Date: 26 May 2014. Canning Primer (Preserving
Meats, Part 1)
I enjoy eating a variety of
healthy foods and prefer those hidden and out of the way anchorages
far from civilization. Thus I've had to come up with a way to have
the foods I like without access to a grocery store. Canning meats
allows me to enjoy a wide variety of foods bought on sale, processed
aboard, pre-cooked and not loaded with salt. Plus, they taste good.
Also aboard Seaweed I haven't
always had refrigeration -- if it's cloudy or the wind is not
blowing, I don't have the power. So I opted to preserve meats
in canning jars. This article focuses on the how's and why's of the
choices I've made for Seaweed.
Canning or processing meats has a
couple of tricks I've learned over the years. It's important
to note that the old canning books (circa 1920's era) had different
standards than we use today. The following is how I do it -- but of
course you must make sure it works for you. Your local County
Extension Program (think "agriculture") will have details on how
they do things. This is what I do:
and Processing Meats aboard Seaweed
1. Pressure Cooker
2. Glass canning jars
remove jars from hot water
(Tongs are called Jar Lifters too)
funnel to fill the jars
I chose a three liter
unit with small handles so it would fit into my lockers taking
minimal space. I was wrong! My canner will not fit the
one cup standard jars -- they are too tall for my pressure
cooker lid. The lid won't close.
Advice: Pick the
jars you want to use, then take them to a store to see what
When I was shopping this
was the smallest unit sold.
Note how the handles are short so will fit better in my
According to friends who have been canning
for decades, I was advised to purchase a spare gasket with the
pressure cooker. Apparently they are not always easy to find
and when (not if) the gasket wears out having a spare will
make life easier. I did so.
When purchased, the packaging indicated that
keeping the gasket sealed would be a good idea. It fits easily
inside the unit, so that's where it is kept.
Being able to find the things
you have is as important as having them on hand.
Brands vary but before
you buy a unit you need to decide what size canning jars
you'll be using. That's how you will determine which pressure
cooker to buy. The jars need to fit inside the smallest unit you can find. And
no, you absolutely do not need to buy quart jars. Never.
That's Step Two in the process.
A lot of people
automatically think "quart size jars" as they are the largest
but I believe that is a mistake.
My thinking is that fresh vegetables are
available everywhere or can be kept in net hammocks in a cool
part of the boat, but meat? No, it will spoil and all too
quickly without refrigeration. That's why I've chosen to preserve meat alone. I can
add the fillers from my dry goods locker.
For me, the 1/2 cup
jelly jars work well,
though I do have some 1/2 pint (why can't the manufacturer's
call the one cup jars?!) glass jars for larger quantities.
When we discuss jars they
come in two size openings on the top. Wide mouth and regular.
another brand of jars also now comes in the wide mouth one cup (1/2
pint) size like the Ball jar shown on the right. That would be the one
I'd suggest you opt for. If you have a larger crew, the one pint jars
would be a good choice.
The advantage to the wide mouth jars
is that they are easier to empty. I make lasagna and even stuffed
green peppers so having a way to empty the contents without disturbing the
layers (lasagna) makes for a better presentation.
You will also need a couple of tools
to make filling and removing the hot jars easier. Those are
tongs and a
filler funnel. I went without the tongs for the first couple of
years but after burning myself a time or three I learned. Trying to save
money is generally a very good thing, but not when it comes to these
It is necessary to have a timer but
it doesn't have to be a fancy galley timer. Mostly I use my cell phone but
if I had a small one of those wind up things, I'd use that instead.
I have opted to fill my jars with meat. Pure and simple,
perhaps with some barbecue sauce or salsa, but you won't find beef stew in
my larder. Thus with a jar of sausage or meatballs, I can add some canned
sauce (it's fine, cheap, and easy to stow) and create a meal for one or
more. Depending upon how many guests dictates the amount of sauce I
Four 1/2 pint
in my pressure cooker.
Back then I used to wrap the jars in fabric.
Seven 1/2 cup
jelly jars fit in my pressure cooker.
I discovered a face cloth on the bottom works fine.
Side Note: My pressure cooker fits four wide
mouth jars (one cup size) but it will not fit the taller regular mouth jars
of the 1/2 pint size. I should have opted for a taller
pressure cooker to offer myself more options in canning
especially since the shorter wide-mouth jars are becoming
harder to find. [Kerr
is the brand you need to seek as Ball quit making them.]
Now you know why I have opted for either the half or one cup
size jars. You, if feeding a man-sized appetite might opt for either
one cup or one pint jars -- nothing larger. The smaller jars are
easier to store, I've had no issues with any breaking, and really, how
much meat do you eat at a meal?
The idea for me in canning is so I will always have a
variety of meats onboard. Even in remote locations I'm not eating canned
beef stew or canned chili. That stuff gets old almost as fast as beans and
Because the jars do not require refrigeration I'm at
liberty to have anything I desire at a moment's notice. Life afloat
does not get much better. Tonight I'm having wild boar, with green pepper
and onions and a side of mashed potatoes. It's a rough life, but somehow I
Processing in Pressure Cooker
tells how I preserve meats aboard Seaweed.
I'd love to hear if I've missed some essential for
canning (besides the recipes).
And, are you pressure cooker aficionado? What do you make?
How to Access Galley Storage ~
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Processing in Pressure Cooker (Preserving
Meats, Part 2)