By Kellene Bishop
This week has been full of all kinds of activities in readiness for the Christmas holiday, but I still have to keep up on my self-sufficiency duties.
I received my fabulous ground beef from Zaycon Foods this past week and decided to turn the necessity of canning it into a video tutorial.
Canning ground beef or other ground meats is a little different than canning chicken or fish because I actually cook the ground meat first. This little tutorial will also give you some tips as to how to ensure great pressure canning results in general as well as some suggestions on how to select a good canner, troubleshooting, and of course, safety.
Hope you enjoy it!
Questions and Answers:
What about instructions for high elevations?
I used the 12.5 to 15 pounds of pressure because of my elevation, however, I should have made it more clear that folks need to refer to their manufacturer's guide for specific use of the canner in their particular elevation.
Can you just use a hot pad to get the jars out or do you need that tool you used?
Well you can use a hot pad but one thing I discovered is that the moment you are removing those jars from the canner is when the glass is the most volatile so even a little bump of the jars could cause it to shatter. So it's best to handle them with a firm grip as provided by the jar lifter. They maybe cost $3, so they are worth the peace of mind they bring.
What do you mean by washing them off and "stinking" afterwards?
Because it's common for juices to expell from the jars during the pressure canning, those juices can remain on the outside of the jars. As such, I wash them off with hot soapy water--CAREFULLY--before I put them away. It gives me one more chance to check the seal too.
I thought meat can only be canned in pints, not quarts; is that accurate?
There are instructions for both on renowned canning instruction sites as well as the instruction manual and will be confirmed if you call All-American's help line or contact them vie e-mail.
Someone pointed out that the quick release may cause the jars to boil over; is that accurate?
It's not accurate unless you do not provide sufficient head room. Ultimately you'll know whether or not your jars are sealed in due time. However, this is part of the reason why I wait a week before I put my jars away. When it comes to canning anything with fat in it, even with a natural release you still need to be mindful of not over-filling the jars so as to avoid fat particles from preventing a seal. Let's be logical about this for a moment and say that perhaps the jars were to boil over during the quick release period. The question is, did the food get cooked long enough to eliminate contamination? Yup. Did that food then get sealed inside the jar? Yup--you'll know that when you check your jars after cooling. The little pings that you'll hear as they seal will be music to your ears. So, even if the jars were to boil over (which will happen when you have too much in them), it's not creating a food safety risk because the entire environment is heated and sanitized within the pressure canner. Some dingledorf wrote a contentious comment claiming that I was going to kill people with this method saying that by boiling over bacteria can get into the jars. Bacteria into the jars, huh? And where might that bacteria come from--the 250 degree water that's been cooking for the past 90 minutes?? Uh, nope. I don't think that even MRSA can survive that kind of abuse.
Again, the key is to make sure that your jars seal properly after you've removed them from the canner and set them to cool. IF they don't seal, then yes, you CAN introduce bacteria and even mold inside.
Do you use the USDA Guidelines for your canning efforts?
Nope. I don't trust the USDA to get much right. They are the same persons who would have us believe that raw milk requires a hazmat team and expense to clean up but who believe that using ammonia as a "preserving agent" in meat is acceptable. I get the majority of my information for the articles I write based on well-worn and loved books, expert interviews, and personal experience.
I noticed you didn't mention anything about boiling the lids or sanitizing the jars. Did I miss that?
Nope. You didn't miss that. Such instructions are typically provided when you are water bathing canned goods because there is very little heat time. However, when you are canning meat you are exposing both the food and the canning jars and lids for an extensive period of time under extreme heat which is suitable to eliminate contamination concerns.
Can I use broth instead of water?
Yes, you CAN however I wouldn't simply because the meat sitting in that water for all that time makes a delicious broth in and of itself, so I don't see the need.
I noticed you set the timer right after you put the weight on. Shouldn't it be when your pressure canner comes up to full pressure?
Actually, yes, you're correct. I flubbed that (happens when talking to a camera sometimes). I know my particular canner and stove well enough by now to know how quickly it comes up to pressure after I put the weight on. It's never more than a couple of minutes. However, prudence would dictate that I should have said to "wait until your canner comes up to full pressure and THEN start timing your cooking time."
I noticed you didn't use much salt. I thought I was supposed to use salt.
Salt isn't necessary for the canning process in this case, though it is necessary for getting the best flavor. I used plenty of salt ultimately when I was cooking my meat. I salt a little, then taste, salt a little more. I didn't show that on the camera because I have this thing about not wanting to eat on camera. Ahem... *grin*
I was under the impression that it was important to remove all fat from home canning projects for safety purposes.
