Somehow this weekend I temporarily lost my mind and pressure canned up all of the food that's been hanging out in our downstairs freezer since last fall.
Okay. That's not entirely true. I left some food behind (Along with a deer hide that is crammed into our freezer on top of the last few chickens. Don't ask.), but I did go gangbusters pressure canning chicken soup, venison chili, taco meat, cumin black beans, and red lentil dal.
Lots of meals. Cooked. Canned. Ready to eat.
That's a crazy good feeling I've never known before. It's like I just became my own take-out restaurant.
While I have loved hot water bath canning for ages, I've not done much pressure canning, well, ever.
Okay, a little, but not enough to brag about.
When my Grandma died when I was in my early 20's my Grandpa gave me her pressure canner, but I've mostly just used it as a backup hot water bath canner excepting when Pete and I lived off-grid and we canned up dozens of chickens with my mom because our propane freezer was the size of a loaf of bread.
But I digress.
The point is that last weekend I made and canned a wicked crazy amount of food that is now stashed in my basement and yes, on my kitchen floor along with the big batch of gluten-free granola we just made.
I know. I'm a mess. But I'm to busy canning to bother with cleaning! It's rather addictive you see.
So why the canning mania?
It's road trip time. We are planning a cross-country adventure akin to the one we took a couple of years ago.
But this time we're gluten-free and we rarely eat processed grains like pasta, crackers, or other easy-to-pack foods. We eat mostly meat and veggies. Everyday.
How the heck do you do that out of a cooler and a food pack while car camping?
I had no idea. Plus thawed meat in a cooler makes me uncomfortable. One food poisoning incident and you're off ground turkey for life. You know? So how do we eat without a cooler full of questionable meat in tow as we cross seven state lines?
Canned meals. That's how.
Yes, it will increase our packing weight. Significantly. (This is not a solution for the Paleo backpacker I'm afraid.) And yes, I'll be toting canning jars cross-country. But I think it's worth it.
Really I'm just thrilled to have real food that we can eat on this trip without worrying about where to find it.
I've never felt so at ease about the food situation for a trip before.
We did add legumes to our diet for this plan. (We're mostly Paleo so legumes and grains have not been everyday fare for us.) Lupine and Sage do great with them, so it's a concession I'm willing to make.
We'll be away for 3-4 weeks so I planned five breakfasts, five lunches, and five dinners that we'll repeat a few times per meal. There will be holes in our meal plan for eating out and visiting friends, but it will be the core of what we eat while we're gone.
And many of our normal food favorites are on the list. All we'll need to find is a source for fresh veggies to fill in the gaps.
How hard is it to pressure can?
You need a pressure canner (obviously) and then you just need to determine the safe canning time and weight for your recipe. Easy-peasy.
I used the instructions found through the links here and then created my favorite recipes but for canning instead of eating right away.
There are my regular recipes! My tried and true! That's maybe the best part of pressure canning. You don't have to tinker with your recipe to make it shelf-safe. The pressure canning does that for you.
And how do they taste?
We snitched a couple of jars over the weekend (failed lids on taco meat and black beans) and you know, it was almost as if they hadn't been pressure canned, though not quite. The flavor is very close to how we normally cook, and the texture is just a bit different (thought not unpleasant).
I thought they were delicious and there were no leftovers, so I think the rest of my crew agreed.
Oh, my. We're almost ready for our road trip!
(Can you tell I'm stoked?)
And one more (mostly unrelated) thing.
I realized while putting these photos together that I am raising children who think it is utterly normal to photograph canning jars and other minutia of daily life.
It's just what we do. Like other people ride the school bus or have pizza on Saturday.
I find this reality simultaneously amusing, brilliant, and utterly ridiculous.