Since we've been so screamingly busy of late, cooking proper meals has been a rare thing. When I cook, it has to be something easy. Orange roast chicken is an easy meal to make, so earlier this week (at least this one time) my family got fed something good and hearty. For once.
I was about halfway through deboning the carcass when I decided that, pressed for time or not, I wanted to can some chicken stock.
So I put the carcass and all other scraps into a stock pot...
...and filled it with water.
Thanks to some reader suggestions, I also added about a quarter-cup of vinegar in order to draw out the marrow and additional nutrients from the carcass.
I brought the whole thing to a rolling boil...
...then turned it down to the lowest-possible barely-on level and let it quietly simmer all night long.
My intention was to can the broth the next day but, well, we got busy. Really busy. All day long and all the following night, the broth stayed at a low simmer. It got to the point where I was either going to have to discard the entire thing, or somehow find the time to can it. I really wanted the stock, so I found the time.
The following morning I got up at 4 am and prepared to can the stock... which, at this point, was very hearty.
I set a colander over another pot...
...and drained the larger stock pot.
This is all the bones and meat scraps...
...and this is the chicken stock.
I washed some canning jars and started filling.
I wasn't sure how much broth I'd get, but I ended up with fifteen pints, which pleased me.
Counting out Tattler lids, most of which still had labels from other canning projects.
What kinds of other projects? Well, I was reusing lids from canning garlic, pinto beans, raspberry jam, pizza sauce, turkey stock, turkey gravy, and a few labels that only had dates (presumably because the contents were easily identified, such as corn or green beans).
I keep a basket in the kitchen into which I put all canning-related lids, rings, gaskets, etc. Once in awhile I'll put everything into their proper storage spaces, but more often I just fish what I need out of this basket.
I scalded the lids and gaskets and prepared to cap the jars, just as a shaft of early-dawn sunlight inched into the kitchen.
Lids and gaskets on.
Into the canner.
Because the stock is meat-based, I played it safe and pressure-canned it as I would all meats, 90 minutes at 13 pounds (for our elevation). Last November we had a lively discussion about whether poultry stock needs to be canned that long, but I decided to stick with the full 90 minutes because I only coarsely-strain the stock and it still has bits of meat floating around. Better safe than sorry.
Actually, since these are pints I could have canned them for 75 rather than 90 minutes. But I'd been up since 4 am and clearly wasn't thinking straight. An extra fifteen minutes in the canner won't hurt.
Before the rest of the family was awake, the jars were out of the canner and cooling.
Hey, sometimes getting up at 4 am has its advantages.