Pressure Canning As A Backup To Prevent Meat Spoilage

The man who had identified himself as Wayne was on the phone yet again.

What part of “NO” didn’t this man understand?

“Look Marjory, I know you are really busy – my gosh, you a speaker for Mother Earth News, National Geographic calls you when they need an expert, and you running a large online organization”.

He didn’t have to remind me how busy I am.  That was why I had been telling him no for so long.

“Look” Wayne continued “I am retired now.  But I spent my career in the financial markets.  I know the economy.  And I am scared.  I’ve never seen it so bad.  You’ve got to help please…”.  It was almost a whine.

Wayne has been telling me how he had begun to prep in earnest.  Sure, he had been through the ‘stagflation’ and energy crisis in the 70’s, the stock market and real estate crunches in the 80’s, the re-bound at the turn of the century, Y2K, the tech boom and then bust, plus all the mess of the 2008 swoon.  These were all volatile and emotional times.

He had a lot of experience under his belt.

“Those problems are nothing like what we are facing now” Wayne said in a low voice that carried urgency.

Well, I had to agree on that one.

Wayne was doing everything he could to become more self-reliant.  His biggest concern right now was he had a freezer full of meat and he wanted a backup plan in case the power went out for an extended period of time.  Yes, he understood that covering the freezer with blankets and not opening it would probably have the meat stay frozen for quite a few days – weeks possibly – if the weather was cold.  But Wayne was deeply concerned about a much longer, extended emergency.

We tossed around a few ideas.  I told him of my very successful experiments drying meat that worked well here in the summer (lots of dry, hot, heat is one thing Texas is good for).

Building a quick smokehouse and smoking the meat was also a possibility.  My father-in-law who lives in South Texas told me when he was a boy they stored meat even in the summer in the smokehouse.  I really don’t have a ton of experience with that but I do want to learn – it is on the list!

Hey, as a side note, if you have a lot of experience building and using smokehouses, why not write it up and enter it into our next writing contest?

Wayne pointed out that he didn’t want to advertise via smell what he was doing.

“Well then, pressure canning is my backup plan.  Why don’t you do that?” I innocently suggested, hoping that would make him go away.

Seriously, I keep several cases of quart and pint mason jars on hand for just such an emergency.  Plus, those jars are useful for so many other things.

And that is when Wayne started bugging me in earnest.  Could I teach him how to can meats?

“It’s really easy Wayne, just buy a pressure canner and then follow the directions, that is all I ever did.”.  I recommended he get the All American 921 model for many reasons: it’s a good size for a homestead, it’s made in America, it’s built to last for generations, and the biggest reason is it doesn’t use a gasket so you don’t h921 all american cannerave to worry about replacements parts.

“So will you teach me how to can?” Wayne asked hopefully.

Sigh, back to that again.

“Wayne, there is a really well done video by Kendra Homestead on both pressure canning and water bath canning.  Kendra does a lot more canning that I do and she is a much more qualified teacher.  Kendra takes you step by step through the entire process with a variety of recipes.  She shows you the equipment and all the things to watch out for regarding safety.  It is professionally produced and exactly what you need.  Watching Kendra you’ll totally be empowered to do it yourself.  Kendra is really pretty and when you see her this slight woman confidently handling those big latches and gauges on the canner, well, you’ll know that you can too.  Here is Kendra’s website where you can pick up the video http://newlifeonahomestead.com/at-home-canning-dvd/

“What if I organize an entire group and we all pay you” says Wayne.

It was very clear to me that this man just didn’t give up.  I bet he had been very successful in life.

So last Saturday, there was a large group headed out to our research center to come and learn how to do pressure canning.  I felt sort of like it was cheating to be teaching them to can.  Really – canning is a very easy skill to pick up, and there really are better teachers than me.

But on the other hand, I did have a big pile of beef and summer vegetables.  Why not can it up during the class and have a bunch of super quick meals of canned stew ready for those nights when making dinner is just too much?  Plus, it turned out that many in the group were old acquaintances I hadn’t seen in a long time and it was delightful to see them again.

So guess what I was doing as the cars were rolling in the driveway?
canning-dvd-cover-and-disk1-e1389906100768 300x300
Yup, you got it – I had Kendra’s video in the player on 2X speed watching her go step by step through the procedure to make stew.  And I was flipping through the instructions that came with the canner.  LOL.  It reminded me of cramming for college.

Here is the link again to Kendra’s website where you can pick up the video http://newlifeonahomestead.com/at-home-canning-dvd/   It is really well done.  And it will help you look like a super star when you start teaching classes in your home.

If you want to comment on this article, jot your thoughts down below in the comments area.  And yes, I do love it when you share your thoughts.

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This post was written by Marjory


  • Jennifer S. says:

    I can understand Wayne’s persistence. 🙂 I have learned a lot of things by reading and watching videos, but sometimes I just wish I could have a live person standing in front of me teaching me. There are several things that I would like to know how to do but haven’t done yet. Even though I’ve read and researched I still feel that little bit of uncertainty. There’s something about human contact that just can’t be beat.

    1. Hi Jennifer, yes (sigh) I agree. It is true. Botany is also one of those skills that is just about impossible to learn from books. Well, if there is enough interest I’ll have an open farm day.

  • Douglas Roger Dexheimer says:

    I thought the piece on modifying the plumbing outside the house was going to lead in another direction. I expected the urine would find its way onto the garden, but read that it goes into the septic tank! That saves the flush water, but wastes the urine, as fertilizer.
    For the past several years, I have collected my own urine in a gallon plastic jug. When the jug is full, I take it out to the garden and add a cup or two to each of four 30 gal plastic trash barrels of collected rain water. I have four drums that hold the rain water during dry season. Some of my drums are modified with garden hose connections at the base, so I can just open the outlet valve and water nearby veggies. The other drums are covered as well, but are used to dip the content with a watering can and water remote plants that are far from the garden.
    There has not been any problem with stink or “burning” with the potent liquid. Between saving the flushing water for nightly urinations, and saving rain water from a workshop roof downspout, I’d say my water consumption is significantly reduced. I have not yet worked out a way to mix my concoction with city water coming from the house through a separate hose. A thought just came to me… I could connect a cheap ejector pump to the garden hose, which would suck the mix from a bottle or jug and mix it with the fresh city water. I have a small blue plastic ejector pump that was sold to be used to drain the water from a water bed. I am not sure it would permit the pumping action if the outlet was connected to a spray nozzle. For safety reasons, a check valve would need to be in the garden hose so that the mix could not flow back into the water supply. I’ll have to track down that ejector fitting so I can try it when the weather warms up. (It’s record setting cold out there now. High temp was 28 F yesterday, should be 34 F today.)

  • cindy l says:

    Yes, Marjory, this is sadly one of those lost 20th century home ‘arts’. It really IS easy but it is nice to be thought of as having super powers, isn’t it!! LOL

    1. Yes, super powers! I love it.

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