Home canning my own convenience foods.

By Richknowbody Latest Reply 2011-12-18 08:18:48 -0600
Started 2011-08-04 18:53:28 -0500

Something I have been doing the last year is making 16 pints of my favorite meals.
Beef stew is one of the meals I make, it is the best I have had from a can.
No preservatives and I put only the best ingredients and it is all to my taste. I use very little salt when I make it. I put the salt in when I am ready to eat it.

Does any one else do this? I have different meals handy.

I also really like the social affair canning a meal can be.

So, when I arrive home and am too tired to cook, or if I don't want to go to a restaurant, I can heat up one of my pre-made meals in 2 minutes.

75 replies

Young1s 2011-12-17 10:26:24 -0600 Report

After reading all of the responses I am intrigued and game to give it a try. Now all I need is the instruction booklets, possibly a crock-pot or pressure cooker and jars with sealable lids. And speaking of which, where do I get the jars and are they expensive?

Richknowbody 2011-12-17 10:54:45 -0600 Report

Jars are about 80 cents each, but you use them over and over again. Some of my jars are 30 years old. I know this because they are bicentennial jars. They have patriotic pictures on them. I got these from free cycle. Free cycle is a recycling of stuff that is good. You post them on line and some one that has a use for it comes and gets it.

Richknowbody 2011-12-17 10:50:17 -0600 Report

Winco is the cheapest place. otherwise Wal-mart.
I keep my eye on "freecycle.com and get jars there some times. (for free)
I would use Amazon.com for the pressure cooker.

GabbyPA 2011-12-18 08:18:48 -0600 Report

I use the water bath method and got a pot and all the tools at Tractor Supply on sale for $50. A friend of mine got me another pot and the basket for $5 at a garage sale. I get my jars and lids from my grocer for about $8 for 12 jars with rings and lids. I also get extra lids and rings because I reuse as well.

pixsidust 2011-12-16 18:11:34 -0600 Report

I do plan on doing a garden next year so will have to give it a go.
My great grandma poured a layer of wax on top before putting the lids on.
Do you do that?

jayabee52 2011-12-16 19:07:03 -0600 Report

we did for jams and jellies, but then we didn't pressure can those.

We did not do the wax for the fruits veggies and meats because the wax would melt and make a mess, and probably interfere with the sealing of the jars.

To pour wax on the jams and jellies you had to of course cook them, then let them cool and pour the molten wax on top of the cooled preserve. You may have seen ggma put the lid and ring on it to keep the wax clean.

My mom, and my ex both did it both ways and there was no difference how those preserves kept.

GabbyPA 2011-12-17 08:10:45 -0600 Report

Pressure canning creeps me out, so I use the water bath method. I have never used the paraffin wax, but I have some. I have always used the lids that seal. When you do the wax, what is the protocol?

jayabee52 2011-12-17 13:51:36 -0600 Report

We let the preserves cool, of course, then we heated the parafin on the stove (double boiler recommended) poured it over the preserves and let it cool. You can pour up to the edge of the jar or just a fraction below as the parafin will contract when cooled. Some folks like to put a lid (not sealed) and a ring on it to keep dirt from off the surface of the wax, but is not absolutely necessary. The wax then is removed from the top of the preserves and the preserves are enjoyed. The wax can be washed and stored for a use next year should you wish.

Water bath method is only safe (from what I understand) for high acid foods like tomatoes. I am actually opposite of you Gabby, I am a bit creeped out eating something which was canned via the water bath method.

However I can understand the creep factor with the possibility of the pressure canning vessel exploding, but it is not something from which one can just walk away and forget it and let it do its thing for X number of minutes. We also had the kind of pressure canners which had weights which jiggled when it reached the pressure printed on the side of the weight. We had to listen for the jiggle and adjust the temp down if it jiggled too much and up if it jiggled not enough. If one does it long enough it becomes 2nd nature.

