Baby tomatoes

Baby tomatoes

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Canning Cookbook- Pepper Steak

Canning food at home is a HUGELY popular trend right now. People want to control what's in their food. They want to keep chemicals out and nutrition in. Growing our own food and knowing where it comes from when we buy it is very important. Of course, once we get it home we need away to preserve it, and canning is just one way to do so.

Along with this trendy new canning movement people want convenience. "Meal in a jar" foods, heat and eat soups and stews and ready-to-use pasta sauces are very popular and easy to prepare. People are really getting into this and I love it! I've been a home canner for many years and now I have all kinds of new canning friends to chat with, share pictures with, and discuss recipes and trends with. If you have been following City Girl you have seen quite a few home canned recipes on the blog- that's just a tiny peek into my annual canning.

Honestly, we buy very little from a grocery store. Seriously. We rely on vegetables and fruits we grow, buy from a local farm and the farmers markets, from friends who share their extra- you get the idea. Every year I put up hundreds of jars of tomatoes, salsa, pickles, jams, plain vegetables like green beans, corn and carrots, and lots of sauces, soups and things to build recipes with. We don't buy processed foods, we don't buy mixes or premade things, and we cook real food. Living like this does have it's drawbacks- like when you want something on the table right away, and we have no convenience food........ or snacks in boxes.........

But that's when the meal in a jar thing comes in handy. Need a quick lunch? Pop open a jar of vegetable beef soup. Busy day at the office? Grab a jar of spaghetti sauce, cook up some pasta and toss together. Sounds great right? Of course it does! 

Today we are going to make my friend Edie's home canned pepper steak. Pressure canning steak at home is a great way to make the most out of a less expensive, less tender cut like round steak, while giving you fork-tender results. You control the salt that goes in, and the seasoning, and for all the hard work up front the reward is well worth it. 

There are a few things to keep in mind when making ANY home canned foods- you want to follow approved directions, such as those found on Ball's website, for canning instructions. You need to use the freshest ingredients you can get, and prepare them as soon as possible. Canning food is not the time to use up those last few sad looking tomatoes and peppers. Know your recipe's source too. A lot of people are sharing recipes, and not all of them are suitable for home canning. Also make sure you use a pressure CANNER not a pressure COOKER when canning low acid foods. They are not interchangeable. When in doubt, check with your local university extension. Safety is always the first priority!

So, on to Edie's Pepper Steak...... you will need:

lean beef such as round steak or a small roast you can cut into strips
bell peppers
onion (if desired)
garlic powder
beef broth

Prepare your wide mouth pint canning jars for canning and keep hot. Prepare the pressure canner. Heat the beef broth to boiling and hold at a simmer.

Cut the beef into shall strips. Season with salt, pepper and garlic if desired.

Prep the peppers by trimming off the top and bottom; remove seeds and ribs. Cut peppers into small strips. You can use any color of bell pepper you like.

If using the onion, cut off the top and bottom and cut into wedges similar in size to the peppers.

In your hand, make a stack of beef strips, pepper strips and onion wedges. Use enough to fill the jars completely. 

Ease them into the jars as shown in the picture.

Ladle a little beef broth over the meat and peppers if you are using. Since you are raw packing the beef it will make it's own liquid- so you don't want to fill the jars if using broth, just add about half the jar full. DO NOT thicken the broth with cornstarch or any thickener!!

Wipe the rims well, fix lids and rims and seal jars.  Place in the canner and following directions for your canner, bring to pressure and process pints for 75 minutes at 10 lbs pressure (Make sure to adjust for your altitude).

When the processing is complete and canner has returned to zero pounds pressure, remove jars to a towel covered counter and allow them to cool undisturbed 12-24 hours. Test for seals and refrigerate any that did not seal. Use them within a couple days. Wash jars, label and store in a cool dark place.

NOTE: This recipe has not been tested by the NCHFP. If you are not comfortable canning untested recipes, please do not use this one.

Now when you are ready to serve, heat up some rice or pasta, pop the lid on a jar and pour the liquid into a small saucepan- thicken if you like and then add the meat and peppers. Season with soy sauce, Asian seasonings, Italian seasonings, whichever you prefer, heat and enjoy! Home canned pepper steak will be VERY tender, including the peppers. My mom always made it like this (not canned, but very tender) so it reminds me of her.

A few last notes:  Edie uses wide mouth PINT jars for this recipe. Stick with that size. Quarts can become too dense for heat to penetrate sufficiently to the center. 

Edie cans hers without added broth. I added a small amount to mine because I like more sauce with the rice. You can decide if you want to add broth or not. 

For the best pepper steak try to have an equal amount of beef and peppers. I also like mushrooms in pepper steak, but I add them when I open the jars to heat up. Generally speaking, you shouldn't alter canning recipes unless you are very experienced in canning safety and know that you aren't altering the acidity of the food to make it unsafe. 

Again, ALL low acid food MUST be processed in a pressure canner. You cannot waterbath any low acid food for any amount of time to make it safe. It will never get hot enough.

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