Self-Sufficiency Series

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Canning bacon bits

I found a nice deal on bacon ends recently and decided to try something I hadn't done before: canning bacon bits.

Bacon bits are wonderful for any sort of food, especially when added to otherwise bland beans-and-rice dishes or (my favorite) stir-fry.

First I cut it up...


...and filled the pot.  This was about half the bacon I had, but it wouldn't all fit in the pot so I split it into two batches to fry down.


Cooking it down...


Draining.


 I used squat pint jars.


After all the bacon was fried down, here's what I ended up with:


This filled a dozen pint jars.


I canned them dry, meaning I didn't add any water to the bacon in the jars.  (Of course, there's a little water in the bottom of the canner.)


The default canning time for any kind of meat is 10 lbs of pressure, 75 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts.  Interestingly, I had a number of failures-to-seal in this batch (something that seldom happens), which makes me wonder if I had a questionable batch of lids.


At any rate, I processed the failed jars a second time (with new lids) and they all sealed perfectly.  I'll keep an eye out for when bacon ends go on sale and keep on canning!

26 comments:

  1. Thank you Patrice! I love your canning posts and ideas. I have yet to brave using my pressure canner, but was thinking about canning up some sausage... I would imagine the process to be much like what you did here with the bacon bits?

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  2. Hi Patrice,
    First Time, Long Time.... Love your blog and I am always intrigued with your canning adventures! Please keep up the good work, and please keep posting the photos and commentary. In the end, it helps us all. I have pressure-COOKed for a long time but I finally acquired a pressure-CANner after reading your blog. I am delighted with this new avenue of storing our food! You mentioned the number of bad seals in this bacon batch.... Have you tried running a wet cloth soaked with VINEGAR around the jar edges when you can fatty meats? One of my canning books mentioned it and it seems to cut through the tiniest bit of grease that may affect your seal.
    God Bless, Janet in MA

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  3. *Excellent* idea about the vinegar, Janet! Thanks!

    - Patrice

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  4. I used Kerr lids on my jams. When we tried to open the jars, the lids were glued to the jar and the lid was all bent out of shape trying to open the jar. I love Ball lids. Can't stand Kerr, but Kerr now owns Ball. What is a person to do!
    andy

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  5. I have never tried to can bacon like this. I am a "Master Food Preserver" in my county, as trained by the U. of I. Extension. I will have to look through my sources but I think this is not something that they would officially endorse. Therefore, it intrigues me. I don't always think that the "official" stance is the only stance, but it is a good guideline. Have you dry canned like this before? If so, how long did it store safely? Very interesting....

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  6. I have never canned cooked bacon without a liquid. Didn't know you could. I usually lightly cook it, then can with water or pork broth in the jar. Yes, jar rims need to be scrupulously clean after packing.
    Bacon canned in liquid comes out extremely tender when you open it. If you try to do slices it will fall apart on you, so you may as well plan on bacon bits. Once open, pat dry and fry till crisp. Tastes just wonderful.

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  7. ok, I don't mean to sound suptid but I have never used a pressure "anything". What is the difference between a pressure cooker and an pressure canner ? I take it you can not CAN in a pressure cooker? (which is sad as a friend is giving me a pressure cooker next week along with a bunch of jars as she has chosen not to can anymore... I was hoping to CAN meat with the cooker ) guess I need to replan that one.
    Google here I come.....

    Tina

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  8. Let us know how it turns out! Sounds like a great idea!!

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  9. back in the mid-late 1960's i lived with a family who lived and worked their own farm. they did not have any indoor plumbing other than a pump at the kitchen sink and a big iron stove that took woodfire for cooking. i was 12 years old and that summer i learned how to can over an open fire with these huge kettles. and i also learned that just about anything and everything can be preserved...no matter what the "experts" say.

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  10. Now why have I never thought of canning bacon bits? I use them all the time but for some reason have never thought of canning them. Thanks!

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  11. Mmmmm! Those look so tasty! I'd love to hear how they taste after a couple of weeks have gone by.

    I have had some trouble with lids not sealing after pressure canning as well.. I just ended up putting them in the freezer, but it's mighty frustrating. I'll definitely try that vinegar trick.

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  12. Hi Roxie. I've canned for twenty years and, as I said, this is the first time I've ever tried dry-canning anything, though I've seen others do it. As I see it, there's no reason why dry-canned meats shouldn't be as free from the harmful pathogens that cause food spoilage as wet-canned meats. The whole purpose of pressure canning, as you well know, is to super-heat the contents of the jars to kill any lingering microorganisms which will ultimately breed and cause spoilage (and/or disease if consumed, such as botulism), as well as prevent new microorganisms from entering the sterile environment. I see no logical reason why this dry-canned bacon isn't just as preserved as anything I've canned in water.

    Tina, I've never used a pressure cooker but I believe there are differences between pressure COOKERS and pressure CANNERS. You really don't want to take chances with improperly canned foods. To achieve a proper seal and the proper temperature to kill off microorganisms, your food needs to be pressure-canned at ten pounds for whatever the suggested time is for the contents. Pressure canners are, IMHO, worth their weight in gold. Canners can be pricey, but keep your eyes peeled for estate sales and thrift stores. You might even post an ad on Craig's list or your local Pennysaver. Or keep an eye out on these lists for canners.

    A word of caution for used canners: you'll need to make sure the gaskets are sound and the pressure gauge is accurate. Your local Extension Service usually offers to check the gauges for free.

