Though based on ancient cooking principles, sous vide technique is a new method of cooking that is gaining popularity among home cooks today. Consequently, a lot of people have various questions about this process and the equipment used. To help you get the hang of it, we’ve put together some answers to various questions you may be asking about this cooking method.
Summers are just around the corner and ‘dads’ are readying their backyards for another season of extensive ‘grill parties’. The grass has been cut, the plants have been watered, the grill has been dusted off, and the guests have been invited. What remains to do is set the table in the backyard and begin grilling!
This is the most self-deprecating thing I have ever posted online. But you know what they say: If you can laugh at yourself, you will never cease to be amused.
My interest in this topic started with one of only a handful of regrets I have obtained through life. I’m just not prone to regrets, apparently, given that this makes that short list.
This is not an original recipe, I ripped it off of one of the Greats. I have never made a recipe from Emeril before to my recollection, but I’d definitely try more from him based upon my results with this one. I really do not understand our culture of famous cooks. There are some famous food bloggers whose recipes I’ve attempted multiple times with zero success. I’m left scratching my head—how did it get to be that people hang on every word? I want to ask, “Have you TRIED any of those recipes?”
Deer Processing and the Value of a Buck, Part II
Up here in cold country, venison in the freezer is good insurance. That not only applies for beautiful NW Montana, but for anyone who spends the short afternoons of Autumn boiling hog bodies, dragging a deer carcass or plucking feathers only to tirelessly cut, chop and/or grind up meat. If that is you, you know the value of food put up for the winter. The subject of home economics is indeed one often learned by watching others or it might be taught by the unavoidable mathematics of stores on the shelf divided by mouths to feed.
Eating is a standing requirement and to that end the science of economics has been described by some as “a wrap around the food chain.” The dismal 1:1 ratio of subsistence agriculture, hand-to-mouth existence or foraging through rubbish heaps to eat never yields any sort of surplus. Without surplus, there can never be any buffer in daily life where one does not have to spend all day searching for food—home economics 101. If a person needs 2,000 calories to survive and they only can collect 2,000 calories in a day, then there stands a 1:1 ratio of food required and food collected. As soon as someone can collect 4,000 calories in a day, and consume 2,000 now a surplus is available and an economics outside of the home takes over.
Economics in the house is widely defined as anything from stretching a dollar by coupon clipping, to cooking, to sewing, to processing deer; necessity will dictate which happens at what time, but the self sufficient homestead must be prepared for all situations. It also follows that the caloric buffer, the food savings account (“pantry insurance” if you will) should exceed typical consumption by many fold—this is how I have always heard my Grandmother talk about it.
Hunting is one of the oldest means for humans to increase the food buffer. Deer processing, the truly messy and labor intensive part that people often pay others to do, is the method from taking a whole animal to putting the steaks in the freezer. If the problem is a knowledge gap, then I recommend books like Storey’s Country Living Skills or the book title: A Guide to Canning, Freezing, Curing & Smoking Meat, Fish & Game as they are both great places to start.
But maybe you were like me and you did not need to be convinced that it was a good idea, but wanted to see it actually accomplished. I referenced another great book in Part 1 called Gut it, Cut it, Cook it by Eric Fromm and Al Cambronne; I secured permission to reproduce this awesome graphic in that book to show what parts of the animal produce what when processing deer:
While thousands of cows can contribute to one pound of ground beef that you buy in a store, the venison burger that you grind and put in your freezer will only come from the deer that you process. This is peace of mind and good insurance against an Escherichia Coli O157:H7 outbreak in your house. While industrial might does drive price down, it does not drive the quality up (Pink Slime anyone?).
Filling your own freezer with a buck allows you to save a few dollars, have peace of mind that the food is clean, and it will give you the satisfaction that you can independently start to feed your family apart from the current food system—this is home economics at its finest. Consider adding the book title Raising a Calf for Beef as it will deepen your respect for life as you live out the circle through its conclusion, and you will nourish the lives for whom you are responsible sitting around your dinner table.
Pro Deo et Patria
Pig and Sausage compilation (economics) Pig by Boqueron found at: http://www.rgbstock.com/photo/mhqRAhO/Black+pig Sausage by Michal Zacharzewski found at: http://www.rgbstock.com/photo/nwHZBlW/White+sausage+plate
Deer Processing from Gut it, Cut it, Cook it by Eric Fromm and Al Cambronne from Krause Publications, a subsidiary of F&W Media, Inc (All rights reserved). The graphic is republished with permission. http://www.shopdeerhunting.com/gut-it-cut-it-cook-it
Nothing in this blog constitutes medical advice. You should consult your own physician before making any dietary changes. Statements in this blog may or may not be congruent with current USDA or FDA guidance.
Christmas came and went this year with splendid simplicity and great memories with family and friends. Chaya and I took some time to pick up some books that are perpetually on the night stand throughout some of the busier parts of the year. One topic that has always been of interest to us here at Pantry Paratus is the subject of Home Economics, and so I was especially curious when I came across a tweet by Michael Pollan citing this Huffington Post article.
Canning Meat ? Yes!
Using Tattler Lids for meat canning
Home canning meat, especially ground beef, is a simple process. The canning of meat is unlike acidic tomatoes because you will need to use pressure canner. Pressure canning beef is the only safe way to do it, since water bath canning does not get to a high enough temperature to keep meat (and other nonacidic foods) safe.