Young1s 2011-12-17 14:13:24 -0600 Report

Okay, are you saying that you pour the wax directly on the food itself? And if so, how do you get the wax out of the jar without it breaking up into the food? Is it like pulling out a cork? And how does the canning work using a pressure cooker? Are the jars sealed up Inside the the cooker? If so, then what is the worry. These may seem like silly questions to the pros but I have never used a pressure cooker in my life and I'm just trying to get a visual in my head.

jayabee52 2011-12-17 14:51:52 -0600 Report

The wax is ONLY to top jams and jellies. That is about its only use. It is poured out as a hot liquid (heated on a double boiler because the wax is flammable) to pour on top of COOLED jams & jellies. As far as I know that is its only use in preserving things. And yes, the wax comes out like a cork & can be washed and stored until the next use.

Pressure cooker is different. I don't know exactly the physics involved but from what I do understand, the whole canner, jars and all gets heated up. Steam escapes from the jars past the lids and rings. After the appropriate amount of time (the book will tell you which produce and how many minutes to process) You can stop the heat, lift the jar out of the canner (tongs recommended due to jars being still hot) and let them cool. If you have done it right, eventually the jar will seal with an unmistakable "bink" sound (hard to describe — until you hear it after that you will understand) as the lid seals to the mouth of the jar using the red (usually) rubber ring applied to the metal of the lid. The center of the lid is also depressed (making the sound when it depresses) . Jars which have not sealed will have the lids still raised a bit in the center. and they will have a tinny sound when the center of the lid is pressed.

The reasons for not sealing could be various, but won't be addressed in this posting. That may be addressed by request.

We usually left the jars cool till it was easy to touch them and then we would unscrew the lbands and put the jars into the pantry.

I pray I haven't made the confusion worse.

Caroltoo 2011-12-17 14:19:09 -0600 Report

To the novice, a pressure cooker always sounds like its about to explode. You do get used to the sound of escaping steam…it's just the cooker equalizing the pressure inside.

Caroltoo 2011-12-17 14:02:23 -0600 Report

First time I used a pressure cooker, I was afraid of it. Now it's an old friend and tenderizes lots of things for me…like I love artichokes and I don't have the patience to cook them in my steamer.

jayabee52 2011-12-17 14:10:59 -0600 Report

I always had respect for them, especially when they were pressurized. That respect didn't stop us from getting a 2nd BIGGER pressure canner after we became used to doing that. She was a city girl but took to "country life" and ways of doing things quite well. After we left that way of life, things just kinda fell apart for us.

Jan8 2011-12-16 15:42:26 -0600 Report

well maybe you can bottle some of that for me because when dinnertime comes I am too tired to cook anything. lol

jayabee52 2011-12-16 16:33:11 -0600 Report

that's one of the reasons why one cans, Jan

Jan8 2011-12-16 16:54:30 -0600 Report

I think it's an excellent idea and I've always wanted to do something like that.

jayabee52 2011-12-16 17:44:43 -0600 Report

it does take a bit of concentrated prep time. Having done it before a while back (with my now ex wife) I would recommend seeing if you could look up the book in the library entitled "Stocking up". If your library doesn't have it see if you could get it through an interlibrary loan. You might want to try it before you buy it.

Sandy and I used that religiously in doing what we needed to preserve our gardens' harvests and feed 3 sons on only my rather meager salary.

pixsidust 2011-12-16 11:16:13 -0600 Report

I am always afraid I won't can the food right and it will spoil. I do freeze some meals during the week and have easy things like talapia to steam with a steamables veggie. I wish I knew how to properly can food.

Richknowbody 2011-12-16 11:37:21 -0600 Report

Do it.
And your first time will be correct.
I taught my self.
I have had very few go bad. 100% of the time they were bad is when I put too much in the jar and it over flowed and ruined the seal. The top will pop and so you know it is not sealed.
I put the bad ones in the fridge and eat them first.

jayabee52 2011-12-16 13:57:32 -0600 Report

Christy I did a lot of canning with the mother of my sons when we were together. I also encourage you to do this and recommend a book we used religiously (and we were very religious ppl — LoL!) by the title "stocking up". It had in it various ways of preserving things. We fed our boys for a lot of years mostly on what we grew and put up.

