Pressure canning makes me feel like my mom and her mom (and their wisdom) are near. Growing up, I watched them preserve precious resources and joked about how shelves in their basements were lined from floor to ceiling full of harvested goods (with a deep chest freezer stocked as well). I learned thrifty ways of living and still make that a part of my role as wife and mom.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that I simply don’t care how many coupons I could cut to make an already cheap food cheaper or free. I’d rather have stockpiles of my own hard work available to grab and eat any day. It’s not for everyone, but for me it brings comfort in many ways.
Speaking from a whole foods, Weston A. Price-inspired philosophy of living (similar to paleo), most of what we purchase rarely has sales and stackable coupons at the same time. I understand that for some, this blind eye to food prices and grocery store sales is ludicrous. That doesn’t mean that we have an unlimited food budget. Ha! Nope. It just means we skip extra lifestyle choices and perks in order to keep food trash out of our temples. I’d like to believe that what we pay for in whole, well-resourced foods is what we save in not seeing the doctor and pharmacist both now and later down the road. One can try, hope and prevent and we do!
Lately, I’ve discovered a kitchen tool that makes those less expensive (said: usually tougher) cuts of meat and abundance of healthy vegetables be put to better use. I can’t get enough of my pressure cooker! I have my own electronic pressure cooker and it stays on the counter more than it goes in the cabinet. It is ridiculously easy to use and I’ve not had one upset so far. It has replaced the use of my slow cooker entirely. (That old, food burning crockpot never sees the light of day!) Oh, the joyous results of pressure cooked foods! Hard boiled eggs that easily pop out of their shells in 10 minutes or less? Yes! Perfect pot roast in under an hour? Yep. A whole chicken cooked to perfection for shredding up in salads or other dishes. Of course!–and, in only 24 minutes!
One of my favorite uses has been to make homemade chicken and beef bone broth. Instead of slow simmering for 12 hours (and babysitting liquid levels), I can have a nutrient-dense broth ready in an hour. Before conquering my fears of pressure cooking, I would freeze the broth in ice cube trays and every small sealable container we owned, usually in batches as we didn’t have enough containers. Then I’d pop those chicken flavored popsicles into a freezer storage bag and use in recipes. Alas, my freezer was full of frozen stock and we were low on freezer space. At the same time, the garage food storage closet was empty as we had stopped purchasing gluten-filled processed, stockpiled foods like pastas, cereals, crackers, etc. Those empty shelves needed some sparkling jars of freshly canned broth!
Since my electronic pressure cooker isn’t suitable for pressure canning, I borrowed my friend’s pressure canner and took to learning the art of canning on the stovetop. This, too, is very easy. You just have to respect the process! Canning our family’s broth gives me nerdy satisfaction. First, the resources for making the broth are things people tend to throw away. I save our organic whole chicken carcasses (and wing bones from game days!) as well as washed cuts of celery, carrot, and onion. Most of the vegetables are just the tops and ends that don’t go into recipes and normally get thrown away. Onion skins, carrot tops, celery leaves and all. I have a quart-sized freezer bag that gets filled with scraps from my daily cooking and it stays handily in the freezer. Once I have 2 to 3 carcasses and a quart of veggie scraps, it’s time to make the broth.
Secondly, I know exactly what is and is not going into our broth. I also know that I’m reusing old canning jars, reducing waste of paper tetra boxes and tin can packaging. No preservatives. No BPA exposure. Just wonderful, homemade broth.
I could show you the steps involved, but there are literally tens of thousands of pages and tutorials online. If you want me to, I will. But if you landed here on this page, you’re smart enough to hunt and gather that info yourself. Paleolithic pun intended.
The more important thing I’d like to point to is the WHY of bone broth, either homemade or from a superior resource. I don’t need to share that information here, but I’ll point you to my favorite resource over at Healthy Living How To. Like me, Vanessa loves to research and is blessed with the gift of taking a wealth of information, condensing it, and putting it into busy mommy terms. 😉 You will not regret bending your ear towards her wisdom.
So, this has been my afternoon. Canning nostalgia. Knowing how involved the process is, I need to be more proactive about helping my parents garden, harvest, and preserve each year, as they always give some of their bounty to us. More importantly, I hope my parents know that I realize my inheritance isn’t in their house, beautiful property, or sentimental treasures in their home (which they work very hard, still, to preserve.) No. The best part of being their beneficiary is what is tucked away in my memory and in my heart.
I’ve witnessed their hard labor, their thrifty habits, and their faith in God in my thirty-four years and those are the things I wish to pass along to my heirs.