Self-Sufficiency Series

Monday, September 24, 2012

Canning bacon bits

I've been canning a lot lately. Not only is it the season of abundance, but I feel a sense of urgency to get my pantry as full as it can possibly be. In fact, I've been canning so much that I'm getting dangerously low on jars. While I have a sufficient quantity of quart jars, I'm down to only three dozen pint jars.

Nonetheless when I came across three-pound packs of bacon ends for a good price, I cleaned out the store. We'd just finished using up our stash of bacon bits I'd canned last year, and bacon bits are excellent in so many dishes that having a nice supply is a bonus.

Besides, with the horrible drought plaguing the midwest, pork prices are on the rise. Best to can bacon bits while I can still afford it.

Cutting up the bacon ends.


I wished I'd stopped to count how many three-pound packages I started with, but I forgot to. I cup up and cooked the bacon ends over a period of days, so I lost track. But it was lots of bacon ends.


Two packages (six pounds) of bacon ends filled up my pot.


Then I cooked it down. This took a long time -- again, I did it over a period of days -- because I prefer to cook it slowly.


I drained it about half-way through, and of course drained it when it was completely cooked.


When all the bacon was cooked down, I started canning. I re-heated the bacon bits, then filled pint jars dry (meaning, I added no other liquid).


Scalding lids and rings.


I came away with a total of 18 pints of bacon bits.


All meat gets canned in a pressure canner, 75 minutes for pints or 90 minutes for quarts.


Because of our elevation, I keep the pressure between 12 and 13 lbs.


Because I like having lots of bacon bits in the pantry, I'm going to keep my eyes peeled for additional bacon ends on sale. The more the merrier!

54 comments:

  1. I put 3/4 pound of bacon in a pint jar, wipe the rim clean and can at 15 pounds for 90 mins.
    One tablespoon then makes excellent milk gravy. There are many uses for this canned bacon!

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    Replies
    1. How does one make milk gravy? Please?

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    2. Skillet. About 1/4 to 1/3 cup of meat drippings (fats + crumbles and bits of meat). Medium hot. Stir in several tablespoons of flour (enough to make a thin paste). Sizzle paste while stirring for a minute (some like it long enough to brown). Slowly pour in milk while whisking briskly. As it begins to thicken, turn down heat. Season to taste. Keep stirring. When it's as thick as you like it stop adding milk. Let bubble lightly for a minute or two.

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  2. Patrice--I still have pears if you want them--Roseanne

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  3. Hi,

    Thanks for showing us your method. I also can strips of bacon but using parchment.

    Here is a really useful site. I may have steered you towards it before but I can't remember. (Coulda' been Enola Gay) It's called Zaycon Foods and 3 or 4 times a year they roll through town with a tractor trailer full of fresh, never yet frozen meats. You place your order, they email you when the truck will be there and you get right out of the trailer.

    Last April or May, I bought 80# of Boneless chicken Breasts (comes in 40# box) and 30# or 60#(I forget?)of thick (15-17 slices lb) sliced Bacon (30# box) that I canned. the Chicken Breasts were 1.69 lb and the Bacon was $3.00 lb. It took me 8 days to can it all

    Costs nothing to join and they email you when a deal is coming up. Right now, they have a Chicken Deal in CDA but you've got to order be Oct 11. They always sell out. They have multiple meats and fish but they only come available as Zaycon determines. Then they send you an email. You'll see under products. Read the FAQ for how it works.

    Here's the site
    http://www.zayconfoods.com/

    Blessings for your work with this site.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, I didn't know about this company! I've registered on their website and will keep an eye on their deals.

      - Patrice

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  4. my fingers are itching to can.....

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  5. Replies
    1. Nope.

      Except in the canner itself, of course.

      - Patrice

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  6. Thanks for this really great post. I haven't 'graduated' to pressure canning yet. (Have only canned anything once for lack of space.)
    I will save this, and maybe print it out later, and hopefully use it one day.

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  7. How do you keep from nibbling bacon bits until they are gone? I would like a shot at that pot of bacon bits! I need to try my hand at canning meat. Bacon seems like a good place to start.

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  8. I use just bacon fat for gravy. It does taste great.

    There would have been a lot of bacon fat after this project. What did you do with it?

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    Replies
    1. There's so much, I confess I just toss it.

      - Patrice

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    2. (chuckle) You could use the bacon fat to make bacon soap... ;-)

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    3. Then the bears and wolves would think you were dinner.
      Paintedmoose

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    4. Patrice! Don't throw bacon drippings!!! Use it to cook your meat, make mayonnaise, fry eggs...it's indispensable!

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    5. Use the fat to make soap, let it cool then put in a kettle with as much cold water as fat, heat till hot and stir well an let it cool again, once cole remove the layer of clean fat from teh top an use in your favorite soap recipe.

