Home Canning In The 21st Century? You Bet!

JeepHammer

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The above requires a pH meter and Time/Temperature data logger.

With EVEN, repeatable heat source, this gives you EXACT times it takes your canned goods to reach, and sustain the temperature required to kill the bad biologicals.

The data logger allows you to substantially reduce the old time only chart cook times, and your food will come out much more like store bought. This is how production companies ensure that each batch has had enough time at temperature to be sterilized and safe.

https://www.houseofcans.com/metal-containers/open-top-cans/open-top-cans

Berlin packaging has cans, jars, bottles & lids if you are into higher volume.

I use a lot of metal cans, they are reusable with a flanger and can seamer (sealer).
Lighter weight, more durable than glass, when used more than once the price is reasonable.

I have nothing against glass jars, which work really well for high acid foods like tomatoes/tomato products.
 
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PistolBob

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JeepHammer

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I only do what the Canning bible says. The only thing we water bath are tomato juice, and apple butter. The 2015 edition is free online. The USDA has issued a 2020 version that is available for $18 from the Purdue University extension office. Spent most of the day canning chicken breast, pork loin, and ground beef in my old and trusty but never rusty Presto pressure canner.

I use All American canners, they make a bigger vessel than Presto and no gaskets.
My wife likes her Presto and won't give it up.

You can download the USDA versions, and the county extension agent has fliers that cover about anything and they are free.
Never hurts to have it in print.

The Canadian version of USDA (I can't think of what they call it right now) has a bunch of game meat recipes & fish recipes, canning tips, etc.
Some of them are really good.
 

PistolBob

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I would love to have a All American 921 but they are too damned expensive for me. I got this 21 qt Presto canner at a garage sale for $5 - it needed new gaskets, a new gauge, and a new safety valve. It's from about 1961...Presto still sells the parts. Parts were about $35 almost 10 year ago and it's been going strong ever since. Wife loves it because she can pressure COOK three whole chickens at a time for making large batches chicken vegetable soup, chicken noodle soup, and chicken and bone broth. We can the broths, eat the soups and share with the family. Her chicken vegetable soup has helped to get at least ten people though COVID this year...and we ain't even Jewish.
 

PistolBob

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I use All American canners, they make a bigger vessel than Presto and no gaskets.
My wife likes her Presto and won't give it up.

You can download the USDA versions, and the county extension agent has fliers that cover about anything and they are free.
Never hurts to have it in print.

The Canadian version of USDA (I can't think of what they call it right now) has a bunch of game meat recipes & fish recipes, canning tips, etc.
Some of them are really good.
BIG change in the 2015 to the 2020 edition of the USDA book...they now say you must have 1 1/4 inches headspace for canning chicken now. Used to say 1 inch. They claim the chicken we buy today is much higher in moisture than what it used to be so they added 1/4 inch to the headspace recommendation to keep it from siphoning in the pressure canner.
 

PistolBob

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People, family members and friends mostly, used to ask us why we canned meat. Why not just keep it in the freezer. Well, we only have the freezers in our refrigerators, so not much room. We can it because it is shelf stable for up to 3 years, if the power goes out we don't worry about losing it, and it saves so much time in food preparation.

We can get home from work, wife can throw a pint of chicken breast in a pan, heat it up, shred it up, add some taco sauce, and we have chicken tacos for dinner in the time it takes to shred some lettuce and open a jar of our salsa.

We recommend this for 2 people to have in the food closet:

20 pints of chicken meat (BBQ chicken, chicken salad, chicken soup/stew, chicken pot pie, tacos, nachos, etc)
20 pints of pork loin (Pork BBQ, shredded for nachos, tacos, burritos, server with kraut)
20 pints of ground beef (chili, tacos, hamburger stew, spaghetti, pizza topping)
24 quarts green beans
20 pints of tomato salsa
12 quarts of chicken broth
12 quarts of beef or bone broth

Buy potatoes and other frozen veggies as needed a couple times a month. Might consider canning up a 10lb bag of white potatoes, just to have on hand. Rule of thumb is 1lb per pint, and 2lbs per quart.

