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It has begun- the season of food preservation.  Every year I grin as we plant our garden.  The sun is finally back, the soil is warm, and I look forward to those first, fresh shoots of green.  Then it hits.  Lots of green.  Lots of food.  Time to do something with it all.

Peas get blanched and go into the freezer today.  Snow peas are soon to follow.  The big project for the next two days though is bottling beef.  I found a tremendous mark-down on hamburger and roast this week, so into bottles it goes.  Once processed, it is fully-cooked and ready for whatever is on the menu.

Here is how it works:

Pack prepared canning jars to just under 1 inch from the rim with hamburger or beef chunks.  Add 1/2 tsp beef soup base to each quart (half that amount for pints).  Put sterilized lids and rings on, and process in a pressure canner  at 15 pounds pressure for 90 minutes (75 minutes for pints).    Remove when the pressure is down to zero.  Let cool and store in a cool, dark place.  (These are the required amounts for the Rocky Mountain region.  Check with your local extension service for correct poundage and cooking time for your area.)

What do you do with it?  LOTS!  Here are just a few ideas:

  • Stroganoff
  • Beef enchilladas
  • Stews/soups
  • Meat and gravy
  • Chili
  • Tacos
  • Spaghetti
  • Calzones
  • And one of our favorites.  Cook off beef/liquid.  Add sauted peppers and mushrooms.  Add provolone cheese.  Use all ingredients to fill rolled-out bread dough.  Roll and cut as if for cinnamon rolls.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  YUM!

I love having meat already prepared for those days when I forgot to thaw something the night before.  (I also bottle boneless/skinless chicken using the same method.)  If I can put up proteins (next week I will bottle dried beans) before the craziest part of the food preservation season hits, I know that I have easy meals ready for those days when I want/need to spend minimal time cooking so that I can spend it in the garden, or putting other foods up for winter.