Sunday, November 17, 2013

Canning Meat

     I've spent a lot of time over the past few weeks adding some canned meat to our food storage.  As of the current date I've done more than a dozen pints of chicken and 28 pints of venison.  While canning meat is a bit labor intensive, the resulting product is a pretty wonderful convenience food to have stored away.  You can fix a tasty stew in no more time than it takes to cook potatoes or carrots. I also like the security of not having all of our meat stored in the freezer.  A lack of power is often included in the aftermath of natural disasters. If all of your meat is frozen you can eat like a king for three days after which all you have left is stuff like rice, beans, and oatmeal. Not that I don't enjoy rice and beans, but I think I would enjoy them a lot more with some chicken or venison added to the meal.

      Canning meat requires a pressure cooker and a longer processing time than most home canned items. Pint jars of chicken or venison need to be cooked at ten pounds of pressure for 75 minutes. That limits the amount of canning that can be done in a particular day. However, I'd rather spread out the joy of plucking chickens anyhow.  I had to persevere to get all of the deer deboned and canned quickly as we didn't have much empty space in our freezer.

      I saved out 4 pounds of the venison which is now marinating in the fridge so it can be made into jerky. I'll do that tomorrow so I will be home most of the day to keep an eye on it. I'm using two different jerky recipes this year. One is experimental and came from a wild game cookbook I've had for a number of years.  The other is the tried and true recipe I've used in the past, a commercially made seasoning and cure mix.  I bought the commercial product for two reasons. First of all, I've used it before so I know it will turn out well.  That will give me a frame of reference in judging the "experimental" recipe from my wild game cookbook.  Secondly, it was advertised on the package as an "Authentic Wyoming Recipe", made in Riverton, Wyoming.

      As I looked over the ingredient list for the commercial product I did experience a bit of buyer's remorse.  The commercial recipe has salt, sugar, sodium nitrites, caramel color, spice (not further described), spice extractive (also not further identified),garlic powder, soy sauce powder, and less than 2% propylene glycol added to prevent caking. I don't know if the consumption of propylene glycol is a health risk, but I have heard that nitrites are very good for you.  The cookbook recipe seemed simpler. It includes salt, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce (pronounced wooster), onion powder, garlic powder, and freshly ground pepper.  I looked at the ingredients for my onion powder and garlic powder and was pleased to learn they contained just onion and garlic respectively. No artificial colors, preservatives, or anti-caking agents. Then I decided to look to see what preservatives might be lurking in the Worcestershire sauce.  I found no apparent preservatives but I did find caramel color, dextrose, natural flavors (not further described), malice acid, hydrolyzed soy and corn protein.  I guess that is a step up from nitrites and propylene glycol. The soy sauce had hydrolyzed soy protein, corn syrup, caramel color, lactic acid, and potassium sorbate as a preservative.  I guess the moral of the story is to stop reading the labels if you really don't want to know all of the ingredients.

Canned chicken and chicken broth

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