Saturday, August 18, 2012

Stocking the Pantry

I've kept a somewhat decently stocked pantry for many years, at first because I grew up in hurricane country, and now because I live miles from any grocery stores. Actually, I live more than 2 hours from stores that carry anything more than minimal fare. So I have come to rely on my 2 freezers for any abundance from my garden, and for grass-fed meats in quantity when available and less expensive.

However, relying on freezers is always iffy. A friend just 200 miles away lost the contents of a huge chest freezer during an 8 day power outage due to a fierce summer storm. I've been fortunate that the only extended power outage I've had here happened in a freezing winter, and I lost nothing from the freezers. But I can't count on always being that lucky. If an extended power outage happened in warm weather, I'm not sure I could make a wood fire (and keep it going for days) to cook everything in my freezers before the contents spoiled. Sure couldn't use the electric stove to cook during a power outage!

To remedy reliance on my freezers, I'm going through them and beginning to can some of the meats I have stored in them. My mother always canned beef, pork and chicken, although they froze the trout they raised because it tasted more like fresh-caught when thawed and broiled later on.

Here's a little bit of the pork shoulder I canned. The liquid is from the pork itself. The venison I canned 2 days ago was already on the pantry shelves before I thought to take any photos.

Lard and Tallow, hot and just out of the canner
Lard and Tallow, after cooling. Jar on the far right is chicken schmaltz, don't know why it didn't solidify.
I'm also rendering and canning all the pork and beef fat, salt pork, bacon, and sausage patties. Rendered pork lard and beef tallow don't really need to be canned if you store it in a cool, dark place, but the heat of this summer has shown me I need to do something else. It keeps better anyway if canned, to keep out the oxygen that causes it to turn rancid.

Canned salt pork chunks. The 2 jars on the left are trotters.
More canned salt pork. The small jars have cured and smoked salt pork with some herbs added. They will be great in a mess of greens or beans.

I already have a small pantry of home canned fruits and veggies, chicken stock, jellies and such, but not much in the way of protein, so the canned meats will be a bonus insurance policy. I know beans are a decent source of protein, but my body doesn't digest then very well, so I look to meat and eggs for protein. I've canned a few soups and stews with bits of chicken or beef, but not a lot. As a treat, I always can any bits of meat left on the bones as pet food when I make stock.

I'll have a separate post on canning bacon. YUM!


  1. Thanks for this post. I really need to start canning more of my meats too. It's so much easier than thawing. I used to can years ago, just vegetables though, and then I stopped because time escaped my ability to keep a garden. Now I'm back on a farm and while time is still escaping me now because of getting settled in, I do have a limited selection garden now. I never thought about canning the pulled pork. That will be my first try. Wish me luck!

  2. It kind-of makes me sad that I might have to can. I like the idea of keeping things raw and not "cooking them to death" :( I keep trying to come up with better alternatives than canning/freezing and the only thing I have thought of is dehydrating. I've wanted to try to do a larder of dehydrated meats then store them in canning jars sealed by vacuum sealer attachments. (There are also ways to seal those with no electricity.)

    Alas, I haven't done much dehydrating of anything partly because I don't have one of the larger dehydrators and I can only put so much in the little old one I have around here.

    Have you done any dehydrating? Your thoughts on nutritional value vs canning? I've seen some pretty impressive solar dehydrators that look relatively easy to make that could be used when there is no electricity available...

    Just my ramblings.... Leah's Mom / ss

    1. I do LOTS of dehydrating. That, and lacto-ferments are my best ways to preserve nutritional content. I built a solar dryer some years back but it was too cumbersome to move when I relocated. I should build another one, and a solar oven.

      Dehydrating on the back shelf by the window works well, as does threading things on dowels and stringing them across the seats.

    2. I meant to say using the car or truck with the windows closed. You know how hot a parked car gets in the sun~

  3. We rent a generator whenever we have what looks like it might be a more-than-one-day power outage. It doesn't happen that often or we'd probably buy one. It would be a one-time insurance premium.


    1. Mike, I hate the noise and fumes a generator makes. I doubt any are for rent locally here in the boonies anyway.

    2. I've never tried in the car!

      Have you done much meat by dehydrator?

    3. I dried a bunch of zucchini slices threaded on a dowel across my truck seat last year. Worked great!

      The only meat I have dried was some thin sliced top round to make pemmican. It's still in a jar, awaiting time, inclination and tallow to grind, mix and finish it. Makes a great hi-caloric emergency ration to store in a small space.

  4. How do you render pork lard? I understand the general principles, I'm looking for specific directions.

    1. John, here are links to several posts I've written about rendering.


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