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How to Pressure-Can Chicken Broth: An Illustrated Guide

Joy has helped raise and butcher poultry for 20 years, including chickens, ducks, geese, guineas & turkeys. The journey has been delightful!

You'll take pleasure in having rich, well seasoned broth available in your cellar or pantry, for use at a moment's notice in soups, with rice, for gravy, greens, and anything else you wish.

You'll take pleasure in having rich, well seasoned broth available in your cellar or pantry, for use at a moment's notice in soups, with rice, for gravy, greens, and anything else you wish.

The Pros of Making and Canning Your Own Stocks

Bone broths, or stocks, provide excellent nutrition as well as flavor to any meals you might make using them. Making your own bone broth is simple, albeit time-consuming. Essentially, you simmer water and meaty bones or poultry together for several hours until the bones have leached much of their mineral value into the water, creating a good and very tasty broth. (A fatty meat makes a richer broth.)

You may use poultry, deer, beef, or fish. You may use "scraps," such as bones leftover after a hunting trip, or supermarket finds. (Ask your butcher for bones/leftovers.)

Once you get used to making your own broths, the insipid commercially canned variety will go out of favour forever. You can establish your own seasoned varieties, using herbs, garlic, chilies, or anything else you like. Also, you will be helping your own schedule by having broths ready to go for meals and special occasions. With the pop of a lid, you have the basis for a tasty, calming, health-building meal in minutes.

Please note that our broth was cooked with home-raised Cornish Rock chickens, a heavy, fatty breed—and we did not skim the broth. You may skim yours for a clarified stock, if you wish. If your broth is thinner or lighter, this doesn't mean it's not tasty and wonderful. Cooking time will influence color, with a deeper color being attained with longer simmering. In any case, if you prefer not to cook with fat, you may skim your broths as they simmer, and defat them once they cool.

Quick Reference for Canning Chicken Broth

  • Processing/cooking time: 25 minutes for quarts, 20 for pints (after 10 lbs. pressure is built)
  • Pressure setting: 10 lbs. (may be 12 lbs. at high elevations)
  • Overall time per full canner load: 2+ hours (from filling jars to emptying cooled canner)
  • Jar size: quarts, either wide or regular mouth; pints, either wide or regular mouth
  • Storage term: 1+ years normally (depends on storage conditions, such as humidity)

Supplies and Equipment

Have ready all of your equipment (clean, of course), except jars, such as:

  • Pressure canner in good working order. (Do not try to use a regular pressure cooker designed for cooking small amounts of food. These are usually not rated for canning, and may not work correctly.)
  • Cooking pot(s) or stock pots for preparing your stock. The amount of meat and bones you have available will determine the quantity of stock which results. One medium chicken will make about 1 gallon of broth. Of course, if you are working with deer or beef bones, you will have to use large pots, or saw the bones into pieces.
  • Ladle, for filling jars
  • Canning funnel (has a wider mouth than normal funnel), usually optional
  • Tongs or a magnetic lid lifter
  • Clean, damp cloth(s), or paper towels, for wiping jar rims once they are filled with stock
  • Jar lifter, for lifting the hot jars in and out of the canner
  • Canning jars, quarts or pints (do not use regular "upcycled" jars, which are of a lower quality)
  • Canning lids of an appropriate size(s)
  • Cake tin or saucepan, for scalding canning lids
  • Vinegar (optional), for adding to canner water to avoid hard-water stains
  • A clean towel and an out-of-the-way, heat resistant surface on which to set the jars once they are finished (we use a bath towel, as we often process many jars)

Once everything is in readiness, you can proceed to wash and fill your jars. Please note that I am demonstrating with old (but well serviced) pressure canners. Be sure you read and understand the instructions which come with your particular model or type.

Stage 1: Preparing Your Equipment

Wash (sterilize if necessary) and examine all jars (chips, cracks), rings (bent, excessive rust), and lids (misaligned rubber).

Wash (sterilize if necessary) and examine all jars (chips, cracks), rings (bent, excessive rust), and lids (misaligned rubber).

Either gently simmer the lids (don't boil!), or set them in a small pan and pour on boiling water to cover, to scald them.

Either gently simmer the lids (don't boil!), or set them in a small pan and pour on boiling water to cover, to scald them.

Preparing Your Canning Equipment

Select Your Canning Jars

Select only proper, brand-name canning jars. Inspect them for chips, cracks, or other weaknesses. (A regular jar, such as a pickle jar, might not be able to take the heat and pressure during this process, and may break.)

Wash Your Jars

Wash each jar thoroughly in hot, soapy water, paying special attention to the threads around the top, and the bottoms of the jars on the inside, especially if they have been used before. You may also prepare them in an automatic dishwasher, or by sterilizing in an oven. 200* F. for 20 minutes per batch is a general rule. If your jars have been stored in a basement or outbuilding in which vermin have been allowed to run, you would be wise to soak them in water to which a bit of chlorine has been added.

Dry the Jars

Set the jars aside to dry. Have ready the number or rings and lids you estimate you will need, and wash them.

