Friday 24 August 2012

Ground Beef Canned in Beer

Sometimes, even though I carefully plan things out ahead of time, certain blog posts just don’t go smoothly for me. 

This is one of those posts:  I tried a new cooking technique for which the results were less than stellar, and I accidentally erased several of my pictures for the post from my computer.

I decided to forge ahead with the post anyway. 

You’ll find mention of the cooking technique I used, together with instructions for an alternate better method, in the recipe text. 

As to the photos, they’re gone forever I’m afraid.  I’m grateful you’re such a clever bunch.  This is a recipe well worth sharing and I’m sure you’ll be able to follow my instructions even without the missing pictures.

Ground beef canned in beer is a wonderful convenience food.  The cooking liquid is so flavourful that you can make a delicious meal simply by turning the beef out of the jar, thickening the gravy, and serving it over rice or noodles.  Ground beef canned in beer can also be used as a base for any number of flavourful soups and casseroles.

I’ve canned this recipe a number of times over the years.  The idea actually originated from a pot roast recipe on the back of a Lipton’s Onion Soup packet, which uses a combination of beer and onion soup for the braising liquid/gravy.  I reasoned that, if it worked for pot roast, beer and some seasonings would taste fine with ground beef too. 

To can this batch of ground beef in beer, I used:

  • 15 pounds of lean ground beef
  • 10 – 355 ml (12 ounce) bottles of beer
  • 3 pounds of diced onion
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon pickling salt per pint jar

I don’t want the effervescence from newly opened beer in the canning jars so when making this recipe I pour all of the beer into a large kettle several hours ahead of time, cover the top of the pot with a clean cloth, and allow the beer to sit until it’s gone flat (usually overnight).

Once the bubbles are gone, I heat the beer to boiling, reduce it to a simmer, and then mix in the lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and allspice. 

When I made this batch, I decided to try something new.  A recipe I’d read recently suggested browning the beef before canning it, so I formed the beef into thin patties and cooked them for 15 minutes in a 350F oven. 

When the patties were browned on the outside, I crumbled them into a big bowl and mixed in the onion.  I put the meat mixture into the jars, then ladled in the liquid.

Browning the beef made the finished product a more attractive colour, but it left the finished beef tasting dry. 

I would recommend one of these two techniques instead:
  • Either mix the onion into the ground beef and form the mixture into small meatballs before simmering them in the cooking liquid.
  • or crumble the ground beef into the simmering liquid, allow it to heat through, remove it from the liquid with a slotted spoon, and transfer it to a large mixing bowl.  Mix the onion through the hot simmered beef and put the still-hot mixture into your jars. 
Both of these methods work better than browning the beef in the oven prior to canning it. 

I put 1/2 teaspoon of pickling salt in each jar, and add just enough of the cooking liquid to barely cover the meat, leaving an inch of headroom in each jar.

Please note that while I am an enthusiastic home canner, I'm not an authority on the subject.  If you're canning ground beef in beer (or anything else), purchase a reputable canning guide book (Putting Food By and the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving are both very good).  Review their instructions on safe canning practices, then follow them to the letter.  Canning is no place for approximation or improvisation.  Food safety is a science and safe practice is, quite literally, a matter of life and death.

You are unlikely to find canning instructions specifically for these ingredients.  When canning any food that contains more than one ingredient, follow the processing instructions for the ingredient that requires the longest processing time, at the highest pressure.

I process my Ground Beef in Beer in a pressure canner, at 11 pounds pressure for 75 minutes.

Once the canner has returned to zero pounds pressure, I remove the jars, let them cool, and then check the seals. 

I wash the jars carefully in warm, soapy water, then label them and store them in a cool dark place.

You’ll notice that some fat from the beef rises to the top of the liquid in each jar.  It’s easily removed.  If you put the jar in the fridge for a while the fat will solidify.

The solidified fat lifts quite easily off the top of the meat.

This is what your canned ground beef and beer will look like when you turn it out of the jar:

If you’re going to use your ground beef canned in beer just as it is, you can thicken the gravy by stirring in some cornstarch and bringing it to a boil, or by making a roux, and then mixing the contents of the jar into the roux.  I prefer to use cornstarch because it’s quick and simple. 

The beef and thickened beer gravy looks like this:

We chose to use the first jar of ground beef canned in beer this way: 

I thickened the gravy with cornstarch and served it over rice, with steamed carrots and broccoli.  It made a delicious and comforting meal.
This recipe is linked to Hearth and Soul Blog Hop hosted by Premeditated Leftovers, The 21st Century Housewife, Penniless Parenting, Zesty South Indian Kitchen, Elsa Cooks, and Savoring Today.

Hearth & Soul Hop


Anonymous said...

That looks good but not sure if I have the patience to do it lol.Is it similar to a corned beef then? The only canning I've done is jam and that was stressful enough. Maybe I just need more experience lol... Thanks for sharing on my wall and letting me know. Mr.CBB

Aunt B said...

Canning meat, poultry, or fish does take patience Mr CBB but I figure it's kind of like budgeting: You just take it one step at a time and you gain the skills through practice. :) This dish is very different from corned beef, both in texture and in flavour; more like a stew than the solidly packed meat you find in a corned beef tin.

Thanks for letting me share my link on your FB page. I appreciate it.

Morsels of Life | CJ Huang said...

I've never heard of canning beef in beer, but it sounds like a great way to get some extra flavor in! :)

Liz @ Quirky Vistas said...

Hi Aunt B! Thanks so much for stopping in at Quirky Vistas and taking the time to leave me a comment. That's how i found you! What a lot of flavorful looking recipes you have here! Thanks for working through the photo glitches to present such a great recipe with directions!

Amy of While Wearing Heels said...

This is the first time I've ever heard of this technique and I must admit, I am intrigued. I also love that the grease rises to the top and can easily be removed doing it this way.

Aunt B said...

It does add a lot of flavour CJ. The gravy in the finished dish is so good!

Aunt B said...

Thanks for stopping by Liz, and for taking the time to leave a comment. I'm glad you like the recipe.

Aunt B said...

Me too, Amy. It makes the finished dish almost fat free. :)

April J Harris said...

What a great way to preserve ground beef! I really like the idea of using the beer; it would add a great flavour.

Alea @ Premeditated Leftovers said...

I sure know about blog posts not going as I planned! This is really a clever idea. I have never heard of it before, but canned ground beef is a great idea when you have limited freezer space.

Aunt B said...

Thanks April. We really like having it on hand. It has big flavour and makes a great, quick meal.

Aunt B said...

I'm glad you like the idea Alea. It's a very handy thing to keep in the pantry.