Annie's Homestead


My No Waste Chicken Experiment

Posted on March 15, 2013 at 9:50 PM

I posted an article on the Homestead's Facebook page the other day titled, "Food Security 101" by Rowena Aldridge that inspired me like crazy! If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend it.

I am the queen of the clearance priced chicken- Some people hunt for bargains on clothes or shoes, maybe purses- my eyes spot those brightly colored price reduced stickers on chicken! It embarrasses my kids to no end. I have been known to stop at the grocery store for one thing, see the chicken and mutter, "Get a cart". It's a gift.

Anyway, this story starts with three of those wonderful, clearance priced birds. The first thing I did was cook them up. For the purpose of my experiment, I canned the chicken, but you can cook them for dinner, or a mix of both.

I boiled the birds, then separated them into three piles- meat, bones (pick 'em clean except for cartilage , and for lack of a better word- gook (skin, pieces that were less than lovely, etc) Keep your broth!

Top Left: bones, Top Right: gook, Center: juicy, yummy, chicken meat!

How I Can Chicken

1. Boil, steam, or bake chicken until 2/3 cooked. (I always boil). Keep your broth- you'll use it!

2. Separate the meat from the bones (as I said before), and slice the meat into nice sized pieces.

3. Sterilize your jars (I use pints for chicken meat), rings, and lids.

4. Put chicken into jars leaving one inch headspace- cover with broth leaving one inch headspace.

5. Using vinegar, wipe the rims- vinegar is great for the greasy residue.

6. Attach rings and lids, and pressure can chicken at 10 pounds pressure for 1 hour 15 minutes for pints, 1 hour 30 minutes for quarts.

For this experiment, I canned a little over 7 pints of chicken.

I gave the gook pile to the animals (dogs and cats) who gobbled it up within minutes. Two piles gone and still no waste...

I put the bones back into the broth (2-3 chickens worth of bones to roughly a gallon of water) and simmered for about 24-48 hours to make good wholesome bone broth. You can add veggies or seasonings, but I usually let it be.

**Note: A lot of places instruct you to skim off the fat before canning. I personally don't do this. I have never had it go rancid, but you do what you feel to be best for your family.

How I Can Broth or Stock

1. Pour the broth into sterilized jars leaving one inch headspace.

2. Wipe rims with vinegar, put on rings and lids.

3. Pressure can broth at 10 pounds pressure for 20 minutes for pints, 25 minutes for quarts.

For this experiment, I canned 5 quarts of broth, and had a  little left over for the cats.

After simmering in the broth for about 48 hours, my bones came out soft and crumbled between my fingers! Here's where it gets exciting for me, as I have never done this part!!!

Maiking Bonemeal for the Garden

I simply had to take my rolling pin and roll it over the bones a few times, which made a paste. I took the paste and placed it in my dehydrator for a few hours, and voila- extra fertilizer for the gardenl!

In the end, three chickens came together to make 7 pints of meat, 5 quarts of broth, a bowl full of noms for the animals, almost 2 cups of bonemeal for the garden and absolutely zero garbage!

Concluding my experiment, I want to add that the bones of three chickens only took up two of my dehydrator trays...The electricity of running the stove and the dehrdrator for countless hours needs to be taken in to account as well. What would I do differently? I think I will freeze my bones until I have enough to cover more trays- it might take awhile to come up with that many bones! Or maybe just wait until I collect a lot more chicken and do 10 at once?

Categories: Cooking, Misc. Homestead Fun!

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