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Canning Beef Stew: if I can do it, so can you

Updated: Apr 9, 2023

If you google "Canning Beef Stew", tons of results pop up from seasoned homesteaders with beautiful organic produce and well equipped kitchens effortlessly canning years worth of food in a day. Thats not me.

I'm a first time canner in a cramped little kitchen with YouTube as my teacher. All of my ingredients came from the grocery store, and they arent even close to grass fed or non-GMO...

Still with me? GREAT! Lets can some beef!

Ill be using an All American pressure canner and wide mouth quart jars in this attempt.

I prepared by watching this video from Carolyn over on The Homesteading Family on YouTube. Not gonna lie, I watched this video 15 times before I ever decided to try it.

The instructions were straight forward, however, I did dsicover a couple of tips that may be helpful to you.

  1. 1. Get a giant croc pot, like the kind you put a thanksgiving turkey in, and use it to warm up your cans at once. I used a big stock pot that didnt fit all 7 cans and it was a pain.

  2. If youre working in a small kitchen like me, plan ahead and set up an extra table with all of your ingredients, instructions, clean jars, lids, and bands.

  3. Invite some help over! I was flying solo on this journey and quickly realized how nice help wouldve been. Your aids dont need to be great chef's, but they do need to be comfortable trimming the fat off of your roasts and peeling potatoes.

  4. Make tallow from the fat you trim off of your roasts! Dont throw all that goodness away. I trimmed all of my fat, put it in a stock pot on the lowest setting possible and rendered it for hours. At the end of the day I strained it out and filled a quart size (recycled) pickle jar. We use tallow in place of plant based oils and its been wonderful!

Now that you have all the info I wish I'd had, let me walk you through my experince as a novice.

Figuring out the pressure canner was a big deal. I was convinced I'd blow the house up trying to make stew. So, I set up my laptop on the counter and watched several pressure canner set-up videos while chopping potatoes and onions. I made my way through a bag of potatoes, 4 onions, and a bag of baby carrots, then started trimming the fat from my roasts.

Now, if youre like me, you will question why someone would ever trim the fat from a raost, but remember... This is canning, its different from every day food prep. When your cans get into the pressure canner, they will boil. The fat will act as a lubricant inside of the can and increase the odds of your jar failing to seal.

After all the roast was trimmed (this took me like 2 hours), I chopped it into bite size pieces and prepped my pressure canner for its maiden voyage. I plopped in the strainer looking ring/plate-thingy and filled the pot with 3 inches of tap water. Carolyn was adamant that your cans should never rest on the bottom of the canner, and you needed the aforementioned thingy under them. Dont forget that. Then I turned on the stove on low-medium heat to get the canner slowly warmed up. The pressure canner I used is cast aluminium, and must be brought to temperature gradually.

If you pour extremely hot, or extrememly cold water in it and change the temp too quickly, it will crack and be ruined. The instructions from All American were explicit about that issue, so I took this step seriously.

While the canner was warming up, I started my freshly washed jars in a stock pot. I could only fit 4 of them in the pot at a time (this is where that big croc pot would have been super handy), so I had to warm 4 of them, remove them from the water, put the remaining 3 in the stock pot, pack the 4 I just warmed with my ingredients... then wait for the 3 to warm up so I could pack them too. I cant stress enough how much time I'd have saved if all 7 jars could have been prepped at once. Each jar was filled with 50% beef, 15% onion, 35% potatoes & carrots, topped with a table spoon of pink that order.

Once packed, I poured boiling water over the mix until there was an inch of space left at the top of each jar, with the ingredients covered. Every jar's rim was wiped with a clean vinegar denched towel, quickly adorned with a lid and ring, and ready to go in the canner.

Now this is the begining of the scary part for me. With the water in the canner steaming, I began putting each of my 7 jars in postion. Then I set the lid on and carefully secured it with the pins attached. It took me 30 minutes to get the canner up to temperature because I was being extra cautious. Steam was steadily rising from the vent, so I let it run for 10 minutes, just like my YouTube teacher instructed, and then topped the vent with my weight at 10 lbs pressure.

It took me another 10 minutes to get the canner up to pressure. Then I started my 90 minutes cooking time.

While that batch was on, I prepped 7 more cans! Jokes on me though because I completely forgot that the canner would need to de-pressurize, cool, get unloaded, refilled, and brought back up to tempurature gradually before I could actually cook my 2nd batch. After 90 minutes, I turned off the heat, let the canner vent for 15 minutes, then removed the weight, let it vent another 15 minutes, and carefully removed the lid.

ALL OF MY CANS SEALED You couldnt have painted me any happier than I was in that moment. Full of pride, I went to work preparing the canner for batch #2. The second batch was much easier to set up, mostly because I had less fear of the canner exploding.

By 9pm that night I had 14 cans of beef stew cooling, and a new skill to my name. If you enjoyed this please let me know! As we move into our barndominium I plan to do more homesteading activities and would love to share them with you.


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