Date: 28 May 2014. Processing in Pressure
Cooker (Preserving Meats, Part 2)
is recommended for neophyte pressure cooker users as a First Read.]
In the years I've been canning or
preserving meats I have learned a couple of tricks that ensure good
results. 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 aboard Seaweed:
Disclaimer: It's not my fault if
something goes wrong. And goodness knows I've had Oh-Shoot moments
while doing this stuff. Failure modes are noted below.
and Processing Meats aboard Seaweed
#1. Everything has to
be hot. Translate that to mean that on your stove
you will have one pot of hot water with the jars for the next
batch resting in the water. I set that burner to simmer.
A second pot will be your pressure cooker
with water in it -- again hot.
And the contents you're going to can need
to be hot as well.
First I fill the jars. Sure that sounds basic, but
there's a bit of an art to the process. I have a
filler funnel and it makes packing the meat easier than without.
Although not "essential" it does make the process easier. And,
because the top edge of your jar has to be clean, that helps keep the food
off of it.
Of course pack the chunks first. Whatever is bulkiest goes
in, then a broth or "fill in the tiny spaces" part is added. The funnel
makes that packing part easier. Below I've added some diced petite
tomatoes to a jar of meatballs. The broth will fill in the air
pockets and the chunks of tomato will fill large spots.
I am aware that some of the older canning books say you may
cook and can in the same fell swoop, however I've had repeated failures
doing so. Thus, everything is cooked prior to my canning it.
Side Note: Now things like cabbage leaves I'll just
wilt in the microwave so they will bend because I know they will be fine
when processed. Ditto green peppers.
Failure Mode #1: When I tried
to process pork by adding chunks of uncooked meat the problem was (from
observation) that the meat shrank so much that there was too much head
space* and thus, the food spoilt.
*Head Space: the air above the food. Too much will allow
bad stuff to grow.
Failure Mode #2: Regarding
that head space, if you don't have enough up there, when you process the
food it will expand out of the jar creating a mess. Been there/done that
Please note the jar on
the right below. That's my lasagna, and as you can see the
good stuff is just to the bottom of the where the ring is on
the jar. Lasagna is a special case item.
When I make it, I fill the jars so when they
are inverted the cheese layer is on top.
For lasagna I add a
tablespoon of sauce at the bottom of the jar, then my layer
of cheese, followed by noodle, meats and cheeses, etc.
I want that big bit of cheese at the bottom of the jar.
That's because when it's eaten I'll invert the jar and, if
I'm fortunate, the layers will be intact with a nice dollop
of mozzarella cheese at the top.
These jars of sausage
chips were first filled with the sausage, then some had some
hamburger pressed around the edges. All had the broth I'd
cooked them in added to fill in the air pockets. In any event,
all of the jars are filled to just below the ring that holds
on the lid.
In my pressure cooker I have about one inch of water in the
pan as I start adding my jars. When all the jars are in the pressure
cooker, then I use the water from the pot I had the jars warming in
(remember, it's been simmering) and fill the water to just below the rings
on the canning jars.
~ About the Lids ~
When your jars are filled, wipe down the top edge. To get a
tight seal there cannot be food particles on it. Then simply place a lid
on top. Add the ring and screw it down. Not tightly -- just until it snugs
up. Some day you will have to remove that ring so let's not be Wonder
Next, close the lid on the pressure cooker and let the
temperature rise. For mine, it has two settings: high and low. I start on
high and when the steam starts to come out, then turn the pan down to just
above simmer -- so the pressure cooker hisses but doesn't shoot water all
over the stovetop.
Another side note: Newer pressure cookers are designed so
that steam can escape. They will not explode like some of those made
On the top of my pan were two numbers (1 and 2) indicating
high and low. It seemed like I was always going to my booklet to double
check which was which. That's why I used my nail polish and wrote on the
switch. It's not fancy, but it does work.
Time Chart for Meat
|Aboard Seaweed I use only the
jelly jars and
the one cup wide-mouth jars made by
and formerly made by Ball so my times are reflective of the
smaller jars. If you're using the one pint jars (the largest I
advocate for meat) you'll need to increase the time processed.
|Deep Breath. The jars
have been added to the pressure cooker and water is just below
the rings. I close the pressure cooker, and raise the
temperature of the stove to about medium. On the lid of my
canner I've got the switch set to High and I wait. When steam
starts to come out and I hear a sizzle, then I know it's time to
start preserving my meat.
One. I lower the temperature on the stove to just above simmer
and turn the switch on my pressure cooker to Low. I listen
to hear the sizzle and watch that the steam is still coming out.
Not a lot, but just a bit. [Pretend you're boiling
potatoes -- you want sizzle but not a mess on the stove: it's
principle with canning.]
When on Low I've got the sizzle,
I turn on my timer for one hour.
I switched over to the smaller jelly jars a
couple years back and have continued to cook them for the same
amount of time as the one cup jars. It's easier -- and often
I'll have more than one size in the pressure cooker. Anyway, one
hour is it.
If you use a larger size jar (the pints) add time
to your processing. I'd opt for an extra half hour, cooking
pints with meat for one and a half hours. To confirm that 1.5
hours is sufficient, I'd check for the bubbles. Continue reading
for that important double check of your success.
Number Three. In one hour the food should
be done. It will be preserved and have a shelf life of at least
a year. I've eaten sausage that was two years old without
issue/no loss of quality but I consider everything "good to go"
for a year.
The next part is important for a good result and for safety
too. You'll need the
tongs I advocate. Amazon
calls them Jar Lifters -- same thing, different name. And I burnt my
fingers more than one time trying to use pot holders. Tongs are about $5
and worth the price.
Lift out the jars and put them on a cooling rack. You will
be able to see the liquid inside the jars bubbling. That's okay -- it
means you've had success.
You will also start to hear POPs, and that's perfectly okay
too. What is happening is that the lids are sealing. Later, an hour
or so later generally, touch the jar tops. They should be cooled off and
you'll note all the little bumps that were in the lids no longer move.
However, once in a while you'll find one that did not seal
properly. The top will make a sound and move when you push on it.
You can re-do that jar.
Take off the lid, wipe down the edge and feel for any
nicks. Any with a chip will not ever seal so throw that jar away but keep
the contents. If you simply had a food particle trapped between the lid
and the jar edge, you can start again.
Lids are not re-usable. Okay, you can reuse them (I
have) but the doggone seals fail within a short period of time. Lids are
about a dime each. Use new ones for every jar every time. Brands
So, your jars are done. They have cooled off and now
it's time to store them away for those lazy days when a book beckons and
the breeze is blowing. There's no need to cook tonight.
As for me, I'm having a cold pork plate tonight with sliced
tomatoes, zucchini and some fresh scallions. All dipped in Ranch Dressing.
It's not fancy but it is easy and a nice way to spend an evening while I
finish up the latest book on my
Life does not get much better.
Have you ever preserved foods in a pressure cooker.
And, did your family can years ago?
Canning Primer (Preserving Meats, Part 1) ~
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