canning beef stew

Question:

I’ve heard a lot of other people saying that they like to whip up a huge batch of their favorite chili or soup and can the leftovers for a stash of easy convenience foods in a jar. Jackie Clay from Back Woods Home has said that it’s safe to can soup or your own recipe of chili (beans and all) as long as you process it in a pressure canner at 10 lbs pressure for 90 minutes for quart sized jars.

I guess I’m wondering though, how do you know what is okay to can? I know there are some things that aren’t too tasty to put in a jar, like broccoli for instance. Sometimes the flavor changes after being canned. Sometimes things just turn to mush. Would I just have to learn through trial and error?

Does anybody know any “rules” about canning your own recipes for quick convenience meals? Would I just base my processing times on the ingredient that needs to be canned the longest (like, if there’s chicken in the soup then I would process the jars for as long as chicken by itself needs to be processed, since meat needs more time than veggies)?

How do you experienced canners do it?

Answer:

It is safe to can soup, stew, and chili you’ve made at home from scratch as long as you are processing them in a pressure canner (no exceptions!!).

Generally, you can can anything at home that you see canned at the grocery store except for “cream of…” soups and anything really thick, like refried beans.

You also want to be very careful when adding rice or pasta to soups. These foods get very thick once they’ve been processed, and can prevent the soup from being heated adequately in the center of the jar, leading to an increased risk of botulism. Botulism is a very dangerous form of food poisoning, which can be deadly. It’s nothing to mess around with. It’s much safer to add rice or pasta to the soup when reheating it from the jar.

Go easy on herbs and spices, as these tend to get stronger after the canning process. Especially hot spices. You can always add more spices to home canned chili, soups and stews when you’re ready to eat them.

If you are canning soups or chili that contain fully cooked beans they may get over-processed when canned, resulting in very mushy beans. If possible, it’s best to can beans that have only been cooked for 30 minutes or so. This can be tricky when you are wanting to can already cooked leftovers. Just keep the resulting texture in mind.

It’s completely safe to can meats and vegetables together. Just be sure you are using a pressure canner! Process pints for 75 minutes, quarts for 90 minutes, at 10 pounds pressure. (If you live above 1,000 ft. in elevation, increase to 15 pounds.) Any kind of meat can be canned: wild game, pork, chicken, beef, fish, you name it!

You can use fresh, frozen (thawed), or even dehydrated foods to make your soups, etc. for canning.

If you’re afraid that your stew is too thick, you can always add some broth to loosen it up.

Always make sure your chili, soup, or stew is heated just to a light boil before ladling it into warm, clean canning jars.

How do I know it’s safe to eat?

As long as you:

  • avoid using rotten produce, wash fresh foods before handling, cut away bad spots, only use fresh meat or meat that hasn’t been thawed for more than 2 days.
  • always wash canning jars in hot, soapy water before filling them, then simmer them for 10 minutes in a pot of water or run them through the dishwasher to sanitize the jars.
  • wash lids and rings with hot soapy water before canning.
  • always handle food with clean hands and clean tools.
  • heat the food just to a boil before ladling into clean jars.
  • process meats and veggies in a pressure canner at the appropriate time and temperature.
  • allow the jars to cool for 24 hours before making sure the lids sealed properly before storing them.
  • store the foods out of direct sunlight, protected from extreme temperatures.
  • make sure that the lid cannot be easily pulled off by hand before you consume the food in the jar. (Sometimes lids become unsealed after being stored for a while.)
  • never consume home canned foods that have mold growing in the jars, have a funny smell, or the lid is bulging.
  • reheat canned foods to a simmer for 10 minutes before consuming.

 

It’s best to consume home canned foods within the first year for best taste and nutritional value, however they’ll still be good many years down the road. I typically try to eat up our canned foods within 5 years.