Archive for the ‘canning’ Category

I know, I know. I’m probably going to scare some loyal readers away with this post. It’s against all food safety rules and regulations. But you know what? It’s not dangerous. My family has been doing this for years and never once has anyone become sick from improperly canned meat (or any other home canned food, for that matter, that I know of anyway).

If you are terrified of botulism and other such things, rest assured that if you DO open up a jar of spoiled meat or veggies, you WILL know it. Your nose will tell you. There’s no way you’d get anyone to eat it. And besides, even if there IS something nasty present, bringing the food back to a good boil before eating it would kill everything.

I have an aunt who will open a jar of cold beef and snack on the chunks. She hasn’t gotten sick yet. I think it’s weird, but perfectly fine if that’s her snack of choice!

That being said, it’s not my fault if you DO get sick. Just so you know.

But you really shouldn’t fear getting sick. It’s unlikely. Really.

But don’t blame me. I didn’t force you to eat it.

But you won’t get sick. I’m sure of it.

So, don’t be scared! Even if you don’t have a pressure canner, it’s possible to can meat. I’ve done it twice, well, actually, three times. But the first time I will admit that I was scared of the soup. The cats had some pretty deluxe chicken corn soup meals. But the second time was beef veggie soup and I had the courage to taste it. It was absolutely delicious. We loved it. It felt weird to eat that first jar but once we got over the initial jitters, our tummies settled down and we enjoyed the meal.

This year, I don’t know if I’ll can any soups but I did can beef chunks. It was fun! We learned that the guy we are buying beef from HAS to get his steer butchered at the end of August. That’s when my freezers are fullest. I wasn’t happy to hear that. But I went and gathered all of the roasts from last years beef purchase and thawed them out, cut them up , and canned them. It cleared a tiny bit of space but not enough. I’ll have to work on canning some more things, I believe. Maybe I will do some soups after all?

So here’s how to do it, if I haven’t yet scared you away.

1. Acquire your meat, fresh or frozen. If it’s frozen, only partially thaw it as it’s easier to cut half frozen meat then thawed meat.

2. Trim off large chunks of fat. It’s okay (and good) to leave a little bit on but big pieces are unnecessary.

3. Cut your meat into chunks. Any size will do but the smaller they are, the more you’ll get in each jar. If your meat is still partially frozen when you cut it, wait until it’s completely thawed to fill the jars as the frozen chunks don’t pack in very well.

4. Fill your clean jars almost full and then add 1 teaspoon of salt to each quart.

5. Place a little more meat on top of the salt to bring the level up to the bottom ring on the jar (or slightly above).

6. Boil your lids.

7. Wipe the top rim of each jar with a clean, damp cloth.

8. Place the lids on top. *Take note that I did not put any water in the jars. The meat will form it’s own juice as it cooks.

9. Screw on the rings nice and snug but not extremely tight.

10. Place the jars in the canner and fill with water to cover the jars by about an inch.

11. Bring the canner to a full rolling boil and boil (with the lid on!) for an hour and a half (or two if you are feeling unsure about safety).

13. Remove the jars from the canner to a newspaper lined cookie sheet and let cool completely.

14. Notice that the liquid level only comes about 2/3 up the meat. That’s okay.

15. Remove the rings from the cooled jars and check for good seals by gently lifting up on the lid with your fingertips (it’s not necessary to lift up the whole jar, just pull up a little to see if the lid comes off). You can also just tap the top of the lid and if it pings, it’s sealed. If it makes a dull thud, refrigerate that jar and eat it soon. Then wash the jars in hot, soapy water before storing in a cool, dark, dry place.

Canned Beef

Recipe told to me by my grandma

beef cubes

salt (1 t per quart)

Stuff your beef cubes into jars. Add 1 teaspoon of salt per quart. Bring the level of the meat up to the bottom ring on the jar. DO NOT ADD WATER. Wipe the top rims of the jars and top with sterilized lids and then rings. Place the jars in the canner and add water to cover by an inch. Bring to a boil and then boil for 1 1/2 hours, or 2 hours if you are a little scared. When the timer beeps, remove the jars from the canner and let cool completely before removing the rings and checking for good seals. Wash the jars in hot soapy water and store in a cool, dark, dry place.


