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Ontario, Canada
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.
--Bobby Flay

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  • [January 15, 2016] - It's National Soup Month so this month's posts will focus on soups. Yum!
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Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day & Canning Ground Beef with Onions

Note: ground beef recipe follows my entry for Blog Action Day.

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

Today over fifteen thousand blogs with twelve million readers will be blogging on one topic - The Environment. Each of my blogs are participating, each from a different perspective so be sure to read them all.

Deciding on a environmental topic that related to cooking was more difficult than first expected. There are so many directions I could have went because food and our food supply are inherently intertwined with the environment. I decided to focus on home canning.

Home canning in jars is a relatively new in preserving history beginning in 1795 using a heat process invented by Nicholas Appert in France. In 1858 John L. Mason invented the mason jar that became a popular amongst both urban and rural families for canning. Family traditions of canning continued but fell out of favour as commercially prepared products became available. Home freezers almost spelled the end of home canning because it was more convenient to freeze. However, some religious groups and farm wives continued the tradition. Over the years many families continued to home can to varying degrees to preserve extra produce from home gardens, take advantage of in season produce and to preserve wild game and fish.

In recent years there has been a resurgence in home canning. During the y2K scare and easily accessible information on the internet, home canning became a very desirable way to ensure personal food supplies. What started as a hobby for some escalated to self-sufficiency. There has been a growing concern with the safety of our food supply. There is a growing distrust in the big companies to provide safe foods coupled with rising food costs. More and more people are growing their own food or buying organic, chemical and preservative free foods. If the forums are any indication, this trend for canning these foods will continue to grow. So you ask, what does canning have to do with the environment?


This is one wall in my pantry. More about my pantry can be found here. The first thing you notice about my pantry is the numerous filled canning jars. These are reused each year as are the rings. Each filled jar represents a commercial can that in some areas can be recycled but even then there is controversy as to whether the recycling effort is effective. Reducing the number of cans we use is sound environmentally friendly practice. Some of my jars are at least 30 years old and still in use for canning. Older zinc lid jars are used for storing dried foods, saving them from the landfill.

As you can see, I have two newer model energy efficient freezers. The problem with freezing is the ongoing cost as long as that food is frozen. The second problem with freezing is you are dependent on electricity. Disruption in the electrical supply can result in the total loss of your stored foods. With rising electricity costs, freezing no longer the most environmentally friendly way to store food. We should be using less electricity, not more. Home canning uses energy for processing but not for storage. The jars can easily be opened without a can opener and used as is in the event of a power outage as well without reheating.

A good portion of the produce I can is home grown organic, free of pesticides and herbicides. All are environmentally friendly practices. Peeling, stems and etc. from prepared fruits and vegetables are composted to be used in the garden the following year. This ultimate form of recycling leaves a minimal impact on the environment. Produce I buy is generally picked in large quantities in one trip minimizing the number of trips needed and a well stocked pantry means fewer trips to the grocery store. Both decrease traveling, gas use and carbon emissions.

Environmentally, canning makes good sense!

Canned Ground Beef

There are many reasons for canning your own meats. One of the most common is to have a supply of meat that is not reliant on electricity. A second reason is to have a convenient, pre-cooked meat ready to use.

Canned Ground Beef
(2.24 kg, yield 5 - 500 ml jars)

For best results use lean freshly ground beef. Place the ground beef in a large stock pot and break up. Add 1 medium chopped onion. Add enough water to cover, breaking the meat up further. Bring to a boil. Continue boiling until cooked. Strain using a colander. Spoon the meat mixture into sterilized, hot jars leaving 1 - inch headspace. Add 1/4 tsp salt per 500 ml jar if desired. Pour boiling water over the meat leaving 1 - inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and top until there is 1- inch headspace. Wipe rim. Adjust two piece lids. Process at 10 lb pressure 75 minutes for 500 ml (pint) jars or 90 minutes for 1 L (quart) jars.

25 food lovers commented:

tweezle said...

I started canning ground beef this year. DH found a great sale, and brought a bunch home - but alas, no freezer space, so I tried it out of necessity. We made meatballs (meat, seasoned breadcrumbs and canned tomatoes to hold it together) and ground beef. We are thrilled with the final product and its convenience!

Garden Gnome said...

It is a very convenient product to have in your pantry. I'm glad you were able to try canning ground beef and were happy with the outcome.

Take care :)

Darlene said...

Just out of curiosity, why don't you use the water you've cooked the meat in? Aren't you just throwing away some of the water-soluble nutrients? I know that there is some grease in that water, but if you've started with lean ground beef, there shouldn't be that much.
I'm just curious about this.

