Country Living Series

Monday, September 19, 2011

Canning bacon bits

I decided to can some more bacon bits to supplement some I already had canned up. So I bought 15 lbs. of bacon ends, in 3-lb. packages.

The girls helped cut it up.

We could only fit half the bacon -- 2 1/2 packages -- in the pot at one time.

Frying it down took awhile since I cook it slow so nothing burns.

In fact, it took so long to cook down both batches that it was too late to can it (or I'd be up past midnight). So I put the cooked bacon bits in the fridge overnight. The next day I re-heated the entire batch so I could hot-pack the bacon into jars.

Filling the jars. I packed them dry, meaning I didn't add any water to the bacon.

Scalding the Tattler lids and gaskets.

Out of 15 lbs of bacon ends, I got 10 pints of cooked bacon bits.

Some people have wondered why I make my own bacon bits rather than buying them. Homemade bacon bits are probably one of the few items I can which are more expensive than store-bought. But the fact is, they taste better.

Since the processing time is the same and since I had room in the canner, I also canned up a pint of leftover beef gravy.

Lids and gaskets out of the hot water.

Lids and rings on.

Into the canner.

Pressure building. These are canned at 12 lbs pressure (at our elevation) for 75 minutes.


We use bacon bits in baked potatoes, salads, and fried rice. Always a handy thing to keep in the pantry!


  1. Looks yummy. We so love bacon. Did you get the ends at cash and carry? I thought about doing bacon bits after reading your previous blog on it but I have not done it yet. I think I would do 1/2 pints though, so we would be a little less piggy (pun intended) when it came time to use them. If we had a pint, we would probably use it when a 1/2 pint would have done. ;-}

  2. Did you make an altitude adjustment? I am at 2500' and Putting Food By says 12 psig for 1001'-3000'. Just curious.

  3. Where do you find bacon ends? And also does it have Sodium Nitrate in it? I am unable to us sodium nitrate foods as they are a migraine trigger. I have even gone so far as to order my 1/2 pig with uncured hams and bacon. Would love to can some of this up though. Canned hamburger for the first time this weekend! Thanks for giving me the courage to try pressure canning and opening a new door for me in preserving foods.

  4. Those look so good, maybe in my spare time I'll give it a try.

  5. Patrice, was it last year that Don built you that very nice shelving system for your canned goods? Now that fall is here, I bet you are adding to it with fruits, veggies, bacon bits, etc. Sure was beautiful last year when you added your canned foods to the shelf. Would love to see more photos of it.

    Anonymous Patriot

  6. Goodness, bacon and gravey. Do you need my address?


  7. i am with you on the taste...soooooo much better, and you know exactly how and where it was packaged.

  8. For Adele, if you live near a Trader Joe's, they sell bacon ends in 1lb packages without sodium nitrate. Regular bacon is available without nitrates as well. At Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, they also sell uncured spiral sliced ham that is just amazing. I hope that helps.

    Patrice, thanks to your inspiring instructions, I am asking my husband for a pressure canner and tattler lids for Christmas. It would be good to have bacon and other "comfort foods" when the bleep hits. I already have experience with water bath canning, so I think I'm ready to graduate into bigger things.

  9. Mmmmmm...bacon. The meat candy.

    What would you estimate the shelf life will be for these?

    Jeff - Tucson

  10. Answering a few questions...

    I don't think Cash & Carry has bacon ends (though they have a fairly good price on regular bacon). However now that I think of it, the cheapest bacon at C&C is often so jumbled that it could easily be cut up for bacon bits. Thanks for the idea.

    I normally just get bacon ends in any grocery store meat dept. It probably does have sodium nitrate in it. I don't bother checking since none of us have any sensitivity to it.

    Linda, I can think of no finer set of Christmas presents than canning equipment.

    Jeff, canned bacon, like canned anything, should be good for years. I've eaten ten-year-old meat that tasted just fine (though I recommend eating stuff up before that!).

    "Meat candy," LOL.

    - Patrice

  11. Patrice,

    My wife and I read your blog and she got inspired to can some apple pie fillings this weekend. (shocked me personally) It took us some time to do the water bath, but my questions is, how to be sure your canning stuff is safe? Strange question i know, but is there a tell tale sign of botulism or some other issue after it has been processed and canned?

    Just want to be safe with all this being new to us.

    BTW, wife wants your daughter to come be our nanny, but I fear our kids might cause your daughter to run for a different career after a few days.

    Jason & Eva in Atlanta

  12. Jason and Eva -- there are two indications that your canned food is safe. One, you've STRICTLY followed the proper canning procedures, particularly the amount of time in the water bath (or pressure canner, depending on what you're canning). No shortcuts allowed! Processing times are the tested, proven method to insure safe food.

    And two, make sure the lids have sealed. If you're using standard disposable lids, they will seal (with a sucking "thunk" sound) after you remove them from the water bath. Ahh, such a satisfying sound. After the jars have cooled (and don't mess around with them until they're cool!), you can tell if the lid hasn't sealed by pressing on it. If it "clicks" down and up, the seal didn't take. If there's no "click," the seal is fine.

    Also when you take the rings off -- and you should NOT store the jars with the rings on -- then the lid will simply come off if it didn't seal right.

    Happy canning!

    - Patrice

  13. Just curious -- what did you do with all the bacon grease? From what we know about you, you surely put it to good use.

    Just last week, I spotted an unfamiliar package in the grocery cold-cuts section. It looked like the box that a pound of butter comes in, but to my astonishment, it was a pound of pure, unadulterated bacon grease! For $8+!! Yikes. (Who buys this stuff?)