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*Once again, I do not necessarily follow the tested methods of canning. But this way works for me.

I love me some pickled beets. So sweet. They are such a pretty addition to a bland winter plate. And beets are loaded with nutrition, though the amount of sugar used might just counteract with that.

1. Acquire a large bowl of beets.

2. Scrub them, leaving the tails and 1/2 inch of the stems attached. This is to keep all the color and nutrients from bleeding out while they cook.

3. Put them in a big pot and cover with water.

4. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer until soft, about 45 minutes to an hour.

5. Drain and let cool until you can handle them.

6. Cut off the tops and tails and peel them. The skins just slide off. It’s fun.

7. Cut into little bite-size chunks and put them in a pot.

8. Admire your pretty purple philanges.

9. Put your jars in the oven and preheat it to 220.

10. Bring your lids to a boil in a pot with water. Turn off heat and keep covered until ready to use them.

11. Put the pot of beets on the stove and add the sugar and vinegar. The level of the juice should be about even with the beets.

12. Bring to a simmer and keep at a simmer while you fill the jars.

13. Take a hot jar from the oven and fill it with beets and juice, bringing the juice level to within 1/4 inch of the top of the jar.

14. Wipe off the top of the jar using a clean, damp cloth.

15. Top with a lid and screw on a ring, tight but not too tight.

16. Let cool on the counter before removing the rings and washing the jars in nice, soapy water (if necessary).

Pickled Red Beets

Adapted from my grandma’s recipe

7 1/2 pounds  fresh red beets, roots and 1/2 inch of stems still attached

3 cups cider vinegar

4 cups sugar

Put the whole beets in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until soft, 45 minutes to an hour. Drain the water and let cool until handle-able. Peel the beets and cut off the roots and stems. Cut into 3/4 inch cubes.

Put the cubed beets, vinegar, and sugar in a large pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally to help the sugar dissolve. Reduce heat and keep at a simmer while you fill your hot, sterilized jars with the beets, bringing the beet level up to the bottom ring and the juice level to within a quarter inch of the top of the jar. Top with hot lids and rings. Let sit undisturbed until sealed, about 18 hours. Remove the rings, wash the jars (if needed), and store in a cool, dark, dry place until ready to use. Best if left to sit about a month before opening.

Yield: about 4 quarts

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Dill beans are a great alternative to the standard pickle and people usually love them. I almost always serve them to company. Nobody ever complains.

Dill Beans

Recipe from my aunt Krista

green beans, both ends removed but left whole (maybe 1/2 pound per quart?)

garlic cloves, slightly smashed and peeled (1 per quart)

dill heads (1 large per quart)

hot peppers (2 per quart, optional)

8 cups vinegar

8 cups water

1 cup pickling salt

I use dill heads that are just over the pollinating stage (almost starting to look like seed heads). I’m not a fan of pollen floating around in my jars.

Stuff 1 dill head and 1 clove of garlic in each quart jar.

Laying each jar on it’s side, stuff it with the straightest green beans you can find. Straight ones fit in easier. I held the dill back with my scissors to make the job look a bit neater.

Stuff in as many beans as you can.

Boil together the vinegar, water, and salt (the above amounts should easily do 7 quarts). Pour over the green beans to within a quarter inch of the top of the jars.

Wipe the lips of the jars with a clean, damp cloth. Top with sterilized lids and some rings. Place in the canner and fill with water to cover by an inch or so. Bring to a rapid boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the jars sit in the canner for 5 minutes. Remove the canner lid and take the jars out, setting them on a towel or newspaper lined cookie sheet. Let cool completely before removing the rings, washing the jars in warm, sudsy water, and storing in a cool, dark, dry place.

Don’t worry if your beans look wrinkled. They plump back up over time. It’s best to let these sit a month or so before opening them.

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BIG DISCLAIMER: I do not follow the strict rules of Ball Canning Recipes. Using my mom’s well-trusted methods, I have canned thousands of jars of food and never once gotten sick (from spoiled canned food, anyway). If my methods scare you, by all means look somewhere else for your instructions and recipes. Here is a good one.

