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Can you water bath can meat if it's covered in vinegar?

 
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Hey guys, long time no post. No reason really, I just haven't seen anything I thought I needed to add to, or had any questions that weren't answerable via search engine. Until now. I've found no information about this on the entire internet.

My understanding is that there is a bad bug or two, e. coli I think is the big name one, that won't be killed by boiling at 212° F, but is easily killed by and won't survive in acid, and that's why you can water bath can fruit but not meat, fruit has acid.

As I sat sipping my apple cider vinegar electrolyte drink one day it occurred to me, vinegar is acid, cover meat with vinegar in a jar and it should be safe to water bath can, right?

Please no "just get a pressure canner" comments, they cost a couple hundred monies last time I checked, and water bath canning is way more practical if you're using wood as fuel, idk how hard it would be to maintain the heat well enough to use a pressure canner over a wood stove. You can water bath can with a fire and a metal bucket.
 
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E. Coli will be killed at 160°F/70°C, so no pressure canner needed.

 
L. Tims
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Maybe I got my bacteria mixed up but I'm pretty sure the principle is right
 
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I've pressure canned on a metal plate over a fire and it worked splendidly.

I think botulism is one of the ones you're worried about.  Food safety people are often pretty particular about the amount of acid needed for water bath canning.  And when I canned venison chili (which has plenty of acidic tomatoes in it), it needed to be pressure canned.  So my hunch is that you're stuck with pressure canning or a potentially high level of risk.  

I think my local agricultural extension office loans out canners.  Maybe yours does too?
 
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Mike Haasl wrote:I've pressure canned on a metal plate over a fire and it worked splendidly.



One thing that can help is getting one of the old-style pressure canners that does not use or require a rubber gasket, which can be damaged if your open fire manages to put too much heat near the top of your canner.  (There is at least one modern brand that is still designed this way, but it is, to put it mildly, not the most economical.)  

It's also the case that old pressure canners are often available used at garage and estate sales -- I paid no more than ten bucks for any of mine.

With regard to the notion of water bath canning meat, my family did it a few times in emergency food preparation situations.  We didn't die.  But then, nobody dies from bad home canning practices until the time that the botulism spores actually end up in the jar.  People often survive playing Russian Roulette, too.  

How much good might be done by adding acid to the canning liquid -- which won't be able to penetrate to the interior of the meat chunks -- is not something I'm prepared to speculate about.  

Here is the official USDA advice:

Pressure canning is the only recommended method for canning meat, poultry, seafood, and
vegetables. The bacterium Clostridium botulinum is destroyed in low-acid foods when they are
processed at the correct time and pressure in pressure canners. Using boiling water canners for
these foods poses a real risk of botulism poisoning.

If Clostridium botulinum bacteria survive and grow inside a sealed jar of food, they can produce a
poisonous toxin. Even a taste of food containing this toxin can be fatal.

 
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I've eaten tuna that was first cooked in a salty brine to change the acidity, and then packed in jars with olive oil and water bath canned. I wonder if a similar treatment would work for other meats?

The above technique wouldn't be recommended by the USDA even for tuna, but plenty of people eat it this way, straight out of the jar, and are still alive.

I wonder also if it changes things if something is going to be thoroughly reheated before serving? Would that get rid of any nasties that might have grown in it? Or do the toxins stay in the food?
 
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The botulism toxins are heat stable, at least at any temp the food would still resemble food, so once they are there re-cooking or re-canning will NOT remove them.

People used to get away with a lot of things you can't today- People's immune systems were tougher and had been inoculated against most of the bugs.  And many of the nasty bugs simply hadn't evolved yet, the dangerous strains of e.coli are only 50 ish years old for example.

I think you are better served using a different preservation method--if you don't want to pressure can then you can ferment veggies and salt, smoke, dehydrate meat.
 
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Humans have been preserving meats for thousands of years before pressure cookers
Brine/salt bath, is probably the one you are looking for.
There is also ferment by koji microbes, lactic acid bacteria and company
But even more common is smoking/dehydration. In reality a little bit of everything is used, The meats were usually salted/brined/seasoned, then aged/fermented, then smoked/dehydrated. A cool trick is to recook(fry/boil/bake) the meat before you eat it which could be weeks/months/year later it was killed/preserved, unless you were eating it without recooking it before the age of 5 and survived after developing the needed immunity.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/food-science/fermented-meat

Ham
Salted codfish/haddock anyone
Skerpikjøt—Faroese dried mutton
Salami/Sausages/etc
Traditional cod liver oil (I wonder if we can make other oils this way?)
Jerky (usually made from any type of red meat)
There is also alot fermented shrimp/crab/fish/pork ferments in Asian cultures.
 
S Bengi
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https://www.mass.gov/service-details/botulism
According to the government website above the botulism toxin is destroyed by cooking.
Based on multiply other sources it seems like boiling fir 10min or frying for 3min kills the toxins. It is only the toxins that gets us sick. Its even easier to kill the bacteria (its the spores that is hard to kill, just dont feed it to infants under 12months old)

 
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S Bengi wrote:
https://www.mass.gov/service-details/botulism
According to the government website above the botulism toxin is destroyed by cooking.
Based on multiply other sources it seems like boiling fir 10min or frying for 3min kills the toxins. It is only the toxins that gets us sick.



