A belated Happy New Year to all! I am finally beginning to unfurl from my winter break hibernation. What better way to start the new year, I thought, than with a canning double feature: beef stock AND beef-vegetable soup? As an added bonus, the soup is the perfect vehicle for any number of vegetables that you froze or even canned last summer. If you planned ahead, this is a total local foods/seasonal winner…and it means that you’ll have jars of delicious, warming soup ready for cold days.
One note: you will save time if you make the soup and the stock together, but it will require some coordination and several large pans. You will also need a large pressure canner, not just a small pressure cooker. For the difference, see this refresher post on pressure cooking 101. And remember, kids: it is not remotely safe to attempt to can meat products in a water-bath canner. Don’t even try it.
You’ll work in several steps. First, you’ll make the stock. Then, you’ll make the soup. Next, you’ll can both the soup and the stock at the same time. You’ll want to assemble your soup vegetables while the stock is cooking in the pressure cooker. Then, when you’re warming up the soup, clean out the pressure cooker so it’s ready to use to can the jars. Got it?
1–3 pounds beef bones (the more you use, the richer the stock)
1 or 2 small onions, cut in half
2 cloves garlic
some leek parts (rescued from my freezer morgue)
2 carrots, scrubbed if organic, peeled if not, cut into 2 or 3 pieces
2 stalks celery, cut into 2 or 3 pieces
A few sprigs of parsley
1 t salt
A bay leaf of two
1) Throw everything into a large pressure cooker with 6 quarts of water. Remember, if you want a richer stock and only have 1 pound of beef bones, just use less water.
2) Lock the lid and bring the pressure cooker up to 15 pounds pressure. Cook for 20 minutes (if your bones are frozen, cook it longer). Let the pressure release of its own accord.
3) Drain the stock through a large colander into another pot. Remember, it needs to be big enough to hold 6 quarts of liquid. If you plan to make a soup, rescue the carrots, celery, and meat parts from the food bits and set them aside. Discard everything else.
4) If you want to freeze your stock, transfer it to freezer-safe containers and stop here. If you want to can it, keep reading.
Beef Vegetable Soup
1 1/2 quarts beef stock
Meat bits from the bones
2 carrots (salvaged from the stock), cut into pieces
2 stalks celery (salvaged from the stock), cut into pieces
1 quart jar homemade canned tomatoes, in water or juice
1 quart bag frozen corn
1/2 quart bag frozen green beans, cut into pieces
1/2 quart bag frozen greens (beets, turnip, kale, etc.)
1 potato, cut into cubes
1 turnip, cut into cubes
1) Put everything in a big soup pot (note you’ll still have another stockpot full of stock, so you’ll need a second big pan) and bring to a simmer. Just simmer it for 15 minutes. Some of the vegetables may still be hard, but don’t worry about it—you’re going to pressure cook them, after all.
2) Meanwhile, prepare a total of 6 or 7 quart jars for canning. They don’t have to be sterile, but they should be clean. Heat the lids. Clean out the pressure cooker and put a rack in the bottom of it. Have 2 quarts of water boiling on a separate burner.
3) Transfer the soup to the jars. Adjust the two-pieces lids and transfer the jars to the pressure cooker. ****If you’re also canning beef stock, fill those jars and put them in the pressure cooker at the same time. Add the boiling water to the pressure canner. Note to experienced water bath canners: it is not necessary for the water to cover the jars. It’s only there to create steam.
4) Cover and lock the lid. Evacuate the steam for 8 minutes (this means run it without the regulator—see the picture below):
5) CAREFULLY set the regulator on the vent. Process quarts 1 hour 25 minutes at 10 pounds pressure, or pints 55 minutes. After the pressure drops of its own accord, let the pressure cooker sit another 10 minutes or so before opening. Cool and label. These will keep in a cool, dark, place for about a year.
Canning Beef Stock
What’s that? You don’t like vegetable soup? No problem. Just can the stock on its own. Beef stock only needs 25 minutes for quarts or 20 minutes for pints, both at 10 pounds pressure. The longer time above is simply to take advantage of the fact that you’re running the pressure cooker anyway, and a little extra time for the stock won’t hurt a thing.