Disclaimer finished.

Canned strawberry juice makes the BEST strawberry sauce in the middle of February. I’m not joking. Grab yourself a jar of these, drain the berries for a while, throw the berries out (their flavor is gone), thicken the juice with cornstarch, and add some frozen, sliced berries. You’ll be glad you took the time to run a few quarts of these through the canner. Delicious.

Now hopefully you still have some strawberries to can!

1. Wash the berries.

2. Remove the tops. (Note: I don’t know why I said, “Do you know how to properly slice a strawberry?” when in reality I’m showing you how to take the tops off! I think I get nervous and pathetically serious in front of the LifeCam.)

3. Pack the whole berries into quart jars. It’s okay to squeeze them a bit but don’t completely smash them. Fill the jars to the level of the bottom ring.

4. Mix up your sugar/water solution and divide it equally among the jars.

5. Fill the jars the remaining way with water, up to about 1/4 inch from the top of the jar. If you see air bubbles in the jars, try to tip the jars a bit to dislodge them.

6. Place your lids in a pot and cover them with water. Bring to a boil and promptly remove from the heat.

7. Wipe the rim of each jar with a clean, damp cloth to remove any bits of fruit or sugar.

8. Place a sterilized lid on each jar.

9. Screw on the rings. Don’t turn them too hard or you’ll  never be able to remove them but you do want them to be nice and snug.

10. Put the jars in the canner and fill with water so the jars are covered by a half inch or so. Kind of hard to see in the picture. Sorry.

11. Bring the canner to a boil. Once boiling, set the timer for 7 minutes. Keep the canner at a steady boil during that time.

12. When the timer beeps, turn off the heat. Let the canner sit there untouched for 5 minutes. Helps to keep all the juice from bubbling out of the jars when you bring them out of the hot water.

13. When ready to remove them, prepare a place to set the hot jars. I like to set them on newspaper inside of a rimmed baking sheet. Catches any juice that may leak out.

14. Let the jars cool completely before removing the rings and washing everything in soapy water.

15. Store the canned berries in a cool, dry, dark place, like this.

Canned Strawberries


1/2 cup sugar/quart of berries


Stem the strawberries. Pack them in clean jars. Place your sugar in a large measuring cup. I then add water to the measuring cup to an amount that is easily divisible by the amount of jars. Ex: for 5 quarts, put 2 1/2 cups sugar in a measuring cup. Add enough water to come to the 2 1/2 cup mark so there is 1/2 cup of sugar water per jar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and then divide the sugar water among the jars. Top them off with plain water, bringing the water level to 1/4 inch below the very top of the jar. Place a sterilized lid on each jar and screw on the rings. Place the jars in the canner and fill with water to cover them by 1/2 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 7 minutes. Turn off the heat but let the jars sit in the canner for 5 minutes before removing them to a newspaper lined baking sheet. Let cool completely before removing the rings and washing the jars in soapy water. Store in a cool, dark, dry place until ready to use.

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Apple Butter

We adore this stuff. I did significantly lower the sugar from the original recipe so if you want a sweeter butter, use an extra cup of sugar, brown or white is your choice.

Apple Butter

Recipe adapted from my sister-in-law’s recipe

3 quarts unsweetened applesauce
2 cups white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 t cinnamon
1 t cloves

Place all ingredients in a crock pot and stir. Turn on low and cook with no lid on until nice and thick. This takes a while, like all day. Stir it every now and then. When it’s thick, you can either open-kettlen can it or process it in a water bath. I usually open kettle. Put your clean jars in a 225 degree oven for about 20 minutes, boil your lids in a bit of water. Gather your rings. When the jars are hot, ladle the hot apple butter into them and seal immediately with the hot lids. Let sit undisturbed until cool. Remove the rings and wash the jars in hot, soapy water to remove any stickiness. You can also freeze this stuff, which is, of course, the easiest method.

Yield: I don’t remember

*Update September 26, 2012: This year I used my stick blender and beat the tar out of the apple butter as it was cooking down. It made it so delightfully smooth and I love how it spreads.

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