DIY Canned Soups

Nothing like a good round of sniffles to get you thinking soup… I’ve been through several cans now, all the while thinking about the laundry list of ingredients in them, the Bis-Phenol-A in some cans and not on the ingredient list (and the estrogen analogue effects of it and…) then there is that ever rising cost. Even at Walmart it is now well above a buck / can. $1.35 or so even for the cheap ones. Well over $2 / can at the fancier stores for the fancier soups. Appalling to someone who thinks of soup as “that almost free food you make with the leftover stuff”… (Roast Turkey, Hot Turkey sandwiches, Turkey-ala-King, Turkey Soup… is the usual chain of production from large fresh bird to “nothing left on the bones”… In the family restaurant, that chain was de riguer as that was where profit was made. We roasted 2 turkeys, each about 25 lbs, per day. Turkey ala King Special once / week… (not much made it past hot turkey and stuffing dinner and hot turkey sandwiches ;-) but the bones went to stock and then to soup.

So I’m staring at about $10 of cans of “soup” in the cart, all six cans. and thinking: “There has got to be a better way” and remembering that I’d made some canned soup years ago. The expedient was just to put regular soup in a canning jar and process it for an hour or so. (Essentially, use a time for the ingredient most at risk and assuming acid is neutral – so like for canned meat or fish if there is meat in it. I have the reference printed off somewhere… though it likely does not meet current Government Guidelines).

Well, the other minor problem is that several in the family / friends circle are now reactive to wheat. Why? Could be anything from gluten to the residue of Glyphosate / Roundup drench used on wheat these days. Doesn’t really matter, I’ve got about 1/3 the ‘crowd’ can’t have wheat. Puts a real dent in things like slow cooker chicken with Cream Of Whatzit Soup as an ingredient…

I went looking for “DIY Canned Cream Soup” and came up with:

The site has an annoying pop-up “sign up now” that won’t go away on a page reload (and I don’t click things as that can launch a script attack…) so I’m quoting the whole recipe here:

Yield: About 2.5 cups, or the approximate equivalent of 2 (10-ounce) cans of condensed soup
(Condensed) Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup

This condensed homemade cream of chicken soup recipe is simple to make, easy to customize, and even tastier than the original canned version!

Prep Time: 2 mins

Cook Time: 13 mins

Total Time: 15 mins

1 1/2 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. celery seed (optional)
1/8 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 cup finely diced cooked chicken


Add chicken stock to a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat.

In a separate bowl, whisk together milk and flour until the flour is dissolved.

Slowly pour the milk mixture into the boiling chicken stock, whisking to combine. Whisk in remaining seasonings. Reduce heat to medium, and bring the mixture back to a very low boil, stirring constantly so that the bottom of the pan does not burn. Let the mixture boil for about 3 minutes or until thickened. Then stir in the chicken (if using), and remove pan from the heat.

Either use the condensed soup in a recipe immediately, or transfer it to airtight containers and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

*This recipe is NOT meant to be consumed as-is. It is a concentrated soup, which means that it either needs to be diluted to be eaten as a soup, or mixed into a recipe that calls for condensed soup. :)

*I also made a double batch for the photos.


Heat 2 Tbsp. butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until melted. Add 2 Tbsp. flour, and stir until combined. Let the mixture cook for 2 minutes, or until the flour is cooked and slightly toasted. Then gradually whisk in your stock until the mixture is completely smooth. Stir in the milk and seasonings. (Using the same measurements of stock, milk, seasonings as above.) Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened.

Either use the condensed soup in a recipe immediately, or transfer it to airtight containers and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

I’ll be using something like this as a base from which to make a non-gluten alternative in the coming months. I need to research what thickener stands up best to canning… Arrowroot? Potato starch? Xanthin Gum? etc. etc. Then I can go back to all those “dump in a can of cream soup” recipes again ;-)

Along the way, this site had a nice write up of making DIY canned pea soup:

Oddly, some soups like peas soup have many folks with recipes, others not so much. Go figure. Since “Scotch Broth” is one of my favorites, and almost impossible to find here, and when you DO find it , well, last can I bought was nearly $4… and that was about a decade ago; on my “someday” list is to figure out how to can my own. But back at that peas soup page…

It is a “dumper” style. Not a lot of paint by numbers:

Older Daughter is something of a purist when it comes to split pea soup. She doesn’t care for any other veggies in it, such as onions (which make her gag) or carrots. So, I just added some spices — onion powder (which doesn’t make her gag, go figure), garlic powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.
The recipe called for ham, but we didn’t have any. We did have some bacon though, so I cut that up……and added that to the soup. It doesn’t stay crispy, but it tastes good.

Lots of photos. In the middle, they had a discussion of putting on the jar lids. They used reusable lids. As lids, bought that the local grocery, can run $1/2 each and are supposedly only ‘use once’, that caught my eye. (Yes, I know, I buy my lids at Walmart for a LOT less, but still too much for a disk of tin and goo).

Called “Tattler” lids, they have a page about them, too. As I can’t see where I have anything to add to it, just read theirs:

Reusable canning lids
For all of you who are concerned about any of the following (our economic future, our future food sources, “green” living, preparedness, sustainable living), boy do I have a product for you.

As most of you know, I’m an avid canner. I love canning and will can just about anything I can get my hands on. But it’s always irked me that canning lids can only be used once, then discarded.

Oh sure, I’ve experimented with re-using canning lids with a fair amount of success. But the fact remains, canning lids are meant to be discarded. They’re not designed for multiple usage.
The Tattler company has a lifetime guarantee on its lids, and says the gaskets can be used for up to twenty years. I interpret this to mean the gaskets can be used about twenty times, assuming a one-year cycle of canning.

Tattler lids cost more than conventional disposable lids, of course. Three dozen regular-mouth plastic lids and gaskets cost $20.95 (or $0.58/lid), and three dozen wide-mouths cost $23.95 (or $0.66/lid). Volume discounts are available, and extra gaskets can be purchased for $2.50/dozen.

