Beef in a Jar

October8

I am writing this as part of the Canadian Food Experience Project which began June 7 2013.  As we the participants, share our collective stories across the vastness of our Canadian landscape through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity through the cadence of our concerted Canadian voice.

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Our topic for this month is “Preserving: Our Canadian Food Tradition”.  I am not a “canner”.  I so wish I was.  I even purchased my first preserving recipe book this spring and then life swept me away this summer (new grand-baby and all) and I didn’t get a single jar into the larder.

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I am fond of pickled beets and a really good polski ogorki.  I also love jams and jellies of every kind but my very favourite food is jarred beef (believe it or not).

This Canadian Food Experience takes me back to my little Polish Grandma as it did in my previous month’s entry: http://foodmusings.ca/recipes/desserts/grandma-felicias-polish-cake/.  Living in southern Saskatchewan there was always plenty of beef and often a surplus.  Every fall, Grandma Felicia would “put down” (her slang for canning) jars and jars of beef stew.  I am surmising that the reason was financial as well as practical.  Although there was always food on the table, cash flow must have been an issue for my grandparents.  In addition, they did not have a chest freezer in those days and the small one on top of their fridge could not accommodate all the meat required for a winter.  When winter storms hit and they often did, a jar could be fetched from the hand dug mud cellar, and a warm dinner could be on the table in minutes.  Boil some potatoes and root vegetables. also from the cellar and presto-fast food!

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The other reason that beef was jarred was that it made the meat taste so darned good.  The preserving process contributed to the tenderizing of the meat producing a tender and savoury mound of beef, onions and gravy.  Homemade bread would be cut into thick slices, speared with a long fork and toasted over the coal fire that was lit summer and winter.  We would tear the bread into kid sized pieces to mop up that gravy.  Oh my, I can taste it now…..  I have never tried to do this myself and I do not have Grandma’s recipe to follow, but here is a link to a recipe and process that must be pretty close: http://www.wikihow.com/Can-Meat

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The only time that I have even heard about canning meat is when my eldest daughter asked me if I wanted to volunteer to can meat because the Mennonite Central Committee’s  mobile canning unit was going to be in town.  Here is some information about this resourceful practice that feeds people all around the world.

 Today the canning unit is mounted on a flat-bed trailer, enclosed with fold-up sides. Four MCC volunteers operate the canning unit, traveling to 34 locations in 13 U.S.A. states and two Canadian Provinces: Manitoba and Ontario.  Operating a seasonal schedule from October to May, local meat canning committees purchase meat and arrange for facilities, fundraising and volunteers. The work of the local committees is the heart of the program.  Currently the canning unit processes an average of 9,000 pounds of chunked turkey thighs per day; 9,000 pounds of pork; or up to the equivalent of 20 head of cattle per day.

Who knew?

Kath’s quote: “The rule is jam tomorrow and jam yesterday, but never jam today.”-Lewis Carroll

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Love-that is all.

 

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One Comment to

“Beef in a Jar”

  1. Avatar October 17th, 2013 at 1:05 pm A Canadian Foodie Says:

    Oh, how I wish you had actually made the recipe! It sounds so delicious!
    :)
    V


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