    Darn, I wish all of you, my beloved readers, were close by! The local Mormon church asked me to teach a class on canning meats, which I'll be doing on Oct 16. I wish you could all attend!

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  13. actually a good pressure canner uses 5,10, and 15 pound pressure gauges and the weight of the pressure is for canning various items as well as the time the gauge jiggles. a canner can also be used as a pressure cooker(esp.useful if you are cooking massive amt. of food) and a pressure canner/cooker can be used as a steamer as well. a canner/cooker is probably the most versatile and economic pot to have in the kitchen.

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  14. Tina-- Pressure COOKERS may be used for canning items that take short canning times, though it's not recommended. CANNERS are built sturdier, to withstand the pressure, temperatures and long times at high pressure required in home canning.

    Meats, for instance require high temps high pressures and long processing times. You would be risking exploding a cooker!

    Water bath canning of high acid foods can be done in any old pot that's deep enough.

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    Replies
    1. Pressure cookers can not be used as canners for any reason. They are not equipped to keep a steady pressure needed to safely can.

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  15. Tina, Go on-line to the makers of your pot. check the serial numbers, or even call the company. That can tell you if your pot is a cooker or a canner. You will want to order new gaskets, anyway. Just a good thing to do now and then.

    Patrice, I have never dry canned anything, but my grandmother used to "sterilize" gauze and cottonballs and similar medical items by this method. She didn't do anything metal (tweezers, pins or such) because the dry metal against the jar would cause it to break.

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  16. What did you do with the grease? I keep packages of bacon ends in the freezer. I cut off slices and chop it up to cook it for the grease. It makes the best gravy! I usually use 1 can of chicken broth, a couple of tbls of flour, a dash or two of worcestershire and a little pepper to make a great gravy for chicken fried steak.

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  17. I purchased my pressure canner from Walmart last year about this time when the summer harvest was waning and they were on sale. Did the same with jar lids and jars....

    Just FYI :)

    Going to give this a try!!

    Please let us know in a few weeks how the bacon is.... Yummmmm...... Bacon......

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  18. Thanks for the reply Patrice. I may just have to give the dry canning a try! I have been canning for 30+ yrs in addition to the years of canning that I watched growing up and never did see or try this.

    Pressure cookers are generally smaller versions of the pressure canner. I have both. The cooker would serve me no purpose to try and can in. I would only be able to put 3 or 4 half pint jars in it. On the other hand, that might work to do this dry canning of bacon bits.

    I love my pressure canner. It is the type with a weight gauge on it. I much prefer it over a dial gauge. Part of my duties as a Master Food Preserver in my county has included teaching workshops and doing testing on the dial gauges. I know that with my weight gauge, it doesn't go out of whack and need replaced.

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  19. Hi,

    I found your blog while reading the Tattler Blog Review links page on their web site.

    Were the lids you used for your bacon the new silver color? (It’s hard to tell in the photo.) I too had trouble with several canning lids not sealing in August while canning several batches of peach preserves and jelly. My husband purchased several jelly jars for me so we could give the preserves and jelly for Christmas. The first thing I noticed when he got home with the jars was the lids; the color was different and the weight was lighter. I was so aggravated with the lids not sealing I called the company. After several days of busy signals I located a number for their corporate office and left a detailed message on some ones voice mail; 3 or 4 days later a representative called me back and I voiced my complaint. They assured me the “new lids” were not the problem. However, I have canned for more than 20 years and I am certain the new lids were the problem. This is why I am reading up on the Tattler lids; I need something I can depend on and so far I am getting excited about all the positive reviews I have been reading. I am looking forward to placing my first order and giving the new lids a try.

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  20. Patty, you may be on to something because yes, I used the silvery lids. I never made the connection, but if you're having trouble with lids not sealing as well, then that's good evidence there's a problem with the lids.

    Ironically I just - and I mean *just* - received my supply of Tattler lids. I've been saving up for the last few months and finally ordered 1000 lids - 500 wide mouth, 500 regular mouth. They arrived a couple of days ago. I'll post a blog on that shortly. Whoo hoo! I'll never have to buy lids again!

    - Patrice

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  21. I've only froze my bacon bits. I'll have to think about this instead. I wonder if the seals had a problem due to bacon grease. I add this bacon to almost every meal I make. And I love using the grease for... well, almost every meal I make! :)

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  22. What are "tattler lids" and where do you get them? I am new to canning but last fall I pickled some crabapples and put up various jellies and jams. Also made my first apple sauce, chutney etc. I loved it and am looking forward to the next season!

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    Replies
    1. These are Tattler reusable canning lids (website: http://www.reusablecanninglids.com/) I bought a lifetime supply a few years ago and have completely transitioned from disposable lids to reusable lids.

      However if you're new to canning, I recommend sticking with disposables for another year or two until you become thoroughly familiar with canning (both pressure canning and water-bath canning). Tattlers take a little getting used to, and the important thing is to learn SAFE canning procedures first.

      I have some inexpensive ebooklets on canning at this link:
      http://selfsufficiencyseries.com/

      - Patrice

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  23. I would also like to know what you did with the bacon grease. I've been reading about canning butter (haven't tried it yet) and wonder if it the grease could be done the same way. Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for the info. Dorothy

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    Replies
    1. Fats (including bacon grease, butter, etc.) should NOT be canned. Home canners do not have the ability to render them safe from botulism as commercial canneries might.

      I keep half a gallon of pure clean bacon grease a jar in my fridge for various uses, but otherwise I congeal it in cans and throw it away.

      - Patrice

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