I, for one, am so impressed with these lids that I’ve become a convert. My goal is to order 1000 lids (500 wide mouth, 500 narrow mouth) which will cost me about $600. I may team up with other canning friends and try for a bulk discount.

Looks like I’m not the only one who noticed that lids were the dominant cost issue and that you could reuse the ‘disposable’ ones a couple of times, with some increasing risks…. But an honest to gosh long lived reusable lid? Count me in! Now I just need to find a place to buy them… That turns DIY canned soup from a $1/2 a can proposition into the ‘near free’ it ought to be. ( I regularly roast a chicken, then use the pan drippings and left over vegetables to make chicken soup, tossing in a handful of rice or noodles… can’t get much cheaper than ‘going to throw it out’ and it is wonderful soup too.)

They state they are BPA free, another plus. This looks to be their web site:

Looks like they have an online store, and a ‘retail locator’ page:

Which reports Territorial Seed Company carries them (and I really like Territorial Seeds…) along with a place in San Francisco. Maybe I’ll just order them online ;-) Of course, Amazon has them too:

In Conclusion

So there you have it. How to make canning fun (and cheap!) again and a way to cut your “can of soup” cost by over $1 a can, or jar.

I could easily see making a dozen cans each of split pea w/ ham and cream of stuff every month or two. When you are talking $20 / month gain, that’s worth notice. Add in that I can make gluten free varieties, skip the BPA, have control of the ingredients, and avoid needing to deal with Walmart just to get the price approachable, well, count me in.

That the lids are a great addition to a “preparedness paradigm” and it’s just gravy… wonder if I can can my own home made gravy ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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31 Responses to DIY Canned Soups

  1. Larry Ledwick says:

    Soup as cheap food is fondly remembered by me. I practically lived on it for a while when I was in the Navy. In 1970 a standard sized can of Campbells Tomato soup at the base exchange cost me $0.13 each. According to the Bureau of labor statistics inflation calculator that would convert to $0.80 (2016 dollars) so our money today according to the government is worth just a bit less than 1/6th of what it was worth in the early 1970’s. That puts the annual loss in value due to inflation at about 2.3% / year over that period according to the official inflation rate.
    Since the real price is 1.6875 x as much the real inflation rate over that period is closer to 2.9%/year. That puts the real loss of purchasing power at about 1/10.4

    And they wonder why no one saves much money.

  2. p.g.sharrow says:

    We are fortunate to have 2- 16 quart s/s stock pots, so after a turkey dinner etc.has disposed of the breast and thighs. I break up the carcass and other remains into 1 of the pots with enough water to float them and simmer for 24 hours. Then allow the mass to cool enough to remove all the bones, skin and other debris, break up meat chunks to bite size pieces. Add a big pile of diced potatoes and anything else in the frig. garlic, onions, spices and simmer for the rest of the day, maybe even over night. A thick Stew happens :-) Might be good to can, but never lasts long enough here to try.
    I don’t salt or pepper as that is to personal taste and cooking protein with salt makes MSG.
    A simmering pot of stew is a wonderful thing to have in the kitchen. A meal at any time of the day or night.
    Note: to preserve over nite when not being heated, remove any ladles and cover with lid while hot. As long as it was hot when it was covered and the lid not disturbed, spores from the air can not get in to spoil the contents. Every time you lift the lid, the contents must be reheated to boiling temperature or spoilage will be swift!
    I have converted to large mouth canning jars exclusively and reuse the disposable lids after cleaning, inspecting them. As long as they are sound, I see no problem from them but getting the head space right and the jar rim CLEAN before attaching the lid&ring before the sterilizing bath is very important. Keep the jars level so that seal stays clean during bath heating will ensure a tight seal during cool down. Generally the seal failures that I have seen are due to poor attention at maintaining a clean rim to gasket contact during processing. Rings need to be nice and snug but not really tight as the jar head space needs to burp during heat up…pg

  3. Glenn999 says:

    Thanks for the info on the reusable lids. I will be getting some of those.
    I’ve only used the boiling water bath method and I’m assuming you are using the steam pressure method? I will need to get a pressure canner for meat ingredients if I understand correctly. Any info on that Chiefio?
    Thanks again.

  4. Quail says:

    I’ve used Tattler lids for pressure canning meats and really like them. No seal failures so far. I started out with a sampler pack from Tattler. About once a year they run a special so that is when I stock up.

    @Glen999- Yes, you need to pressure can meats. I have an All American with metal to metal seal, no gasket to worry about. Very simple to use. Like PG says, the rings tightening sequence is opposite of normal rings. Read the instructions carefully.

  5. E.M.Smith says:


    I make a “stack” of the lids and “roll them on edge” on the counter to straighten any bent bits, then I put them “seal side up” in water near / at the boil. That causes the seal goo to soften and flow back to almost new position (eliminating the gouge from the prior jar rim).

    I’ve only lost lids when the paint / enamel inside gets a scratch and they start to rust.

    Still going to get some of those “made to reuse” ones… Just like them.


    For acid fruits you can use a water bath. For things of neutral pH, you need pressure, and with neutral pH and meats / fats you need it for a long time. Hardest is fish… (IIRC, only small jars, and 1 1/2 hours at 10 psi? … check the books…)

    Pressure canning isn’t hard, just get a canner with a gauge on it. I have two of them. (Most pressure cookers only come with a 15 psi rocker, and you want a 10 psi rocker to match most canning directions, and the gauge helps to know exactly what’s going on, or to adjust heat if you have a 15 psi rocker like I have on one of mine… so set the heat to 10 psi on the gauge and the rocker is sort of irrelevant…)

    Key thing I learned is that if you have water far up the jars, you get less failure to seal and less splatter as the jar is never hotter than the water. Water just an inch deep in the bottom cools quickly while the jars are still 240 F in the middle, so they bubble and spit and you get seal failures. So “water to the shoulder” and then just let it cool down in it’s own sweet time. Easy.

