Friday, September 14, 2012

Preserving Meats and Butter

Preserving meats and butter is not really hard but must be carefully done.  Butter cannot really be
"canned" but can be "bottled".  Much is said about it as it is a very hot topic.  There are those that say it can be done safely and those who say it can't. 

Butter can be bought in tins already canned for about 7.00 for a few ounces it can be bought on-line and it is also available in some sporting goods stores or surplus stores. 

It can also be done at home, there are several step by step directions on the internet.  There are You Tube videos showing you exactly how it is done so I won't go into it here.  You  basically melt your butter, jar it and process it.  Then after removing the jars from the canner you shake them every 5-10 minutes till the butter has "set" .  It will not remelt after this has been done so what you have is a jar of spreadable butter that retains is taste and useability.  It's great for spreading on toast or bread etc. 


Canning meat sounds really hard but truthfully it's not any harder than canning vegetables.  You must however, have a pressure canner with a guage.  Directions must be followed precisely and to the letter.  You also need to learn what spoilage looks like and the symptoms of botchulism which is a tasteless and invisible bacteria.  It can cause flu-like symptoms and can be deadly if medical intervention is not sought.  It is commonly known as "food poisoning". 

Now that I have scared the pickles out of you, let's talk about what kinds of things you should can.  I can the things my family eats.  I see no reason whatsoever to can say 24 quarts of ham and split pea soup if my family eats it once a year.  But my family does eat beef stew at least once a month and more often during the winter with variations.  So when I make beef stew I make a double or even triple batch and can all the left overs.  I keep about a quart out for leftover eating but all the rest gets canned. 

Meats can be canned in a recipe like beef stew, chicken soup or marinara sauce with meat or you can just can chunks of meat like chicken breast, beef, bacon, etc.  First you need to get a canning and preserving book, then look for the recipes or styles of canning you want to do.  Canning must be done precisely not randomly.  If the book says to can your chicken in a dry pack (no juices added) at 15 lbs of pressure for 90 minutes then you cannot take any shortcuts.  Taking shortcuts is like playing Russian Roulet with your family's health. 

You have  to can meats and soups and stews with a pressure canner.  You cannot use a water bath for that.  There are many types of pressure canners but I think the most popular is the All American Pressure Canner. 
You might be fortunate enough to find one at a garage sale or in a classified ad.  I would suggest you get the gauges checked for accuracy and a new gasket or two.  You can call your local Farm Advisors or Farm Bureau and if they don't calibrate canning guages there they can probably tell you where to have it done.  Some University labs or Food Dept.s can help you too.  It's very important that your guages are working perfectly. 
There are a number of sites online that can give you up to date information on times and pressure per pound.  I won't give you too much exact information because government guidelines change from year to year.  It's important to check the guidelines from year to year just for the safety of your canned food. 
Happy Canning!

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