  14. Another seal test is, after removing the rings, and with the jar over a towel in a pan, try lifting the jar by the lid edges. If there is any weak spot in the seal, this will open it. Remember to make sure it is over a towel and in a pan so you do not break the jar and/or make a mess with spilled contents if the seal was bad.
    If I have a question about a seal, I hold the jar in one hand and gently lift upward on the lid. I work around the jar "just in case". With the jar in my hand, there is no dropping and spilling or breaking. I am new to this so I tend to check all my seals. As I do more, maybe I will gain more trust in the sucked down/no popping center. Then again, if I can start getting Tattler lids, there is no sucked down center, so a seal test is needed.

  15. Patrice, what did you do with all the "grease" that cooked off? Now, I know that nowadays we don't need all that fat, and I personally only save a little for flavoring. My husband is so funny, he is supposed to be watching his cholesterol and fats, and periodically screams that four-letter word "diet" at me....yet the other day I had fixed pulled pork for a dinner with friends, and when I had strained the cooking broth and chilled it, there was at least a couple of cups of almost solid fat. I was about to throw it away when he said, "we might need that in a survival situation, we should save that." I was taken aback, to say the least. Does anything like that happen around your household? Do you "save" the fat?

    Kathleen in IL

  16. I have loved learning about canning from your blog. (Also thrilled to see you live in the very area we are planning to move to in the next year or two! We live in your old stomping grounds of norcal. Where living in the country just isn't country enough! ) have you ever had weird discolorations or white splotches on your canned meat? We had one that might have been mold so I tossed it. Also does the broth need to cover the meat? Thanks for all of the info.

  17. I'm also wondering about the fat from cooking down the bacon bits - did you save that for a different purpose, or did it end up in the jars?

  18. I haven't tried canning bacon, but I do cook scrap bacon. I don't like all of the time that it takes to cook it on the stove so I put the cut up raw bacon in a 9 x 13 inch pan (about 3 lb. per pan) and put it in the oven at 350 degrees. Every half hour or so I take the pan out of the oven and stir the bacon around and when needed I pour off the fat. This method takes an hour or two, but I am free to do other things while the bacon is cooking and it doesn't burn on the bottom.

  19. Answering a few more questions:

    I keep a large (#10 size) can under the sink which I use for drippings. About half-way through cooking the bacon, I put a colander over the can and pour the bacon and drippings into it, to let the fat drain. After this the bacon will start cooking faster. When it's all cooked, I drained it again and leave it in the colander for a few minutes before packing it into canning jars. The result is a minimal amount of bacon fat in the jars after they're processed and cooled.

    I don't save any of the bacon fat. If the bleep ever hits the fan, I probably would -- but for now, it gets tossed.

    As for Beth's observations about weird discolorations or white patches on canned meat -- hmmm, that's a good one. I'd have to see the jar, of course, but off-hand if the meat has been PROPERLY processed, no mold should be able to grow because the contents are sterile and any mold spores would have been killed off. Perhaps the white splotches might just be hardened fat? No idea what could cause discoloration -- maybe someone else has a thought on this. Nonetheless, you're wise to be cautious. If you have doubts about the content of something, better to be safe than sorry.

    When canning meat in broth, the broth does not necessarily have to cover the meat. Most people do so just because it's nice to have all that lovely broth, but it's not critical. I know an elderly lady experienced in canning, and one time she showed me her pantry. I was surprised to see meat canned up in quart jars, only half-full of broth with the meat sticking up past the broth line. Yet the jars were all sealed properly and she used the contents on a regular basis.

    - Patrice

  20. I should have known.

    Given you and the husband of the boss, that...

    The girls would be caught in the act of cutting up...

    (Couldn't resist)

  21. I canned bacon bits this weekend (picked up bacon ON SALE!) and used half-pint jars. They all sealed beautifully.

    My first batch was cooked to where even the fat was crisp, but when I opened one of those jars, thought it had a hint (just a hint, mind you)of a too-brown flavor. So subsequent batches were cooked a little less crisp. All the meat is thoroughly brown and crisp, but the fat is not crisped up - just cooked through. Those batches are MUCH better tasting. As a matter of fact, they are INCREDIBLE!

    I cooked 16 lbs (weight before trimming the larger bits of fat)and got 18 half-pints of edible gold. Hubby saw the jars and is a very happy camper today.

    We are SO thankful for your inspiration and encouragement!

  22. Wow, I finally made and canned bacon bits last month (Dec) and we just had some with dinner last night. We are hooked! They were awesome. I have more packages of ends to fry and can. Thank you so much for the ideas!
    Oh, and for my birthday/Christmas I got 500 (250 each) Tattler lids. Can't wait to use them. Thank you for the recommendation of them.

  23. I'd like to do half pint jars.What would the canning time be for them?

    1. I would say, can it the same amount of time as pints (75 minutes). You don't want to take chances when canning meat.

      - Patrice

  24. You do not need to pressure can cured bacon. You *really* don't need to pressure can pre-cooked bacon. Neither will support botulinum growth. You can treat bacon as you would a high acid food.

  25. I was looking through your Tattler posts and found this. I was delighted. I'm going to try it with my goat cracklings.

  26. My grandmother always used bacon fat in place of lard or even butter, like in cookies etc. I don't know if it is good for you or not, but grandma lived to be 95! I take frozen soup bones and fill them with melted bacon fat, then put them back in the freezer. The dogs go bezerk over these treats right out of the freezer, even when it's twenty below out!

  27. I have never canned anything in my life. My mom did, guess I should have watched. Those bacon bits are going to be sooooo good. Keep them coming!