This usually does us for about a year, using it day to day. We usually can meat in the spring and in the fall. We eat a lot of food out of the garden in the summer time.

Your mileage may differ
 

JeepHammer

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BIG change in the 2015 to the 2020 edition of the USDA book...they now say you must have 1 1/4 inches headspace for canning chicken now. Used to say 1 inch. They claim the chicken we buy today is much higher in moisture than what it used to be so they added 1/4 inch to the headspace recommendation to keep it from siphoning in the pressure canner.

That depends on where you get your chickens!

Pilgram's Pride, Perdue, etc have been fined over & over for adding too much water to the product.
Water being cheaper than chicken, they pay the fines and gouge the customer.

If you know someone that has home raised chickens... That's an entirely different story, the old rules still apply.
If they are (ready your eye roll) "Free Range" chickens they don't have as much fat...
Coop them up for bake/canning/soup/broth chickens.
More fat, heavier, but take longer to cook.
No problem for baking or canning.

Let them run for fryer chickens!
Firmer meat, no purple bones, leaner so they cook faster in grease/oil.

I used to tell the Amish guy I got my chickens from,
"Make it easy on yourself, give me the slow ones!" :)

I cook all kinds of soups, stews etc in the jars/cans.
It keeps me from double (over) cooking the stuff.
MUCH better when it's not cooked into goo...

The more I learn the better the food gets!
 

JeepHammer

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I would love to have a All American 921 but they are too damned expensive for me. I got this 21 qt Presto canner at a garage sale for $5 - it needed new gaskets, a new gauge, and a new safety valve. It's from about 1961...Presto still sells the parts. Parts were about $35 almost 10 year ago and it's been going strong ever since.

I've got the biggest (aluminum) All American they make, but it's because of the volume I preserve.
About 90% of the yearly consumption around here is local grown, so we do canning in a bigger way than most.

I have a steel retort (pressure vessel, 55 gallons) that used to be steam heated,
Now I use electromagnetic induction to heat it.
Steam made for a really constant, repeatable heat source, time at temp was within about 2 minutes and I never could anywhere near that with gas or wood heat.

Now it's converted to electromagnetic induction instead of steam, and this is the closest to steam heat I can find.
Still about 2 minutes difference in time at temps but no (potentially dangerous) BOILER to maintain, just set the timer and walk away.

That old ferrous steel retort works really well with the induction, really efficient & consistent way to heat the canned goods.
Aluminum is less efficient, but still works with induction, and it's very repeatable.

Now, I WOULDN'T want to be around a 55 gallon retort at pressure if it failed!
(I wouldn't want to be around a 6 quart retort if it failed either...)

I'm pretty shy of getting close to the retort at pressure, the reason I do it in a summer kitchen, and I use timers.
I do static pressure test the retorts every year, that's just a simple pressure test.
I wish I had a tank and steam to do proper verification, but that's beyond me right now.

The county extension agent *Used* to do free gauge and pop off valve testing on home canners, but they don't here anymore.
The state doesn't want the liability.
Some states still do...
That's a REALLY handy service to have, even if it was just a simple pressure test.

Anyone with a "Glass Top" or "Cold Top" stove is already using electromagnetic induction heating, so it's not like I'm doing anything "Space Age" here,
My heaters are coils under & around the retort, and a little higher powered than a range top.

You can get powerful induction drivers off eBay and Amazon that heat the retort to pressure MUCH faster than a range top.
I simply used the time/temp data logger to determine time required,
And with the repeatability of induction it's set the timer and come back when it cools.

