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I am always excited and look for ways to build my shelf-stable pantry with inexpensive food.  But inexpensive sure does not mean inferior.  Especially when it comes to the topic I address today.

If you are new or have never pressure canned anything, chicken is the single simplest food to start with.  It’s the first thing I canned and highly recommend it.

You may or may not have heard of a company called Zaycon Foods.  Rather than explaining it to you, here is a great video to explain it all.  In short, it’s cheap, fresh and healthy!

Having been introduced to Zaycon, I’m a devoted advocate and client.  To learn more, please click here

But having just purchased 40 pounds of their chicken breasts, I had to get them processed as quickly as possible.  I set out to pressure can most of it.

Supplies

 

 

Start by gathering all your supplies.  You need your jars, rings, lids, jar lifter, sharp knife (for trimming your chicken), pressure canner, saucepan (large enough accommodate the lids and rings you will be sanitizing).

 

 

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Before you start anything, inspect the rubber ring in your canner (if you are using a canner with this), inspect the vent to make sure there is no obstructions, making sure there is no blockage.  I hope you can see here the blue color in the center of this photo.  It is your view through the vent in the lid of your canner.

 

 

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I begin by getting my jars ready by washing them in hot, soapy water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Get into the habit of checking each jar for any imperfections.  While I wash my jars, I run my finger around the rim to feel for any cracks or other anomalies.

 

 

 

 

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Also, do a visual inspection of each of your jars.  While new jars rarely have cracks or other imperfections, they sometimes do.  And if you are re-using jars, the risk is higher so be sure to use only those jars that are pristine!

 

 

 

 

 

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You have several options for keeping your jars hot while you prepare your chicken.  You can keep them in a large stockpot covered with simmering water or you can do as I do, keep them in a warm oven.  I set mine at 200 degrees.

 

 

 

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Now I put about 3 quarts of water and about 1/8th of a cup of white vinegar in my pressure canner over a low flame (or heat if you are electric).  The vinegar is not necessary if you have soft water.  Mine is a little hard and this will prevent lime buildup in my canner and jars.  It is completely optional.

 

 

 

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After washing your lids and rings, place them in your saucepan over a low simmer.  You do not want to boil them.  Just warm enough to soften the wax or rubber ring.

 

 

 

 

 

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One-by-one, I pull out a hot jar and trim and cut my chicken and put them into my jars leaving a 1” headspace.  Whether I am handling raw meat or removing food from my dehydrator, I wear gloves.  In dehydrating, I don’t want to transfer my oils onto the food I just dry.  For raw meat, it is a level of safety.

 

 

 

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I immediately place the filled jar into the canner.  I do not put the lids or rings on them yet.  This will keep the jars hot which is important so they don’t break when the canner comes to temperature.

 

 

 

 

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Once my canner is full of jars, I will put a pinch of salt in each jar.  I use Pink Himalayan because it contains every bit of its’ minerals.  But you can use canning salt.

 

 

 

 

 

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This step is critical in all canning projects.  Never, ever forget to wipe and clean your rims before adding your lids.  When I can meat or food that is particularly oily, I use white vinegar which cuts the greasy residue.

 

 

 

 

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I use metal lids when I use new jars.  But they are good for only one use.  When I buy replacement lids, I purchase either Tattler or 4ever Recap lids.  If you are interested in these lids, here is a video to help you see their value.  I would post one for 4ever Recaps, but could not find one.  But they are essentially the same.  One thing I love about 4ever is that it is a woman owned company.  Hey, it’s personal.  I respect women entrepreneurs.

 

 

 

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As you can see, the same metal rings are used with these lids and can be used several times.

 

 

 

 

 

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With the jars all inside the canner and the lid securely in place, increase the heat under it to build pressure.  In this picture, you can be (behind) the vent where you will place the weight.  In the foreground is another vent on my specific Presto canner.  Not all canners have this.  But if yours does, as pressure builds this element will rattle and shake until stem builds up.  When enough steam builds, this vent will rise and shut allowing the pressure to continue to build.  When this happens, the vent that receives your weight (the one shown in the background) will begin to spew steam.  I allow this to build for 10 minutes before placing the weight on it.

 

 

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This batch contains pint size jars.  I processed it with 10 pounds of pressure for 75 minutes as per the Ball Complete Book.  After 75 minutes, you will turn off your heat and allow the pressure to level out.  This takes about an hour in most cases.  Once the vent in the front drops back into its’ normal position, it will be safe to remove the weight as shown in this photo.  But you must still use caution because your metal canner is still very hot and can cause serious burns.   But you can now remove the canner lid.

