We’ll talk more about canning later in the year, but since we have a goal this month of Learning a New Skill, I thought I’d mention canning as a good skill to learn. Once you learn to can, you can be canning something almost every month, putting lots of ready-made dinners into your pantry. Which is exactly what I did last week.
When potatoes start to sprout
Last fall we were able to get FREE potatoes. All we had to di was go dig them up. With just an hour of digging we got about 300 lbs. My husband thought that was way, waaaaaayyytoo much. I assured him it wasn’t. In the last six months we’ve eaten potatoes in every size, shape and manner possible. I’ve given about 20 lbs to my married son, but he doesn’t want any more (I guess the food storage gene is recessive or somehow didn’t get passed on to him. Or he really doesn’t like potatoes.) But we’ve still got a lot more and I don’t want my husband to say “I told you so.”
So here we are in early April and some of the potatoes are starting to sprout. That means it’s time to make stew. Fortunately, pork roast was on sale last week and I got a good deal on some organic celery and carrots. So for about $16 I have 21 quarts of canned soup. (I actually got 23 quarts, but since I can in multiples of seven, we just ate the other two quarts for lunch today, along with hot homemade dinner rolls.)
Canning soup is easy
Just use your favorite soup recipe and multiply it by 100. Kidding! Multiply your recipe by however much you want to can and/or have enough ingredients for. For this batch I used:
- 7 lbs cubed pork
- 5 large onions
- 2 whole bunches of celery
- 4 lbs of carrots
- 6-7 lbs potatoes. (I’m not really sure how many potatoes we used, about 15 qts when cubed.)
- 6 14-oz cans of diced tomatoes
- a few handfuls of herbs (parsley, basil and oregano, dried from last year’s garden)
- and seasoning (chili powder, from last year’s garden, a couple tablespoons of Old Bay seasoning and four tablespoons beef bullion powder.)
I brown the meat and add the juices from that to the soup stock. The pork, veggies, tomatoes, herbs and seasoning go into a BIG stock pot with 10 Qts water. Bring to a boil and taste for seasoning. Then pour into prepared jars and process everything in a pressure canner.
The rule is to process the food to the ingredient that needs the most time. In this case, meat needs 90 minutes processing (for quart jars, 70 minutes for pints.) If I didn’t have any meat, and this was just vegetable soup, then I would process it for 20-55 minutes, depending on which vegetables were in the soup. For canning times and instructions, refer to your USDA canning booklets available for free from your county extension office. OR you can follow the recipes and instructions found online at the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
Things you don’t want in your soup
Rice and pasta don’t endure home canning very well. They just turn into a gloppy mess, so trust me, you don’t want to use them in your home-canned soups. If you really want noodles or rice in your soup, add them when you open the jars. Either add leftovers and just heat the soup, or add uncooked pasta or rice and let the soup simmer until they’re cooked. You can also add extra stock or veggies if you need an extra serving or two more than you get from one quart. One quart is the equivalent of two cans of Progresso Soup. But this is much tastier and healthier.
Spring time is soup time
In the spring, we see carrots and potatoes go on sale as the warehouses clear out to make room for this year’s harvest. So take advantage of those sales and can up some soup. Home-canned soup makes great ready-made meals. I have dozens–perhaps 75 or more–jars of home canned chili, beef and barley soup, turkey and chicken soups in my basement. So come on over. Dinner is always just 10 minutes from being served. (Unless you want dinner rolls with that soup. I need a couple hours notice for that.)