If I had the room to grow a garden, I'd still be doing it for myself. But in my current apartment all the windows face north and get no direct sun at all and there is no patio for even a container garden.

I am however considering sprouting seeds and eating them, so it would be kinda like gardening.

squog master
squog master 2011-12-16 18:12:48 -0600 Report

If our town library doesn't have a book usually our county library does & our town library will get it from them for me.

Caliafiosgram62 2011-12-16 18:03:09 -0600 Report

That sounds like the book I used to use when our boys were growing up. Only it was called "Putting foods by" We lived on canned tomatoes, pears, pumpkin, peaches, etc, etc, etc. Some of the stuff in there was really old fashioned. One thing I never did try was real mincemeat. I just could not go that route.

jayabee52 2011-12-16 19:12:11 -0600 Report

that was a different book. I am sure it was very good also, but we didn't use it. We found stocking up first.

My mom used those single subject paperback books from Ball to instruct her. If you contact Ball corp you may be able to score some of those books. I believe it was called "The ball canning guide . . . ."

berrykins0 2011-12-16 08:41:37 -0600 Report

i make stuff up and freeze things a little different way but works well too.

jayabee52 2011-12-17 13:54:37 -0600 Report

Yes it does, but we ran out of freezer space quickly, and when harvesting produce from a garden, we didn't have enough freezer space to preserve it using a freezer.

MoeGig 2011-12-15 19:37:18 -0600 Report

I do the same thing, only my specialty is seafood chowder. If you go to an Asian super market (we have a number in northern VA), you can get a lot of ingredients at a reasonable cost…white fish, oysters, scallops, shrimp, etc. Add vegetables, carrots, onions, celery, other asian vegetables (leave out the potatoes). Sweat the veggies, then add chicken stock, a quart of cream. Once you add the cream, throw in the seafood…add garlic, jalapeno's, hot sauce, olive oil. Freeze serving sizes… Result is low carb and delicious…especially with a glass (or 2) of chilled Chardonnay.

Richknowbody 2011-12-16 09:10:24 -0600 Report

I would love to do a chowder. I heard it is harder because it has milk in it.
Can you post a simple recipe for clam chowder?
I would like to make 16 jars, so I can have them for lunch's later on.
My wife just made a wonderful turkey noodle soup, made her own noodles also.

squog master
squog master 2011-12-16 18:16:33 -0600 Report

Turkey is my favorite soup. And I have been watching "The Chew" lately. Mario Batalti said homemade pasta is so easy. One cup of flour for one egg. I'm going to try it this weekend.

GabbyPA 2011-08-24 20:20:45 -0500 Report

I just did the crock pot no sugar added apple sauce recipe here on line and it came out great. I popped the extra into a couple of canning jars and there you go. Applesauce! YUMMY.

MelaniePalmero 2011-08-22 22:06:23 -0500 Report

Hi Gabby, canning meat is really simple. You just have to get hold of a good recipe. Canned goods that are not properly done can cause botulism. Also when you are canning, remember to allow ½ inch of headspace for fruits and tomatoes and 1 inch for all vegetables, meats, poultry, and seafood. I think you need to look at these home canning tips here.

squog master
squog master 2011-08-06 23:45:40 -0500 Report

I usually freeze my "extra" servings. I'm single so cooking for one can be a challenge. So I usually make enough to have a meal. Maybe "leftovers" later in the week, then freeze the other 2 portions for "down the road".

I did learn to can tomatoes. I haven't done this for a long time & would like to get back to it as "Jersey tomatoes" are the best.

berrykins0 2011-12-16 08:42:17 -0600 Report

i do it this way too cool.

squog master
squog master 2011-12-16 16:50:25 -0600 Report

Funny. That's funny peculiar not funny ha ha. You send this on a day that I happen to be having some homemade veggie soup from the freezer. When I make soups I make a big pot & freeze some too! My favorite is Turkey Noodle or Rice. But being diabetic now I don't put in much noodles or rice. I put in more veggies.

