Thursday, October 6, 2011

Yes - I Can

In the United States of America, those who home can use either Ball or Kerr jars. Those jars are sold by the dozen. They come in standard imperial sizes, quart, pint and 1/2 pint. Aside from a few decorative options, the jars are either regular-mouth or wide-mouth. Most of us store the filled jars in the same carton they are shipped in. When we empty the jar, we store the cleaned jars in those same cartons until needed again.

Given those facts - why does my standard, no frills Presto pressure canner only do 7 quarts or 22 pints at a time? I'd like to can 12 quarts or 24 pints at a time.

Meats require 75 minutes to 90 minutes processing time. Add the time it takes to get the canner to pressure and another 20 minutes or more minimum for the pressure canner to cool down so I can switch out the batches...the bizarre capacity of my pressure canner means I'm expending a lot of extra time and fuel energy to do the odd-sized lots required.

I see an entrepreneurial opportunity here.

But not for me, for some other entrepreneur. I just want to can my Zaycon chicken. All 2 boxes or 80 pounds of it.

And can it, I have, 7 quarts at a time. Another batch is processing now.

This is first time I've used my pressure canner. I've owned it a year, but I was scared of it. The idea of putting food-filled glass in a metal pressurized bucket made me nervous. It didn't matter home canners have been doing that since 1910 without too much incidence. I was certain that when MY food-filled glass entered it's metal chamber, the whole shebang would implode, like a steel-framed souffle.

It didn't. And it won't happen to you, either. So long as you follow the instructions.

Prep time for the chicken was minimal. I used scissors to slice strips off the breasts so they'd slide easily into the jar. I added garlic, lime, onion, sometimes nothing, to the jars. Since I couldn't bring the canner to pressure and walk away - adjustments are needed during the process - I used the processing time to rearrange my pantry, check my email, catch up on back episodes of The Colbert Report and write this blog post.

Eighty pounds of these beautiful chicken breasts yielded 28 quarts and 24 pints of Already Cooked Goodness for my pantry. That's enough to use 1 jar a week for the next 52 weeks, a reasonable rate of use for my family. It took me one day of work.

Yeah. I'm proud of myself.

The Zaycon chicken deal is still available. Zaycon is taking orders in Arizona until Oct 12. This company is doing the chicken event nationwide, so readers outside of Arizona should check the site to search for a convenient pickup location.

At $1.49/lb, boneless, skinless chicken breast is a steal. As breasts go, these are about the most beautiful I've seen (sorry - couldn't resist). They are fresh, never frozen, all-natural, and taste delicious, so plan your time and schedule accordingly if you plan to can.

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