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Oh, the Pressures of Canning

I have been so busy canning that when I sleep I actually dream that I am canning. Even now I am waiting up for the chicken broth, dark meat  and bones to cool so I can filter them and start making the chicken soup. I am planning on canning the soup tomorrow morning.  I started off this whole experience with a lug (17 lbs) of peaches, some strawberries, and a few green beans. I went to a pick your own patch in Brookings SD for the strawberries. I came home with 25 lbs. I made 6 pints of jelly, and then froze the rest  rather than heat the house up.  The daily temperatures average 100 degrees and we don’t have air conditioning so I didn’t want to add any heat. By the time I purchased the peaches, we had broken the heat wave and had settled in the 80s. I put up 12 pints of jelly, 24 pints of sliced peaches and 4 pints of spirited peaches. It was fun. I enjoyed working with peaches and plan on finding some more. Peaches don’t grow well here. South Dakotans usually purchase Colorado peaches at road side stands this time of year. 

I have been learning how to pressure can. I have canned with a hot water bath canner before but never a pressure canner.  My husband, Rick, had bought me a 12 qt. pressure canner at a rummage sale several years ago, but I had never enough guts to use a pressure canner. Using one is a little overwhelming at first, the whole possibility of exploding and all. I got brave Monday night and attempted to can chicken. It ended up with the steam escaping out the seal and the chicken in the fridge. I did a little problem solving, purchased a new seal and was off and running again. I tried using again with corn. It worked!! But I lost a little fluid out of the jars. After canning about 30 quarts and 40 pints, I exhausted all my options in what could have been wrong.  I re-read my canner directions and found that my canner did not use the rule of allowing stream to escape for 10 minutes before putting on the selective control petcock I have only had the opportunity to not do the rule twice, once I lot fluid and once not. The first time was a batch of corn and the second was chicken breasts. However, on the second run I had a lid buckle up. Everyone I have asked had never heard of a lid buckling. I was told to contact the Georgia Extension for any canning questions.   

We have been blessed with so many wonderful gifts from friends. Some of the melon growers allow me to glean their fields for feed for my animals. It has reduced our feed bill by 75%. I try to return the favor by dropping off cleaned chickens and peach jelly.  I keep offering supper but have not been called to it yet. Another friend has given us sweet corn. Our own field has been ravaged by the drought and the free range chickens. I set up a husking station on the back deck. I soon attracted the chickens, and  dog. It was quite amusing to watch the dog chase a chicken across the yard, not to catch the chicken but to get the discarded corn cob.  I have canned __ qts and __ pts. Rick brought another 55 gallon barrel full of corn again last night, so I will continue to be busy.  

 The dog and chickens fighting over corn cobs 

We butchered the last of our broilers Saturday. Well, all but 1 who it managed to hid out (been calling it Lucky.) A friend brought 25+ roosters to butcher. We did their roosters in the morning and our chickens in the afternoon.  I have been working on canning the 40 chickens. I canned 7 qts each with the breasts of 2 chickens. I then tossed the rest in 2 roasters to cook and that’s why I am waiting up for them to cool so I can filter the meat and bones out so all can cool the broth and remove the fat. I have learned to cook the chickens before I can them for the sake of my sanity, it saves time.  

Making chicken soup in large quantities 

  Canned Chicken Breasts