I pulled out the Pressure Canner today and dusted it off for the first time in at least a year. It was a year ago when I had Achilles Tendon Surgery and now I was able and ready to start canning. It was also over a year ago that I quit smoking, so the canner reeked of cigarette smoke so I gagged and my throat made funny noises. The odor wasn't on the inside, mind you, but on the outside. Good thing I already had the vinegar out for the water that goes in the canner, so I set about to clean it inside and out with a vinegar wash, then a good hard dishwasher wash, then lightly oiled the gasket on the lid after thoroughly rinsing. Now I was ready to can something I'd never attempted before out of fear. Bone Stock. Particularly Chicken Bone Stock.
Ironically, as much as I love beef, chicken and fish are the only types of meat I can eat regularly without having stomach issues (unless the beef is grass fed). And, don't get me wrong, I love moist well-flavored chicken, but it just seems to have such a bad reputation, along with eggs, that I tend to steer clear of them as much as I can. Even so, one can only afford so much fish and grass-fed beef, so chicken inevitably ends up on the menu.
When I buy chicken, I usually buy it in bulk if I can and then I separate it at home. Once home, out comes the bleach, the disposable food handler gloves (I love those things – I used to go through rolls and rolls of paper towels before I found those), the Clorox wipes, and whatever bag or container I'm going to store the various parts in. I always rinse it, and sometimes cut some of the skin and/or fat off it, but it is always the first thing to go in the fridge/freezer. I've never been the cause of food poisoning in my family and don't intend to be in the future.
But, as much as contamination and sickness that can come from poultry scare me, I was really hungry for chicken one day and decided to roast a whole chicken to accompany the beans, squash, and tomatoes straight from the garden, and the guilty pleasure of Stove Top Stuffing that I was craving. Why a whole chicken? Because I wanted to make Chicken Stock, and I needed to can quite a bit of it because I'd just given my last home-canned jar of chicken soup to my sick son.