    Other bit: Put the ring on to just starting to snug, not tight, then back off about 1/8 turn, just to the point where air inside can get out. It it a matter of feel. IFF you open the canner and set the jars out to cool, and one isn’t ‘sucking down’ as fast as the others, pushing the lid to seal with an ice cube usually rescues it. The stuff inside boils due to the ice induced pressure drop, the downward pressure on the lid prevents anything getting sucked in as it gets sucked down, and in no time at all, the thing is well sealed. I now often put an icecube on top of each jar as it comes from the cooker. A bit messy, but zero failures to seal…

    There are loads of books and online sources for how to pressure can. Get the Ball Blue Book for starters (just about everywhere) or use The Joy Of Cooking (yes, it has a canning section). They will have lots of Scary Scary Horror Stories about canning anything other than green beans cooked to death, but no worries. A bit more and you find all the folks doing things like canning their own fish and chilli meat… It is a time / pH / temperature product that gets things sterile. So for things like soups and stews, a bit of vinegar added (acid helps the flavor too!) improves safety of the product. To do it right, you need the time / temp / pH nomograph and a pH meter, but only commercial operations do that.

    Hope that helps.

    FWIW, I’ve canned my own soups and stews before and it works. Meat can be a bit tough, but I think I just overcooked it from paranoia… Garden Vegetables are easy. Fruits easier.

  6. Larry Ledwick says:

    Two minor additional notes, that the canning times and pressures need to be adjusted if you live at high altitude like I do, due to the lower atmospheric pressure boiling temp is also lowered.

    Second note on the food left with lid on after boiling on stove top. I do that quite often myself but you have to be cautious, the USAF survival manual recommends it as a way for survivors to keep food edible without refrigeration so it is viable as a method to use during a power outage.

    As long as it gets boiled once a day and kept sealed from free external air exchange it generally will be safe. As mentioned above, high acid foods like Ketchup are very resistant to spoilage especially if they have high sugar content too (sucks the water out of bacteria so they cannot multiply).
    One of the reasons honey keeps so well, is its high sugar content is unfriendly to bacteria, much like high salt content for foods like corned beef.
    Keeping the lid on however does not entirely prevent entry of spoors and free floating bacteria as the pan will breath as it cools pulling in some air, but it lowers the count to low enough levels that it is generally safe.

    That said, an issue can arise in foods which do not cool quickly to below favorable growing temps for bacteria and fungi. A large pot of rice is an example of a food in which the center of the rice will cool so slowly that it provides favorable conditions for growth, long enough to be risky, if you don’t take an effort to quickly cool the pot to temperatures below 100-140 deg F which favor growth of undesirable critters.

    As I said, I do it often but some foods like chili you need to be very cautious with because beans being a low acid food are high risk. Tomato sauce for spaghetti or something similar with high acid content is much less risky if you choose to do that. A bit of vinegar or lemon juice can be added to improve the keeping. If in doubt of course the answer is always to toss it, if it just does not look right or smell right.

  7. E.M.Smith says:

    Once, in the Stanford Book Store, I found a text for commercial food processing (hey, somebody has to teach the classes to the folks who can tuna and corn and meat soup and all those “don’t do this at home” foods you get ranted at about). Had a wonderful nomograph in it. You looked up pH and time, it gave you pressure (temperature)… or the other way around. But it cost $60 and that was 30 years ago… so I didn’t buy it.

    Have never found it on the ‘net yet… Wish I’d bought the book…

    That is the one bit of magic that the “pros” have that the home gamer does not. Progresso can can up a ‘wedding soup’ with beans and meat in it and have it taste nice and not be overcooked, because they can look up just what pH to adjust it to be prior to canning at the time / temp that keeps it tasting nice with good texture. Yes, you need a pH meter… not that hard these days.

    Some “home recipes” will say “add this much vinegar”, but that’s a little bit guess as the exact contents of the jar can shift the pH move of that much vinegar (or citric acid or lemon juice or..) So that pH meter and nomograph free you from all those endless plague of safety nags… (Modulo not doing very thick stuff… “condensed pea soup” has a harder time heating to the center of the mass than a free flowing liquid. The “final step” is a recording thermometer stuck in the middle of the can during test runs, then you open and read just what temp it really got to and adjust final time accordingly…)

    Oh, cute story…

    While working in the Peach Cannery, they would send such a thermometer through from time to time. Those cans had a black stripe painted on them. They were to be fished out at the back end of the cooker (a large cylinder about 7 feet tall and 25? long) and then opened and checked. Well, some days the “cook” was not alert enough… Time passes… They and the supervisor would come running back into packing (where I worked a label machine) hollering “Did anyone see the stripe can?!!!” Well, most of the time it would be caught somewhere in the overhead conveyors or at the label machine batching tray ahead of the label machine. One day? A bit too slow on the panic… After about 20 minutes of walking the line a couple of times, and inspecting all the “brights”, and peeling labels off the ones on the tail-off end of the machine… THEY decided it must have already been packed and into the warehouse… Since that wasn’t just ONE pallet, but ALL the pallets from lines packing that size, it would mean strip and relabel of about 4? 6? lines work for the last hour?… They decided to just “let it go… someone will find it in their peaches, but it won’t hurt anything”…

    Per altitude: These folks have an altitude pressure chart:

    At 8000 feet you reach 15 lbs gauge. Yet they have you shift to a 15 lb rocker at 1000 feet (thus assuring LOTS of folks of overcooked and mushy home canned goods… and that’s why you want a canner with a gauge…)

    Oh, other bit:

    Since fish is a solid, and not very good at conducting heat, and just LOADED with bacteria, it is canned in shallow cans. That’s why tuna and kippers come in very flat packages and tuna is a flat disk. You have less issue of “heat not right in the middle”. That’s why most of the ‘DIY Canning Books” say don’t can fish. It really isn’t a problem and folks all over Alaska do it all the time… you just need to assure it really really gets cooked to 240 F. That means 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours depending on jar size and fish prep. (Find folks who do it and read their postings if you have fish to process…). That is also why sardines in mustard or tomato sauce are favored. The acid cuts down the cook time and risk and you end up with a better and safer product. Smoked helps too… FWIW, I’ve canned fish just to prove to myself I could do it. My conclusion: Yeah, it works… but it would be a lot better to just chuck it in the freezer if you can…

