Thursday, July 12, 2012

Off-Grid Challenge Week 7

Welcome back to the Off-Grid Challenge!  

This week we are tackling one of the hardest (at least in my opinion) things to wean ourselves off of....

The refrigerator.

When I read about what people in Virginia to Indiana are going through without power, it's just depressing to hear about all of the food being spoiled.  I can't imagine watching all my meats and produce going to waste and not being able to do a thing about it.

Think about it, if you lost power, how much of your food reserves would be lost?  I know that my family would be in trouble.  In this and the next few posts, I will be addressing the issue with ideas of other methods for food preservation. 

Week 7 Challenge:  Weaning ourselves off the fridge.  
This is a multi-step process, so don't be scared.  I am doing this too so lets learn together.

 First lets focus on what is probably the most expensive and vital items you keep in your freezers... meat.  Right now we mostly have ground beef, so that is what I am going to focus on for this post.  

Make a list of all the different ways you usually use your ground meat.  Mine looks something like this:

spaghetti sauce
browned for various casseroles
tacos, enchiladas, and burritos

Most of these dishes use browned meat, so if I were to can the bulk of my ground beef I could easily use it without having to change my cooking habits.  If anything, canning beef would make cooking sooo much easier.  A homemade convenience food that doesn't require electricity to store!  

I browned about 5 pounds of ground beef with some onions.  One filled pint will equal about a pound of browned meat.  If you want to can taco meat, you can add spices and seasonings while you are browning.  Once your meat is thoroughly cooked, fill your jars leaving an inch of headspace.  Process using a pressure cooker.

I followed the directions given on the National Center for Home Food Preservation web site.

I processed the pints at 15 lbs. of pressure (for above 1000 above sea level) for 70 minutes.  If you were canning quarts it would talk 90 minutes of processing.  Once done, turn off heat and allow it to cool on its own.  DON'T open the lid till the pressure is at zero. 

So far so good!  This is the first time I have canned meat so I am pretty excited.  Looking to can more?  Check out Canning Granny, she even cans bread!  I haven't yet decided what I am going to do with the other 6 pounds of beef I have thawed.  I am thinking canned meatballs.   Mmmmmmm..

* Update:  Someone asked what liquid I used to fill the jars.  I  used water, but you can use broth or tomato juice too. *

This post was shared at:
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  1. I've heard of people canning chicken and whatnot and I think it's a great idea. One of those great ideas that I never do LOL. But you mentioned those people going without power and did get me thinking, not to mention not needing to defrost the food.... and talk about having a "fast food meal"!

  2. I can venison and other wild game. It makes a quick supper and the meat is so tender that way. When I can meat it is normally raw packed and then cooks while it is pressure canned.

  3. Now if I could only get rid of the glass topped stove, then I could use a pressure canner! Good idea...

  4. Love your blog! Just signed up by email. Please consider sharing this post on my blog hop! Would love to have you join me.

  5. What did you fill the jars with after the meat was packed in? Water?

  6. I was not happy with the texture of the ground beef and meatballs I tried to can. I used beef broth for both. I did read to just barely brown the meat as the pressure canning will cook it all the way. When it was totally cooked before canning it came out the texture of canned cat food, yuck.

  7. I live in WV & we were out of power & water for a week. Stores were closed & people were driving over an hour to get gas for their generators only to have to wait in line for a good amount of time. Most gas stations started limiting people to just a few gallons of gas to make sure they didnt run out before everybody got a little. We had a huge cook out in the backyard on a charcoal grill & cooked up all the salmon & tilapia we had in the freezer & fed everybody including the neighbors. I don't own a pressure canner but I am hoping to get 1 of the all american canners. We could have canned about 20lbs of meat instead of cooking it all up. I have been planning to go in with family & get a beef but after that storm made me realize I want to learn to can meat before we invest in the beef. Thanks for sharing the information. I will be trying this shortly.
    BTW it's amazing how handy the charcoal grill, rain barrel, & some of those solar camping showers came in handy. The pressure canner would have also!

  8. I own a ceramic top stove and have been pressure canning for 15 years! You have the watch your gauge a little closely, but it works great!

  9. I also want to start canning meats. I am going to start with ground beef. I was thinking of doing it raw. What is the best method? I also wanted to can some chili because I usually make a big batch. I also wanted to do spaghetti sauce. I am wondering would it be better to just brown the ground beef instead of doing the recipes. I don't want it to taste like cat food.

    1. I have been experimenting about which method works best for us. I guess I should probably post about it. ;)


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