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  9. "Then I cooked it down. This took a long time -- again, I did it over a period of days "

    Man, a house smelling like bacon for days and not being able to enjoy it. That HAS to be cruel and unusual punishment. I wonder how hungry your pups were..... did you notice any puddles of drool.

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  10. "I did it over a period of days."

    All I can think of is how the house smelled...

    [drool]

    Jeff - Tucson

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  11. I am trying to choose a new pressure canner and I had a question. Does your All-American come with the option of using weights instead of a dial gauge? I have been looking at them online, but I can’t tell from the photos. I see the dial gauges, but I don’t know enough about pressure canners to tell from the photos if a weight is also included.
    Sadly, there is on one in our area to test or calibrate the dial gauges. When I called, our local extension agents acted like they had no idea what I was talking about. Also, in a grid down situation, I’m not sure I would want to have to rely on a dial gauge.

    Any thoughts or insight you have would be greatly appreciated.

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    Replies
    1. The All American only uses a gauge, not weights. I do not believe there is an option to use weights, though you'd have to check with the manufacturer to be certain. For what it's worth, I've had my canner's gauge checked periodically and it's never been off in over twenty years of hard use.

      - Patrice

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    2. I have an All American that has a gauge but uses weights also.

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    3. I just talked to their customer servise and was told that all of their new canners come with a dial gauge and weights. You can just use the weights and ignore the dial if you choose. They also said you can use the weights to test your gauge by adding the 10lb weight and when it begins its steady rattle you look at your gause to make sure it is reading in the correct range. Very cool!

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  12. I have never seen bacon ends at our local grocery stores or Sam's Club. If you don't mind my asking, where might someone find bulk bacon ends?

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    Replies
    1. I find them at many grocery stores, though you might have to ask the Meat Dept. folks to locate them. It seems the smaller (non-chain) stores are more likely to carry them. Possibly your local grocery store can order bacon ends for you. I find bacon ends more cheaply at our regional Cash and Carry (a wholesale grocery). I don't believe Costco or Sam's Club carries them.

      - Patrice

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  13. I fell asleep last night wondering what an apple pie with bacon bits would taste like. I think I settled on smoked bacon bits in the apple pie. Could you please try it and report?

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  14. My All American uses a weight. The weight has a 5lb, 10lb, or 15lb setting and you use accordingly for your elevation. I purposely bought this canner because it uses a weight which takes all the guess work out of pressure canning by not having to keep an eye on the dial. It does have a dial gauge, which is very helpful to see when the pressure has dropped and you know when to open the canner however, you need to use the weight when pressure cooking or canning. Let your readers know if they can afford an All American then get one. I also have a Presto canner (not weighted) and I have the dial checked every other year. The Presto works fine, the comparison between the two is night and day. One I never have to worry about, the other I have to have the dial checked, the gasket checked, etc, etc, etc.

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  15. Curious...what do you mean you cooked the bits over a period of days? Did you cooks them on a low burner consistently, or did you cook several batches of them?

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  16. Bacon is $6.50 a pound here in Oklahoma and the butcher says it's heading to $8. I was able to find a quality brand on sale for $4.50 and canned it up. 23 jars today. My pantry is happy and the house smells AWESOME!

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  17. My grandmother used to can meat. I've been canning for over 25 years, but never meat. I'm scared, but I'm going to have to bite the bullet and try this. Especially with the price of pork going sky high. I usually make gravy with chicken, sausage or pork tenderloin drippings, but I have made with bacon. But really, you can't go wrong with gravy.

    Patrice, just curious, have you guys ever thought about raising pigs?

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    Replies
    1. If you've canned vegetables, you can can meat. Easy peasy. The rule of thumb for ANY meat is this: 75 minutes for pints, 90 minutes for quarts. That's at 10 lbs pressure, adjusted for your particular altitude.

      Yes, we've seriously thought about raising pigs. It's on our someday to-do list, especially since pork is one of my favorite meats.

      - Patrice

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    2. Ok, so I bit the bullet and bought 15.50 pounds of bacon ends and pieces today and paid $21.89. I am now cooking the bacon. It looks like in your pictures you cook them pretty crispy. Is this correct?
      Thanks for your help!
      Kelly in K'ville

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    3. Some people like bacon less crispy, others like it very crispy. By all means cook it to your personal preference -- meaning, it's cooked to the point where you'd enjoy snitching bits of the cooked bacon from the colander after it's drained. Me personally, I like it about halfway crispy (if that makes sense).

      - Patrice

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    4. OK, one more question (maybe), what do you think the time would be for 1/2 pints? It's just me and my husband, unless the kids come to visit, which they will, I don't know what to do with a whole pint of bacon bits. Thank you so much for your help.
      Kelly in K'ville

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    5. I would keep it at 75 minutes, even for half-pints. Don't forget to adjust the pressure according to your elevation.

