After the chicken was order, pick up was simple! I just showed up at the site and didn't even have to get out of the car, the people there put it right in my trunk for me. They even put down some plastic so my trunk wouldn't get dirty. So easy. I wish all shopping were that simple! I picked up two boxes: One for me, and one for my cousin who works during the day.
Here is my cousins box, taking up most of the bottom shelf of my fridge. I took out a shelf and an extra crisper to make room. Some fridge items ended up on top of the box, and some of my chicken was stashed next to it later. Good thing we ate lots of food from our fridge and freezer the week before in preparation!
There was fat on the chicken, and I cut off the big chunks. This is all I had from the first half. I'm not super picky about fat, especially knowing that the chicken is all natural. My cousin was a lot more particular. She cut in smaller pieces and didn't want any meat that felt fatty. She had a lot more fatty stuff left over. I am not quite sure what I'll be doing with it, but I've learned that most things can be used rather than discarded, so I didn't want to throw it away. I'll be seasoning our cast iron pan with it, and am open to suggestions for the rest of it!
I whipped up a satay sauce and let some of the chicken marinade in that for a while. Meanwhilst, I prepared other chicken for other easy meals.
I had a cookie sheet or two of plain chopped up chicken. I put it on a parchment lined cookie sheet, covered lightly with plastic wrap and stuck it in the freezer for about 45 minutes. Then I transfered it to a freezer bag. I could have put in whole breast pieces, but I always want smaller pieces rather than the whole breast, so I'm hoping this will save me a lot of time later.
We got a pressure cooker/canner just for this (and will use it for many other things in the future). I was a bit intimidated, but everything seemed simple enough. I had made caramelized carrot soup just to experiment with it (absolutely delicious. It is worth buying a pressure cooker or canner just for caramelized carrots). So that meant that my total experience using a pressure cooker in my entire life was 3 times:
1. Plain water to get the hang of things
2. Caramelized carrot Soup
3. Caramelized carrots (like soup only skipping the last few steps)
Pressure canning turned out to be even easier than cooking, it just takes a LONG time. I put the meat in my jars and the jars in the canner. Everything started cold, so first I had to wait for everything to heat up so steam could start to escape. Then I waited for the steam to come out for 10 minutes so I knew only steam was inside the canner. Then I waited for the pressure to get high enough. Then I started timing for 75 minutes. Then remove from heat and wait to cool. Then wait for the canner to cool off before starting the next round. We ate dinner somewhere in there, and due to a late start I was pulling out the second batch of chicken a little before midnight.
One of my favorite parts was listening to the lids pop down after they started to cool. It was also neat to see the bubbles inside of the boiling jars. I didn't use a second canning rack and only had two pints sitting on top. One tipped over and some liquid spilled out, but it was still sealed. We ate it on pizza the next night anyways just because I didn't want to wait to try it.
I had 12 pints and 5 quarts of chicken from just over half of my total. My cousin got 24 pints and 4 quarts using all of hers (with more fat trimmed off). We also learned that my canner fits more normal pint sized jars than wide mouth.
So, that is what I did with 40 lbs of chicken! I'm excited to continue enjoying this for the next few months. It was a great deal on tasty chicken and spending lots of time on prep at the beginning will save me a lot of energy later, so it was totally worth it! I'll probably be doing it again when the sale comes in another 6 months, and by then I'll know what modifications I want to make, I haven't tried the freezer stuff yet, but I'm excited to later.
What methods do you have for storing meat long term? What would you do with 40 lbs of fresh meat?