    Well, enough of that. I doubt anyone here will be looking at time / temp / pH nomographs of canning or using recording thermometers in their home made condensed peas soups or kippers by the quart… Just be advised that the paranoid DIY books generally push you into overcooked and over processed land in the interest of zero risk even if you are an idiot who lives in a germ factory and can’t read… Me? I’d rather add a tsp of vinegar that makes the flavors sharper anyway and not overcook the things to death… (At the limit case of strong vinegar, you have a pickle that is safe uncooked at room temperature… the extreme end of the nomograph of botulism survival guide… yes, only ONE bacteria sets the limits, all the others die first…)

    Maybe I’ll have a snack before I go to bed… I have some bread and butter pickles in the fridge ;-)

    One last comment: (Sort of in response to Glenn999)

    Generally speaking, for learning to preserve food, you ought to learn to do things in roughly this order, IMHO:

    1) Pickle. This is the basic DIY preservation system that needs the least gear and works well.

    2) Salt. For thousands of years this is what preserved food. Ignore the folks ranting out sodium levels… The Romans did not die from salted fish and such… Personally, I think moving through this stage fast is worth while, but do make corned beef at least once ;-)

    3) Dry. A food dryer is dirt cheap and works well for things like fruits. Don’t have one? The oven on low can do small batches. The Prune Dryer near my old home town ran the oven at 165 F as a commercial operation. A “good job” there was being the guy who worked in the oven moving racks of fruit around. Why? You lasted 20 minutes in the oven, then spent 40? minutes outside doing nothing cooling down ;-) Drying also works in making jerky. Meat, vegetables, fruits, the whole works, works. Realize that salting and sugaring are ways to dry the food without a food dryer…

    4) Water Bath Canning: Works for the easy to do vegetables and fruits. Tomatoes and peaches and such. IFF you have very low acid tomatoes, add a spoon of vinegar…

    5) Pressure Canning. Instead of ‘any old large pot’, you need a pressure canner. Yes, a real one, not just a dinky pressure cooker. You MIGHT fit a couple of small jars in a pressure cooker, but the lack of a gauge, usually only a 15 lb rocker, and processing 1 to 3 jars at a time are a royal PITA. I know, I did it. Other than that, most of the “stuff” is from #4. Jar lifters, lid lifters, jars, lids, funnel, etc. etc. This has it’s own levels, so start with green beans and work your way up to potatoes and more neutral foods. Once good at it, then and only then advance to complex foods (soups and stews with multiple ingredients) and meats. Fish comes last…

    6) Ferment: Usually a lactic acid ferment. I put this last as it is managing living things, and contamination becomes more picky. Making sauerkraut is likely easiest. Making beer almost the same. Making sausage is, er, challenging and you need things like smoke boxes and more. I’m not talking just smoked, I’m talking dry smoked fermented sausages like salami… Oh, and things like making cheese and canned olives come in here too. This is a wide ranging area and each ‘way’ has its own unique skills and gotchas. The field is called zymurgy and that is also a great Scrabble word ;-) So from sour cream to Surströmming to Italian Dry Salami… it’s a large and highly varied area with lots of individual techniques and tricks. You learn it by doing it with an expert in many cases (think wine…) and each specialty has little overlap with the others.

    Note that I left off smoking. Yes, it is a preservation method. Yes, while it is usually under drying in my system of ordering, you can ‘lightly smoke’ and can fish as a counter example. So I think of it more as a special technique inside other broad types of preservation. However, a smoke cured ham is a wonder… But for smoking, you need to do things like build a smoke house. My little smoker is nice, but anything cooked in it never lasts long enough to be ‘preserved’ ;-) So for the ‘home gamer’ without a farm, it is more of a cooking method than preservation… unless they have a lot more discipline than me confronted with a smoked chicken … 8-0

    Note, too, I left off sugaring (though referred to it). For most folks at home this is more making desert treats and syrups than actual preservation. Yes, it preserves, IF you can stay out of the honey pot… So I generally figure it is more about cooking than preserving. OTOH, making a few jams and jellies is a good way to preserve fruit. Apple Butter puts whole boxes of apples in a few jars. But really, that’s getting into canning in a way, so why break it out?

    Hope that helps someone.

  8. Larry Ledwick says:

    Being single and working night shifts I tend toward foods which are quick to fix. On rice I make a big batch of rice and then portion it out while still steaming hot into zip lock bags. I smooth them out flat so they will stack nicely, one standard sandwich bag full of rice is a nice size serving. I lay them out of a cookie sheet until they are cool, then toss them in the freezer. Cooked rice freezes very well. It also re-heats very quickly about 90 seconds in a microwave will make it steaming hot,or you can drop the sealed bag in a pot of boiling water and re-heat it without any electric power.

    I make a tuna fish sweet and sour sauce that is high acid and seems to keep forever. (high sugar high acid and high salt)
    Half a cup of brown sugar in a cup of water about 1/2 tsp of vinegar (to taste) some soy sauce (about 1/4 cup) a slurp of Worcestershire sauce some garlic and ginger and what ever else I am in the mood to toss in sometimes a bit of dried onion bits etc. Add a small can of tuna then corn starch to thicken. Then pour it over the hot rice. If you put it in the fridge, the cornstarch does not like it and the nice thick smooth sauce turns runny and is never quite right again. Leave it on the stove with the lid on after heating to a simmer, and it re-heats the next day perfectly. Makes enough sauce for 2-3 servings depending on how hungry I am.

  9. Glenn999 says:

    Thanks again for all of the info.
    I’ve only done the steam canning with pickled peppers and a small batch of sliced cucumbers. Also did small batch orange marmalade. I will be purchasing a pressure canner soon and have heard the all american brand is very good. I was lucky and had some experienced help the first time.