Anonymous said...

please tell me what the statements mean with regards to pressure? is this a pressure cooker and if it is, is there some way that you can get the pressure without a pressure cooker?


Garden Gnome said...

Duane,pressure canning means processing the filled jars under pressure to destroy any pathogens. Under pressure the food reaches a temperature of at least 240ºF higher than 212ºF in a boiling water bath canner. You must use a pressure canner (not pressure cooker) to process food under pressure. A more detail comparison with pictures can be found in the archives in an entry titled "Pressure Canning & Pressure Cooking - Pork". HTH

Michele said...

I have been canning meats for a few years now, but did not think i could can meatballs till i saw it on your site. Can i can meatballs if they have eggs in them, and do you think that "tweezle" caned them raw or partially cooked? Thanks- Michele

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Michele and thanks for visiting. I don't make meatballs using egg. I find ice cold milk give a much better result. Egg is not recommended for canning so I would say no. If tweezle canned them the same way I can my meatballs then she would have browned the meatballs so partially cooking. Partially cooking keeps the meatball shape defined during the canning process as well as ads flavour. HTH

Darlene said...

I used egg in my meatballs.
I made the meatballs in the normal way - bread crumbs, eggs, parsley, onion powder, adobo, garlic powder and ketchup - mixed together well. I used a small "portioner" -2 tbs size, to make the meatballs. I took my cookie sheets (jelly roll pan - with the edges) and placed a stainless steel cooling rack on top of each of them. I then scooped, leveled and plopped the meatballs onto the prepared cookie sheets. I didn't bother to "roll" the meatballs. I cooked them at 350 for about 10 minutes.
I placed 12 in a pint jar, filled with just plain tomato sauce and processed them. (I took the warm meatballs to the local cannery, so I don't know what temp/pressure and for how long they processed them).
When we opened them, they were great. There was a bit of a taste/texture change from the fresh, but not objectionable to my kids (who don't like chunks which is why no fresh onion or garlic. sigh)

By using plain tomato sauce, we can make anything from bbq to spaghetti out of them.

The deal with not canning eggs is that regular, PLAIN eggs would get VERY rubbery. But eggs mixed into something else are fine, as the mixing breaks up the egg protein and absorbs into the food.

Garden Gnome said...

Thank-you for sharing your method of making meatballs for canning. Everyone makes meatballs differently. I don't use eggs because I want the meat to shine which is another reason for using milk rather than egg. I also do not use bread crumbs in meatballs. Preparing meatballs for canning can vary with partial cooking method of your choice giving better results than raw pack. Meat balls can also be packed in stock or sauce of your choice for canning providing the sauce is not thickened and does not contain dairy. HTH

Darlene said...

Isn't it fun learning about how other people do things?

I think the bread crumbs and egg is a southern way of making meatloaf/meatballs. I had never heard of using milk or not using bread crumbs before you told me how you make them.

I agree with the partial cooking of the meatballs giving a better product and that you definitely don't want a thick sauce for home canning.

I'll have to give your milk a try. I don't use much milk because we're all allergic to it - not lactose intolerant, but allergic, but I don't think you use enough milk in this to really "count".

Anonymous said...

Can I can ground beef by doing a water bath instead? I do not have a pressure cooker with a working gauge.

Michele said...

You can not can meat in a water bath caner. You need the PSI number gauge to be set just right for your altitude and then you need to keep an eye on that number for 60- 90 minutes depending on if you are canning pints or quarts. The PSI can not go much under or over that number. I took my caner to the county extension office where they tested my lid for me and told me what number to can it add.

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Anonymous and thanks for visiting. No you cannot safely can ground beef in a BWB canner. Ground beef is a low acid food that must be processed using a pressure canner. The processing time for 250 ml (half-pints) is 75 minutes, 500 ml (pints) is 90 minutes at 10 lb pressure for weighted gauge or 11 lb pressure for dial gauge at altitudes under 1,000 ft above sea level. If you are at a higher altitude use the altitude adjustment chart (link on main page of this blog).

If you have a dial gauge pressure canner some extension services in the US will test your gauge for you. If you are not near an extension service or are outside of the US you can get your gauge tested at a radiator shop. An alternative is to buy a new replacement gauge.


Garden Gnome said...

