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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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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pressure Canning & Pressure Cooking - Pork

After a very busy weekend, yesterday was a catch-up day for preserving. Once I decided on how I was going to use the food, things progressed somewhat smoothly with the exception of a glitch for dinner. I started with two sweet potatoes, four acorn squash, one rutabaga, one pumpkin, two lb lean ground beef, about a 4 lb ham, 4 chicken thighs with backs attached and about 10 lb of apples. The goal was to get as much processed and use some for dinner.

Unfortunately all did not go according to plan but a good portion got done but the rest will get done shortly so all is well. I managed to process the squash and half the rutabaga for freezing in individual serving sizes. The rest of the rutabaga went for dinner. The ground beef was used for a canning test batch of meatloaf while the ham was canned along with the resulting stock.



Pressure Canners & Cookers

I've talked quit a bit about pressure canning yet have mentioned little about pressure cooking. There is some confusion over pressure canners and pressure cookers. To qualify as a pressure canner according to the USDA there must be a holding capacity (different than total volume) of 4 - 1 quart jars with the ability to adjust the pressure to 5, 10 or 15 lb pressure. So, a pressure canner can be used as a pressure cooker but not all pressure cookers can be used as pressure canners.

I have two pressure cookers (1, 3) that can be used for pressure cooking only. One is a Jasi 6 qt (1) and the other a Fagor 4 qt (3). The Jasi is a first generation, rocker control model whereas the Fagor is a second generation, regulator in the handle model. I find both easy to use but the Fagor is quieter. My two pressure canners (2, 4) are huge beasts. One is an older All American 21 quart (2) and the other a Mirro 22 qt (4). When it comes to pressure canners the quarts stated is total volume not the number of actual jars you can process. At full capacity for either the total number of quart jars that can be processed is 7. With stacking they can process 36 - 250 ml (half pints), 26 - 500 ml (pints) standard or 20 - 500 ml (pints) wide mouth jars. During the busiest canning season, the canners run at full capacity but the rest of the year at half capacity or less.

All pressure canners and cookers with the exception of the All American require gaskets. Weighted gauges (4) do not need to be checked if using for canning but dial gauges (2) do. Gaskets need to be replaced as well for either so be sure to check the availability of replacement parts. With proper care, pressure cookers and canners will give you years of dependable service. Both will save you time and money so are a worthwhile investment.

Canned Meatloaf, Ham & Stock

I belong to a few preserving groups as well as running my own group. There has been some discussion on canning meatloaf so I decided to try it using the 2 lb of ground beef. I canned 3 - 500 ml jars of meatloaf (5) using my normal recipe along with 2 - 500 ml jars of ham (6) and 5 - 500 ml jars of ham stock (7).

Method (meatloaf): The meatloaf was mixed then packed raw into hot, sterilized 500 ml wide mouth jars leaving 1 - inch head space. Wipe the rim. Adjust the two piece caps. Process 75 minutes at 10 lb pressure.

The canned ham once again came out nice looking in the jars but I was not pleased with the look of the meatloaf. This is one reason why test batches are beneficial when preserving foods. When in doubt and before committing a large amount of food to any preserving project, always do a test batch! Test batches allow you to troubleshoot as well as taste the finished product before committing. As far as the meatloaf goes, I haven't opened a jar yet. It definitely will be considered as a convenience food on my pantry shelves. There is little that can be done about the looks in the jar so as long as it tastes good it will be on the pantry shelves. Aesthetics is likely one reason commercial food processors tend to favour tin cans since the consumer is much more likely to buy the product if it doesn't look unappealing.

Pork Chops with Vegetables

A pressure cooker saves both time and money. It is one piece of kitchen equipment that I highly recommend. Unlike other quick cook methods, you can have a nice meal on the table from start to finish within 30 minutes. Unlike slow cookers or microwave ovens, you can brown the meat giving it not only flavour but visual appeal. One of the best online resources for pressure cooker recipes is Miss Vickie's Pressure Cooker Recipes, a site dedicated only to pressure cooking.

