Monday, November 1, 2010

How to Pull the Plug on Your Best Friend, Save Energy, and Still Have Stored Meat

By pulling the plug on your best friend, I’m referring to your freezer. You can pull the plug completely, or at least drastically downsize the freezer spacer you need, drastically downsizing your electric bills.

This old-but-suddenly-new-again method of storing meats is called canning, and it’s done exactly like you process low-acid vegetables from the garden: with a pressure cooker. Any type of meat can be used, and it can be packed semi-cooked or raw.

No more is this secret just for hunters and their families!

By canning your meats, you now have less need for a freezer, presuming meat was the #1 need for a freezer in the first place. When power outages occur, you’ll no longer have to worry about losing a freezer full of meat, because it will be on the shelf in jars instead of sitting in a vulnerable freezer. Kiss freezer burn goodbye, as well as a portion of your electric bill (since the freezer runs constantly). One more benefit: you control the sodium that goes into the meat—store-bought meats contain high sodium contents, which aren’t good for hypertension.

Since the meat is “ready to go”, there will no longer be any thawing issues to deal with—just pop open a jar and start preparing!

For those who still rely on a freezer for other things (like made-ahead bulk cooking), now you can downsize that front-door-sized freezer to a more human-sized one that uses less power. Pull the plug on your best friend (the freezer), or at least put it on a diet.

Here is some information from the University of Missouri Extension Office:

“Pressure canning is the only safe method for canning meat, fish and poultry. It is the only way you can destroy the bacterium that causes food poisoning (clostridium botulinum). Be sure to process canned meats for the correct time at the correct temperature in a pressure canner. Canning low-acid foods, such as meats, in boiling-water canners is absolutely unsafe because the botulinum bacteria can survive this process. If clostridium botulinum survive and grow inside a sealed jar of food, they can produce a poisonous toxin. Even a taste of food containing this toxin can be fatal. Boil foods 10 minutes at altitudes below 1,000 feet to destroy this poison. Boil foods 11 minutes if you live above 1,000 feet.

• Chill and can fresh, home-slaughtered meats and poultry without delay.
• Do not can meat from diseased animals.
• Remove guts immediately after catching fish, put on ice and can within two days.

All meats, poultry and fish canned according to current MU Extension publications may be eaten without boiling if you are sure you followed correct procedures."

Some books for further reading:
The Canning, Freezing, Curing, and Smoking Meats and Game Guide

Complete Guide to Home Canning and Preservation—USDA 2008 (contains meat chapter)

Extension Office information:
University of Minnesota

North Dakota State University

Montana State University

Useful Websites:’s Illustrated Guide to Canning Meats

National Center for Food Preservation

Backwoods’s “Safely and Easily Can Your Own Meat” (illustrated)

Meatloaf in a Jar Recipe

I’m still working on ways to pull the plug on the refrigerator, or at least scale the needs down to a bar-sized unit. When it finally comes to me, expect an update.


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