Monday, August 6, 2012

Under Pressure

A little over a year ago, I took a class on pressure canning.  In the class we canned green beans, and it looked so easy I became obsessed with getting a pressure canner.  I was imagining myself canning jar upon jar of soup, chili, vegetables, and stock.  I finally broke down and purchased one.  I was so excited when it arrived in the mail.  I removed it from the box and set it aside.  I looked at it daily.  And looked at it.  And looked at it some more.  I just could not get up the nerve to use it.  I don't know why, but I was intimidiated by it like I think so many people are.  Finally, I put it in the closet where I saw it occasionally and promised myself I would eventually put it to good use.  Well, I am glad to say, that I finally ventured into the pressure canning arena and found it to be very low on the scary scale afterall.  I've been using my pressure canner for soups and stocks, and I'm enjoying my newfound canning flexibility.  

Soup getting ready for the pressure canner
So, here I offer you a great recipe for vegetable soup which I have posted before under my Cooking page (for those of you who may want to make it but not can it).  This is the soup I have been eating all my life.  You can make it with or without ground meat.  This particular version has a half pound of lean ground beef, but you can certainly omit it with no negative consequences to flavor.  You will want to read my new page Pressure Canning 101 if you are new to pressure canning, and you will definitely want to read the manual that comes with your canner as well.  It is a simple and completely safe process if you do your research ahead of time. 

Jars of soup going into the pressure canner before the lid was placed on top
Pressure canning uses higher temperatures than the water bath method.  The higher temperatures are necessary to kill botulinum spores found in moist low-acid foods (like soup and vegetables), so it is important that this soup be either pressure canned or frozen for storage. 

Finished soup-  the bubbles are the result of the soup continuing to boil inside the jars upon removal from the canner.  Once the jars were cool, the bubbles were no longer present.
Vegetable Beef Soup for Pressure Canner-  makes approximately 6 quarts

You can omit the meat if you prefer a vegetarian soup.  You can also add other vegetables that you like.  When canning this soup, I only cook it a few minutes as it will continue to cook in the pressure canner, and you don't want to end up with a mushy soup.  Once it comes to a boil and tastes good to you, it is time to put it in the jars.  Make sure you taste this soup each time you make it as you may need to add more of the condiments to get the flavor right for you.  The amounts are flexible.     

1/2 lb lean ground beef or turkey
1 Tbsp olive oil
6 ears worth of fresh corn kernels, sliced from the cobs
1 lb fresh green beans, trimmed and cut in 1 inch pieces
1 quart fresh or frozen lima beans or other shelled bean of choice
2 cups carrots, sliced
1 quart diced tomatoes in their own juices
2 quarts vegetable juice such as V-8, plus more if soup is too thick
1 heaping tsp minced garlic
1-2 tsp A-1 sauce
3-4 drops hot sauce
2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1 1/2 tbsp ketchup
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare your pressure canner and jars. 

Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot.  Add the beef and cook, crumbling, until brown.  Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds.  Add the vegetables, diced tomatoes, and vegetable juice.  If too thick, add more juice until it is the consistency you desire.  Add the A-1, hot sauce, Worchestershire, and ketchup, and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring the soup to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.  Taste the liquid to make sure it is seasoned according to your preferences, and add more juice to thin the soup out if needed. 

Pack the hot soup into hot, sterilized jars leaving 1 inch headspace.  Remove the air bubbles from the jars.  Wipe the rims of the jars well to remove any residue, and place sterilized lids and rings on top.  Place the jars in your prepared pressure canner.  Process at 11 pounds of pressure according to your canner's instructions (adjusting correctly for altitude) for 75 minutes (for quart jars).  Pints can also be canned and will need to processed 60 minutes.   

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  1. That soup looks amazing! I'm pretty intimidated by the idea of pressure canning too--but I'd be more than happy to make a bunch of my own shelf-stable soup. A hands-on class or session with a friend would probably be a good idea.

  2. Thanks, Eileen. I am hoping to do a lot more soup to have throughout the winter. As for the class, it was very helpful to see the pressure canner in action. Check with your Cooperative Extension agenty for your county. I bet they either offer some type of class or would have an idea about others who do.

  3. What do you do if the soup is fully cooked???

  4. You can still pressure can the soup following the same canning instructions if it is fully cooked. The ingredients will be softer and may break down more in the soup though due to the long pressure canning time and the fact that they were already tender going in.

  5. I just got a pressure canner/ cooker for Christmas (wanting one for years though!); I have been anxious about doing it wrong. I will definitely start by making my large family soups and stews!!
    Thank you and this looks wonderful

  6. So, is it best to just cook your soup about halfway on the stove top? Then pressure can it? I don’t want mushy veggies in my soup!!