Wash and Scald the Lids

Place the lids in a small pan (a layer cake pan works well), and pour boiling water over them to scald them. Leave them in the water until you are ready to put them on the jars.

Filling the Jars

  1. Using a ladle and canning funnel, if desired, fill all jars to within about a 1" of the rim (the bottom of the rings). This measurement is called the required headspace, and allows the product to expand during boiling.
  2. Set aside each jar, dribbles and all, and proceed to fill as many as your canner will hold (usually seven).
  3. With a very clean, damp cloth or paper towel, wipe each jar's rim, and any dribbles down its sides.
  4. Using the tongs or magnetic lid lifter, lift one lid at a time from the pan of hot or simmering water, and place it on the jar without touching the lid with your hands, if you can help it. Adjust two-piece caps, screwing the bands on finger-tight. This will allow for proper expansion during processing.

Filling Canner

Put two quarts of water in the bottom of your pressure canner, and place the jars in it—six around the outside, and one in the center on a wire rack. Put the lid of the canner on, aligning the two marks on the lid and body of the canner (on the front), and tighten the screws down in opposite pairs, snugly. Go around at least twice, checking the screws for tightness, before turning the fire on under the canner.

Use good judgment when deciding how high to turn the heat. On some stoves, "high" is not too hot or fast, while on others, "medium" would be pushing it. Whatever you do, now is the time to keep a close eye on your canner.

Bringing Up to a Full-Pressure Boil

Once the heat is started under your pressure canner, the wait for it to come up to temperature and build proper pressure can be long. This should not be hurried too fast, because of the danger of damage or breakage to your jars. They need to warm and expand gently, and a full canner load can take a while. So plan something you can do which will keep you within hearing of the kitchen.

You will know your canner has reached a full boil when steam begins blowing from the safety valve in the lid. Allow the valve to steam for 10 minutes before placing the weight on, set for 10 pounds pressure. You will need to wait a few minutes more for pressure to build. Once it does, adjust your heat to allow for one jiggle of the weight every several seconds. Many jiggles per minute means that your heat is too high; fewer than four means your heat is probably too low. Experience will teach you the "magic" setting to maintain precise pressure, so check your gauge often. Too low a pressure means your product will not have been heated to a safe level for long-term storage.

Cooling Down the Canner

The canner needs to cool until the weight stops jiggling, and the gauge reads “zero”. Then remove the weight and allow the canner to continue cooling another few minutes, to further equalize pressure within it. Finally, remove the lid, and let jars sit five minutes, to allow them to adjust to cooler air, before removing them to their resting area, using a jar lifter.

Set them on a towel or board in a draft-free area, and allow them to sit still several hours or overnight, until they are cooled throughout. Check lids for a good seal (there should be no "give", and they should be sucked down). You will probably hear the lids " ping" as the milk cools, and pressure changes in the jars. Any that have not sealed may be refrigerated and used within a couple days. Alternatively, you may wipe the jar rims very carefully, replace the lids with new ones, and reprocess them...but if you've been careful in the first place, you'll seldom have a jar fail to seal.

Cleaning Everything Up

You will need to scrub your jars and canner in hot, soapy water, once they are quite cool. (Jars should sit several hours, or overnight, in a draft-free area.) Of course, you will need to wash all your other equipment as well.

You may wish to remove the rings from your jars and wash the threads well. (Some people prefer to store jars without rings, anyhow, so they know more easily whether a jar has come unsealed and begun to spoil.) You definitely don't wish to attract vermin with sticky jars.

We had a very busy canning season, with all stove burners in commission!

We had a very busy canning season, with all stove burners in commission!

A Note on Efficiency: Doubling Your Efforts

On the day I took the photographs for this demonstration, my mother and I were working together to accomplish a great deal of food prep besides canning chickens. We used both pressure canners, and would have used more had we had them, plus more stove room!

Two canners certainly make pressure canning less tedious. If you are a truly serious gardener or homesteader, and are able to acquire a second canner, it is well worth it.

Storing Home-Canned Products

Home-canned products like cool—but not cold—environments, with even temperatures. An underground cellar or unheated basement is ideal. Any severe temperature change in the atmosphere will cause the pressure in the jars to change, and may make them come unsealed. If this happens, you will have spoiled food in your storage. It is a good idea to check your jars periodically, even if you have no serious doubts about their environment.

What Is the Difference Between Broth and Stock?

Broth is plain liquid made by boiling meat or bones. Stock is broth which is flavored with vegetables, herbs, and spices. Below are two options for traditional broths:

Martha Stewarts Basic Chicken Stock: Stovetop or Pressure Cooker

Chicken Stock Ingredients (Works With Rabbit, Too)

  • Whole chicken, with or without giblets
  • Celery
  • Onions
  • Peppercorns (whole black pepper)
  • Bay leaves

Optional

  • Peppers
  • Garlic
  • Herbs

A Brown Stock Using Roasted Chicken

Beef Stock (Works With Deer and Similar)

  • Meaty bones
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Bay Leaves
  • Salt

Optional

  • Peppers
  • Garlic

East Turkey Stock Recipe From Leftover Carcass

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Joilene Rasmussen