 

 

 

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After you remove the canner lid, you will begin taking your jars out of the canner and placing them onto your counter using your jar lifter.  Please, never try using anything but a canning jar lifter.  This can be quite dangerous if you try using tongs or anything else not specifically designed to safely handle boiling hot jars.  The foods in these jars are still boiling aggressively.

 

 

 

 

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You will not allow your jars to set out on your counter overnight to allow them to completely cool down.   You do not want them to be moved or disturbed while they cool and the rings set on the rims.  When using metal lids, you will begin hearing a distinctive “ping” as they seal.  Music to your ears!

 

 

 

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The following morning, I removed all the rings from my jars and tested their seal.  To do this, you simply lift the jar by the rings.  If it sealed as it should have, they will not release.  Now they are ready to be washed because the jars will be oily and a bit icky.  Just wash them in warm, soapy water, rinse and allow to dry.

 

 

 

 

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Once the jars and lids are completely dry, label then with content and date.  In large batches, it’s easy to just print out labels.  If it’s just a few cans, just use a permanent marker to write it on the lids.

 

 

 

 

 

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My yield for approximately 25 pounds of chicken was a dozen pints and six 1 ½ pint jars.  You can store them all in the boxes they came in.

 

 

 

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But I have a canning pantry that beautifully shows off my healthy food and keeps it all readily available for my regular menu planning.  This antique cabinet has two glass-front doors so all my company can see and covet my invaluable prepping skills.

 

 

 

As you can see, following standard practices for sanitation and canning, chicken is quite easy to pressure can.   If you are just beginning to try your hand at pressure canning, this is one of the absolute easiest recipes you will find.  Buying in bulk is cost-effective.  Having your investment safely stored in canning jars requires no electricity and is shelf-stable for up to two years.

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Finally, just to show you that having a jar or two that does not seal only allows you to eat it sooner!  I had one jar that did not seal properly.  But the food inside is still perfectly fine.  I simply added barbeque sauce and we had sandwiches for lunch.   I always plan on how to incorporate whatever I can into a meal within about a week.  And by having this happen to one of my jars allows me to show you how beautiful the canned chicken is.  As you can see, it’s much like canned tuna.  You can see how moist and flaky it is.  You can use this for chicken salad, on green salads, in soups and stews, enchiladas.  Just use your imagination.  It has so many delicious uses.

 

 

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Holidays are great beyond just celebrating holy and other meaningful events in human history.  It’s a time to share meals, gather families and introduce traditions to our new generations.  Beyond that, holiday celebrations come with wonderful sales that allows families, especially those on tight budgets to fill their pantries with inexpensive but delicious food.  Easter is a perfect example of that.  Ham.  There are so many things to cook with ham and making leftovers into soups and stews provides for a variety of options that can feed a family for many months ahead.

First I will share a general recipe I follow.  I cook many things like this without actually measuring.  I did do my best to record what I did this time.  But keep in mind that this is a base recipe and you can add any other kinds of ingredients that you prefer.  You may want more carrots or you may want to add other vegetables.  Maybe you have a special spice that you want to add.  Do it!  The canning process will be the same.  Make it the way your family loves.

Canning Ham & Beans
Recipe Type: Soup
Cuisine: American
Author: PrepperPenny
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 90 mins
Total time: 2 hours
Serves: LOTS
Cut all ingredients into similar size pieces
Ingredients
  • 4 Pounds Dry White Beans
  • 3 Pounds of Baked Ham, cut into similarly sized pieces
  • 4 Tbsp Chicken Bouillon (Optional)
  • 5 Stalks of Celery
  • 2 Medium Size Yellow Onions
  • 5 Large Carrots
  • Salt & Pepper To Taste
  • 4 Bay Leaves
  • Smoked Paprika to add smokey flavor
  • Dried Parsley
  • Celery Salt
Instructions
  1. Clean and soak beans overnight
  2. Rinse Beans and return to large stockpot
  3. Add all ingredients
  4. Cover with water and cook for about an hour before proceeding to pressure canning

 

 

Canning Your Ham & Beans . . . Step-By-Step

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Let’s begin with a friendly reminder.  These scraps are perfect to save in the freezer until you have enough to make your own vegetable stock or for making meat and seafood stock.  So never throw them out.  I keep a one gallon ziplock bag in my freezer and am always dropping in all my fresh vegetable scraps.  And yes, the skins from my onions, too!  How about that for free food!


pictures_with_words copy 8After having cleaned, rinsed and soaked your beans overnight or for several hours, chop your veggies and ham and dump it all into a large stockpot.  Then cover it with water and put onto a low but sustained simmer.