As a person who's long preserved straight fats for long-term storage, I would have to disagree with this notion. The concern has some validity though as it is fat which CAN get on the rims of the jars and thus compromise the sealing. However, with suitable pressure, heat, and canning time, the fat is appropriately thin so that when the flat lid presses down to seal, it can press out any fat that's on the lid (kind of like squeezing toothpaste out of the tube; when you stop pressing down on it, a portion of it sucks back into the tube as a result of the temporary suction. This is what happens when sufficient pressure has been built up in each of the jars.
I always see meat juices in the water after canning meat. Is that dangerous? Is that supposed to happen?
That will happen if your jars are too full. The potential problem though is IF the moderate amount of fat that will then be in that water ends up obstructing the flat lid of sealing. This is why I check and double check that my jars have sealed properly, even to the point of waiting a week before putting them away.
How do you store your jars to protect them from breaking?
I have fallen in love with Jar Boxes. (look them up on the internet). It's a great investment to protect my hard earned money and effort.
Can I try to reseal a jar after I see that it hasn't sealed?
Yes, but you need to do so immediately. If need be you can put it in the refrigerator until you're going to re-can them, but it should be within 24 hours AND you will need to use a NEW lid.
I always get hard water ring on the outside of my jars and inside my canner. What can I do about that?
A little bit of white vinegar poured into your canning water will take care of that problem easily!
My jars always end up so much less full than when I put them in the canner. Am I doing something wrong?
Nope. It's just fine. It's nothing other than your meat shrinking just like it does when you cook it regularly.
Help me to better understand the reason for letting the steam come out of the spout for 10 minutes before putting the weight on.
You know how they talk about people getting so angry that they're going to blow their top? Well, it's kind of like that. You want to get the interior of your canner hot enough so that it creates enough steam that it needs somewhere to escape. And being safe rather than sorry is a good motto in this part. As such, a full 10 minutes of steam escaping ensures that when I put that weight on, there will be enough heat and steam in the interior to immediately build up the pressure. The steaming part is allowing an outlet for the pressure, but as soon as I put the weight on, it begins to build up. It will take you significantly longer (and thus more fuel) to build up the heat and pressure inside if you did not use this method.
Your jars look so much prettier than mine.
*laugh* I THINK that it might have something to do with how full a person fills the jars. I've learned the hard way that overfilling the jars no only wasted perfectly good broth by it boiling out during the pressure canning, but it just makes things look a little less attractive. Mind you, I'm not sure there's much attractive about canned chicken from the outside--I'm sure that's why the stores never sell canned meats without a label to cover up the inside. *grin*
"I nearly cried when I saw you say not to get a Presto."
Aww...I'm sorry. I surely didn't want someone to cry. The good news is that the really old Presto canners still have some value. So you could keep an eye out for those on the classifieds. However, anyone who tries to tell you that a new Presto Pressure Canner is just as good as a new All-American Pressure Canner clearly has not spent nearly every day for a year canning and cooking in a Presto. Their seals and even their metal are eventually compromised. And if I were to ever find myself in a long-term crisis scenario, the last thing I need is a pressure canner that's useless to me. It's just not a risk I'm willing to take. The instructions for the Presto Pressure COOKER are very telling. Their metal composite is SO weak that the instructions don't even permit you to cook beans directly in the pan, rather you need to put only a small amount of beans in another container and then put that in the pan in order to pressure cook it. ANY pressure cooker that's worth a dime should have no problem handling the cooking of beans. Nuff said. More good news though...a lot of people just don't appreciate the merits of a pressure canner and as such estate sales, garage sales and classifieds are a great place to find unloved and unappreciated assets. Their blindness is YOUR BLING. *grin* So keep an eye out. Nobody says you have to pay top dollar.
I'm afraid of my pressure canner or afraid that I'm going to give someone food poisoning.
If you follow the directions in your instruction manual you'll find a VERY conservative approach to canning. They have to do that so that their lawyers will be happy. In actuality, according the to CDC you have a much higher risk of getting food poisoning from a restaurant than your home canning. And should you feel a little unpleasantness coming on, having some Ravensara Essential Oil on hand and the knowledge of how to use it, will help you with that!
Do you have instructions for canning other kinds of meats?
I heard that relying on a pressure canning in a crisis isn't a good idea because you'll run out of lids since you can only use them once.
Ironically it was the skill of canning that fed a lot of families during the Great Depression, even saving their lives, but the good news is that Tattler Lids are REUSABLE canning lids and they're lovely to use. I've only used mine a couple of times because I have lots and lots of new lids, but I am stocking up on Tattler Lids over time slowly so that I won't even be without lids when I need them.
Can you pressure can meats in larger batches like in the 1/2 gallon jars?
Nope, the half-gallon jars are not recommended for pressure canning, though they can be used for water batch canning in a pinch. Otherwise, stick with the smaller jars.
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