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Old 02-24-2012, 03:10 PM   #1
Clay Davenport
Canned meals

I got in a canning mood recently. The local grocery store had London broil on sale so I picked up a few and did 21 quarts of beef stew to replenish my stock that we'd eaten.

I believe that every household should maintain a minimum of 3 months food supply on hand and preferably 6 months if storage capacity allows. To achieve that level of preparedness of food storage means you have to go beyond the freezer and look at canning or dried foods. While MREs may keep you alive, I prefer a decent meal if I have the choice.
I choose to can more or less complete meals in addition to my usual stores of single vegetables and meats.

I have a recipe for Taco Soup that is tasty and cans well. I also can chili, spaghetti sauce, and beef stew.
We might be able to survive for two months on the beef stew and taco soup I have canned, but I'm sure we'd rather have a bit more variety.
Does anyone else go about canning meals that are heat and eat for the most part?
Old 02-25-2012, 04:02 AM   #2
Dennis Hultman
Not complete meals or meat yet. Sometime next week I'm going to give this a try.

Old 02-25-2012, 12:04 PM   #3
Clay Davenport
Use caution Dennis. Personally I wouldn't attempt it using her method. She also has some misinformation about bacteria.
She's not actually canning butter there, she's storing butter in canning jars. That solar oven will not reach adequate temperature to be considered canning.
Also, any sort of dry heat for canning, in an oven for instance, is unreliable. Heat distribution within the jar is uneven.

Her claim that since butter isn't grown in soil it's exempt from the risk of botulism is also inaccurate. Botulism spores are present on virtually all food surfaces, which means in all likelihood there's botulism spores present in your kitchen right now, along with a whole host of other potentially harmful bacteria. Being a processed food does not preclude it from botulism contamination.
As for botulism specifically, there's no health risk when the spores are present on fresh food. Botulism itself isn't toxic, it's the toxins produced by the bacteria which are deadly. The spores can exist harmlessly for years, but they only activate and produce vegetative cells in the absence of oxygen, such as inside a sealed jar.

If I canned butter, I'd only do so using a pressure canner myself. Anything less is taking an unnecessary risk.
I also disagree with her shaking the jar every so often. It's similar to the way many of our grandmothers used to turn freshly canned jars upside down to cool. You shouldn't do anything that might compromise the sealing process, and shaking the jars has the real possibility of getting a slight film of fat underneath the lid and preventing a proper seal.
In order to use the canned butter, I'd open the can then melt the butter completely in a sauce pan of water, stir it well and refrigerate, shaking then if necessary, and recombine the separated parts that way.
Old 02-25-2012, 12:23 PM   #4
I've seen sellers that have for sale butter flavor powder that one reconstitutes, has anyone ever tried that?
Old 03-02-2012, 03:46 PM   #5
Clay, me and my wife do a lot of canning sauces and veggies, what has to be done differently to can chilli etc? Can you can meat? Do you add spices or no?
Old 03-03-2012, 04:32 AM   #6
Clay Davenport
Originally Posted by mxracer4life View Post
Clay, me and my wife do a lot of canning sauces and veggies, what has to be done differently to can chilli etc? Can you can meat? Do you add spices or no?
First I'll recommend you pick up a copy of the Ball canning book.

It's an excellent reference for canning many many things.

You can also read the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning

Guide 5 covers meats.

Nothing really different is done to can soup, chili, or meats. All must be pressure canned. And yes, you can can meat by itself.
The actual preparation process differs depending on what you are producing.

When I can chili I prepare it normally as if I were going to eat it then, I just make a large run which will fill at least 7 quarts. Just prepare your preferred chili recipe as you normally do, and fill your hot jars leaving head space like you do with your sauces.
The official standards of canning states that anything containing red meat needs to be canned under pressure for 90 minutes (quarts).
This will slightly alter the flavor of the chili, it will still be good but will lose some of the robust flavors of the seasonings.
Because of this, and considering the chili is fully cooked before canning, I can it for 70-75 minutes at 15lbs of pressure. It's a higher pressure than is required for my altitude.
This is only my preference, and I'm not suggesting you violate the official USDA standards.

I also can chicken using the raw pack method. Cut up boneless/skinless breasts or breast tenders work best.
After processing they can be used for any recipe that needs cooked chicken, casseroles, chicken and dumplings, enchiladas, etc.

I can ground beef in pints as well and use it for anything you need browned ground beef for.
I brown the beef first, with a little seasoning in case I want to use it for topping on baked potatos. I drain it well and fill the pint jars. One jar will hold just under a pound of ground beef (raw weight).
No matter how well you drain it, some of the fat will remain and will rise to the top forming a cake of grease on top of the meat. When I open the jars, I heat them in the microwave to melt this and then pour it off before using.

Canning meats has a couple of very good advantages. It requires no energy to maintain after it's processed, unlike frozen meats.
It's also fully cooked, so requires a minimum of energy to prepare for consumption. In the case of chili, just heating it up is all that's needed. A simple gas burner and a pot and you have a good meal.
For other recipes, having the meat pre cooked reduces the time to prepare the meals and provides an option for eating better meals during times like extended power outages. I'd much rather be eating a plate of homemade spaghetti by candle light than opening up a can of Chef Boyardee.

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