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!!!! Wanting to fire up the pressure canner for the first time

 
pollinator
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We have 3 freezers filled to the brim with meat, and we're running the generator too much keeping it frozen!  I need to get on the ball and can a bunch of meat.  We don't need to be running this many freezers.
 I've never pressure canned though.  I'm interested in some advice, suggestions, or recipes!  I've read about raw packing vs. packing pre-cooked meats.  I'm impartial and might be incline to go the route that's faster/easier.  

We grind most of our meats, so I thought maybe pre-cooking and packing the crumbled burger/sausage into jars might be the most space efficient?

We also have lots of osso budko and soup bones- I was thinking maybe we could pack some soup bones in with veggies and spices, then top off with water for a canned soup?  Or would it be better to make a giant pot of soup and portion it into jars?
I also make a lot of broth, so I was thinking of canning my broths instead of freezing them.

I'm a big fan of herbs, I like to season my dishes well- any experience with how canning amplifies or dulls seasonings/flavors?

I have it in my head that meats need to be lean and excess fats should be avoided when pressure canning, is this accurate?

Any experiences/resources/links with sound canning advice appreciated.  We're at 5,200ft elevation.  My canner is a fairly simple one with a clamp-on lid and a pressure gauge on top.  Haven't used it yet though.
 
pollinator
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I prefer to raw pack and cook without spices unless I'm doing a specific recipe (such as chili) because I'm not always certain who's going to be eating or how much seasoning I'll want for that particular meal.

Do not pack bones for pressure cooking--although they will pressure without a problem, they turn into this gritty muck that infiltrates everything else in the bottle. Better to do broths or soups and put them into the jar that way. I haven't bothered too much with removing fat--it pressure cooks just as well, adds flavor, and can be removed if necessary when cooking, but you probably want to avoid big chunks of it. The important thing is to make sure your jars are completely clean, because any amount of fat on the rim will keep them from sealing. I do pint jars for individual ingredients like meat, and quarts for meals like chili or beef stew.

All meat products should be pressured for 90 minutes. At 5000 feet you're probably looking at 15 pounds, but look it up to make sure.
 
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Seconding what Lauren said about bones and seasonings.

Two of the best resources for pressure canning (detailing methods, times, and pressure adjustments for altitude) are the National Center for Home Food Preservation and the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.  The All-American company also has their own cookbook with a lot of recipes; the version I have is out of print and costs >$40 on Amazon and isn't worth that, in my opinion.  You can probably find a bootleg pdf online, if that doesn't conflict with your morals.

The #1 thing I pressure can is stock (so much easier to open a jar than to wait for it to thaw), followed by ground beef.  I brown my beef dark, since it gives it a really good flavor.  Usually I cook the meat in the afternoon/ evening, then scrape it into a stock pot and cover it with at least an inch of water, then put it in the fridge (or outside if it's cold) overnight--it's much easier to get the fat off that way.  The more fat, the shorter the storage time (it does go rancid after a while and I've noticed a degradation in flavor after a year) and the higher the chance of not reaching the correct internal temp to kill botulism (fat is an insulator and heat flows through it differently than water); this is why canning butter isn't recommended.  Some fat is fine, but something like chunks of pork belly would be dicey.  Anyway, after I skim the fat off my pot of meat, I just heat the whole thing to boiling and use the water in my jars.  I've also canned ground turkey the same way, even though it's not accepted as "safe"; when I asked a few different Master Food Preservers the consensus seemed to be that it was something that hadn't been lab tested when the guides were written, so it's not something they could recommend because whatever (liability, probably).  I usually do everything by the book because I don't want botulism and I don't want to lose food I paid money for, but this is one instance where I feel comfortable coloring outside the lines.

I've also canned meatballs (without egg or breadcrumbs, just beef and a little seasoning) and country-style sausage balls and patties.  Brown 'em off, throw them in a jar, cover with boiling water, and process according to the USDA guidelines.  The juice makes a decent gravy with just some cornstarch and butter, and a little powdered milk makes it even better.  

For cubed red meat, I prefer hot pack for two reasons: 1, it's easier to get all the air pockets out, and 2, I think the flavor and texture are better.  Never underestimate the Maillard reaction.  I generally do cubed chicken raw pack, unless I'm using leftover cooked chicken to can soup.  Canned raw-pack chicken looks gross (at least, grocery store meat, I can't afford farm-raised and can't have my own chickens because bears), but once you take it out of the jar and break it apart it's fine.   When I can soup, I generally portion raw ingredients into the jar and cover with stock, or even just plain water.  You can always dress it up before serving it.  

I'm not sure about all spices, but I've noticed garlic powder, thyme, and cumin seem to be amplified by pressure canning.  Delicate herbs (tarragon, parsley, etc) just get destroyed by the heat.

Oh, and if you're using a dial gauge canner and notice you need to babysit it (turning the heat up and down to maintain pressure), you can get a rocker weight to regulate the pressure.  Finding out about this was a game-changer for me.

I've seen YouTubers dry-packing hamburger patties, bacon, and raw meatloaf, but I personally wouldn't do any of those things.  Dry-packing is dangerous because air, like fat, is an insulator and won't create the same internal convection currents that liquid does, which is essential for even heat penetration.  I mean, botulinum toxin is neutralized after five minutes of being heated to 212F (after the jar is opened), so your mileage may vary on what risks you're comfortable taking.  BexarPrepper on Youtube does a lot of those things I wouldn't do, if you're curious.  Linda's Pantry does everything by the book, and she covers a lot of soups and meal prep shortcut recipes (like canning casserole bases that just need noodles added).