  10. E.M.Smith says:


    The All American is the canners dream cooker. Works great, well made, etc. Also used to be hard to find in the pre-internet shopping days, and expensive. ( I’ve not checked it, but suspect you can get one via Walmart online, delivered free to you local store, for a decent price). I have the “good enough” nearly everywhere and modest price Presto and it has worked fine for years. One gasket change for a couple of bucks in that time.

    I started with a regular pressure cooker (no gauge, smaller size, only a 15 psi rocker). It was fine for learning, using things like greenbeans and pumpkin. Later buying a real canner.

    The biggest learning for me was how easy it was. IMHO, almost exactly the same as waterbath. You do need to know what pressure to use and keep heat adjusted, but the ones with both 10 lb and 15 lb rockers do the regulation for you.

    I’ve had two jars break. Traced back to a ham handed overly tight band and rapid cooker cooling so hot jars pressurize. Thus my “start to snug then back off 1/8 turn” (that others with a lighter touch on snugging might not need) and my “water to the jar shoulder” that slows cooling and keeps the jar temp very close to bath temp (also reduces water loss from inside the jars as less cooling is evaporation driven and more conduction.. That gives less spatter and more prefect seals / less seal failures).

    Other than that finess, it’s about the same. Go for it!

    Until you get the pressure canner, good practice can be had buying whatever is on sale from seasonal surplus and canning some. I started with pears that were at silly prices at the grocer peak season, and jelly made from Welches Grape Juice (other brands are not as good for jelly).

    Pressure canning practice started with a cheap pumpkin at halloween, too many green beans, and some cheap potatoes. Like I said, lid cost is a significant part especially in small jars.

    Oh, I also re-canned some bulk size commercial product to see how that worked (gallon or #10 cans) into pints and 1/2 pints. Small loss of product quality, but still acceptable as a cost saver if needed. IIRC, I did peaches, greenbeans, and Marinara sauce where the bulk jugs are near 1/2 free. Gallons of greenbeans at COSTCO were about the same as 2 or 3 regular cans at the local grocer. With reusable lids that would be a good deal for poor folks (or me when between jobs). Or someone practicing… Eat two pints worth on opening, the rest is free to play with…

    For a long time I bought Classico sauce to get the Mason jar effectively free, then they changed to junk jars. A good eye in the sauce and jam isle can find brands in real canning jars. The jam jars were from a Whole Foods brand, IIRC. Yes, I tested the assertion to only use purpose bought jars. As long as the lid size matches and the glass is thick, they worked fine (Less an issue now that mayo has gone to plastic, but glass mayo jars are a bit thin and the thread band is narrower and the lid-band can bottom on the jar shoulder ring before the lid is seated. I got them to work, but not worth it.) Watch out for fruit jars with a deceptively off size lid.. deliberately about 1/4 inch wider to prevent reuse / suits. I’ve reused those with reuse of their lids, just to see if it could be done. It worked. I’d do it in a survival situation. (Most of those experiments were for a “when the sky falls” R&D thing, not daily use, other than those jars clearly Mason / Atlas type. It surprised me how much things did work OK.)

    Maybe I’ll can something today just for a change from computers :-)

  11. Larry Ledwick says:

    I also do some (almost canning) to make stuff last longer in the fridge. As I mentioned, I work nights and live alone, so fix only small meals and usually just want something quick to eat. However it is difficult to fix really small good single serving meals that have some variety, so I came up with a compromise so I would not have to eat the same dish for a week straight to keep half of it from spoiling.

    For example I fix a good sized batch of spaghetti sauce, and while it is simmering I put some pint canning jars and used lids and rings in a stock pot full of water and boil them. When the sauce is ready I pull one of the boiled jars out of the hot water let it drain for a second then fill it with spaghetti sauce right to the top so very little air space, drop a hot lid on it and run the ring down nearly all the way then let it cool and cinch the lid down. Then when it gets to room temp pop it in the fridge. The sauce will keep for months when done that way as it is essentially sterile and also refrigerated. ( also keep my fridge right at the edge of freezing temps (about 33-34 deg instead of 40 deg).

    That way I can have “fresh cooked” spaghetti sauce any time I want. Open a jar and spoon some cold sauce into a custard cup and warm in the microwave while the spaghetti is cooking, then serve.
    I never have more than one pint jar open at a time and have some variety. I do the same thing with canned vegetables right out of the can into a hot jar. The small single serving cans are pretty expensive per portion but a larger can is just right to fill a pint jar. I put the can contents in the hot jar then bring them to boiling temps in the microwave and cap, then toss in the fridge. That gets me a choice of single serving size portions of veggies to go with other dishes and the canning jars are much less hassle than putting plastic wrap over a partial can of green beans or such.

    Hmmm time to make some spaghetti sauce, its been a while since I had some.

  12. Gail Combs says:

    I haven’t read the entire thread, (allergies have my eyes gunked this week) so please forgive if this is a repeat.

    I hate store bought canned soup so I have made my own for years and freeze it. When boiling bones for stock, esp poultry bones I add lemon juice or in a pinch vinegar. The acid releases the calcium and other minerals into the broth. I never tested to find out if the pH stayed low or headed back to neutral.

  13. E.M.Smith says:


    I “make lunches” for the spouse to take to work. Basically I cook a large meal of “something” for us, then the leftovers / excess gets put into these tubs:
    and into the freezer. ( I got them at Target many years ago at about $8 each; the Amazon prices are all over the place…)

    These are microwave safe, and things like lasagna do not stain the ceramic like it stains plasticware.

    I’ve also used the more common rectangular Pyrex tubs with plastic lids. They are OK but the lids don’t like heating much. We do take the lids off the Corning-ware when heating (paper towel over) so they don’t get tomato stains ;-)

    I’ve done this for years, and typically have between a 1/2 dozen and 9 meals of this sort ‘ready to go’ at any one time in the freezer. Typically they are roughly 1/2 “main course” and 1/4 each starch and vegetable (though sometimes they are the same thing…)

    Successes have included:

    Tuna Mac Casserole – Kraft Mac & Cheese with a can of tuna and 1/2 can of peas mixed in, put in a casserole, sometimes topped with extra cheese, and baked 25 minutes about 375 F. Just spoon it into the bowls and let cool in the fridge, then freeze.