We had a meat sale here at the local grocery store, and I wanted to try to duplicate the results from Patrice Lewis’ post about Tattler reuseable canning lids on her blog on meat canning. I highly recommend getting grass fed meat where you can, but for this post I am just using the prepackaged grocery store fare.
In full disclosure, I used 6 lbs ground beef because it was what was on sale—Patrice Lewis used ground beef because,
“ . . . it’s meat, so it requires a high processing time in a pressure canner. And, it’s greasy and nasty and would thus put the maximum amount of stress on the lids.”
Agreed! Since onions were also on sale (“genius!”) I chopped up two onions into chunks and put them right into the pot. The onion outer skin (along with any other vegetable scraps in our house) goes out to the compost bin.
I added salt and pepper to taste as well as parsley. How much parsley? Well to quote my Italian aunt, “There is no such thing as too much parsley.”
There are many canning recipes for meat, but I prefer to keep this one simple especially when I am trying to get everything prepared for winter. After browning the meat, I load it into the canning jars with 1 ½” head space. It is best to use the hot pack method when home canning meat and fill any remaining space with boiling water up to the 11/2” head space mark..
In the interest of saving time, I am also prepping the All-American pressure canner with the lid off by warming up the water in the bottom of it. We personally use the venerable All American Model 921 pressure canner/cooker. It has the all metal seal and is built to be used for years and years. Anyone who is apprehensive about the rubber bullet (aka “pressure bomb” canners) that make up the bulk of the horror stories/urban legends revolving around pressure canner mishaps will be amazed at the engineering, craftsmanship and ease of use of the All American brand pressure canners. I fully intend to leave mine to my children as an heirloom because it is built that well. Did I mention that it is made in America?
For home meat canning, I recommend the Tattler Reusable Canning Lids. They work just as well as the lids that you can buy at the grocery or hardware store, but these are reusable and are American made. They stay in place well and the grease does not prevent a seal under the lids quite like it does with the metal ones. I put them in hot water for a few minutes before use. One question we get about the Tattler lids is, “Do I have to heat them up before I use them?” My answer remains the same, “I can with everything hot.” My lids, gaskets, canner, water, jars and what I am canning are all hot for safety reasons.
The instructions are printed right on the box and are easy to follow. Here is a pictorial:
I religiously wipe off the rims of the jars before putting the lids on the canning jar.
Apply the lids and rings. Following the directions on the box, the Tattler lids new instructions call for you to screw the lids finger tight—that is it. If you have any problems with these lids, it will be from omitting this step. If you screw them on too tightly, it does not allow air to escape.
Then put the jars into the canner—simple. Note: the spacer at the bottom of the canner. The All American pressure canners come with a very good manual that Chaya and I have read and re-read a dozen times and have out on hand whenever we can (or “jar” if you will).
Follow the directions for your pressure canner and bring the unit up to boiling. For our All American Model 921 we wait seven minutes then apply the weight on the top spout. Note: without the weight, the canner is an “open system” and is not any different from any other pot with a tight fitting lid that you may already own. We live just over 2000’ altitude and can everything at 15 lbs of pressure.
Safety tip: When putting the weight on top, please use an oven mitt;
the steam emitted from the canner can burn you.
After processing for 90 minutes we now have four jars or just slightly short of 6 lbs of ground beef perfectly sealed under the Tattler lids. Since these are made of BPA free plastic they do not have the quintessential “ping” sound as they seal under the ambient atmospheric pressure. However, if you look at them from the side you can see if they are sealed or not. Chaya applies the “wiggle test”. She uses her thumb on the lid to see if it will push or give. If it does not budge, it is sealed. I have very few failures with Tattler lids. And I can pinpoint them to user error—either over-screwing on the ring, or failing to screw the ring on tightly afterwards, etc. If the lids are good enough for meat canning, then they are certainly good enough to can your other foods as well.
Once the jars are removed from the canner I prefer to let them set undisturbed. An old tip from days gone by is to flip the jars upside down; this seems to be controversial to some. I have done it both ways with success both ways.
Before I called this done, I removed the rings and washed the jars gently with dish soap because they will likely be greasy to the touch and have grease especially around the ring .
If you are new to canning, or just like to watch someone who really knows what they are doing with canning please visit SimplyCanning.com. It is run by Sharon who is a good friend to Pantry Paratus. Whether you have been canning for a day or a decade you can get some very good information from her website.
Regarding the finished product: “Oh look at the fat, isn’t that gross?”
My answer—“Not really.” What is in the jar, is what was with the ground beef (20% fat as packaged—I did not add any oil during the process); after the temperature cooled with the cooked product in a clear jar you can now see it.
Despite the typical body composition of today’s average process food fed person, if food becomes hard to get, one of the hardest items to get into your diet will be fat. Having your own animals to produce this resource that every healthy body metabolism needs may be the only reliable way to get this into your regular diet. Store bought industrial processed seed ois wil not last long, go rancid after awhile depending on temperature and humidity and are horrible for you. JWR has had great results deep freezing olive oil for up to five years.
Canning meat at home is not hard, anyone can do it. I recommend having the right tools, and for that it starts with the right pressure canner and quality lids. Leave a comment if you like on canning meat at your place–we would love to hear from you.
Pro Deo et Patria
Pressure canning done in the proper way is safe, but if you do not follow the instructions of your canner, then you will run the risk of serious injury. We sell, personally use and recommend the All-American pressure canner because it is very well constructed, reliable and very safe—when used properly.