Last week I made beef stew for supper one evening. I opened jars of potatoes, carrots, beef and tomatoes to make it. Duane came over to help me eat it, took some home with him and I ate off the leftovers for a couple of days. I had several canning jars that needed to be washed. If I had a dishwasher, I wouldn't mind so much, but my dishwasher consists of my two hands located at the ends of my arms. I am not fond of washing jars.
About that time I got to wondering if it would work to can all the stew ingredients together in one jar. I already can all sorts of soups, so why not stew. With that in mind I ordered 8 lbs. of chuck roast, 10 lbs. of potatoes, 4 lbs of carrots, 4 lbs of onions and 2 bunches of celery. So then I got to thinking that if I was going to can beef stew, why not can chicken stew, too. So I added 6 lbs. of frozen chicken breast and 2 lbs. of frozen corn to the order.
My groceries were delivered early afternoon Thursday. I peeled the potatoes and onions and washed the carrots and celery. Then I sat at my kitchen table and cut everything into bite sized pieces. The potatoes went into a bucket of water to keep them from turning black overnight and the rest went into the fridge in zip lock bags. The beef and chicken were cut into bite sized pieces and the meat went into the fridge in zip lock bags as well.
This morning I got my jars and pressure canner ready and proceeded to layer the ingredients into quart jars. Each jar got a cup each of potatoes and carrots, and half a cup each of celery and onions. I topped off each jar with beef cubes, adding 1/2 teaspoon each of garlic powder and thyme and 3 tablespoons of crushed tomatoes along with two beef bouillon cubes per jar, then filled them with water.. I processed the quart jars of stew for 90 minutes. To use the stew it just needs to be heated and thickened. It might need a bit more liquid, depending on how you like it.
While the first seven jars were processing and when I had filled the next seven jars was when I realized I had screwed up. I had not ordered nearly enough carrots. Stew just doesn't taste right without carrots.
I thought about either freezing or dehydrating the rest of the vegetables, but both require blanching. Did I mention that today was the hottest day of the year so far with the temperature this afternoon at 96 degrees and a heat index of 110 degrees? There was no way I was going to heat water on the stove for blanching. The pressure canner was generating enough heat, but my apartment was staying tolerable. I wanted to keep it that way.
So I started filling jars. In addition to the 14 quarts of beef stew, I got 10 pints of cubed potatoes, 2 pints of carrots and 9 half pints each of celery and onions. Tomorrow promises to be cooler - back in the mid 70's - so I will fill half pint jars of the rest of the beef and the 6 lbs. of chicken. I have lots of beef and chicken canned in pint jars, so I thought perhaps the half pints would be nice to have on hand for sandwiches.
Things don't always go according to plan. In my case, they often go awry. Being flexible and refusing to panic are a big plus, no matter what the situation. None of the food was wasted and I will can more beef stew and chicken stew another (cooler) day, keeping better track of the amounts of ingredients I will need.
Keep on prepping, even if you have to change course in the middle. :)
"The Death of Germany, and Europe"
2 hours ago