Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Canning Bacon

I’ve had a few things on my list of “things I want to can” for quite some time. Several are different kinds of meats. I’ve canned chicken chunks, beef chunks and ground beef; I’ve done several different soups with meat in them, but I really wanted to do some more meat. I’ve wanted to do ham chunks which I’m getting ready to do and also some ready to use taco meat since my husband loves tacos. One thing I really wanted to try was canning bacon.

I was excited to find out that it is possible to can bacon. You can buy it already canned if you want but if you find a large quantity of bacon at a good price it is a great idea to can it. I guess I put it off thinking it would be hard to do, or that it would be weird when I finished. All I can say is that it was easy, turned out great and I’d like to do more when I can afford it.

The process is pretty simple. There are a couple of options. First, thick sliced bacon is the best. You can do regular bacon but it doesn’t hold up as well, but will work if you don’t mind some pieces instead of bacon strips.

Second, it is recommended that you can bacon in wide mouth quarts – each quart holds about a pound of bacon or a little more. You can however, can bacon in pint jars if you want to have smaller batches when you open the bottles. You’ll have to experiment to see how many slices you can get into your jars depending on whether you use wide mouth or regular.

Third, the processing time differs for each size of jar. Quarts and pints are both canned at 10 lbs. pressure, but Quarts are processed for 90 minutes and pints for 75 minutes.

Fourth, these instructions call for using masking paper –it comes in a roll 12” wide to use for masking when you are painting and can be purchased in a hardware or paint supply store. It is very inexpensive. You can also use parchment paper if you wish – it is more expensive but will work just fine.

Fifth and finally, this is one of those things that you will read on the internet that says you can’t can bacon at home. The reason they say this is because THEY don’t do it and therefore don’t recommend you doing it at home. It has been done for years and people who do it regularly, love it and have never had problems. One woman said she has kept the bacon on her shelves for more than 3 years but has also store in a darker cooler place for longer and would consider almost indefinite storage time if canned and stored properly. Just for the record I will say, I am doing this but if you decide to do it, it is your choice and you do it at your own risk. (THEY told me to say that!)

But what is the bacon like when it's opened? Doesn't the brown paper turn into paper mush? Is the bacon cooked or raw, crumbly or greasy? Once the jar cools, of course the bacon fat will turn white and solid instead of clear and liquid. Slide the bacon out of the jar and spread open. The paper will be creased and greasy, but not disintegrated or crumbly. It's kind of messy to peel the paper off the bacon, but it will peel. Once the bacon is free of the paper, simply fry it like ordinary bacon. It cooks up great! *Note: this bacon grease can also be part of your oil or fat storage.

Canning Bacon
-Thick sliced bacon (You can use regular bacon instead but it has a tendency to fall apart when cooking)
-Masking Paper 2 pieces - 12”x18” (can use parchment paper but masking paper is cheaper)
*When you are first starting out, do enough for one jar so you can see how many slices you can fit in your jars. If you are using wide mouth pint jars you will be able to fit more bacon in than if you are using regular pints. Using quarts makes a difference also. Also, if you are using thick sliced bacon, that will make a difference. If you can’t get it into your jars, just remove a slice or two of bacon and re-roll.

Cut an 18” piece of masking paper. Lay raw bacon slices on the paper, side by side, leaving about a 1½” overhang of paper on the starting side. Put between 12 and 14 pieces of bacon on the paper (1.2-1.4 lbs. bacon) side by side on the paper. Cut another piece of masking paper 18” long and lay on top of the bacon. When you have all your slices on the paper, fold the bacon in half (so that each piece is folded in half), bringing the top side of the 2 paper layers with the bacon in-between, (the side that is away from you) down to meet the side closest to you. Roll it tightly into a large roll, starting at the right side and tucking as you go. Using hot sterilized jars, lids and rims, slide the bacon into a canning jar, tucking in any extra paper. DO NOT ADD WATER! Wipe off the rim of the jar and top with new lid and ring. Using a pressure canner, process for 90 minutes (quarts) 75 minutes (pints) at 10 lbs. pressure in your pressure canner. Remove, cool, label and store on shelves.

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