This used to be VERY common in communities up until the 1950s, before national brands took over,
And like most things, it still works fine.
I just don't use a boiler (which scare the crap out of me),
And I use a time/temp logger to quality control check the heating process.
They didn't have self contained digital data loggers back then, so they just overcooked everything...
 
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Magyars

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People, family members and friends mostly, used to ask us why we canned meat. Why not just keep it in the freezer. Well, we only have the freezers in our refrigerators, so not much room. We can it because it is shelf stable for up to 3 years, if the power goes out we don't worry about losing it, and it saves so much time in food preparation.

We can get home from work, wife can throw a pint of chicken breast in a pan, heat it up, shred it up, add some taco sauce, and we have chicken tacos for dinner in the time it takes to shred some lettuce and open a jar of our salsa.

We recommend this for 2 people to have in the food closet:

20 pints of chicken meat (BBQ chicken, chicken salad, chicken soup/stew, chicken pot pie, tacos, nachos, etc)
20 pints of pork loin (Pork BBQ, shredded for nachos, tacos, burritos, server with kraut)
20 pints of ground beef (chili, tacos, hamburger stew, spaghetti, pizza topping)
24 quarts green beans
20 pints of tomato salsa
12 quarts of chicken broth
12 quarts of beef or bone broth

Buy potatoes and other frozen veggies as needed a couple times a month. Might consider canning up a 10lb bag of white potatoes, just to have on hand. Rule of thumb is 1lb per pint, and 2lbs per quart.

This usually does us for about a year, using it day to day. We usually can meat in the spring and in the fall. We eat a lot of food out of the garden in the summer time.

Your mileage may differ
We can chicken and beef but our ground beef ( we added beef broth ) is not the best, reminds me of taco bell. Which I avoid at all costs.
 

PistolBob

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We can chicken and beef but our ground beef ( we added beef broth ) is not the best, reminds me of taco bell. Which I avoid at all costs.
We prefer home canned, chicken, pork and venison....the ground beef, even with a little beef broth, is kind of gross. We tried canning meatloaf in a wide mouth pint, and that turned out pretty well...but it was raw packed and not pre cooked.
 

JeepHammer

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We can chicken and beef but our ground beef ( we added beef broth ) is not the best, reminds me of taco bell. Which I avoid at all costs.

That's where the time/data logger comes in for us.
Meat is done between 160°F and 180°F.

You MUST run the canned meat up to 230-250°F, so it's overcooked no matter what...
I had to cut back on salt, so mine has to do 250°F...
(A dose of salt and you can get away with more)

We do the same thing,
Instead of hot water in the cans, we do broth.
We can always cut or drain it when we open, just does a better job with broth (And it's tastier too!)

That data logger changed the game for us.
I was at a canning plant several years ago and they were fishing the data logger marked can out of the production, and I asked questions...
The less you over cook, the less the meat gets stringy, bitter, and for vegetables it's opposite, more crisp, not mush.

We just canned pork steak which we eat a lot of. Pork chunks get smoked and go into bean soup! (LOVE bean soup!)
We even prep the sweet corn bread mix and can it also.
Gets a little chunky and needs to be broken up before cooking, but it makes for a great, and quick meal.

I've changed my mind on pull top cans, pretty handy.
I was convinced the pressed metal tear lines would fail, but not so much and it makes things even easier.
Anything that makes the wife happy makes me ticked pink!
Get your 'Atta-Boys' where you can. ;)
 

JeepHammer

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We prefer home canned, chicken, pork and venison....the ground beef, even with a little beef broth, is kind of gross. We tried canning meatloaf in a wide mouth pint, and that turned out pretty well...but it was raw packed and not pre cooked.

It will get one chance to cook in the jar/can, a second when you heat it back up!

I can't get ground beef to come out without tasting bitter, so I do beef chunks & steaks.
A half gallon or gallon can you can do vegetables right along with the beef, but I have to beat the crap out of roasts (tenderize) or they come out tough.

Shredded beef works a little better than ground meat, but it's extra work since I don't have a mechanical shredder.