    Meat, Potatoes or noodles, vegetable: Any of chicken, turkey, ham, BBQ, Beef, pork chops, whatever, diced; spuds can be mashed (top with butter before freezing ;-), french fries even packages frozen fries, scalloped (package Betty Crocker? Added ham bits in this go well too as a spuds/ham casserole), etc. and vegetable is whatever frozen, fresh, canned etc vegetable was with dinner.

    Pizza slices.

    Stew (though be careful not to spill after warming) and slow cooker glop like the classical Chicken, Vegetables and Cream of Stuff Soup…

    BBQ of many kinds, with sides like BBQ Beans or Bush’s Baked Beans.

    And likely a half dozen more I’m forgetting right now. Basically, if you see it in a TV dinner, it works. The only questionable we’ve had so far was some attempts at Asian Rice dishes. Sometimes the rice gets a bit dry.

    FWIW, a great trick with rice:

    Make a big pot of rice (rather like you do). Let the extra sit over night in the fridge. Next day, make fried rice. It is remarkably easy. In a very large skillet, saute some onions and start adding other chopped vegetables. I typically use a carrot that I shave with a vegetable peeler, and minced celery as the base. At this time I also add whatever leftover meat I have. Dice of chicken, turkey, pork, beef, ham, whatever. Even diced SPAM is nice but use sparingly as it is a bit salty ;-) I’ve added left over canned peas, too, but toward the end of the vegetable saute phase. Fried rice started as leftovers, so “whatever is leftover” in the way of vegetables ought to be OK. As that starts to cook through, add rice. The amount can vary, just to the ratio you like. I then drizzle with soy sauce, sprinkle with spices (sometimes Chinese 5 Spice, but it gets boring after a while. Mix it up as you like it) and top with any ‘leafy bits’. Any of the choi (Bok Choi, Pak Choy, whatever) or just shredded cabbage or even turnip greens. Cook until these start to wilt, turning frequently with a spatula ( I did mention you need a big pan, right?).

    Toward the end, make a hole in the middle. About 5 inches works for me, and pour in 1 or 2 beaten eggs (depending on how much you are making). Scramble them in that space. (You can scramble them in another skillet if you run out of room) and when cooked, mix into the rest of the stuff.

    Serve until stuffed. Pepper to taste…

    This, then, put in a big tub in the fridge keeps for days ( I use old 1/2 gallon plastic ice cream tubs from when ice cream came in 1/2 gallons… but any freezer containers will work). You can microwave it or pan warm it for main course or sides. It freezes OK too (the saute oil seems to keep the rice from drying out).

    I’ll make some kind of “with rice” dish every week or two, and the next day is fried rice day ;-) Then as leftovers for the next few days…

    Also note that a roast ham, or roast turkey, can have a ‘tub’ of meat made up and frozen. I’ve also used freezer bags or even aluminum foil if desperate. Then those lumps of frozen meat last months and can be taken out for things like the fried rice or stew or ‘whatever’ as desired. At the moment I have a gallon of baked ham in the fridge, and a gallon of ham and beans made from the bones and trimmings. 1/2 gallon of each headed for the freezer in the next day or so, the rest to be eaten this week.

    Oh, and “freezer jars” let you put all the sauce you want in the freezer effectively forever. They are the wide mouth pints and just about every 1 cup sized jar I’ve seen. As long as it is a straight taper outward to the lid, it will freeze nicely. Stocks, soups, sauces, chili, you name it can be put in jars, staged in the fridge, then a day or so later move to the freezer the amount you won’t get to soon. I buy Prego and similar sauces in the most Giant Jar I can find, decant it to freezer jars (leaving out what I need right now) and I’m “good to go”. Yeah, I’ve done the “hot pack and to the fridge”, but the occasional fuzzy bit from too long ignored bothered me, so now it’s frozen instead ;-)

    I also put bacon grease (great for biscuits… and a nice deep pool of old bacon grease makes the next bacon much easier to cook right…) in jars in the freezer as needed. Also make a ‘roux’ out of things like pan drippings for making gravy and freeze it, or just put the pan drippings in a jar and freeze for “gravy later” or “soup next month”…

    Hope that helps with the Make Too Much For Only Me problem! As there are now “only 2 of us” and I like cooking 1/2 hams and whole turkeys, well, I can relate! ;-)

    One wag once defined eternity as “Two people and a whole ham”…


    Nice tip on the acid and bones… I’ll try that next time. The bones ought to neutralize the acid eventually, but it also ought to improve the flavor profile and nutrition along the way…

  14. Larry Ledwick says:

    I have had much the same experience with small freezer containers, and like the small pyrex bowls with plastic lids. Found the same problem with the lid,s so now I pop the lids off and reheat them with saran wrap covers instead of the plastic snap on covers.

    The only questionable we’ve had so far was some attempts at Asian Rice dishes. Sometimes the rice gets a bit dry.

    On the rice, when I freeze rice in ziplock bags some of it gets “freeze dried”, and on re-heat in the microwave is still not fully hydrated. I solve that problem by just before tossing it in the microwave I add a little extra water, and when it gets hot enough to puff up the zip lock bag I let it rest in the microwave and steam for a couple minutes. That pretty much re-hydrates that portion that got dried too much by the freezer. I keep a generic spray mist bottle (normally used for cleaning solutions etc.) with just straight water in it. (New never had chemical stuff in it). Before warming left overs in the microwave, I lift the saran wrap cover and mist the top of the dish with a fine mist of the water and that helps a lot to allow it to properly re-heat. On stuff that has high fat content that likes to get so hot it snaps and pops in the microwave I will wet a paper towel and lay it over the top under the saran wrap and that seems to absorb enough microwave energy to steam it without super heating the high fat portions.