      - Patrice

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  18. So, I was wondering...Could you put the cut/uncooked bacon straight into the jars and then pressure cook for 90 minutes? It seems to me that the bacon would be cooked through, though not crispy, and you would also be preserving the grease for future use. When you uncan, you could crisp up in a skillet if you wanted to. What do you think? ~Cat

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    Replies
    1. I don't see why not. Give it a try and let us know the results! Just make sure you can it for the correct amount of time (75 minutes/pints, 90 minutes/quarts), adjusted for your elevation.

      - Patrice

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    2. BexarPrepper on YouTube cans it uncooked and fries it up when she opens it, says it tastes great. I got some end pieces and I'm going to try it!

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  19. I save myself a great deal of pain and just freeze those packages. Pull one out at a time and run them through my food processor. Makes for smaller bacon bits bus so much easier on my hands. I same the bacon grease, refreezing after I strain it though cheese cloth. I use it to flavor dog food, make and deep fry biscuits for my dog, etc. I also use it instad of lard for baking, making bird suet, and other such wild animal treats. I also gave some to a neighbor for his traps. I also use it to make bait for my old man when he goes fishing.

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  20. Hullo!

    What do you think the shelf life of a can of canned bacon bits would be?

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  21. Hullo!

    I was wondering what the shelf life of a can of bacon bits might be?

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    Replies
    1. Years. As long as the meat is properly canned and the seals are intact, it can last well over a decade. Here's a blog post on some 13-yr-old jars of meat and soup I found on a back shelf of my pantry, which was still perfectly good:

      http://www.rural-revolution.com/2012/08/how-long-will-home-canned-food-last.html

      I've eaten ten-year-old canned chicken which was fine and tasted great in a chicken pot pie.

      - Patrice

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  22. I love the idea of canning bacon bits. I've never heard or seen anyone else do that.

    How long have you been doing this and how long do you think they'll keep? I know you said you kept yours for a year. Im definitely going to give this a try one of these days. As it is, I just snitch pieces of bacon that no one grabbed & stash them in the freezer. ;)

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  23. You can save bacon fat in vacuum sealed canisters, or you can "can " it, with or without bits in it. Vacuum sealing keeps air out, as does canning.

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  24. I want to try this but I have a question. Do you just put the bacon in a big pot and cook it on low

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    Replies
    1. Yes. It takes awhile (depending on how full your pot is) so do this on a day when you're home and not in a hurry to go anywhere.

      - Patrice

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  25. Hubby and I just put 6 pounds of bacon ends through our meat grinder. Then we just put it in our cast iron frying pans and let it cook for about 45-60 minutes and it was done. he took a few pieces out and had me taste test them, sweet man that he is. Crunchy but not too crunchy. They are currently canning now. We drained them through our colander first and saved the fat drippings to use as lard since that is all we cook with any more.
    Adele

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    Replies
    1. Fish fried in bacon grease is wonderful but anything fried in bacon grease tastes better and browns beautifully. I also don't use artificial vegetable shortenings. Bacon fat or lard and olive oil for uncooked things. I'm canning the drippings along with the bacon bits this time. I usually just keep them refrigerated as I've only made small batches each time so far.

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    2. Fish fried in bacon grease is wonderful but anything fried in bacon grease tastes better and browns beautifully. I also don't use artificial vegetable shortenings. Bacon fat or lard and olive oil for uncooked things. I'm canning the drippings along with the bacon bits this time. I usually just keep them refrigerated as I've only made small batches each time so far.

      Delete
    3. Fish fried in bacon grease is wonderful but anything fried in bacon grease tastes better and browns beautifully. I also don't use artificial vegetable shortenings. Bacon fat or lard and olive oil for uncooked things. I'm canning the drippings along with the bacon bits this time. I usually just keep them refrigerated as I've only made small batches each time so far.

      Delete
  26. Thank you Patrice for this blog!!! Never knew you could can bacon and leftovers. I love to can, but most of my books or the recipes I find are mainly for fruits and veggies, which is great and all but I need my meat too. funny I should come across your web page since just the other night we were all splitting what little store bought bacon bits we had left for potatoes:) can't wait for you to add more canning recipes to your page.

    sincerely
    staci ward (Louisiana)

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  27. Thank you Patrice for posting these great canning recipes!!!. I love canning anything and everything but all my canning books and most of the recipes I find are all for canning fruits and veggies, which is great and all but I need my meat too. I never knew you could can bacon, bacon bits, and even leftovers!! can't wait for you to post more canning recipes.

    Sincerely,
    Staci Ward ( Louisiana)

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