Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My New Pressure Canner & Beef Barley Soup/Hearty Chili

Well I decided, after looking at my brimming freezer full of Cooper's beef, pork and chicken, that I need to figure out another way to preserve these low acid foods. Although I love my freezer, if left too long, meat gets freezer burnt and unusable. Last year I did a tremendous amount of traditional canning and our family and friends have benefited from the wonderful jams, chutneys, sauces and pickles that I why not figure out a way to preserve whole meals and have the ULTIMATE in convenience foods?
I knew about pressure canners from my Bernardin book, but had never actually seen one (the stores are full of pressure cookers, but don't mistake the two!) Foods that are low in acid, such as homemade soups, sauces, vegetables, meat, fish and seafood require heat processing at higher temperatures than that of boiling water to prevent growth of spoilage organisms that can lead to botulism, which is a deadly form of food poisoning. Low acid heat processing times have been established using pressure canners (large vessels). Pressure cookers differ in design and function from pressure canners and are therefore, not suitable for home canning!!
Finally in Canadian Tire I found my 22qt. weighted gauge pressure canner for $129. I balked a little at the price, but then reasoned that I will now be able to create chilis, stews and a variety of soups and have them shelf stable...and at hand to create a nutritious meal for my family in a moment's notice (and frankly my time is definitely worth the money!!)
The nicest thing about pressure canning is that you use such a high temperature to preserve the food, that there's no need to sterilize your jars and lids ~ what a time saver! I just dish washered them and filled them as with normal canning (putting the lids and rings in hot water, wiping down the rims of the jars and then placing the lids on the jars finger tight). The rest was so easy that I wondered what I was worrying about all this time?!
2 tbsp EVOO
1 lb stewing beef, trimmed and cut into 1" cubes
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp crumbled dried sage
5 cups homemade beef stock (or low sodium)
1/2 cup red wine
1 can (19oz) chopped tomatoes
2 cups water
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/2 cup pearl or pot barley (both are polished and can be used interchangeably)
  • In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Toss the beef cubes with the flour and in batches, brown all over. Transfer each batch to a plate and drain any fat from the pot.
  • Increase heat to high and saute the onions, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme and sage. Stir often for approximately 2 minutes or until the vegetables are softened and light brown.
  • Stir stock and wine into pot and cook for 1 minutes, stirring and scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the beef, tomatoes, water, pepper and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 1 1/2 hrs, or until the beef is tender.
  • Add the barley, cover and simmer for 30 minutes more, or until tender.
  • ENJOY!



4 lbs stewing beef, trimmed and cut into 1/2" cubes

1/4 cup EVOO

3 cups diced onions

2 cloves garlic, minced

5 tbsp chili powder

2 tsp each cumin seed and salt

1 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp each pepper, ground coriander, crushed red pepper flakes

6 cups undrained and chopped tomatoes

  • In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Brown beef in batches and remove to a plate. Drain excess oil from pot.
  • Saute onions and garlic in pot until soft (1 to 2 minutes). Add remaining spices and cook for 5 minutes. Add beef, tomatoes and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
  • Boil gently, uncovered, for 45 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • *If canning add the pinto or kidney beans when reheating, otherwise add at this point for 5 to 10 minutes.

If canning jars are warm ensure that the chili or soup is hot, otherwise both are to be room temperature. Place rack in the bottom of the pressure canner and add the recommended amount of hot water for warm jars, or room temperature water for cooler jars, to the bottom of the canner. After wiping the rims of the jars and firmly tightening the lids, place the jars on the rack. If you have enough 500mL jars to be processed, place a second rack on top of the first layer of jars and continue placing the jars in the canner. Tighten the lid and follow the manufacturers instructions for venting (10 minutes without gauge, then add gauge at the appropriate pressure). Process 500mL jars for 75 minutes, or 1L jars for 90 minutes. Once processing is complete, shut off the heat and allow the canner to completely cool ~ DO NOT ATTEMPT TO LOOSEN THE LID BY COOLING THE CANNER OR BANGING ON THE LID! Remove jars without tilting and cool upright and undisturbed for 24 hours. DO NOT RETIGHTEN SCREW BANDS!! After cooling check jar seals (which should be curved downwards, or they need to be processed immediately), remove screw bands and wipe dry. Replace bands if desired, label jars and store in a cool, dark place.

*Note: Canned foods should be used within one year of processing - make sure that you rotate your jars to ensure the oldest dates are in the front of your cupboard!


  1. I have often thought about doing this but quickly dismiss it because I'm afraid to use a pressure canner...but anyway, what is EVOO? Leslie

    1. EVOO = Extra Virgin Olive Oil...just me being lazy and not writing it all out!
      Don't be afraid of the pressure canner - it is easier than a regular hot water canner and you can have all sorts of amazing foods like soups and chilis on hand all through the year!

  2. Hi there. I was wondering whether you would like to link this in to Food on Friday: Chillies and other spicy stuff. This is the link. You did some time ago link in a great dish to Food on Friday: Asian Food. I now realize that I haven't been following your blog. Sorry about that. I have signed up to follow now. It would be great if you followed Carole's Chatter back. Have a super week.

  3. Tamara, most recipes are discouraging adding starchy things like noodles or rice when pressure canning soups or stews. The recommendation seems to be adding when ready to use. Did you can the Beef Barley Soup with the barley in the jars? My kid is away at college and would die for a barley-in version in a care package! All the chicken noodle soup (his first choice) recipes say no to canning pasta/rice/dumplings with the rest. What was your experience with beef-barley?

    1. I actually followed the recipe for the Beef Barley Soup exactly and then pressure canned it with absolutely no issues - perhaps because the barley itself is sturdier in texture than pasta or rice? That is so lovely that you are sending your young person such a delicious care package!!!! Happy canning!