O.k…so I flubbed and didn’t take as many pictures as I should have.
Funny story that (well not really). I was going to finish it this morning but my husband had a co worker coming here to work so I had to finish last night…and forgot detailed photos.
However here is what I learned with a few photos.
1. Yes, rabbit stock IS more “chickeny” than chicken broth/stock. By far. Absolutely. I had always stripped my rabbits and fed the bones raw, or cooked and ground, to my dogs so I did not know this fabulous food item. Oddest thing that: Rabbits out chicken chickens LOL
2. I have generally canned cooked meat but decided to try raw pack. Taste wise I don’t know yet if I prefer it. Canning wise…what a pain. As anyone knows who has cut up lots of raw meat (especially a “floppy” meat like chicken or rabbit) it is not the most time efficient thing to do. So about 3 young rabbits into 8 I switched tactics. I did however save the saddle/loan and pack those whole. I imagine if I was using quart jars it would have been easy to pack a whole, or almost whole, rabbit raw. However, I pack meat in pints and the rabbits just didn’t want to fit that way. I even had to cut my saddles/loans into two pieces. Well, except for one small guy….his fit fine.
The rest of the rabbits, as mentioned, were lightly boiled until I could pull the meat off the bones, then the bones replaced back into the pot to turn into stock. I did NOT cook the meat to tender (some guides say 2/3 cooked, some say to tender). Why? Because picking meat that is “falling off the bone” out of a pot full of small itty bitty itty tiny backbone and rib cage pieces stinks. Immensely. I’ve done it that’s why I know.
After cooling the cooked meat was then chopped into the sizes I desired and later packed into jars (meat was counter top warm) with about 3/4 of the jar filled with the hot just recently boiling broth, I had made. Oh yeah, and a bit of salt. I did not fill the jar with broth up to the “canning line” (that line that is about and inch down and marks were the lid ends when screwed on…you know I am sure what I speak off) The reason I did not fill it to the line was that I was not sure how much broth/juice the meat would make on it’s own. I have read everything from add broth/water to line to don’t because the meat will juice (for rabbits…not having canned rabbits I was not sure about this). But no…the cooked does not juice, and the raw did a little. However it is I am still happy with the amount of juice I placed in each jar.
Remember too you can add seasonings, onions, tomatoes etc. When canning meat you will use the longest time recommended for anything being canned so anything else you place in it will work fine. Canning for meat (based on my house being basically sea level) is 75 minutes for pints and 90 for quarts. The key to canning mixed items is that you have to can for the item in the jar that takes the longest. Meat in this case.
Here are my bones being picked to place back in the stock pot to make broth (I am not the best picker because I do not enjoy it and I feed it ground to my dogs so I don’t worry about it too much)
I also used my Tattler lids to can with (having forgot I owned them when doing jelly recently). They worked great. Out of the 16 pints we had one not seal. If you are new to canning I will tell you a trick that is almost a guaranteed way to point out jars that won’t seal: Watch the bubbling in the jar. Any jar with meat or veggies that quits bubbling almost as soon as you take it out of the pressure canner, especially if all the other jars are still bubbling, did not seal. The whole point of pressure canning is that the pressure actually raises the temperature inside the jar, and doesn’t allow it to cool as quickly, and that is why the jar continues to boil even outside of the canner. If it did not seal however, the jar does not have increased pressure/temp and therefore will quit boiling very soon after removal because it has vented it’s heat. There is a much more scientific way to explain this….but this explanation works overall. The jar is still very edible…but just not sealed correctly. To double check this carefully lift your jar by the seal only (without the ring on it). If it falls off…..you get the idea :-)
Here are my rabbits that were canned.
See the jar closest to you (kind of makes the front corner). That one was canned cooked. The two on either side were canned raw. Ever notice when you make broth you get that sticky residue (gelatin scum perhaps?) that is hard to clean out of the pot. Well, all the raw pack jars have that type of “stuff” on the sides of the jars. So…if you raw pack definitely use a wide mouth jar since you might be scrubbing and/or soaking that out a bit. Of course glass always cleans easier than pots do.
We also brined 9 more rabbits to smoke this weekend. We’ll see how that goes as rabbit meat is VERY lean and very very easy to dry out (ask me how I know that —guaranteed any way you can screw up cooking some piece of meat has been accomplished by me at one point or another)
I have heard brining helps when smoking rabbit and since it works with turkeys fabulously….we thought we give it a try. If nothing else it does always help any meat just overall taste better since the salt and spices get into the meat. I accidentally brined half of the rabbits for a full day though the recommendation by most sites says no longer than 12 hours. I am hopeful they won’t be a salt lick once cooked. I may soak them for a half hour or so in fresh water before smoking them. Just in case.
So, though this was not the picture filled post I thought it would be overall the experience was easy. No harder than chickens for sure and MUCH tastier. As I said in the beginning: Those rabbits out chicken flavored chickens.