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Jackie Clay

Q and A: stewing hens and canning at a higher altitude

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Stewing hens

Just got done putting my 6 hens in the freezer. What is your best recipe for a stewing hen? They were 3 years old and had stopped laying eggs. Also, where is the oil gland that needs to be removed? I wasn’t sure where to locate it.

Debra Basquez
Puyallup, Washington
What I usually do with stewing hens is cut the bird into convenient pieces then put them in either a crock pot, if you have one, or a covered heavy stew pot. Add water to cover, then add 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. black pepper, 2 whole bay leaves, and a couple of whole sage leaves or 1 tsp. rubbed sage. Chop a medium onion and add to the pot. Then bring to a boil (if using a pot). Simmer gently for three hours or until the meat falls off the bone easily. Remove the pieces, then debone and remove skin. Chop large pieces into dices and put into a bowl. Let broth cool and skim off as much fat as you wish (remember that the fat does add flavor, though). Heat up the broth and put dices into it and simmer for half an hour. You may add diced carrots, peas, or other vegetables or top with dumplings. You can also can up the chicken and broth for several meals later on. Very handy!

The oil gland is located on the tail, right at the end. I don’t eat tails, so I just cut the tail off. But you can also just cut out the oil gland and save the tail if you want. (It’s not too large.) — Jackie

Canning at a higher altitude

I am new to canning and where we live is in the Cascades but I thought we were still at the 1000 elevation but found out we are 12 to 14 in elevation. I processed turkey meatballs in tomato sauce at 10lbs for the 90 min and asparagus 10lbs at the 30 min before I realized we were above in the elevation. Its been a week now since I put the food up do I need to throw it away? If not could you please tell me the procedure for saving it? Also I did spinach at the same time but I packed it pretty tight and now I am also worried that the temperature may not have been able to get to the middle after reading some of your articles on thick stew.

Oakridge, Oregon

I, personally, wouldn’t throw away the food, but I would mark it and use it fairly soon and check each jar thoroughly before use. It should look fine, and smell good. Be sure to heat it to boiling temperature for 10 minutes before using (baking, boiling, or even frying). But when you can in the future, be sure to adjust your pressure to suit your altitude. (1,400 feet needs to be processed at 11 pounds with a dial gauge or 15 pounds if your canner only has a weight.)

Usually you can’t pack spinach tight enough to affect the processing without extreme force. And there’s still a lot of water in each jar to create steam throughout the food. I wouldn’t worry. But, again, I’d mark the batch you did at 10 pounds and use it first, and examine each jar before heating it to boiling for 10 minutes before use. — Jackie

One Response to “Q and A: stewing hens and canning at a higher altitude”

  1. debra basquez Says:

    Thanks Jackie. I appreciate all of your good advice and help. :)

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