Monday, November 7, 2011

Home Canning is Fun

"Home Canning is Fun" - That was the caption on a box of used canning jars that I bought at a yard sale. I'd say the box was at least 50 years old. Not much has changed in the exciting world of home canning in the last 50 years I would imagine.

I've canned just about everything you can can (may can?) in a water bath canner over the years - jams, jellies, syrups, relishes, pickles, bbq sauce, ketchup, tomatoes of all kinds, fruits, etc., but I have always been just a liiiiitle bit scared of a pressure canner. Pressure canning is the only safe way to can low acid foods such as vegetables, meats, etc.

The local stores have had some really good sales on meat lately, such as sirloin for $2.99/lb. and chuck roast for $1.97/lb. and turkeys for $0.59/lb. Now that the freezer is FULL I decided to bite the bullet and buy a pressure canner.

Tractor Supply had one for about $80 during the summer and I bought it. It sat there for a few days and I took it back. Still scared.

So during the recent meat-a-thon I went to Tractor Supply and saw that it was on "clearance" - $10 off. I found the manager and told him if he'd take another $10 off I'd buy it. He did so I got it for $59.99.

After cutting up meat for what seemed like hours, I was ready to can. I think I have the instructions memorized, I've read the book through so many times. Even so, I stopped and started the process three times. I was afraid I had missed something in the directions. Still Scared.

I literally sat and stared at that pressure dial for 75 minutes (the amount of time it takes to can meat in a pint jar). It was exhausting (mentally).

After that first round, it was a cinch. Really easy, much easier than water bath canning.

I've done three batches so far: 7 pints of chuck (stew meat essentially), 7 pints of chili (no beans, another 5 in the freezer with beans), and 5 quarts of sirloin strips. I really like the idea of home-made convenience foods. Who wants to thaw a brick of whatever at 5:30 (like we normally do)??

Assuming we don't die of botulism ; ) then this should be a real convenience to have all this precooked stuff in the pantry.

As I sat and baby-sat the pressure dial, I surfed the net. I found all manner of bizarre things on YouTube. People who are living subsistence type lifestyles (with internet and video no less) showing you how to can and live off the land, people who stockpile food for religious reasons, and then there are the Preppers.

I watched a National Geographic show a while back called Doomsday Preppers which showcased several families who are preparing for their own versions of doomsay - or as some call it "when the shit hits the fan".

So these people are stockpiling not only food but gas masks, guns, ammo, silver, gold, you name it. One family who lives in a suburban home raises tilapia in their swimming pool and fish them out every night. They eat tilapia every night. Bizarre! And they all seem to be on YouTube. Thousands of videos. Between YouTube and Pinterest I no longer need my TV.

OK, so I got a little sidetracked off my canning post. While I don't think zombies are coming anytime soon, I think it makes good sense to buy something on sale, and store it as a hedge against inflation. I mean you will have to eat and I'd be willing to bet grocery prices won't be going DOWN.

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