I have been unknowingly prepping for many years, ever since I watched my mother can Tuna one year many years ago. For the last 20 years or so, I have canned Tuna, sometimes as much as 600 pounds in one year. As I live inland 60 miles from the fisheries in Oregon, it is very convenient to place an order a few weeks in advance and have the fish filleted out and waiting for me when I arrive. For years now, I always seemed to have 3 or 4 cases of Tuna on hand. In 2008, I like many others apparently, got serious about acquiring a long term food supply and I began canning meats other then Tuna. What follows are my thoughts/experiences on home caning meats.
Tuna: To anyone that has eaten home canned Tuna, you know that is tastes nothing like the Tuna you buy in the store. Typically when you buy fish directly from the boat, you will need to buy the entire fish. For many years I would bring the complete fish home and process it – the local bees loved me! The Wizard of Oz finally gave me a brain and I begin having the boat fillet the fish so all I would take home would be the fillets, so much nicer. Last season Tuna cost $2.50 a pound carcass weight and $3.00 per fish to have the fish cut. When I get the fish home I do a final cleaning/trimming and cut the raw fillets into chunks that will fit into a pint jar; keep the fish as cold as possible through the whole process. Add nothing to the fish and can as normal for 90 minutes at 15 pounds pressure. NOTE: I can ALL of my meat for 90 minutes at 15 pounds pressure. When all is said and done, a pint jar with a 1 pound chunk of Tuna will cost about $6.00 to $7.00 per jar – more expensive than buying at Costco but also so much better.
Turkey: Every year around Thanksgiving our local Winco has a special, buy $50.00 in groceries and get a frozen Turkey for .28 cents a pound – very nice. Every year I get 2 of the biggest birds I can..24 to 25 pounds each. This is the one meat that I don’t raw pack…I cook the birds as normal until done. I can all the bird except the wings and drumsticks, keeping the dark and white meat in separate jars. Cube the meat and fill jars, top off the jar with distilled water and can. From 50 pounds of turkey I get 10 to 12 quart jars of meat.
Bacon: Who would have thought. Bacon is a little more work to put in jars. The stuff you buy in the store is in my opinion, not thick enough to be useful. As you can the bacon, most of the fat cooks out and what you have left is a very thin, too thin, piece of meat that is had to work/cook with. I now go to my local smokehouse and buy whole uncut sides of bacon, as lean as I can get, and have them cut the slab into full ¼” thick slices. Once you have you the meat, can as follows. I use a pint jar, so I cut the strips in half and roll up between two pieces of parchment paper and then tie the roll with a piece of cooking string. The ‘roll’ fits nicely into a pint jar, can as normal. Feel like having a BLT but don’t have fresh bacon? Open a jar and fry up as normal.
Pork: I have a local store here in town that mainly caters to restaurants and I get large cuts of meat there; 20 to 30 pounds. Last year I picked up 50 pounds of Pork Butt. The girlfriend said she used it for pulled pork, so I thought I would get some in jars; mistake on my part. The meat is very fatty and it took a long time to clean and get ready for canning. The meat is so greasy that I had several jars that did not seal correctly…meat tasted fine just a lot of work. I now pretty much only can the boneless pork loin when it goes on sale…once a year Roth’s has the BPL for $2.00 per pound, limit 2 full loins, so I hit every store in town until I have 40 – 50 pounds. Cube, pack raw, top off with distilled water and can.
Chicken: Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, nothing could be easier. Clean and pack raw into pint or quart jars, top with distilled water and can as normal.
Beef: I have lots of different kinds of beef depending on what is on sale at the time; pot roast, sirloin, beef chuck, top round, etc… My favorite is top round as it has only a layer of fat on the outside but is very lean inside, very easy to process and get into jars. Canned a 30 pound hunk last weekend and will do the same again this weekend. From 30 pounds I got 10 quarts and 9 pints that were stuffed very full. Once again I cube the meat and raw pack into jars, add ½ teaspoons salt to quarts and ¼ teaspoon to pints, top off with distilled water and cook.
Final thoughts…this is not meant to be an instructional guide on HOW to can, it is more my thoughts on paper about my experience with canning and hopefully they may benefit someone. As a general rule you will get 1 pound of meat in a pint jar; ‘a pints a pound the world round’ has served me well as a buying guideline. While there are differing opinions about precooking vs. raw pack, I have been doing this now for many years and have consumed much of my canned meats. I am currently rotating out meats that I canned in 2008 and replacing, and the meat tastes great. One more thought, when I first started canning meats I would add various things depending on the type of meat; chicken broth to chicken, beefy mushroom soup to beef, etc…I don’t do that anymore because I think over time it adds a flavor to the meat that may limit what you use the meat for. I think now that meat with nothing added is more versatile when you decide to use it.
This article was written by “Prepper Daddy.”
This article first appeared on Ed That Matters.
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