I also like to make a big pot of Veggie soup. It's a good way of getting my veggies into me.

jayabee52 2011-08-07 00:14:54 -0500 Report

I'm gonna stick my neck out here —- how are Jersey tomatoes different than other tomatoes, other than they are raised in New Jersey?

squog master
squog master 2011-08-07 09:42:06 -0500 Report

I think the only way to describe it is the taste is richer. I think it is the New Jersey soil that makes them that way. Same w/Jersey corn but there the taste is sweeter. Before my fire I had an upright freezer & used to freeze the corn also.

Copperchef 2011-08-06 09:23:37 -0500 Report

I really don't can much any more. I have a food-saver system and freeze most of my meals for my wife and I. When we come home, it is a matter of just selecting some thing and placing it in boiling water for 7 to 10 minutes. Saves on space too.
I still will can tomatoes and make pickles, and some other pickled veggies. Used to make my own preserves, but only do it now for friends.

Richknowbody 2011-08-06 09:36:18 -0500 Report

Sounds like this solves the convenience problem also.

GabbyPA 2011-08-07 08:16:16 -0500 Report

The magic of canning though is that if some reason you don't have power, you can still eat your canned food. Though if you don't have power, your frozen stuff might be "canned" anyway. LOL

GabbyPA 2011-08-05 07:19:46 -0500 Report

I have been teaching myself to can. Foods with meat in them scare me a little. Do you have the recipes for your stew that you could post? I have a ton of empty canning jars that would love to be filled with healthy low carb homemade foods. I want to do soups as well if you have any recipes for that. My processing time is what worries me most. I don't know how long to process combined foods.

I have done jellies and a little bit of pickling. I have a great spaghetti sauce that I want to can, but am just nervous. I guess I just need to jump in and give it a try.

Richknowbody 2011-08-06 08:46:30 -0500 Report

Soups are also my favorite. Canning has really been a solution to my need for fast food.
I make a pinto bean soup that is pretty good and no meat. But I am very impressed with how satisfying it is.
Lentil soup is also very very satisfying, and holds you over to the next meal.
And very delicious.

GabbyPA 2011-08-06 08:47:43 -0500 Report

I love lintel soup. Just carrots, onions and celery for me. It is one of my favorites.

Richknowbody 2011-08-06 08:59:17 -0500 Report

That is a very nice recipe, love the simplicity of it. I put in a few strips of bacon to add to the flavor. I know it takes from the healthyness of the recipe, but it sure adds to the deliciousness of the meal.
What does the PA next to your name mean?

GabbyPA 2011-08-06 09:03:38 -0500 Report

I am the "patient advocate" for the site. Kind of misleading, because I am not a medical professional, but I am diabetic and share from my experience here. I am here because I love this site and have been here since almost the very start. They let me have a few responsibilities here and I am glad to do it. This site is wonderful and I am proud to be a part of it.

RAYT721 2011-08-06 09:07:13 -0500 Report

Gabby was one of the first people that befriended me (automatically) and became my first genuine real-life friend from this board. We have since shared good times and bad … and is truly an amazing part of this community and my circle of friends.

Richknowbody 2011-08-05 09:17:59 -0500 Report

Just follow the manual that came with your pressure cooker or google it.
I have never had a problem with meats. Never had a single can go bad.
I do have cans go bad if I put too much in, and then they boil over and ruin the seal.
I recognize these right away and put them in the fridge and eat them soon.

Richknowbody 2011-08-05 09:15:56 -0500 Report

Yea, jump in. You won't have any problems. My stew recipe I got from the Ball canning book. I follow it precisely it is a simple recipe. Oh my is delicious. I do make sure I use the ingredients I want to eat.
I did do spaghetti sauce one time, but the high heat ruined the spices. So, now I make 5 quarts of spaghetti sauce and I freeze it in meal size quantities.

