Monday, July 6, 2015

Canning Meat

Still canning beef.  I like it.  Husband does not.

I am pleasantly surprised when I open each jar.  They smell like roast beef.  Every canned meat I've ever opened in the past - flakes of ham, flakes of chicken, turkey baby food, moose from my Dad's hunting buddies - all smelled like salmon.  I have no idea why, but it just put me off, and was one of the reasons why I didn't want to try canning meat.

The other reason - what was the point?  I've read all kinds of blogs and recipes, and I just didn't understand how or why people would buy roast or steak, cut it into little pieces and can it.  If it's little chunks, it's not a steak, is it?

The ribs, taste like ribs.  They're going to sit down there in the basement for a good long while.  One jar went in a pot of spaghetti.  One went in a pot of chili.  No disguising it, it still tastes like ribs.  I suppose I'll use it up eventually for pulled pork sandwiches or something.  I just don't love it.

The roast beef, however, is much more versatile.  I'm not spicing it at all when I can it, so it just tastes like beef.  It's dryer than ground, with no fat, and a little chunky, so it doesn't feel like ground beef.  That's where Husband has issues.  But it'll take the flavour of whatever spices I use with it - italian, mexican, hot or mild - so it doesn't add anything but beef to the recipe.
I took advantage of the rain (yes, we finally got some rain!) the past few days to do another batch.  From one big stock pot I cooked enough roast to fill 11.5 quarts, plus supper the first night.  I also got enough extra beef stock to fill a coffee pot, which I used to make a big pot of soup last night.  (The other jar is rhubarb juice).

It really is convenient.  Everyone talks about convenience, but I've been cooking frozen ground beef for years.  It doesn't take that long.  If I forget to pull something out of the freezer in the morning, big deal, I make something with frozen ground beef.  How hard is that?

So when the freezers went, and I started canning meat, it was all about storage space.  Until I tried it.  The first batch was still about storage space, and lack of ground beef.  Why buy ground beef when I have roasts to use up?  So I tossed a jar in a pot of spaghetti.  I tossed a jar in a bowl of taco salad.  I tossed a jar in a pot of chili.  Ok, it was a little quicker, but not enough to really go to all that trouble on purpose.

And then, I got a little more creative.  Hoagies, which I love, but almost never make because there's never enough leftover roast beef.  Hash, which we all love, and I kept cutting bigger and bigger roasts, hoping for enough leftovers to make a big batch of hash.  There's never enough hash...  And roast beef.  (Well, duh, right?)  We don't eat much roast beef through the summer, 'cause I don't want to heat the house up.  But heating up a jar, making some mashed potatoes and gravy- easy peasy.  And, oh, we ran out of sandwich meat- well look how quick you can rustle up some roast beef sandwiches with a quart.

It really is so convenient.  It has me rethinking all of those other cuts and meats, too.  I mean, if I want a steak, I still want a steak.  But a few jars for philly steak sandwiches?  Yum.  Pork casserole?  Stir fry?  Soup?  Chicken salads?  So many things I don't make unless I have enough leftovers.  Less dishes - always a good thing.

Canning meats is here to stay. 

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