In my family, I am the only vegetarian. The reasons for my being vegetarian are another blog in itself. Suffice it to say at this time that the main reason for the vegetarian diet is due to health challenges that I was living with.
I have been overcoming the challenge of making meals for our family by simply omitting the meat from the recipes. I cook the meat separately. After I have removed my portion of the meal, I add the meat to the rest for my husband and daughter. The OAMC and canning has made this very easy to do. The following is a more detailed explanation of how I work the canning into OAMC.
PLEASE NOTE: the canning instructions given are for my local altitude. Always check the altitude for your specific area and your canner instruction manual to know what pressure level you need to safely can meats in your area. You can find your altitude by typing your location (city & state) and the word "altitude" into a search engine. You will notice in the instructions below that I precook all my meats prior to canning them. I realize that there are many people how can raw meats, allowing the canning process to cook the meats. I have never tried that before and would rather be certain that the meat being stored is fully cooked and therefore safe. I have never had problems with the meat being over cooked from having been pre-cooked before the canning process. I also prefer my method of precooking the meat as it helps in controlling the amount of fats in the foods.
Ground meat: I buy the large family bulk packs of ground beef. This provides you with the best price per pound. Here is a breakdown of what I do with the meat.
*Meatballs - I make enough meatballs from one of the packs of ground beef to fill the bottom of a roasting pan. These are baked at 350*F until done. Once they have cooled, I bag them up in gallon sized freezer bags that are labeled & dated. If you want, you could use smaller bags that hold enough for one meal.
The meatballs are great for adding to spaghetti sauce, homemade soups, stews, meatball sandwiches, and Swedish Meatballs & pasta.
*Meat & Veggie mix - I brown the ground beef with a little garlic in a large skillet or pan. Once cooked, I drain the meat thoroughly to remove as much of the fats as possible. I divide the meat into pint size canning jars filling them about 1/2 full. I next add to each jar some chopped onions and bell peppers, filling the jar to 1 inch below the top. I add water to each jar, filling it to 1 inch below the rim. Wipe the rim of each jar with a clean cloth to make sure there is no food residue on the rim that can cause the jars to not seal properly. Place on a lid and ring. I process the jars in my pressure canner at 10 lb. pressure on my weighted gauge for 25-30 minutes for pint size. Check the altitude for your area and consult your canner instructions to find the proper weight/pressure for your area.
This meat & veggie mix is added to homemade soups, stews, sauces, casseroles, pizza, calzones, pot pies, sloppy joes, and a variety of other meals.
Beef Stew Meat: We use this cut of meat quite often. The meat is in very large chunks that I cut into smaller more bite size pieces. The smaller pieces are both easier to remove from a canning jar, but also are easier for our toddler to handle. We buy this in the large family size packages. For our size family, 1 large package will provide a minimum of 7 meals worth of meat.
To prepare the stew meat, I cut it to the desired size and place it in a large roaster pan along with some diced onion and minced garlic. This is baked in a 350*F oven until done. The stew meat that I buy has no fat on it. Once cooked, the roaster pan has a great deal of juices in it that will be used later. I divide the meat into jars as follows:
* Beef Stew - Fill jars 1/4 full of the stew meat. Add peeled and diced potatoes, carrots, celery, and onion. Add about 1 inch of the broth from the roaster pan and finish filling the jar to 1 inch from the top with water. Wipe the jar rims clean and put on the lid & ring. Process in your pressure canner according to your canner's instructions.
I bake the beef stew in the oven with biscuits or you can make a double crust pie with the beef stew as the filling.
* Beef Vegetable Soup - Fill jars 1/4 full of the stew meat. Add mixed vegetables, filling to 1 inch from the rim. Season a large can of tomato juice with italian seasonings to taste. Pour over the meat & vegetables to 1 inch from the rim, just barely covering the food in the jars. Clean the jar rims and attach the lids. Process in a pressure canner according to your canner's instructions.
This soup can be used as a soup or thickened with some instant mashed potatoe flakes and used as a filling in a double crust pie.
* Stew Meat - you can also process jars of the stew meat without any vegetables added. Fill the jars 3/4 full of the meat and add enough water to fill to 1 inch below the rim. Clean the rims and attach lids. Process in your pressure canner according to your canner's instructions.
The most versatile way fo canning the meat, you can add this to any recipe. Shredded and cooked with BBQ sauce, you will have a nice sandwich filling.
***Note: the water added to the jars will become broth during the processing. If you are concerned however about the strength of the broth's flavor, you can add a small amount of Liquid Browning to the jars before processing. Liquid Browning is a beef flavor enhancer often used in making beef stew and other recipes.
Chicken: I buy the skinless chicken breasts in the large bags. I roast the chicken in the roaster at 350*F until fully cooked. The meat is then cut into pieces or shredded depending on how it is to be used. Again, consult your canner's manual to verify the amount of pressure and the processing times.
* Chicken Soup base - Fill a jar about 1/4 full of the cooked chicken. Add sliced carrots, celery, and abit of your favorite chicken soup seasonings. Add about 1 inch of the chicken broth to each jar. Fill the jars to 1 inch from the rim with water. Clean the jar rims and attach lids. Process in your pressure canner according to your canner's instructions.
When cooking with this soup base, you can add pasta, rice, or dumplings to make a hearty meal.
* Chicken and vegetables - fill the jars 1/4 full of diced up chicken. Fill the jars to 1 inch from the rim with mixed vegetables. Cover the vegetables with water, filling jars to 1 inch from the rim. Process in a pressure canner according to your canner's instructions.
This can be made into a soup or stew. You can also drain the broth off (save for another recipe) and make a white gravy to cover the chicken and vegetables with. Bake in a double crusted pie and you have a hearty chicken pot pie.
* BBQ Shredded chicken - shred chicken and cover with your favorite BBQ sauce recipe. Make the sauce slightly on the thin side, but not watery. Add some finely chopped onion and bell pepper and mix thoroughly. Fill jars to 1 inch from rim. Clean the rims and attach lids. Process in a pressure canner according to your canner's instructions.
BBQ chicken can be used in sandwiches or even as a pizza topping.
Take a look at your recipes. Meat & vegetable mixtures for things like tamale pie can be made ahead and canned for use later. Pint jars of fajita mix are a quick meal either with flour tortillas, on a pizza or made into a calzone. When it comes to canning meat & vegetable combinations, you are limited only by your own imagination.
As a rule, I never add dairy (eggs, milk, cheese, etc) to my canned foods. I prefer adding these later when I am making the meals.