Guess what I made this weekend!!
Yep, it's bacon - for the shelf. I'd been reading about it and bought the hefty All American pressure cooker. Note that you cannot can meat with a hot water canning process - only the pressure canner. I bought inexpensive, thick bacon, and decided it was time to give it a try.
I worked from this recipe and had initially tried her recommended masking paper but found it was much too thin and tore into pieces when trying to get the rolled bacon in the jar. I would have preferred to use a plain brown parchment paper but only had the white on hand. It worked well, holding up just fine.
I cooked it at 10 lbs pressure for 90 mins. It took rather longer to prep than I expected. But in the end it was a really satisfying bit of work.
You can see the rendered fat in the bottom of the jar. I think it will prove a delicious addition to any future bean making - when one has to live on beans and rice, the fat will be welcome, indeed. We opened a jar to see how it sealed and the vacuum was very strong.
It comes out a bit floppy and gelatinous - and rather flat - but it is cooked! If you had to, you could eat it. We cooked it in a pan (without the fat) and it rendered little fat. It was also a bit fragile when cooked. Someone else baked it in a pan and thought it was a better end product. But that didn't concern me - it would be lovely even as bacon bits to cheer up nasty dried eggs, boring potato pearls, or even folded into a lowly pone of cornbread.
You can pressure can all kinds of meats - they mention chicken here.
(A video I saw noted to put a square of bullion in each jar, dry, to ensure rich flavor and color.)
I will be keeping an eye on the sales, and perhaps even shelling out the fee for the big box store to buy large amounts of chicken breast inexpensively. Now, I think that having the dehydrated and/or freeze dried meats is a very good thing, indeed. The shelf life may be longer, it is lighter and easier to move, and once opened it can be held for later use. But I also dislike the idea of relying on it - if one cannot get water or boil it to be safe, you just have chicken flavored bits. I like the idea of having the option of eating something right out of a jar if necessary. Too, if the power goes out, that chest freezer won't stay cold forever.
Besides - it's BACON! Whenever you want! The initial outlay for the canner was intimidating but it is the best reviewed and I wanted to ensure I only bought it once as they say. I'm looking forward to getting some things out of the freezer (like 3 deer's worth of meat) and onto the shelf.