A reliable source of protein is always mandatory for long term survival. Those who have confronted the wilderness admit that finding a source of protein is one of the most challenging tasks, especially if unarmed or untrained to hunt. And when you finally succeed in killing a big prey, it’s mandatory that you have a mastery of good techniques to properly preserve the meat. If the preservation process is done incorrectly, there’s an increased risk for putrefaction processes, which will deteriorate the meat and make you seriously ill.
Beef has a few advantages over poultry and pork from a nutritional point of view. Chicken is lower in fat and calories—that is a great advantage for a sedentary person but not for someone that is very active in the outdoors, for someone that is struggling to survive, or for a person that only has limited access to meat. Beef is a great source of iron, which is essential for the red blood cells that carry oxygen from the lungs to each and every cell of your body. Beef is highly rich in zinc as well, which is essential for the immune system and in the healing process. It is also much rich than poultry in potassium and vitamin B12.
- Pressure canner
- Glass jars
- New lids
First of all, the pressure canner is an absolute must for canning meat. Meat is a low-acidic food, and low-acidic foods need to be canned at higher temperatures than boiling. Otherwise, dangerous bacteria could multiply and then cause severe illness.
Prepare the jars and the lids. They all need to be perfectly clean. Washing the jars with hot water or in the dishwasher is mandatory. Make sure that the glass jars don’t have any cracks or air bubbles—they make the glass fragile, and the jars might break inside the pressure canner.
Prepare the meat. Fat keeps moist and is a great growing environment for bacteria, so it’s best to remove all the visible extra fat from the meat. Also remove all the muscle fascia—the white parts. Beef tends to have plenty! Don’t worry about getting your canned meat too dry if you remove all the fat—actually, muscle fibers still have plenty of it, which will keep the meat tender and soft!
You can cut the meat into cubes or just use ground meat. Season it according to your preferences.
Optional: Put it in a large frying pan, add a tablespoon of oil, and turn the heat to medium. Precooked meat is definitely tastier than raw meat! Another reason for cooking the meat is that it shrinks, making the whole canning process more space efficient. Make sure not to overcook the meat—the cooking process will continue in the pressure canner. It just needs to change color.
While the meat cooks, you need to regularly stir it. Also, take your time while putting the jars in the pressure canner according to the instructions, and turn the heat on. Put the lids in a pan full of boiling water, bring them to a simmer, and just keep them there until later. This way, the lids will also be sterile.
Once the meat has changed color, put it in the jars. Leave a 1-inch (2.5 cm) space between the meat and the lid. Once the jars are full and the frying pan empty, add some water to the meat juice and boil it. This way, you will have enough liquid to fill the empty spaces between the pieces of meat in the jars. Once the air is removed, the bacteria will have a hard time multiplying in there! If you prefer, you can also use bone soup or meat soup to fill the jars; just make sure it was freshly made and boiling.
Take the lids and carefully wipe them with a clean cloth; then screw them down tightly. Put the jars in the pressure canner, but be extra careful not to hit them against one other because they might easily break. Cook them for about 90 minutes at 10 pounds pressure, closely following the use instructions of the pressure canner to avoid potential accidents.
Once the 90 minutes have passed let the pressure canner cool a little bit (at least 10 minutes), and then carefully open the pressure canner—if any steam is left inside, it might cause burns on your hands or face. Remove the jars, and put them on a folded towel or blanket. The liquid inside should still be boiling, and the lids might make some noise—it’s a strong indicator that the jars have sealed. Put the jars in several blankets, and let them cool slowly, over a day’s time. Once they are room temperature, you need to check to see if the lids are properly sealed. A sealed lid is slightly dipped in the center. If the lid can be pushed down and then pops back up, it means the jar is not sealed. You should process those jars immediately using another new lid, or refrigerate it and consume it over the next couple of days.
Homemade canned beef has plenty of advantages over industrially-preserved meat. First, it’s chemical-free, with no preservatives or colorants. Besides, it tastes absolutely delicious!
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