Tough meat is better than no meat, but I'm working in it...
 

spencer rifle

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We have the American canner (apparently used to be an autoclave) and due to limited freezer space, canned all of last year's deer. Whenever one of our layers stops laying, it gets pressure canned also. Makes the tough old bird easier to eat.

Now we just have to deal with lid shortages. Our solution? Re-use the lids. Some of ours have 3 different labels on them.
 

PistolBob

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We have the American canner (apparently used to be an autoclave) and due to limited freezer space, canned all of last year's deer. Whenever one of our layers stops laying, it gets pressure canned also. Makes the tough old bird easier to eat.

Now we just have to deal with lid shortages. Our solution? Re-use the lids. Some of ours have 3 different labels on them.
FWIW we have been finding large mouth and regular lids at Kroger and Meijer almost every time we look. For awhile there, you could never find them.
 

WhitleyStu

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We have a Presto and an AllAmerican pressure canner. Having two canners makes it nice for quicker turn around time. Put up 128 pints and eight quarts of beans a few weeks ago. Enough for the winter...
 

JeepHammer

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We have the American canner (apparently used to be an autoclave) and due to limited freezer space, canned all of last year's deer. Whenever one of our layers stops laying, it gets pressure canned also. Makes the tough old bird easier to eat.

Now we just have to deal with lid shortages. Our solution? Re-use the lids. Some of ours have 3 different labels on them.

My wife showed me you can reuse jar lids.
When we just oven heat (beans, rice, flour etc) those lids do perfectly well being reused in the pressure canner the next go-around.
No more failure rate than new.

We started trying reusable lids 3-4 years ago, and while I thought they would fail miserably, they actually work pretty well so far.
Extra thick sealing goo, so I've stripped off a few rings trying to get them 'Tight' when they already were...
I guess if you aren't making mistakes, you aren't doing anything. ;)

We got an excessive amount, misreading the advertisment and getting about 10 times what we thought we were ordering, but the extras are coming in handy about now.

I used to use a 'Church Key', pry off opener when I met my wife, she stopped that in a hurry since it bent the lids.
I believed the single use thing and she stuck a fork in me pretty quick...
Someone needs to keep us straight once in a while. :)

As far as Autoclave is concerned,
A doctor told us that distilled water run through a pressure canner is the same as I.V. fluid.
He even worked out how much salt you need to add to make a saline I.V. in a quart jar.

That's the way they used to make I.V. fluids when they were in glass bottles.
Not that I ever want to have to make I.V. fluids, but it's something to keep in your back pocket...

Distill the water first, it gets rid of solids.
A run though the canner sterilizes it.

He also told us about the autoclave bags for surgical instruments.
Wash up the instrument in disinfectant, drop it in the bag and run it through a full pressure cycle.
Comes out completely sterilized and sealed in the bag to keep it that way.

Apparently the tattoo folks already know about the bags, I mentioned it to a guy I ride motorcycles with, a tattoo artist, and he knew exactly what I was talking about, they are supposed to clean their tools the same way, sealed in bags and go through the autoclave.

Food "Retort Bags" are popular in a lot of places.
Fish in particular...
Use a vacuum sealer, then run the bags through a full pressure cycle.
Supposedly the bags do a better job than cans or jars, but soup in a bag doesn't sound appetizing...

I did a few cuts of meat in bags just to see how it worked, but I didn't pack the bags in the retort tight enough and all but one ripped open.
They swell when heated, and I missed the part about 'Packing Tightly'...

Haven't got new bags yet, and I'm wondering if my vac/bag sealer is getting hot enough since all fails were at the seams.
There are specific built machines for retort bags, but I was just using the regular freezer bag vac/sealer...

I'll blow some more up when I get them in, supposed to arrive Friday.
 
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spencer rifle

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Last time we tried to buy lids on Amazon they were $1 each.
 

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