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How to Can Beef

Homemade Noodles

When I was growing up, one of my family’s most favorite meals was made up of home-canned beef and homemade noodles in beef broth, which was served over mashed potatoes. This was a meal that was handed down from my paternal great-grandma, and to this day it is a family favorite. It is very tasty and especially delicious during the cold winter months.

I myself have never done much food canning, but this was definitely an exception to the rule for me. I knew I had to learn how to can beef if I wanted to make such a tasty meal for my own family, and my sisters-in-law were also interested in learning, so one fall day several years ago my grandma got together with my mom, my sisters-in-law, and myself and we all spent the day canning beef together. The following is the procedure for canning beef.

Boneless chuck, cut in chunks; one pound of meat makes one pint of canned meat.
Salt—1 teaspoon per pint.
Pepper—1/4 teaspoon per pint.

Pack pint jars very firmly with chunks of meat, eliminating air pockets between the chunks. Put a small amount of fat (trimmed from the meat) on top of the meat, then sprinkle salt and pepper on it. Leave a one-inch air gap between the top of the meat and the jar lid. Do not add water! Tighten lids firmly; do not re-tighten after cooking.

Put jars in a canning pot, with a rack in the bottom of the pot so the jars are not touching the pot. Fill with water until the water level is about three inches above the tops of the jars. Bring the water to a hard boil. Cover pot and continue boiling for three hours. If you have to add more water, heat it first.

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After three hours, carefully remove the jars from the water and allow to cool; I spread out kitchen towels on the counter and set the jars on the towels to cool. As they cool, the lids will pop and the lid will be depressed. If the lid does not pop and depress, it is not sealed; this meat is still good to use, but it should be put in the refrigerator for immediate use or put in the freezer for longer storage. When the lids start popping I always count the pops to see if they equal the number of jars canned.

To prepare for a meal, put one or two pints of meat in a pot and heat it through; add water and a boullion cube or two if you need more broth, especially if you make noodles to go with it.

For homemade noodles, here is the recipe:

3 egg yolks
1 whole egg
3 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups flour

Combine ingredients and mix well. Roll dough out on floured surface to desired thickness, cut in large squares, and drop in pot with the meat and broth as it cooks. When noodles are not doughy in texture they are done (15 minutes or so). Serve over mashed potatoes, or on the side. If you prefer to use storebought noodles that is an alternative.