Friday, July 20, 2012

Glass Jar Mania

I apologize for the high number of posts about canning.  This is the season for food preservation, as there is so much bounty being produced in the garden.  It is also the time of year that I actually have time to spend mucking about with a pressure canner and many, many glass jars.  All those jars, filled with beautiful colors and textures and delicious is a beautiful sight, lining my full-to-bursting pantry shelves.

In the spirit of All Things Canning, here's what I've been working on for the past couple of days (in between trips to check on chickens, pulling a few weeds here and there, and monitoring wood stove installation shenanigans):

Yesterday, I made beef stew with local beef and vegetables from the farmers market.  I followed the recipe in the Ball's Complete Book of Home Preserving, which is tucked toward the end of the Pressure Canning: Meat section.  I think it will be loads better than that tinned Dinty Moore crap you can find at the store.  Sometimes, a girl just gets a yen for comfort food, and beef stew is one of my favorites.  That, and homemade macaroni and cheese.

Mmmmm.  Mac and cheese...drool.

 I also canned dry beans for the first time ever.  It was so easy, I kept asking myself:  Why is it that I never did this before?  Stupid, stupid creature.  All those years, buying canned beans for the "convenience" factor.  Wasted!  Not to mention BPA-laden, blech.

It is terribly simple to can your own beans.  You do need a pressure canner, but really, think of it as an investment for generations.  I fully expect some great-nephew or niece to inherit my work horse.  Anyway, set up your canner, and get ready to fill it with hot pint jars.  In each pint jar, scoop out a half cup of dry beans of your choice, a half teaspoon of canning salt, and fill with boiling water leaving one inch headspace.  Top with a hot lid, tighten the band, and you are ready to go.  Follow the instruction manual's suggested method of pressurizing the pot to 10 pounds of pressure, and process for 90 minutes.  Once you allow the canner to cool down, you will wind up with something that looks like this:

Home made canned beans!  I have plans to can up my homegrown dry beans like this.  I still have to shell the cranberry beans that I grew, but I have a pint of pea beans that I grew that just are crying out to be made useful.

On this morning's menu:  making a batch of Beef in Wine Sauce (also from the Ball book).   The kitchen smells deee-vine, I tell you.

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