I had decided on pressure canning the chicken for dinner but fate stepped in the way. The chicken that was purchased Saturday was off! So I did a quick adjustment using 1 - inch thick pork chops and continued with the meal plan. I paired the meat with rutabaga, onion, potatoes, carrots and corn. When pressure cooking a liquid is needed. For this meal I used 1 c water and 1 c apple juice. I thickened the liquid with a corn starch slurry for serving. This meal from start to finish took 5 minutes for the pressure cooker to come to pressure, 15 minutes cooking and less than 10 minutes prep time so qualifies for an under 30 minute meal. If you want to save the time at the dinner hour, prep the vegetables earlier in the day. Either way you do it, you will quickly appreciate the value of a pressure cooker.

Method:

Brown the pork chops in a little olive oil in the pressure cooker bottom, lid off. Prepare the vegetables. Choose vegetables with similar cooking times. Chop the vegetables and pour over the meat. Pour in at least 1 1/2 c of desired liquid. Shut the lid and bring to pressure. Reduce heat to where pressure can be maintained. Cook at pressure 15 minutes. Depressurize using quick method. Serve.

So if you don't have a pressure cooker or are debating whether you need one, get yourself down to the nearest store and pick one up. If you have one sitting on the shelf collecting dust, get it out. These are the ultimate time savers! I think they are better than slow cookers or microwave ovens too.


7 food lovers commented:

Anonymous said...

I watched the last part of America's Test Kitchen the other day when they did meatloaf. She didn't put her meatloaf into any kind of pan/casserole, but made it into a loaf. The part I did catch explained she did it this way to get more browning, and more glazed area.

Then you post this, and it got me to wondering if your canned meatloaf would do a similar thing as America's Test Kitchen's meatloaf as far as getting more browned/glazed surface area.

Please follow up on your meatloaf when you use it, including the texture. Oh, and did you use egg in the meatloaf mixture?

Sherri

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Sherri! My regular meatloaf is made that way or in a loaf pan depending on what else is in the oven. Normally it is made as two loaves that are browned, one for dinner and one for the freezer. This is the first time I've tried canning meatloaf. I used my regular meatloaf mixture that includes eggs. The USDA has approved a lemon curd recipe using a lot of eggs so I figured the two I used for this would be fine given it was being pressure canned. Others have indicated they use their regular meatloaf mixture as well without problems. One person said she empties the jar, covers with ketchup then bakes. I'm thinking this is going to be more of a convenience product on my pantry shelves.

I'll give a follow-up for those interested.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for clearing things up with the eggs. It sure will be nice to be able to batch up some meatloaf without having to worry about how much is already in the freezer.
Sherri

Anonymous said...

Do you always have to put a liqued in with the meat? I make pork chops breaded in flour,egg, then seasoned bread crumbs... will I be able to can these without adding a gravy or broth? Thank you " a Newbe"

Garden Gnome said...

Meats should have stock or water added when canning. You cannot safely can breaded pork chops.

CountingStarsNL said...

Hi there Garden Gnome,
My husband and I are just getting into canning as a way of preserving food for the long term. On a limited budget, we've started with simple water bath canning and are trying to find an affordable pressure canner to start out with and have been looking at Canadian Tire's Mirro by T-Fal 22qt pressure cooker/canner and wondering if that will do the job. Practically all the research we've done hasn't even mentioned the Mirro canners, everyone talks about how much they love their All-American canner or how they started with a Presto, I see you have a Mirro and would like to know if it would work for our purposes. We live in Newfoundland and plan to be canning everything and anything we can. Any information would be greatly appreciated as most people around here haven't even heard of a pressure canner and I have not been able to find one second hand.

Thanks so much!
Maureen
Counting Stars Homestead

Garden Gnome said...

Hi CountingStarsNL! The Mirro canner is available in two sizes but I highly recommend the 22 qt for versatility. It is a very good canner that will serve you well for all your canning needs. I would recommend buying an extra gasket just in case so as to not interfere with a canning session should the gasket go. It isn't common but can happen. Other than that, Mirror is quite similar to the Presto because it uses a gasket. The All-American has no gasket. Canadian Tire tends to put the Mirro canner on sale too so if you can get it on sale will save you a bit for more jars.