Hi Michele and thanks for visiting. A vast majority of home canners do not live in the US so do not have extension services. There is no need to have the extension service tell you what pressure to pressure can at. The pressure to used is determined by your style of canner gauge and altitude. The only thing you need to know is your altitude which can be easily found by putting your address into Google Earth or Google search. Using your altitude then refer to the altitude adjustment chart (link main page of this blog) or you can refer to the Ball Blue Book or several online sources that have this chart.

Darlene said...

The thing is, after a while those dial pressure gauges have problems. I have a dial pressure gauge on a 20 year old canner. It has been fine for a long time. I had it checked this year (after about 6 years or more of not being used) and I now need to get the pressure up to 14lbs instead of the 11 lbs that my altitude calls for. Reason for this is that the gauge is off and when I am at 14 lbs of pressure on the gauge, I'm actually only at 11 lbs of pressure. So if I just went to the 11 lbs on my dial, I would not be using enough pressure. I'd really only be at about 8 lbs of pressure.

That's why we should get them checked yearly, or if we haven't used them in a good while.

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Darlene and thanks for visiting. This problem is precisely why weighted gauge pressure canners or those with both dial and weighted gauge are a better choice. All you need for weighted gauge canners is the adjustable weight, your altitude and the altitude adjustment chart. Yes the dial gauge pressure canners are out there but if they are off then you can get under-processing. This is not a problem with a weighted gauge canner.

Darlene said...

I know! I wish I had known that when I asked for a pressure canner for a wedding gift. I'm grateful for it, but in retrospect I do wish it was a weighted gauge one!

Garden Gnome said...

Darlene, when it comes to canning especially pressure canning any time you can eliminate something that could be a problem it is desirable to do so. Things like dial gauge regulators and gaskets tend to fail when you can least afford it. The AAs eliminate the need for a gasket and have both regulators so problem solved. Older AA can be retrofitted to use both gauges. You may be able to retrofit your pressure canner the same way so you don't need to worry about getting the dial gauge tested. HTH

Darlene said...

Probably not. I have a Presto brand canner. It has both a gasket AND a dial.

I'd LOVE an AA, but it's out of my price range - at any price. Right now, I'm low-income and looking at losing my job this month. So no purchases for a while. On the bright side, I have a local cannery literally down the street from me. It's not open now, but next summer when it re-opens, I will be using it a LOT!

I was grateful to find it this year and canned up about 200 jars/tins of food. Since I also have wheat, beans, rice, oatmeal, sugar and salt in storage, I can face life without worrying about starving to death! lol

Garden Gnome said...

Darlene, I'm sorry to here of the tough times to come. I'm sure a stocked pantry will help somewhat. Keep stocking while you can.

I'm not familiar with the Presto canners although I've read about them and have seen pictures. I'm familiar with the Mirro and AA canners. AA by far for my situation works the best for me. The stores don't stock gaskets here so I have to pay shipping and then there's the shipping time. I have 2 AAs (one ancient, one new) and a Mirro but the AA get the most use. Keep an eye on your local freecycle or Kijji for an inexpensive or free weighted gauge and put the word out to family and friends. Perhaps you can find a weighted gauge canner that would eliminate testing the dial gauge. HTH

canning meat said...

Thank you for this wonderful post of yours about canning the meat. But one thing I was confuse is why did you use the water you use to can the meats on? isn't that would be a waste of some flavor of the meat itself in the end?

Garden Gnome said...

Hi canning meat and thanks for visiting. Either water, broth or stock can be used when canning meats. Water does not cause a flavour loss as it can be used in whatever dish you are making with the canned meat. Cooking the ground beef in water prior to canning serves to remove some of the fat resulting in a nicer final product.

Anonymous said...

I have been canning meats for a few years now, but did not think i could can meatballs till i saw it on your site. Can i can meatballs if they have eggs in them, and do you think that "tweezle" caned them raw or partially cooked? Thanks

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Anonymous, I have canned meatballs so there is another post that gives the details of that. However, I don't use eggs or fillers in my meatballs. I don't know how tweezle did the meatballs but I did mine by browning then canning so partially cooked. If you scroll up theough the comments Darlene used eggs in her home canned meatballs successfully and she also partially cooked them

Ground beef and meatballs are two meat products I would partially cook for a couple of reasons. First it allows you to eliminate some of the fat. In the case of meatballs it will give a nicer result with better defined meatballs that aren't stuck together.

Ruth said...

Yesterday was my first attempt at home canning. I got an AA pressure canner for Christmas. I found the AA instruction book to be a little confusing, but with the help of some other canning books, got the procedure down. However, I missed the step of putting the water in before sealing the jars. Do you have any experience with this? It looks pretty dry but I haven't opened any yet. Will it be OK?