    I also sometimes take a saved left over dish on a dinner plate and put about 1/4 cup of water in a 9 inch fry pan, turn on the heat until the water starts to boil, then shut off the heat and place the plate on the top of the fry pan (quick and dirty double boiler using the dinner plate as the top part), I lay a folded hand towel over the top of the saran wrap and just walk away and do something else for a bit. On some dishes it is better than the microwave for things that super heat in the microwave because of high fat content. The plate will be almost too hot to handle after a few minutes and the slow heating from the bottom works great unattended when you want to do something else rather than baby sitting the microwave.

  15. E.M.Smith says:

    Getting ready to do some more DIY canned soup, I came back to re-read…


    We do something we call a “liner plate” under things where the regular plate got too hot. Just slide it onto a second plate and “good to go”… Probably not needed if you eat at the table, but we’re often eating in the living room and either holding plates or setting them on the lap desk or couch arm… And sometimes I just don’t want to deal with carrying a hot plate that far…

    Read this comment before, but didn’t reply: Like the mister and damp towel ideas… I’ve gone the ceramic and glass enclosures method mostly, avoiding plastics in the microwave. Though we did use wrap at work…

    Well, with that, I’m experimenting with making “Condensed Peas Soup” and “Condensed Chicken Noodle Soup” today. At Safeway it was up to almost $2 / can ( IF you join their ‘club’ you get a ‘discount’ to almost the price at other stores of $1.45 or so…) and even Walmart is up to the $1 range for most soups. I know how to can regular pea soup, but I want to try “cook in the can condensed”. The biggest issues are swelling of the dry peas and heating to the center of mass of a paste, so I’m entering difficult territory. Also, due to a fondness of small interesting pasta shapes, I have about 5 pounds of “soup noodles” in stars and letters and… that will take about 20 years to use at my present rate… So making “easy to use” noodle soup in cans would accelerate that. Since noodles expand without limit in excess water, I’m going to try a ‘condensed’ version of it, too. First attempt (for learning more than flavor) will just be 1/2 cup noodles, a bullion cube, and a few onion / carrot / celery leaf bits in a pint jar with water to the 1 inch headspace level. Then I’ll start adjusting everything… IF it works, I’ll make a new posting about it. I’ll be using “freezer jars” with the straight walls so it is easy to get the “condensed” solid glop out without spooning / mashing it…

    This, if it works, would also mean I can make 1 cup sized “condensed” soups, that would be ideal for “just me” servings of some particular soups that the spouse doesn’t like, or when home alone. 2 cups reconstituted is just about right for me…

    Well, DIY soup canning skills ‘reminded’ I’m off to the store to buy the peas and chicken…

  16. Gail Combs says:


    One of my favorite dishes is mousaka

    I found that it freezes fine in the big freezer that does not have an auto-defrost. When camping I take it out of the freezer, pop it into the smaller cooler used in the truck cab and it is ready to eat cold after acting as a freeze block for the drinks in that cooler. Or I pop it in the frig the night before and then into the big cooler.

    I like the dish because it can be eaten hot or cold and you can use just about any ground meat like elk, venison, goat, lamb, beef and I imagine it would be OK with ground turkey too.

  17. E.M.Smith says:

    That link gives an index page… maybe they moved things?

    FWIW the condensed split pea worked, but needs a long slow cool depesurize as the center sys hot a long time…

  18. Gail Combs says:

    Sorry, EM I can not find a similar recipe. So here is what I do.

    Peel 3 med. size eggplant. slice ~1/8 in thick with the slicer (coarse)
    Place the slices in a bowl(s) cover with cold water add 1/3 NaCl and 2/3 KCl. Set aside for at least a couple of hours. I generally toss the bowls covered, in the frig over night.
    The reason for soaking is it not only does it get rid of the bitter taste, it also means the eggplant does not soak up as much oil if you fry the eggplant.

    At this point you have two options.
    The first is to saute the eggplant in olive oil in a frying pan then drain on paper towels. This uses a lot of oil but lets you control how well cooked the eggplant is since you do not want a soggy mess.
    The second option is to coat a baking sheet with olive oil and coat the slices and bake. If you bake too long you dehydrate the eggplant and it ends up as something like dehydrated apple slices stuck to the pan. I bake at ~350 to 375 for about 10 min. but it all depends on the thickness of the slices. link and calories/vitamins in eggplant.

    When I have pan fried eggplant slices I have put them on waxed paper put them in a freezer bag and frozen them. Then you can use them in all sorts of dishes. I have even used them as a substitute for noodles in lasagna. (I prefer to pan fry if I have the time.)

    Any type of ground meat like lamb, goat, venison, hamburger.
    I fry up 2 to 3 lbs often mixing hamburger with the goat meat since goat has little fat. facts on goat meat
    Toss the fried meat into a large pot (I use a Revere Ware dutch oven)

    Dice a large onion and saute. When partially cooked add a peeled plum tomato. Finish cooking and toss into the pot. (In summer I toss vine ripened plum tomatoes into a pot of boiling water,when the peel starts splitting they go into a bowl of ice water before peeling then freezing.)

    Add a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas. (I used to buy fresh, shell and then add but that is a real pain.)
    Mix well. (The mixture of meat and onions can be frozen just do not add the can of chickpeas.)

    Mix 1/3 Allspice, 1/3 cinnamon and 1/3 cumin powders. I generally mix a batch and place in a recycled spice shaker… The biggest I have. {:>D

    Assembling the Mousaka:
    I use square pyrex baking dishes ~8 in X 12 in X 3 inches deep.
    Put a layer of eggplant on the bottom
    layer of meat mix
    layer of eggplant …..
    Before adding the last layer of eggplant sprinkle heavily with the spice mix. The spices HAVE TO GO UNDER the final layer of eggplant.

    I like to cook up large batches of the meat and onion (with or without the tomato) in the winter and freeze along with the eggplant. Then in the summer all I have to do is grab a can of chickpeas, skin and slice up a tomato, warm up the meat mix and assemble. It keeps the heat in the kitchen to the minimum.