GabbyPA 2011-08-06 08:49:35 -0500 Report

I have been freezing my sauce for now. I use a lot of veggies like egg plant, onion and mushrooms in it, so maybe freezing is the best for that. I have the Ball canning book, so maybe I will try the stew. I don't use a pressure cooker for processing though, I use my canning pot. So I will have to see how it differs.

jayabee52 2011-08-05 07:34:20 -0500 Report

I had always been a bit nervous about meats and foods with meats too. But we had no problems with meat (we made a lovely canned cubed beef) following the directions in the book "Stocking Up". It is a book about preserving foods of all types via many methods. Published by Rodale books. Here's a link http://www.abebooks.com/products/isbn/0671693956 You might be able to find one for less if you look around.

GabbyPA 2011-08-05 07:45:38 -0500 Report

Thanks, I found a copy on Amazon for $5. Not bad! There is a Stocking Up III, but it is more expensive, so I will start with this one. Thanks!

GabbyPA 2011-08-05 08:17:26 -0500 Report

Well you know, books are like chips, you can't have just one. So I also ordered "Root Cellaring" and "Cooking with the Sun". I got them all used and all for free shipping!! Woo hoo. new books, I love new books.

GabbyPA 2011-08-05 08:27:15 -0500 Report

I got that from my mom...she reads all day every day. I don't read like that, but I study books. I am not a novel person, but a useful information book person.

jayabee52 2011-08-05 08:31:41 -0500 Report

Gee me too. my ex and I had quite an extensive collection of gardening books and canning books, and how to do it books. She's got most of them now. But I have most of what's between the book jackets (in my head) and I don't have to move'em.

jayabee52 2011-08-05 04:38:19 -0500 Report

I and the mother of my sons, did A LOT of that when the boys were growing up.

We would make tomato sauces, salsas, stews, sauerkraut, pickles, and pie fillings (before my diabetes Dx). We harvested, canned, froze and dried a lot of our garden's produce and ate very well for not a lot of money.

Since we are now split and she kept all the canning jars and the 2 big pressure cookers, I haven't done that recently, and I don't think she has either for several years. Would like to do that again if I could.

Richknowbody 2011-08-05 09:19:57 -0500 Report

I can more because of my diabetes.
I would love to make a good salsa. do you have a recipe you like?

jayabee52 2011-08-06 05:25:42 -0500 Report

actually my ex made it for me 1 year, and I don't think there was a recipe. (sorry) We had a lot of peppers that year and she put most of them in (seeds included) and pureed them. 5-alarm salsa, to be sure.

classof78 2011-08-05 22:29:52 -0500 Report

I cheat and use Mrs. Wages salsa mix. Add tomatoes from your garden. I like mine thick, so I put the chopped tomatoes in a colander to drain off the juice, continue on with the directions, except add some tomato paste to make it thicker. When draining the tomatoes, catch the juice in a bowl, then can that also. I don't add salt to the juice.

Richknowbody 2011-08-06 09:08:50 -0500 Report

I did get a pre-packaged mix from Wal-Mart, I will just have to do it. I live 2 miles from Tom's Farms, the prices of vegetables are going to be very cheap in the next few months. I will make it then.

Harlen 2011-08-04 20:47:45 -0500 Report

Hello and welcome
Yes I do the same thing
I even make my owne jam and apple butter I know whats in them lol
Best wishes

RAYT721 2011-08-04 20:19:17 -0500 Report

Hi and welcome to our website/family/community. My wife and I recently joined a community garden and about to get a pretty abundant crop of fresh tomatoes within in next few weeks so we will be looking into canning and/or freezing them. We do currently have a few meals that we freeze (jambalaya, chili, enchilada lasagna, etc) so your discussion topic is a GREAT one. I read in your bio about the homemade bread … care to share a recipe or two??? Again, welcome to our website. I'm hoping to hear more from and about you.

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