Canning (bottling) Chicken

One important and often difficult to achieve aspect of a good food storage plan is meat.  My strategy had always been to purchase canned meat at the grocery store or through group buys, but that gets pretty expensive!  We recently learned about and tried bottling chicken.  I had heard about it but it sounded like it was probably a huge job.  Then Mom told me a couple weeks ago that it was really easy – she was right (of course)!

Here’s the simple description for bottling chicken: cut it up into 1 inch square chunks, put 1/2 tsp salt in bottom of bottles, put chicken in bottles, pressure cook it for 90 minutes.  That’s it, super easy!

But, that’s too short of a blog post so here is the photo essay of how to can or bottle chicken.  Incidentally, I’ve been told that you follow the same procedure to bottle beef, venison, elk, any meat.

To start with, we bought 80 pounds of raw skinless boneless chicken breasts from a great sale at Macey’s – at $1.19/pound.  Fortunately for me, I have lots of kids who can help out, makes a big job happen quickly.

Here we are cleaning fat off the chicken and cutting up the breasts:

The meat needs to be cut into about 1 inch square chunks:

Here is what 80 pounds of chicken looks like all ready to be bottled (notice the quart jar for perspective):

The next step is to put 1/2 teaspoon of salt in the bottom of the jar (you can add whatever seasoning you like) then fill the jar with chicken to about 1 inch below the top and load them into the pressure cooker:

Heat up the cookers on high until they start rocking, then back off the heat until you get 3 rocks a minute, in the mountain region cook at 15 pounds of pressure.  Maintain 3 rocks/minute for 90 minutes (time starts after first rock).

After 90 minutes of cooking, turn off the heat and let the cookers sit for 30 minutes – DO NOT open them before hand, they’ll blow up!  After 30 minutes, remove the rocker, if it hisses you still have pressure – WAIT until it doesn’t hiss!

We averaged 2 pounds of chicken per bottle giving us 40 bottles:

Notice in the picture that there is liquid in the jars – that’s broth baby!  You don’t put any water in them at all, the cooking process fills the bottle up with juice.

After all our hard work we feasted on a bottle – it was delicious!  The fully cooked chicken comes out of the bottles and falls apart and tastes wonderful.

So, let’s calculate.  For about $2.50 on sale, you can buy a small tuna size can of chicken that weighs 10 ounces.  We’ve got about 32 ounces in each jar, giving us a little more than 3 cans in each jar.  That puts an equivalent value of $7.50 on each jar and we got 40 jars worth.  That gives us $300.00 equivalent value of chicken – and it costs us $110.00 – $80 for the chicken and $30 for the jars.  So we saved about $190.00 and ended up with a lot of chicken for storage!

Next up for us is to do this with hamburger.  I have about 80 boxes of hamburger helper in storage – my goal is to have a bottle of already cooked hamburger to go with each box.

– Phil801

37 thoughts on “Canning (bottling) Chicken”

  1. Great tutorial for those starting out in canning. One question though… when exactly do you place the lids on the cans and when do you tighten them down?

  2. Great tutorial for those starting out in canning. One question though… when exactly do you place the lids on the cans and when do you tighten them down?

  3. Excellent, love the pricing especially. Need to try this out.

    Growing up my dad always canned some of the venison he got. Best camping food ever :)

    What we did with it was take some veggies and that canned meat, made a nice pie out of it, cook that in the dutch oven at some Mountain Man Rendezvous’. Classic food.

    Tie that in with a fresh blackberry pie in a second oven, and you have a meal worth Prepping for :)

  4. I don’t get it… why put the salt at the bottom of the jar? Or more importantly, why put the seasonings down there? Why not toss the chicken in a dry rub (or even just in salt) before canning it? It seems like flavor penetration would be a lot more effective that way. Since it’s all going to be marinating for quite a while, why not make the most of it, flavor-wise?

  5. Excellent, love the pricing especially. Need to try this out.

    Growing up my dad always canned some of the venison he got. Best camping food ever :)

    What we did with it was take some veggies and that canned meat, made a nice pie out of it, cook that in the dutch oven at some Mountain Man Rendezvous’. Classic food.

    Tie that in with a fresh blackberry pie in a second oven, and you have a meal worth Prepping for :)

  6. I don’t get it… why put the salt at the bottom of the jar? Or more importantly, why put the seasonings down there? Why not toss the chicken in a dry rub (or even just in salt) before canning it? It seems like flavor penetration would be a lot more effective that way. Since it’s all going to be marinating for quite a while, why not make the most of it, flavor-wise?

  7. Mike – by “cans” I’m not sure if you’re referring to the bottles or the pressure cooker – so I’ll answer both.

    Once you put your salt and chicken in the bottle, throw the lid and ring on the bottle and hand tighten.

    Once you have enough bottles to fill your pressure cooker (7 in my case) load your bottles into the cooker and put 2 quarts of water into the cooker (i left that step out in my narrative). Then secure the lid on the cooker, tighten it and turn up the heat. Once you’ve turned the heat on it will start building pressure – DO NOT remove the lids without letting them cool to de-pressurize! Don’t forget to put your rocker on the lid after you secure the lid.

  8. Mike – by “cans” I’m not sure if you’re referring to the bottles or the pressure cooker – so I’ll answer both.

    Once you put your salt and chicken in the bottle, throw the lid and ring on the bottle and hand tighten.

    Once you have enough bottles to fill your pressure cooker (7 in my case) load your bottles into the cooker and put 2 quarts of water into the cooker (i left that step out in my narrative). Then secure the lid on the cooker, tighten it and turn up the heat. Once you’ve turned the heat on it will start building pressure – DO NOT remove the lids without letting them cool to de-pressurize! Don’t forget to put your rocker on the lid after you secure the lid.

