Yesterday my darling husband cubed up the five beef chuck roasts and fried up the six pounds of ground beef that I wanted to can. That made things about 100 times easier for me, since this cold is really kicking me hard. Helpful husbands are worth their weight in gold.
And today I canned six quarts of the cubed beef and 9 pints of the hamburger using two different methods and 2 canners. Having two pressure canners to work with is nice and it really cuts down my kitchen time when I don’t have to do one after the other, as you can imagine.
I used the raw pack method on the cubed beef. All that means is that I put my funnel in my quart jars, added 1/2 tsp of non-iodized salt (they say 1 tsp, but I don’t want that much salt on my meat) and shoved as much meat into it as I could being careful to leave one inch of head space. After filling the jar the husband tamped it down with a spoon to fill in the air pockets and then I added more beef to bring it back up to having only one inch of head space. Because I was working with meat and fat, the jar rims needed to be wiped down with vinegar. Just wiping them with water would not dissolve the fat residue, and fat residue can interfere with the sealing process.
I put on my hot lids and rings and right into the smaller pressure canner they went. I turned it on and waited for it to start venting steam. Once the steam got going good, I let it steam for 7 minutes and then put the little thingy in the hole so it could build pressure. I processed at 11 pounds of pressure for 90 minutes. As it cooks, the beef makes its own broth. You do not need to add broth with the raw pack method.
I did have to adjust the heat several times while cooking to keep it at or slightly above 11 pounds of pressure. I checked on it about every ten minutes. When it was done, I turned it off and waited for the pressure to come down to 0, which usually takes about 20 to 30 minutes, but thankfully doesn’t need to be monitored. Then I cracked the seal and lifted the lid off in such a way that the steam goes to the back of the stove and not into my face. All 6 jars sealed.
Meanwhile, after I put the cubed beef in the smaller canner, I filled the pint jars with the cooked ground beef. I chose to do the dry hot pack method, so other than 1/4 tsp of salt (they say 1/2 tsp), all that went in the jars was the cooked beef. Again, tamp it down and add more, leaving an inch of head space. Again, I wiped the rims clean with vinegar and put on my hot lids and rings. They then went into the canner. I followed the same method as above, venting steam for 7 minutes and then bringing it up to 11 pounds of pressure. Because I was doing pints this time, the time is reduced to 75 minutes.
Unlike the beef cubes, the ground beef shrinks under the sealing process. I got 9 pints out of six pounds, so I reckon there is about 3/4 of a pound of meat in each jar.
Once this cools down I will have quite a lot of meat to add to my shelves. And I am really looking forward to the first time I make stew with the canned beef, or just need to grab a pint of hamburger to dump into spaghetti sauce or just add taco seasoning to. I think I will do this often with the hamburger. And I will definitely want to can more cubed beef, too.
In other news, the littlest kit is up to 3.2 ounces. He looked really good this morning. No hint of a ribcage showing, his legs are getting filled out, and he definitely had milk belly after nursing. Piper was really good, too, but I think that might be because the husband was holding her and not the son. She seems to feel more secure in the husband’s arms. A couple of the other kits had their eyes open this morning and were popping up trying to see what was going on and where their little brother had disappeared to.
Sweetie Belle had 5 kits out of the nesting box this morning. Only half of them had their eyes open, though. She seemed quite happy to have me put them back. I think I will start putting some extra hay in her cage so that they have something warm to curl up in if they come out. There was a thin layer, but it was pretty chilly out this morning.
Slaughter has been postponed again. We are aiming for tomorrow at this point. Too many other things keep coming up, but there is nothing on the agenda for this weekend so we ought to be able to get it done.