2-13116 jar lifter in use LARGE

Now is the time to get your jars, rings and lids ready and gather all your canning utensils.  There are a few ways folks clean their jars.  Some run them through the dishwasher.  Personally, I wash everything in hot, soapy water then put into my oven at 200 degrees which gives me confidence that they are as clean and sanitized as possible.  It’s also a habit of mine to run my bare finger across the rim to check for any flaws or chips.  I also give a visual inspection of every jar to be sure there are no cracks or flaws in the jar.  Any jar that shows signs of flaws should be set aside and should never be used for canning.

Canning jars absolutely must be kept warm to receive the hot ingredients.  When I first began canning, I made a terrible mistake by not having them hot enough and had two jars fail (break) in the canner.  Lesson learned.  Now you want to add 2″-3″ of water and begin to heat your pressure canner.

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With all things ready, lets begin to can your soup.  Using a ladle and canning funnel, fill your hot jars with a 1″ head space.  Make sure there are no air bubbles lurking in your jar.  Using a plastic spatula, remove any bubbles.  Failing to do so could cause your jar to break in the canner.

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I can’t stress enough how important ALL sanitary measures are at every stage in canning.  But making sure you wipe the rims after filling your jars is as crucial as any.  Any trace of food or oil can prevent your jars from sealing, and can (and likely will) cause your food to spoil and go rancid.  When canning anything oily, like meat, I use white vinegar which will satisfactorily remove the oils.

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After having your lids and rings warmed in boiling water, carefully remove them and immediately place them on the jars.

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Before the wax ring on you lid can cool, place your ring on the jar and tighten it enough to hold the lid in place.  Don’t over tighten the rings.  Simply finger tighten it.  Immediately place your jar into the canner at this point.

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Once your canner is filled, place the lid on it and follow your specific canner guidelines and process your jars at 10 pounds of pressure for 75 minutes in pint jars, 90 minutes in quart jars.

Allow the pressure in your canner to completely dissipate before trying to remove the pressure weight.  Once the pressure is zero, you may remove the lid.  However, everything is still very hot!  Please use proper caution and care.

pictures_with_words copy 2Using a canning jar lifter, remove your jars from your canner and gently place them onto a towel and carefully tighten the rings.  Leave your jars to cool for at least 10 hours.  When you remove your jars, you will see they are still boiling.  This is normal.  You will begin to hear that heavenly confirmation that all canners love so much.  The ping.  That is the indication that your jars are sealing properly.  Don’t be discouraged if one or more does not seal.  It sometimes happens.

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Once your cans have set and cooled (usually overnight), remove the rings and test the seals.  As indicated above, you can test by sound by tapping a spoon on the lid (I have never done that), give a physical inspection looking to see if the raised nipple has con caved.  It is quite easy to see if a lid hasn’t sealed because the nipple will protrude if it didn’t seal properly.  If you are not quite sure, press on the center of the lid.  It should not give and should be hard.  I always pick up my jars by the very top rim.  If the lid isn’t sealed, it will pull off the jar.  If this happens, you can put your contents into a container and either refrigerate it and eat it within a few days, or freeze it for later use.

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Now you will want to wash each jar with hot, soapy water, add your label with the content and date you canned it.

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This batch I just canned wound up yielding 14 jars.  To help protect them, I put my jars back into the box they came out of.  Notice here, when I opened this box, I cut off the top of the plastic wrap leaving the bottom of it intact over the box.  If one of your jars happens to break or leak without you noticing it, the plastic will save you from having an even bigger mess.

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Finished Red BeansI don’t have any fresh produce harvest to satisfy my urge to do some canning, so I decided to can some red beans I had in my home store to create another use for them in my home store.  Canning from bulk, dry beans saves you a good amount of money and is healthier and tastes better.  Having these beans ready for my red beans and rice or chili makes them very convenient, too. I do not add any spices to my beans, not even salt.  I prefer to spice them when I decide on which dish I am preparing.  However, if you like, you can add spices to yours.

I started out by washing and carefully inspecting them, removing any bad beans or pebbles.  Once this step was done, I put them in to soak in a large container overnight.  Step 1 - Adding Beans

I then dumped that water, washed them again and ladled them into hot, sanitized quart canning jars.

Remove Air Bubbles

Here you will add boiling water and using a plastic or wood utensil, remove any trapped air bubbles from your beans.  Check your headspace and adjust the water level to have a 1″ (2.5 cm)headspace.

Wiping Rims

Never, ever forget to wipe the rims and check for chips or cracks.  Forgetting this step could cause your batch to fail.

