Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Nearer the Bone, the Sweeter the Meat

This was a saying that Spencer Kimball was fond of quoting. They had a large family and limited means, and the shared a chicken each Sunday as I remember. There wasn't much meat left on the bones when they were done with it either. His Mother would tell him to clean up his piece really well because... the nearer the bone, the sweeter the meat.

This post is about bottling meat and non-acid food at home safely. Sometimes you come onto a good buy, or you want to clean out the freezer and don't want to throw good things out, but just don't have room for them. I wish that this was the type of project that you could do with just what you have on hand, but unforutnately it is not. If you bottle food that doesn't have a significant amount of acid botulism bacteria can grow, and the resultant toxins can kill you. Non-acid, or weakly acid foods need to be processed under pressure. These canners aren't cheap, but you won't have to hock your jewelry. They are durable, and well worth having. As long as they have a functioning gasket and the right weight, they are very reliable. It might be possible to break the gauge on one, but ours has lasted for years and we haven't had any problems. They come in 16 quart and 23 quart sizes, and there might even be some bigger monsters out there. We are happy with our 16 quart model.

Over the years I have bottled soups, beans, and chicken. I haven't had any trouble at all with anything ever spoiling, and we always heat everying that we use for 15 minutes as an added safety measure. Last week I bought a beef chuck roast, and two smaller pork shoulder roasts. I cubed them, put a pinch of dried onions in the bottom of each pint jar. After cubing the roasts, I applied liberal salt and pepper and packed them into the clean pint jars. I added a little water and used a table knife to move the meat around and make sure that I didn't have any air voids.

I put about three inches of water in the canner and put the jars in with the lids
screwed on medium tight. Before you put the lid on, run your moistened finger around the rim of the jar. It puts a little film of water on the glass, and cleans off any debris that might be stuck there.

Each jar had meat and water in it up to the begining of the neck of the jar. Don't fill them as full as you do for water bath canning or they will leak.

I ran hot water over the seal and warmed up the lid before I put it on the canner cooker which softens the gasket and helps it to seal better. Once it was in place you just turn on the heat and wait until you have a healthy stream of steam coming out the weight vent, then put the vent on. Pressure will start to build, but it takes probably 15-20 minutes to get up to 15 lbs of steam needed for processing. Once you have reached 15 psi the weight will begin to rock, releasing a little steam, and regulating the pressure. You can turn down the heat then to about 1/2 burner capacity. I process at 15 lbs pressure for 30 minutes with the heat on, and then turn off the burner and let the cooker cool on it's own. This helps to keep the juice in the jar from boiling out. It takes a long time to cool it all down, and mostly I let it go overnight. That way everything is very cool when I take the lid off. If you rush it, the jars will still be boiling and have a little pressure in them. They juice will tend to cook out a little and has a tendency to ruin the seal. If you feel you want to follow another cooking length recommendation, please do so. This is just what has worked for me.

So here is the finished product: 5 pints of canned beef, 4 pints of canned pork, and one pint of canned sausage... an experiment within and expermiment. I have canned chicken drumsticks and thighs by just putting the raw chicken in the jar, and have also precooked the meat and de-boned it so that I would only have meat and juice in the jar.... The jury is still out on what is best there.

Hope you enjoyed this. There are a lot of things that you can bottle this way, and if you can keep them in the dark and fairly cool, they last for years.


Mike said...

Fun post!

AnnieOfBlueGables said...

Teach a husband to can and he takes over the kitchen and helps us to feel very secure about the future. I love your bread too, sweet friend.
How lucky I am to be your wife