1/30/2014

Teaching a Friend to Can Chicken


I want to take you to the moment of this picture above. I was camping out at my parents' house next door since there were Amish construction workers stomping around in mine, performing a complete remodel on two bathrooms. Daisy and I gazed out the window at the birds at the feeders, and I was thinking about the crazy week we have had with no toilets or running water in our own home.
I thought about how good it has been for our kids, especially at night while sitting at my Amish parents home, no television or computer to distract us.  They'd read the paper, or talk to us, or sift through Mom's secret drawer of treasures. Sometimes we laughed until we about rolled out of our chairs. One evening, we thought of all the ways my Mom would have a fit if she ever saw her house looking like this. My mom is an amazing housekeeper, and, yes, her house will be just like she left it when we're done. In the meantime, we are very grateful we have somewhere to sleep.
 

I've been promising my friend Summer that I would teach her to can chicken, so what better time than now, when we could use the kitchen in Mom's garage that's all set up for things like this.
Summer had 40 pounds of organic, boneless, skinless thighs and breasts to process. All you do is rinse the pieces under water and put them into your pint or quart cans, put 1 tsp salt per quart on top, then fill the jar with water. Next, wipe the rim and screw on the lids. I water bathe all of my canning, so the next step is to put the jars in a big kettle and cover with water and a dab of vinegar. Once the water boils, you keep in going on a slow boil for three hours. Its that easy!!! Summer ended up with 45 pints from 40 pounds of chicken.


A couple of days before we had planned this day of canning, I had texted her that if she wanted to, we could can soup, too. I'd be more than happy to help while the chicken is cooking.

So Summer shows up with all the ingredients, along with a frozen ham bone for the bean soup and two packs of frozen chicken for the noodle soup.
WARNING: I won't have exact recipes on these soups. I know, I know... it drove Summer crazy, too.
While I was making soup, she was trying to check her iPad for a good recipe, and I kept telling her we didn't need recipes. 
Yes! she did help, too. 
First, we started with Summer's grandma's recipe by throwing the ham bone into a 12 quart pot filled 3/4 full with water and brought it to a boil. Once the water came to a boil, I added the organic dry beans, navy beans, black beans, and lima beans to the pot and added two chopped onions, then seasoned it with black pepper, salt, and garlic powder.  We simmered the bean soup for 5 hours. It was amazing! Then we put it in jars and water bathed for 2 1/2 hours.


In the meantime, between washing jars and checking the water baths, the chicken was ready to be picked from the bones for noodle soup.
My guess is we had:
 3 quarts shredded chicken
2 gallons chicken broth
3 lbs wide noodles, cooked lightly then rinsed in cold water to avoid overcooking



6 cups each of diced and slightly cooked:
celery
carrots
potatoes
2 tablespoons basil and oregano
 lots salt and black pepper
chicken flavoring

The chicken noodle soup gets water bathed for 2 hours.



She was so happy to get 10 quarts of bean soup and 17 quarts of chicken noodle soup. And every last jar sealed!
I was happy to have showed her that canning is easy, and we also had a fun day together. It helped me forget the mess my own house was in.
The next day, Summer came back, and we washed all the sealed jars before she took them home.
The English lady went home happy with now having her own Amish treasures.


I finished the day feeling feeling so domestic that I washed our laundry in my Amish mom's laundry room.
It was another great day of living in Amish Paradise.



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