Lids and Bands

After cleaning the rims of each jar, center the lid on jar.  Screw band down until it is finger-tip tight.  Here, I am using white Tattler Lids and standard bands.

Beans in Canner

Place jars in your pressure canner.  Adjust water level, lock lid and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Vent steam for 10 minutes, then close vent.  Continue heating  to achieve 10 pounds (69 kPa) pressure and maintain this pressure to process for  75 minutes for pint jars, 90 minutes for quart jars.

Diagram of Canner

Jars in canner

Once the time is up, turn off the heat source and allow canner to cool down and relieve the pressure.  Once the pressure is diminished, remove the lid and allow them to sit for approximately 10 more minutes.

Removing Jars with Lifter

Using a rubber jar lifter (please don’t try using anything else), carefully remove your jars and place them on a towel and leave them undisturbed for 24 hours.

Finished Red Beans

After 24 hours, remove the bands and check all the seals. If any did not seal correctly, put them in the refrigerator and use them within 2 weeks.  Wash your jars, label and date them.

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Marinated Peppers

This is another very popular recipe. You cannot use this oil mixture on other vegetables. Each type of vegetable will vary in the way they absorb the acid, so some vegetables will not pickle with this solution and could be dangerous to eat.

  • 4 lbs firm peppers, Bell, Hungarian, Banana, or Jalapeno Peppers*
  • 1 cup bottled lemon juice
  • 2 cups white vinegar (5 percent)
  • 1 tbsp oregano leaves
  • 1 cup olive or salad oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 2 cloves garlic, quartered (optional)
  • 2 tbsp prepared horseradish (optional)

Yield: About 9 half-pints.

*Note: It is possible to adjust the intensity of pickled jalapeno peppers by using all hot jalapeno peppers (hot style), or blending with sweet and mild peppers (medium or mild style).

  • For hot style: Use 4 lbs jalapeno peppers.
  • For medium style: Use 2 lbs jalapeno peppers and 2 lbs sweet and mild peppers.
  • For mild style: Use 1 lb jalapeno peppers and 3 lbs sweet and mild peppers.

Procedure: Wear plastic or rubber gloves, and do not touch your face while handling or cutting hot peppers. If you do not wear gloves, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your face or eyes. Select your favorite pepper. Peppers may be left whole. Large peppers may be quartered. Wash, slash two to four slits in each pepper, and blanch in boiling water or blister in order to peel tough-skinned hot peppers. Peppers may be blistered using one of the following methods:

  • Oven or broiler method: Place peppers in a 400 F degrees oven or broiler for 6-8 minutes or until skins blister.
  • Range-top method: Cover hot burner, either gas or electric, with heavy wire mesh. Place peppers on burner for several minutes until skins blister.

Allow peppers to cool. Place in pan and cover with a damp cloth. This will make peeling the peppers easier. After several minutes of cooling, peel each pepper. Flatten whole peppers. Mix all remaining ingredients in a saucepan and heat to boiling. Place 1/4 garlic clove (optional) and 1/4 teaspoon salt in each half pint or 1/2 teaspoon per pint. Fill jars with peppers, add hot, well-mixed oil/pickling solution over peppers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.

Process pints or half pint for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. For elevations over 1,000 feet, up to 6,000 feet, increase time to 20 minutes. If at 6,000 feet. or above, process 25 minutes.

Source:  http://www.dinnergarden.org

 

 

 

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It has gotten harder to find quiet time to write here on my sweet little blog.  Between the garden, this blog, growing and learning my Thrive business while creating websites and social networking for it has all been keeping me busy enough for three of me.  But don’t mistake a lag in postings for having neglected, or even slowing down on my preparations.  Oh, contraire!  I stay true to prepping each and every day!  For me, prepping is as natural as breathing.  The problems that I fear so much have not gotten any better.

English: Scott Walker, 45th Governor of Wisconsin

Our Symbol Of American’s Taking Back Control

The economy is still a disaster.  We still have unacceptably high unemployment even with fuzzy counting by this administration.  The housing market is no better.  America’s debt continues to rise and I watched our POTUS mention more stimulus! This country’s leading law official, U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder is playing political games before Congress while a brave border agent lies in his grave and a family continues to grieve.  We have a government attack against the very basic principles of the catholic church’s position on human life, jeopardizing freedom of religion.  And the cherry on the top?  Planned Parenthood now has a facility in a school!  We can talk about these things until we are blue in the face, but I realize the “Hope & Change” which will work best for my family is in my pantry.  But I can not contain my joy for Governor Scott Walker and Wisconsin’s victory over the heavy-handed tactics of the big unions! I’ll admit, it does give me hope for November.  But let’s get back on message here. (more…)

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