It is true the long cooking of improperly-canned stuff that has botulism toxin in it will render it safe to consume, at least according to the USDA.  They only recommend the 10-minute boil, though.  I'm comfortable with that when I'm canning stock or broth, because I can't imagine not subjecting those to a subsequent long cook -- I'll be cooking things in them.  Anything else, though, is subject to the likelihood that somebody might eat it straight from the jar, or with minimal warming.  It doesn't seem ethical to me to create potential time bombs like that, that might go off in other people after I have -- for instance -- passed away.  Here's the USDA quote:

If Clostridium botulinum bacteria survive and grow inside a sealed jar of food, they can produce a poisonous toxin. Even a taste of food containing this toxin can be fatal. Boiling food 10 minutes at altitudes below 1,000 ft should destroy this poison when it is present. For altitudes at and above 1,000 ft, add 1 additional minute per 1,000 ft additional elevation.

...  

This is not intended to serve as a recommendation for consuming foods known to be significantly underprocessed according to current standards and recommended methods. It is not a guarantee that all possible defects and hazards with other methods can be overcome by this boiling process.

 
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S Bengi wrote:Humans have been preserving meats for thousands of years before pressure cookers.



Funny story about that.  Botulism is sort of a "new" threat since the invention of airtight storage containers -- prior to that, it rarely came up become it requires a lack of oxygen to grow in your preserved food, and we had few technological ways to accomplish oxygen exclusion.  (There were all sorts of other ways to die from badly preserved food, though, and people did, in droves.)  

But one "safe" way that was popular among the  indigenous peoples of coastal Alaska "back in the day" was to make stinky-heads.  These were fish heads, sewn into a sealskin bag, and buried in (cold) ground for a long time, resulting in some sort of slow ferment process that left the heads not only edible, but (to people in the cultures doing this) tasty.  All agree that this was a totally safe process from which nobody got sick or died.

Then sometime in the 20th century, Tupperware reached bush Alaska.  This was a lot easier than sewing your fish heads up in seal skin -- just bung them in Tupperware, snap on the lid, bury them as usual, and hey, fast easy stinky-heads.  Ain't technology great?

Only it turns out that Tupperware excludes enough oxygen for botulism to grow.  People started keeling over.  A public health education campaign was required with one message: "Stinky-heads made in sealed containers will kill you."

 
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from someone who almost died from food poisoning---when in doubt throw it out
 
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The bugs will be killed by heat treating, but if they have already produced toxins those will not necessarily be killed. Someone has already mention botulism.
 
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Dan Boone wrote:

S Bengi wrote:Humans have been preserving meats for thousands of years before pressure cookers.



Funny story about that.  Botulism is sort of a "new" threat since the invention of airtight storage containers -- prior to that, it rarely came up become it requires a lack of oxygen to grow in your preserved food, and we had few technological ways to accomplish oxygen exclusion.  (There were all sorts of other ways to die from badly preserved food, though, and people did, in droves.)  

But one "safe" way that was popular among the  indigenous peoples of coastal Alaska "back in the day" was to make stinky-heads.  These were fish heads, sewn into a sealskin bag, and buried in (cold) ground for a long time, resulting in some sort of slow ferment process that left the heads not only edible, but (to people in the cultures doing this) tasty.  All agree that this was a totally safe process from which nobody got sick or died.

Then sometime in the 20th century, Tupperware reached bush Alaska.  This was a lot easier than sewing your fish heads up in seal skin -- just bung them in Tupperware, snap on the lid, bury them as usual, and hey, fast easy stinky-heads.  Ain't technology great?

Only it turns out that Tupperware excludes enough oxygen for botulism to grow.  People started keeling over.  A public health education campaign was required with one message: "Stinky-heads made in sealed containers will kill you."



Ever tried stinkheads?  I lived in Bush Alaska for 2 years, had them offered to me at community meals.  Not a chance of me eating them. And I ate some other stuff that was pretty bad, but stink heads are WAY over the line.  Folks say they taste great after you get past the smell.  
 
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Back to the original question, yes, you can pickle meat, making it acidic enough to waterbath can.

I suggest finding a tried and tested recipe, rather than just dumping vinegar in and hoping for the best.

I have no idea where you would find such a recipe. A quick google search turned up very few, and they didn't look all that reliable.

It might be that the closest you find is a mincemeat recipe, one that uses actual meat. Those contain enough acidic ingredients to compensate for the meat, and the ones I've seen were considered safe to can in a waterbath.
 
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So basically

-Just water bath can it but be sure to cook it after opening, label it so no one eats it straight

-Get an old pressure canner without a gasket at a garage sale, use a metal plate

-Pickle it then water bath can it- but it's not as easy as just adding vinegar

Thanks everyone
 
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I have to say that canning makes me nervous.  Canning is a very new method of food preservation compared to traditional ways of preserving meat (salting, curing, drying, etc).  Most traditional methods of preserving meat using friendly bacteria and salt to keep the nasty stuff away.  Canning kills off the beneficial bacteria and yeasts which help keep us safe, so we have to be absolutely certain we don't leave any of the nasty stuff behind that might harm us.  Since we lose a lot of the traditional indicators (smell, look, texture, taste) that tell us about the nasty when canning, my personal feeling is that I would follow the guidelines.  There's just so much that can go wrong and I don't know enough about the science to know the safe.  There are also parasites and eggs in meat that can affect the human and need hotter (or colder) than one can get for water bath canning.

I believe I can borrow a canner from the library and the local gleaners' organization helps with home canning for those who don't have the equipment.

But when I have meat to preserve, I find it more delicious, less work, and less energy to use some of the more traditional methods like curing, smoking, drying...
 
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In the Philippines they use vinegar to preserve meat. They cook the meat in vinegar. They don’t can it though, so I can’t speak to long-term storage in cans.
 
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