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Food Storage Tips: Canning meats beans and broth

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Yesterday’s Deseret News article about pressure canning reminded me that I wanted to write a little about pressure canning and how it relates to food storage.

Most people pressure can in order to preserve low acid garden vegetables, such as green beans. I haven’t yet had a huge enough garden that I had leftover green beans to preserve. But I have used a pressure cooker quite a bit, to can broth, meats, and beans.

Canned beans, meat, and broth have several advantages:
Canned food is immediate and easy to use. It doesn’t have to be thawed. This is very handy at 4 p.m. when you haven’t planned dinner yet. Canned broth is convenient to just pour from the jar. Frozen broth is harder to use. Dry beans store well, but canned beans are a lot handier.
Canned meat is safe during power outages, when frozen food is at risk of spoiling.
Canned meat and beans taste better. The pressure canner tenderizes tough meats and thoroughly softens the beans. They are delicious.

Like the newspaper article said, pressure cooking isn’t scary. Yes, you have to follow the instructions precisely and have a healthy respect for the canner. But it isn’t terribly difficult once you get used to it. And it’s not terribly time consuming either, if you are going to be home and around the kitchen that day. Most of the work in preserving shredded chicken meat, for example, is in cooking up the chicken and picking it off the bone. You can either freeze that meat, or put it into canning jars and pressure can it. Babysitting the canner takes up an extra couple of hours (75 minutes for pints, plus the time it takes the canner to get to the correct pressure), but you can do other things in the kitchen at the same time. You can hear the weight on pressure cooker jiggling, and that tells you it’s still under pressure.

I won’t go into a detailed description of pressure canning; you can find that elsewhere online. Actually, you should get the Ball Blue Book and follow their detailed instructions with pictures. Or get a friend to walk you though the first time. Canning is more fun with a friend.

Added 9-30-08: Abby from Safely Gathered In wrote an awesome post about how to use a pressure canner to can green beans. She took pictures every step of the way. Check it out!

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