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I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Meatballs, Homecanned Meatballs in Sauce and Homecanned Sauce

I'm a bit behind on my tomato schedule this year so hopefully the motivation will strike soon! The fourth hamper of tomatoes was sitting in the kitchen waiting processing yesterday. I decided it would be a good day to make a smooth tomato sauce for canning and using some of that sauce for a homecanned convenience product. A family sized package of lean ground beef provided the inspiration. My husband loves meatball subs so I routinely make up a large batch of meatballs then freeze them. However, the prospect of having ready-to-use meatballs in sauce sitting in the pantry would be even easier for a quick meal. With the decision of what to can settled it was time to set to work.

The sauce (see below) was prepared first and simmering while I made the meatballs. I had the meatballs in sauce processing in the canner just in time for dinner which of course was meatball subs made from another batch of meatballs. After dinner, I processed most of the remaining sauce, cleaned up the kitchen and smiled each time a jar pinged.


When I make meatballs I don't use any fillers or eggs. I want pure lightly seasoned meatballs that let the flavour of the meat shine though giving me a versatile meatball that can be used with a variety of sauces. My method follows. There are no measurements as I just use what I have.

I start with freshly ground lean ground beef. The KitchenAid food grinder attachment is ideal for this purpose. I mix in a couple of healthy dashes of Worcestershire sauce, light sprinkling of salt and fresh ground pepper. Once mixed I pour in cold milk and mix adding more cold milk until the meat holds together when pinched. The meat is then formed into balls using a meatballer (1). I use a little extra virgin olive oil in a non-stick skillet to brown the meatballs (2) on medium heat turning as needed. Once cooked*(3) the meatballs are ready to enjoy or can be cooled for freezing**.

* for canning - Brown only but do not cook through. Keep hot until ready to fill the jars.
** for freezing - Once cooled, spread the meatballs in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Freeze. Remove from cookie sheet and pack into zipper style freezer bag or vacuum seal into meal sized portions.

Meatball Sub

Meatball subs are inexpensive, quick and easy to make sure to please. This was my husband's meatball sub so he decided against the nice green (upper right) romaine lettuce. His excuse was it might interfere with the full flavour of the meatballs!

Method: Start with a submarine bun. Cut down one side of the top on an angle from end to end. Repeat. A "V" shaped wedge will be formed leaving a "V" shaped well in the bottom. Fill the well with meatballs. Sprinkled on fresh grated Parmesan cheese. Place the wedge on top and enjoy!

Sauce & Meatballs in Sauce

I decided to make a smooth tomato sauce that would do double duty. Again there are no firm measurements only the method so adjust the seasonings to taste. I used approximately 3/4 of a hamper of tomatoes for the sauce. A food mill is essential for making smooth sauces. It makes quick work for easily removing skins and seeds. The sauce can be canned using a boiling water bath (BWB) canner but the meatballs in sauce must be processed using a pressure canner.

Method: Wash the tomatoes then cut in half. Place about 1/4 of the tomatoes into a large stock pot and slowly bring to a boil while stirring to prevent sticking. Continue adding cut tomatoes until all are used. When all the tomatoes are heated through remove from heat. Run then tomatoes in small quantities through the food mill. Return the sauce to the stockpot reserving the skins and seeds for drying (good for tomato powder). Add one finely chopped Spanish onion, 2 finely chopped stalks celery, 2 cloves garlic pressed and 1/2 finely chopped green pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Seasonings are optional but if using: Stir is Italian seasoning, 1 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tbsp cinnamon, 1 tbsp garlic/onion powder mix, 2 cans (369 ml/13 oz) tomato paste (or same amount homemade) and light dash of salt. Simmer 15 minutes. Adjust seasonings as necessary then simmer for another 15 minutes. The sauce is now ready for canning or freezing.

canned sauce only: Ladle the hot sauce into sterilized mason jars leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe the rims. Adjust two piece lids. Process in a boiling water bath 35 minutes for 500 ml (pints) jars. Remove from canner and allow to cool undisturbed. Check for seal. Label and store.

meatballs in sauce, canned: Pack hot meatballs into 500 ml (pint) jars leaving 1-inch headspace. Ladle hot sauce over the meatballs leaving 1-inch headspace. Wipe the rims. Adjust two piece lids. Process at 10 lb pressure for 75 minutes 500 ml (pint) jars or 90 minutes for 1 L (quart) jars. Allow to depressurize then remove jars to cool. Check for seal. Label and store.

to freeze: Allow sauce to cool then freeze as is in freezer containers. If adding meatballs, allow the meatballs to cool. Stir into the sauce and freeze in freezer containers. For longer storage, pop the frozen sauce or meatballs in sauce out of the container and vacuum seal.

9 food lovers commented:

Kim said...

Help help!

I read your post below about canning tomato juice. I was able to buy 50 pounds of tomatoes today for $12 and thought I would run a lot of them through the juicer.

But I don't have canning jars and didn't realize how expensive they are when you are just starting. Can I freeze tomato juice instead? I know I freeze sauce but didn't know if frozen juice would taste odd or not? Help help! :)

Garden Gnome said...

Hi, you sure can freeze tomato juice. Wash and core the tomatoes then cut into pieces. Simmer 5 minutes. Put through a food mill. Cool. Pour into freezer containers leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Freeze.

To use: Thaw in the refrigerator. Shake and enjoy.

Google User said...

Hi GG,
Great "How To" on canning meatballs in sauce. It was exactly what I was looking for. I have a question about the preparation of the meatballs and sauce. I fully cooked my recipe of sauce and meatballs and then pressure canned them @ 11 psi for 90 mins. Will they be OK to serve or are they now "overcooked"?
Thank you for your time,

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Google User and thanks for visiting. You're meatballs will be a bit over processed if you canned them in 500 ml (pint) jars but if you processed them in 1 L (quart) jars they will be fine. As far as cooking them fully before canning I think with beef the worst you are going to get is perhaps a bit of a textural change but not that much. At this point providing the jars sealed properly it is not a safety issue to consume the meatballs. I would open a jar, warm it up and see how you like the flavour and texture. HTH

Anonymous said...

I have a 30 lb. box of turkey meatballs coming next week.. I am a Alison's Pantry distributor.. so thats where I got them.. I want to can them in sauce.. they are fully cooked.. how much does the canning change the texture of the meat?? I see where you said to can fully cooked in qts instead of pints.. Thanks

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Anonymous, I canned the meatballs in 500 ml (pint) jars not 1 L (quart) jars. You can can them in either depending on how large of jars you want. Canning changes the texture slightly. We don't mind the slight change but some do and it does depend on the meat canned. The only way to determine whether or not you mind the textural change is to can a couple of test jars.

LedZepSue said...

Thank you for the info. How long do you think the meatballs in the sauce will keep on the shelf in a cool dry place If they were canned and sealed properly? Years?

Garden Gnome said...

Hi LedZepSue, properly canned anything stored in a dry, dark, cool location will technically keep forever providing the seal has not been compromised. The USDA recommendation is 1 year for storage. My comfort level is 1 to 2 years but others have reported no problems with home canned foods several years old. It becomes a personal choice.

Garden Gnome said...

Hi NewAtThis,

I have 3 pressure cookers (4L, 6L, 7L) all used for cooking only. Here is a link so you can see them

At one time I used an older All American 921 and a Mirro pressure canner but now I use a fairly new All American pressure canner model 921 that is shown in this picture

I hope this helps,