eaten fast enough, the ingtredients for it are almost free, and a few quarts of favorite soup come out of the canner as an added bonus. [This stock is tasty but not clear–I rarely need clear stock for cooking. If I do, I don’t pressure cook bones, I low simmer like when making consomme.]

  19. Joyce’s suggestion for the ACV is brilliant. I’ll have to tell my daughter who fills her freezer with scraps until stock day. I was also glad to see folks utilizing the feet and backs, which usually get overlooked. In Romania, the chicken comes packed with even the heads, but I never could bring myself to using those. Our favorite Chinese restaurant told me they use the feet for their rich broth soups. I came home last night from a long day of butchering our old heifer and found no more room in the freezers, so I need to get busy with stock canning to make room. I raise my own meat chickens, so I have tons of backs and feet to use up. I buy marked-down produce at our local market, which is not so pretty but perfect for stock. This week will be busy with chicken and beef stock canning. I wasn’t going to bother with it until I read this blog and was inspired by all the comments. Thanks everyone, for great input and suggestions!

  20. Hi! I was wondering how pressure canning stock affected your gelatin? I’m drinking stock to help my joints and didn’t want to destroy all that good gelatin when I pressure can it, but I drink so much it’d be nice to have room in my freezer for other things! :)

  21. I just canned my first batch of chicken stock last night. However, I see there are some “clumps” at the bottom of the jars. I defatted the stock and fine-strained it twice before canning it. Are the clumps normal? What are they? Thanks for any help.

    1. Sometimes proteins gather at the bottom of the jar, or bits that get by the strainer. There’s always some fat that gets through. Don’t worry – if it’s pressure canned, it’s sure to be okay.

      1. Wow! That was a quick response. Thank you so much. I thought that might be it, but I wanted to make sure. I’ll just strain it again when I use it. Now, onto beef stock!

  22. wow, yeah–by buying the ‘raw ingredients’, you’re kind of missing the whole point of home canning. i buy leg quarters for 69 cents a pound. at least half have the backs attached. save the rest of the bones for meals, veg trimmings like others have stated, and you’ve got 4 quarts of stock that’s practically free (and really, really good : )

  23. I currently have 4 chicken carcasses in my freezer along with a freezer baggie of veggies (parts we don’t eat when I clean them) ready to pressure can tomorrow. Keep at it. It will eventually pay off. The taste is amazing. No more can or boxed flavor.

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