Last month I shared my first experience canning salmon. All things considered, I think it went very well. Now I want to try my hand at canning beef!
Armed with my Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving and a Kindle e-book I bought called I Can Can Beef written by Jennifer Shambrook, Ph. D., I decided I would try the hot pack method versus cold pack. With cold pack, all you do is cut your beef up into uniform 1″ chunks, pack it into the jar (no water or broth) and then process in a pressure canner the allotted time. The beef will create it’s own broth within the jar, but will also shrink quite a bit. I decided to hot pack because I want to add just a little bit of flavor with a beef broth, and hot packing avoids some (not all) meat shrinkage versus the cold pack method. You can research this and decide for yourself which method you will use.
I cut all of my beef roast into 1″ cubes, trying to keep each piece as uniform in size as possible, cutting off as much fat as possible. The beef cubes were then browned in just a smidgen of oil on all sides. This creates a little bit more flavor and also helps to shrink the meat a bit before it is canned. Once the beef is browned, I packed it into the jars – not too tight – then added my homemade beef broth with a little salt and pepper. I could have just as easily added tomato juice or even red wine. One word of caution: when using the hot pack method, everything must be hot! The jars need to be hot, the meat will be hot, the liquid must be hot and the water in the pressure canner should also be getting pretty hot by the time the jars are placed inside. This is necessary to prevent thermal shock to the jar. If the jar is exposed to large temperature differences very quickly, it might crack or even shatter.
You don’t want that to happen. It’s not pretty.
One interesting idea I found in the I Can Can Beef book was a recipe for chili beans. The author suggests that if you are canning beef and don’t have a full load for the canner, you can add dried beans in a jar with a few spices (her recipe is in the book), a little water and – voila you have some jars of chili beans to pressure cook alongside the beef! If you are going to use the energy to can, you might as well have a full canner! I had a lot of black turtle beans I grew last summer on my pantry shelf, so I made some chili beans with the black beans, following Dr. Shambrook’s recipe!
I followed the Ball Home Preserving Book recommendations and pressure canned the pint jars for 75 minutes after a full 10 minutes of venting. I don’t have a dial gauge canner – mine uses a weighted gauge, which I put on 10 pounds of pressure, because our elevation here at our valley house is 55 feet above sea level. After the full processing time, I slid the canner to the opposite side of the stove, and left it to sit and cool down for a couple of hours.
A product that has sparked my interest lately has been the Tattler canning lids. Unlike the conventional flat metal lids that must be thrown away after each use, Tattler Lids can be used many, many times. This idea sounds great to me, because I just hate disposable things – with a passion! ♥ It is a bit harder to tell if you have a good seal with the Tattler lids, and you will never hear that “ping” to tell you the seal is complete. Instead, the lid is rigid plastic with a separate rubber gasket, and the best way to tell if you have a good seal is to actually pick up the jar by the lid! If it stays on – you are good to go! This was the first time I used a Tattler lid in the Pressure Canner. As you can see from the above picture – I got a good seal! I am really starting to like these lids. A lot! No more running to the store to buy more lids! Hooray!
You can easily find the entire procedure on how to can beef (or chicken, pork, etc.) just about anywhere on the internet nowadays. Just make sure it’s an up-to-date recipe because apparently some of the processing times have changed over the years. Also, remember that you must ALWAYS pressure can beef – or any kind of meat for that matter. I was glad to have the Ball Home Preserving book right in front of me so I could check and double check the procedure as I was canning the beef.
How does it taste? I couldn’t wait to find out! I opened a couple of the jars within 24 hours of canning them! I know… patience is a virtue, but I wanted to see if I could make some good chili with a jar of the meat, a jar of the black beans I had canned with the meat, and a jar of tomato sauce I had canned last winter. The first thing I did was shred the beef from one jar into smaller chunks. Then, I added the jar of beans and the tomato sauce and dumped it all in the pot. I heated it up and let it simmer for about 10 minutes and tasted it. It was good, but could use a little bit more zip. 🙂 So I added one scant teaspoon of red pepper flakes and about half of a teaspoon of Sriracha sauce. I let that simmer to mingle the flavors for another 5 minutes or so and tasted again. Perfect! And super easy!
The best part about Dr. Shambrook’s book “I Can Can Beef” is that she includes over a dozen recipes using the beef! Now that’s refreshing! Recipes such as Beef Stroganoff, Asian Pepper Beef, and even Granny’s Beef Hash, this book gives you lots of ideas on what to do with all that beef you have canned! Please note that I am not affiliated in any way with Dr. Shambrook or her book – she doesn’t even know who I am! I just wanted to suggest to anyone who cans beef or is planning to can beef, and then wants to know what to do with it, that they look into getting this book! However, I think she is missing one really good recipe in her book… Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry! Since she didn’t include it, and the canned beef would lend itself well to this recipe, I am sharing my version of Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry here:
Have you canned beef before? I am just learning how to pressure can meats, fish and (soon) poultry and it’s actually a lot of fun! I am so glad I decided to take the plunge and learn this new skill, although I will admit I was a bit
scared of nervous about pressure canning. In our quest to be as self sufficient and sustainable as possible, I believe canning meat, poultry and fish will be an invaluable resource for us. Canning a majority of our food will free up freezer space for those things that I don’t want to can, such as broccoli, corn and zucchini. I think my next experiment will be to can some chicken noodle soup, minus the noodle, and see how that goes! Wish me good luck!
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