Sunday, October 12, 2014

Quick and Easy Home Canned Meals

I am not a gourmet cook.  I am a plain cook.  About once a week I fix meals that are favorites from my childhood - fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, beef slow roasted with potatoes, carrots and onions all in the same pot, pork chops stuffed with sage dressing, Swiss steak (assuming I can still afford round steak).

The rest of the time I cook because a body needs fuel.  I have a lot of interests aside from cooking.  I sew, quilt, crochet, scrapbook, read, etc.  If I am in the middle of sewing together the pieces of a patchwork quilt, I don't want to take the time to cook a fancy meal.  If my kitchen table is covered with scrapbooking paper, photographs, glue, scissors, paper punches, and all the other supplies I use to make scrapbook pages or mini scrapbook albums, I want to quickly satisfy my hunger and continue cutting and gluing and creating.  You will never see photos of artfully arranged meals on this blog.  That just doesn't happen in my world.

What does happen in my world is the opening of a jar, the dumping of the contents into a pot, the heating on the stove and the eating, all done with as little fuss and bother as possible.  I know that I can't be the only person on the face of the earth who hasn't either the time or the inclination to spend hours cooking, so here are some of the meals in a jar that are a staple of my pantry shelves.

Chicken/Turkey Soup

I buy turkey or chicken on sale.  The birds are cut up into pieces to fit into my stew pots, covered with water and boiled until the meat is falling off the bone tender.  Sometimes I will roast a turkey, have a meal or two and then use the rest for making soup, boiling the carcass to make broth.  When the meat is cool enough to handle, it is removed from the bones and cut into approximately one-inch pieces.  The jars are filled 1/3 full of meat pieces, adding cut up vegetables (potatoes, carrots, peas, green beans, celery - whatever you like)  to within one inch of the top of the jar.  Pour in broth to cover the vegetables.  Remove the air bubbles, wipe the rims, add a lid and ring.  Process in a pressure canner (meat and vegetables must be pressure canned), 75 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts.

I think I use this soup more than any other.  When I can it, I do not add salt or any other seasonings.  Nor do I add onions.  Instead I season the soup and add dehydrated onion when I heat it.  It can be eaten just as a soup with crackers or cornbread.  It can be thickened and spooned over biscuits as a stew.  It can be heated with the addition of dumplings.  Sometimes I toss in a little rice for turkey rice soup, or a little more rice for a turkey, vegetable and rice dish.  There are lots of possibilities.

These are some of the other meals in a jar that I can on a regular basis:

Vegetable Soup
Vegetable Beef Soup
Split Pea and Ham Soup
Ham and Bean Soup
Beef Stew Mix (The browned beef cubes and cut up vegetables are canned together.  Seasonings and thickening are added when heating for a meal.  This is especially good over biscuits.)

I suppose I could save time by just buying soup, stew and chili at the grocery store.  But I would rather spend a few days canning these meals and have them ready in my pantry.  I know what has gone into them and they taste so much better than commercially canned soups.  I don't know if I save much money-wise, as I have to buy the ingredients.  If I could have a garden, the savings would be far better.   But to me, it is still worth it.


  1. I agree, home canned is so much better than commercial. I just finished canning up 16 pints of tomato soup, and believe me there is no comparison to anything store bought in a can. So much richer and flavorful.

  2. Jim...You are spot on. Commercially canned food just can't hold a candle to the home canned. Even though I'm not so sure I save much because I have to buy the ingredients, I will take a jar of home canned food over a can of store-bought any day of the week!

  3. You may have to buy the ingredients, but at least for the most part you know what is going into your product, without all of the added colorings and preservatives. Not only is it much more flavorful, it is truly safer and more nutritious.

  4. Jim...That's absolutely right. I think, too, that canning is just second nature for many of us. This is how I was raised. We canned everything we could before my family could afford a freezer. And there is something about seeing all of those full jars on the shelves - kind of like having a security blanket. :)

  5. I wasn't hungry, but guess what?? I am now. Walmart started putting out turkeys for $1.18 a lb today. Menard's has all their Christmas stuff out too.

  6. I was also raised this way also, my Mom, whom is now 87 years old still worries about canning all the vegetables from her garden each year, which she plants and takes care of by herself. Even though she has been diagnosed with an incurable cancer which the Dr. said she would die from several months ago.

  7. Rob...If you're hungry now, I probably better not tell you about the great homemade soup I had for supper. Or the cornbread muffins. (insert evil grin here) I'm hoping that Cub will run a turkey sale soon. I'm all out of both canned turkey and ham, and that will never do! I use my home canned turkey more than any other meat. I wish the stores would at least wait until after Halloween before dragging out the jingle bells. :)

  8. Jim...I think our parents generation was tougher than we are. Bless your Mom. It is probably her garden and canning and the doing of all those things that keeps her going. My Mom, who was badly crippled with arthritis, was told by a doctor after a surgery, to go home and get her affairs in order. She pretty much thumbed her nose at him and proceeded to live another 20 years. It is the keeping busy that prevents us from just sitting down and waiting to die.

  9. We eat a lot of dehydrated stews and soups. Bear Creek is my favorite.

  10. Harry...I love the dehydrated foods. They take up so little space for storage. I haven't tried any of the commercial soup mixes, but I make my own with dried veggies and seasonings, pack them into small freezer bags and store them. I usually use the crock pot to make them and toss in a pint of whatever meat I want to use. Delicious!