Good luck!
 
Jen Fan
pollinator
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Excellent information, thank you both!  I've got some learning' to do

I appreciate the tip on not putting bones in the jars, I wouldn't have suspected a bad result!  It sounded rather easy    Glad I didn't wreck a bunch of food with that experiment!
 
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Jen, We brown our meat then let it finish cooking during the canning process.

Here is the information for the  USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning 2015 Revision by The USDA

USDA-Complete-Guide-Home-Canning

The best thing about this book is that it can be downloaded for free:

https://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html


 
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Making a stew is easy. Chili is decent slso.

Last year i made lamb stew then canned it. This year i think ill raw pack it with carrots and potatos.  If seasoning is too light i can add it on reheat. I'll be doing this with 3 whole lamb. Saves a bunch of freezer space and a quick meal to boot.
 
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What my move is and was when I first started canning in 2016 was, learn by the ball bluebook and official sources online like those linked in other comments.

Then, watched many youtube videos for a better visual. I keep in mind what the official tested recipes and compare the videos to the tested recipes.

Basically, you want the official tested recipes, Canning knowledge and so on to be the backbone of your Canning knowledge and learning.

Anything outside the official tested recipes (Anything on the internet, websites, youtube and word of mouth) needs to be approached with extreme caution because there's a lot of cowboy canners out there who do things that are not officially tested to be safe. Compare anything you see to official documents and the ball bluebooks and go the safer route.

National Center for home food preservation.
https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_home.html

Ball Recipes, 477 of them (From ball bluebook). https://www.freshpreserving.com/recipes-all/

There are rules I bend and sometimes break and I do my best to let anyone know on my youtube channel or otherwise if I'm stepping outside of established guidelines to warn people upfront. It's then left up to them if they feel confident in doing such things themselves.
 
Benjamin Drew
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S Tonin wrote:Seconding what Lauren said about bones and seasonings.

Two of the best resources for pressure canning (detailing methods, times, and pressure adjustments for altitude) are the National Center for Home Food Preservation and the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.  The All-American company also has their own cookbook with a lot of recipes; the version I have is out of print and costs >$40 on Amazon and isn't worth that, in my opinion.  You can probably find a bootleg pdf online, if that doesn't conflict with your morals.

The #1 thing I pressure can is stock (so much easier to open a jar than to wait for it to thaw), followed by ground beef.  I brown my beef dark, since it gives it a really good flavor.  Usually I cook the meat in the afternoon/ evening, then scrape it into a stock pot and cover it with at least an inch of water, then put it in the fridge (or outside if it's cold) overnight--it's much easier to get the fat off that way.  The more fat, the shorter the storage time (it does go rancid after a while and I've noticed a degradation in flavor after a year) and the higher the chance of not reaching the correct internal temp to kill botulism (fat is an insulator and heat flows through it differently than water); this is why canning butter isn't recommended.  Some fat is fine, but something like chunks of pork belly would be dicey.  Anyway, after I skim the fat off my pot of meat, I just heat the whole thing to boiling and use the water in my jars.  I've also canned ground turkey the same way, even though it's not accepted as "safe"; when I asked a few different Master Food Preservers the consensus seemed to be that it was something that hadn't been lab tested when the guides were written, so it's not something they could recommend because whatever (liability, probably).  I usually do everything by the book because I don't want botulism and I don't want to lose food I paid money for, but this is one instance where I feel comfortable coloring outside the lines.

I've also canned meatballs (without egg or breadcrumbs, just beef and a little seasoning) and country-style sausage balls and patties.  Brown 'em off, throw them in a jar, cover with boiling water, and process according to the USDA guidelines.  The juice makes a decent gravy with just some cornstarch and butter, and a little powdered milk makes it even better.  

For cubed red meat, I prefer hot pack for two reasons: 1, it's easier to get all the air pockets out, and 2, I think the flavor and texture are better.  Never underestimate the Maillard reaction.  I generally do cubed chicken raw pack, unless I'm using leftover cooked chicken to can soup.  Canned raw-pack chicken looks gross (at least, grocery store meat, I can't afford farm-raised and can't have my own chickens because bears), but once you take it out of the jar and break it apart it's fine.   When I can soup, I generally portion raw ingredients into the jar and cover with stock, or even just plain water.  You can always dress it up before serving it.  

I'm not sure about all spices, but I've noticed garlic powder, thyme, and cumin seem to be amplified by pressure canning.  Delicate herbs (tarragon, parsley, etc) just get destroyed by the heat.

Oh, and if you're using a dial gauge canner and notice you need to babysit it (turning the heat up and down to maintain pressure), you can get a rocker weight to regulate the pressure.  Finding out about this was a game-changer for me.

I've seen YouTubers dry-packing hamburger patties, bacon, and raw meatloaf, but I personally wouldn't do any of those things.  Dry-packing is dangerous because air, like fat, is an insulator and won't create the same internal convection currents that liquid does, which is essential for even heat penetration.  I mean, botulinum toxin is neutralized after five minutes of being heated to 212F (after the jar is opened), so your mileage may vary on what risks you're comfortable taking.  BexarPrepper on Youtube does a lot of those things I wouldn't do, if you're curious.  Linda's Pantry does everything by the book, and she covers a lot of soups and meal prep shortcut recipes (like canning casserole bases that just need noodles added).

Good luck!



Yes, what S Tonin said! Go with a weighted jiggler and use the gauge as a reference. It's so much better and safer in my personal opinion because gauges can lose calibration but jigglers don't. :)
 
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