  9. Nice Jayce! That sounds like one of our next projects – mixing a huge batch of beef stew in our stock pot and then bottling it – just dump in a pot later and heat! Dad was talking about doing chili that way just recently too.

    Interesting to note, when I bought bottles this weekend the checker asked me what I was bottling because the season was over. I told her meat and she was confused. Funny that we’ve almost completely forgotten this important preserving skill!

  10. Nice Jayce! That sounds like one of our next projects – mixing a huge batch of beef stew in our stock pot and then bottling it – just dump in a pot later and heat! Dad was talking about doing chili that way just recently too.

    Interesting to note, when I bought bottles this weekend the checker asked me what I was bottling because the season was over. I told her meat and she was confused. Funny that we’ve almost completely forgotten this important preserving skill!

  11. joseph – i’m positive that that would work great. Two reasons for my step – 1) that’s what MOM said to do :) 2)that’s a LOT of little chunks of chicken to dry rub. The salt is just to give it a bit of a taste anyway. You can do it without it – I was thinking about putting some teriyaki seasoning in there and seeing how that did.

    But again, the most important reason is that Mom says. Good point though, it’s going to be marinating a long time – should make the best of it.

  12. joseph – i’m positive that that would work great. Two reasons for my step – 1) that’s what MOM said to do :) 2)that’s a LOT of little chunks of chicken to dry rub. The salt is just to give it a bit of a taste anyway. You can do it without it – I was thinking about putting some teriyaki seasoning in there and seeing how that did.

    But again, the most important reason is that Mom says. Good point though, it’s going to be marinating a long time – should make the best of it.

  13. RE: dry rub. It’s not hard work, especially with the kids :) Just mix up your rub and toss it in the pan, or maybe some zip-lock bags. Tell the kids to go crazy with it, and you’ll get some mix.

  14. RE: dry rub. It’s not hard work, especially with the kids :) Just mix up your rub and toss it in the pan, or maybe some zip-lock bags. Tell the kids to go crazy with it, and you’ll get some mix.

  15. bcrockett – that’s a GREAT question, I should have mentioned that in my article. Mom tells me it will last at least 10 years. She hasn’t kept any beyond that though. I know from a couple other sources that it will last at least 5 years. The real question I think is how much nutritional value does it lose over time, which I have no idea of. For me personally, I’m sure we’ll rotate through what we have now in less than a year.

  16. bcrockett really, as long as the seal is in place, you’re good. Now naturally *some* vitamin loss will happen over the years, but calories, minerals, and safety will stay in place as long as the canning seal stays good.

  17. bcrockett – that’s a GREAT question, I should have mentioned that in my article. Mom tells me it will last at least 10 years. She hasn’t kept any beyond that though. I know from a couple other sources that it will last at least 5 years. The real question I think is how much nutritional value does it lose over time, which I have no idea of. For me personally, I’m sure we’ll rotate through what we have now in less than a year.

  18. bcrockett really, as long as the seal is in place, you’re good. Now naturally *some* vitamin loss will happen over the years, but calories, minerals, and safety will stay in place as long as the canning seal stays good.

  19. I don’t know if this question has been published yet or is answered already in the article and that I’ve overlooked it, but what is the storage life for the bottled chicken? Thanks.

  20. I don’t know if this question has been published yet or is answered already in the article and that I’ve overlooked it, but what is the storage life for the bottled chicken? Thanks.

  21. I did not cut mine up into chucks just added 1/2 breasts and it turned out great-saved allot of time too in case anyone wanted to try it! AW

  22. Thanks for the post. I canned chicken today; six of my home grown whole chickens and 20 pounds of store bought breasts. I put the breasts in pint jars to more closely mimic the cans from the store. In times of plenty we can use two cans in a casserole, but when we need our long-term storage we will use one. One can did not seal, so lucky us, we got to eat one of the jars!

  23. I can’t find directions for canning chicken that don’t include filling the jar with chicken and then adding water almost to the top. I like the way the broth appears in the process posted here in this blog, seems like the chicken would have better flavor. Any thoughts or insight on that? Thanks!

    1. The chicken makes it’s own broth, you definitely don’t need to add water to the jars….One thing I learned is to wipe the rims of the jars with white vinegar to clean them before putting the lid and ring on… Since doing this, all my jars seal….

  24. Thanks!  Awesome recipe and instructions! 

    Did you ever do the hamburger?   If so, how did it work out and how do you recommend others do it?

  25. Salt isn’t required to can meat (or any veggies) and, large pieces are fine, even whole drumsticks or breasts, etc. Will save you a tremendous amount of work & time! I do like the part of having homemade broth this way though because even if it doesn’t end up being used with the chicken once opened, it can be used for other things as well (soups, gravies, to cook rice in, etc)  I really do love the part about saving so much money!

  26. I still want to know about canning hamburger meat.  I can catch it on sale often so this is something I am really interested in.

  27. My name Is Patricia Ball and saw you on the show. I am a prepper to. I also wanted to do the chicken canning. My question have you done the hamburger yet and if you have can you send the directions to me my address is [email protected]…. Thanks very much and keep up the good work.

  28. I have noticed a bunch of people ask how long this is good. I did one of those boxes of chicken (maybe 50 lbs?) from Macey’s (ps I heard you can ask about them at Costco too, from a Polynesian friend who flies through meat) and I used the half sized jars (?pint). Using it for enchilada’s and stuff for a family of five, I want to say it took a little over a year to use… I don’t think I will have any sitting around long enough to worry about if it is still good or not.  So as long as you use what you have, and do it each year (cause let’s face it, this is one of the easiest things to can ever!), you should be fine. I actually made extra somehow last  year and still have some left, but I think a few years is fine for sure. Anyway, not educated, just a guess.

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