Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Eighty Drumsticks in Two Days

    Beef is my least favorite thing to can, but chicken comes pretty close. For both chicken and beef i have to force myself into a "This is food" mindset rather than a "This was an animal" mindset. It works most of the time.

Don't be Deceived by the Cheesy Grins ... It smelled bad.
     One time, a couple years ago, we butchered all our own chickens (we bought them as chicks, hired someone to raise them, and helped with the butchering). That was an experience I'll not soon forget. It was extremely hard to force myself into the "This is food" mindset.
    This year we bought forty chickens freshly butchered this morning and whole (they did gut them for us ... thank goodness!). We froze some whole, froze some in pieces, froze the livers and hearts, canned white & dark meat, and canned the broth. It took two days!

Counting out Thighs and Wings

Our Meat in Seal-A-Meal Bags.
   We like to freeze our meat in seal-a-meal bags. Our sealer machine sucks the air out of the bag and leaves it air tight. The trick is not filling the bags too full and not letting the machine suck the juice out with the air.

Boiling the Chicken Down
    We canned the chicken we didn't freeze. First we boiled it for a good number of hours (iIcan't remember how many) and then let it cool n our huge canning bowls for another hour. Transferring it from pot to bowl is interesting. We use two spoons like Olive Garden salad tongs and scoop up the VERY tender chickens and heft them out of their broth. You have to wear an apron or else your shirt is doomed to eternal oil stains.

Cooling Chicken

    Then comes the super fun part (can you hear the sarcasm in my voice?). After the chicken is cooled then we separate it into dark meat, white meat, fit for dogs, and unfit for dogs/bones. The unfit for dogs/bones stuff gets thrown back into the chicken broth to simmer over night, the dog meat is kept in zip-lock bags in the freezer for extremely cold winter days where they need the fat, and the meat is canned. 

    The process is not one of my favorites, but it's worth it in the winter when you have the meat. I don't want to down any type of canning. I'm going to can chicken and beef as a mother someday.even though I'll never love it ... but that's okay. I love the feeling of self reliance and taking something from it's creation state and preserving it for future months.

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