Friday, March 18, 2016

The Homestead Cheapskate - Part 2 Food preservation

In the midst of everything else that's going on (see my previous post), I still need to take care of the everyday things. One of those things is food preservation. And my favorite method of preserving food is canning. Next, is dehydrating, but for this part of The Homestead Cheapskate, I'm dealing with canning, and doing it safely.

Because of the need to get the freezers emptied before we have to move, I am "binge canning" now. Today, I canned ground beef.

Now I'm going to tell you right from the get-go: I only use the safe tested methods from the USDA, Ball, Bernardin, and several university extension services that do the food safety testing. I don't play fast and loose with our health and canned foods can be extremely dangerous if you aren't following tested procedures and methods.

We did get one freezer emptied (and yes, there were some freezer burned things in there. Bad homesteader!), and I found things that could be canned up to further empty the other freezer. One of those things was a 10 pound chub of ground beef. I also have some beef patties that I'll be canning very soon, plus several packages of fruit that I'll can in light syrup in a few days.

The meats I'm canning were bought when a local store was having crazy low meat prices. I don't buy meat until they have those kinds of prices. I'm not a "weekly shopper" kind of person. I ONLY shop for groceries that are deeply discounted, on sale, or in season at very low prices. We are likely to bring home 30 pounds of chicken because it was on sale, but we might not get any other meat. I don't necessarily have a plan for the on-sale meat, but I know we'll use it. The 30 pounds of chicken? I got it for $1.99 for 10 pounds! I canned most of it. We ate a meal or two out of it. And I left out some chicken legs to put in the freezer for frying. 30 pounds of chicken will probably give us 40 meals. I build my meal plans around the things I have.

The 10 pounds of ground beef I canned today produced 13 pints, which translates into 13 meals for us. How will I use it? I'll use it in any recipe that calls for a pound of ground beef, I'll put it in soups or casseroles, I'll make tacos or burritos with it...lots of ways.

How did I can it? I followed the USDA recommendations for Canning Chopped or Ground Meat. It turns out perfectly, as you'll see in the video I made while canning it.

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