Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Ground beef madness

Adding to the food storage is always enjoyable and yet a time consuming process and test of my patience. Canning ground beef is easy and affordable compared to freeze dried or the canned meat you can get from a couple of vendors. The Ball canning book gives a few ways to can ground beef but when you are doing a lot, cooking it in a frying pan isn't going to work for me.
May 8th, fresh snow on Pikes Peak past the people dressed alike...

The solution I came up with was to boil the ground beef. This gives you small pieces of ground beef, not chunks, more like you would end up when you make tacos. In a big stock pot I put 3 quarts of water and then added 6 pounds of ground beef. With your clean arms and hands, reach into the pot and break up the beef into small pieces (gross and yet fun), boil for about 10 minutes until it's cooked.
Doing this in a frying pan would give me bigger pieces/chunks but it would have taken me over an hour to get the beef cooked. Jars and lids ready, fill em up with meat, add 1.5 cups of the water/broth you just drained into another pot and  into the pressure canner for 90 minutes @ 15 (high altitude).

I've gotten a lot of ground beef put away over the last few days. I have freeze dried as well but at $40-$50 for a #10 can, this is the best way to go for semi long term food storage. Last night I boiled up 7 pounds, made some sauce for spaghetti and vacuum sealed the rest. Sealing the meat after it was chilled still caused an issue with too much liquid preventing the seal from forming properly. I had to start sealing, watch for liquid, pop open the sealer and close it real fast (to prevent air from going back into the bag) and then hitting the seal button. This worked well but was more of a game with the machine and I.
Ground beef at Costco was $2.99 a pound for 88/12, locally it was $5.99 for 90/10 and $8.99 for 93/7. Most of the fat is drained away when you strain the beef after the boiling is done. The jars have a little fat ring on top as expected from adding some liquid back in. The beef I pulled out for the spaghetti sauce didn't seem to have any fat in it when I fried it with some onions.

I'm sure I could have found some video on youtube on how to do it, but I'm happy I came up with a solution myself. The jars I used were left outside my gate by the in-laws on Saturday after they were done yard sale shopping. I figured they wanted more peach jam, but I needed the jars for the beef. I'll make some jam this weekend while it's raining outside.

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