    Fried mushrooms and fresh diced peppers also freeze quite well. Another staple in the freezer is a fried up mix of onions, peppers, mushrooms and sausage. When cooled place 2 to 3 tablespoons on a piece of saran wrap sitting on a similar size of Al foil. Fold the saran wrap over the mix, squash nice and flat, finish wrapping with the saran wrap and then the Al foil. Gently slide the packets into a large freezer bag keeping them nice and flat.

    You now have a quicky omelet mix that is very easy to thaw, just add eggs and shred cheese. Or add it to your rice with soy sauce.

  19. Gail Combs says:

    I do not like sauces so never use a white sauce. Actually the addition of a white sauce is Greek not Turkish.
    Other recipes here:

  20. E.M.Smith says:


    Thanks! I’ll have to give that a try. I always liked the sound of the name Mousaka, but never had clue what was in it ;-)

    It looks kind of like an egg plant lasagna in structure ;-)

    I’ll need to substitute a different legume for the chick peas, though. At one time I had a strong allergic reaction to them ( fever of 105, etc. etc. after a large falafal dinner, tested a few weeks later with a few chickpeas on a salad and minor tummy rumbles…). I suspect yellow peas or similar or perhaps white beans might work OK.

    While it is likely that in the intervening 40+ years that reaction has ‘gone away’ (immune response does fade over time…) I’m not willing to test it. ( I have had some dishes at Indian / Middle Eastern restaurants that were suspected of having chickpeas in them, but without a problem… then again, a lot of ‘gram’ beans are used here in Indian dishes, so exact makeup was unknown…)

    Which reminds me, the toor dal and black gram beans ought to work too… along with the other dal made from things other than garbanzos…

  21. Pingback: Canning Split Pea Soup & “Dry” Beans | Musings from the Chiefio

  22. Gail Combs says:

    E.M. As the Turkish guy I linked to at the bottom said.

    Moussaka basically is the cooking of vegetables chopped into small pieces with small chunks of meat or ground beef and onions.

    Moussaka originates from Turkey and it is a genuine Ottoman cuisine with a wide variety of moussaka choices like Potato Moussaka, Zucchini Moussaka, Cauliflower Moussaka, etc., whereas there is only one Moussaka dish in Greek cuisine and it should be called Eggplant Lasagna because of the similarity of Lasagna which belongs to Italian cuisine:)

    Turkish moussaka would be much more popular if more people tried it which is one of the reasons why I strive to make the Turkish cuisine known to others through this site.

    From what I can tell it is more or less an anything goes type of dish. I have made it with and without the tomato or chickpeas.

    Click on the above link for other variations. I just like this one.

  23. Larry Ledwick says:

    Cliff’s notes moussaka=Turkish stew

  24. E.M.Smith says:

    Well, I’ve always loved new foods, and especially those with ‘many variations’, so it is certainly on my “will do” list. I’ve never made an eggplant dish that really got me excited, though. Then again, I’ve not made many, mostly the common ‘Parmesan’ that’s OK but would be better as real lasagna ;-)

    The local Chinese place has a vegetable medley dish with eggplant chunks in it that I like, so I’m certain that some degree of “chunks in a mix” would be attractive to me. Sadly, many around here are aimed at the vegetarian market, and I’m pretty sure ‘mixed with meat’ would make it stand out. (Thus the Moussaka advantage).

    One of my favorite things to do is ‘learn a dish concept’ then do change-ups of ingredient swaps. Lets you have variety with little risk. So, for example, Lasagna as vegetarian (no meat, or mushrooms instead of meat), with beef, chicken, or lamb as the meat, with olives vs not, with hard boiled eggs embedded (interesting creamy effect in some bites ;-) etc. Or Chili made with ‘just beans’ in a few dozen different kinds and mixes, or with various meats, and variations in the sauce and seasoning.

    It looks very much like Moussaka is that kind of food. Besides, it bothers me that I’ve not managed to make anything I’m really fond of using eggplant… It’s one of those “I need to fix that deficit” things for me… Clearly other people do it, so I must be able too! ;-) And this looks like the right vehicle.

  25. Larry Ledwick says:

    Related item on preparedness and probably very suitable for this type of dish during a power outage etc.
    This is actually a modern play on a traditional technique used by shepards and others who did not have time or the equipment to prepare complex meals. They would put something like rice and meat with a few other ingredients in a pot and dig a hole, starting a fire in the bottom of the hole placing the pot on the coals and when it came to a boil, shoveled some dirt on the top of the coals and filled the rest of the hole with dry grass and went off to follow the herd. When they got back at night, pull the grass out of the top and serve what ever stew like concoction that the had let slow cook all day.

    The thermos will stay hot longer if like the brits and their tea, pre-heat it with boiling water before placing the raw materials in the thermos.

  26. E.M.Smith says:


    I gotta get me a large thermos … ;-)

    I bought a beautiful stainless steel pint one from Starbucks… only to find the cheap plastic stopper in it put some kind of strange chemical flavor into the contents… “Made in China”… $30 or so wasted…

    Sniffing it when warm it definitely has a bit of a chemical stink to the plastic cork.

    “Note to self: ANY smell at all on the plastic stopper, don’t buy it, no matter who is selling”…

    I don’t need Bis-Phenol-A in my coffee…

    I remember the ones from my days as a kid with a lunch box as not having that problem. Real Thermos brand, made in the USA. Even the “wide mouth” one used for hot lunch while working in the cannery didn’t have that problem. Real Thermos brand, made in the USA. Sigh. Sad that we can’t buy a product as good as the 1950 and ’60s versions…

    Wonder how much it costs for a laboratory grade stainless steel 2 L Dewar…

  27. Larry Ledwick says:

    I think sometimes that plastic smell/taste is actually from the mold release chemicals etc. I have found if you have a plastic container that does that fill it with scalding hot water and let it sit for a day or two, pour out and repeat a couple times. That usually drives out the volatile trace chemicals and it no longer has a plastic after taste after that treatment.

    In the case of the stopper as you described I would sit it upside down so that the hot water sucks up the volatile chemicals due to the chemicals dissolving into the water as it tries to achieve concentration balance between the clean water and the plastic material.

    At least that has been my experience with plastic water bottles and canteens for hiking and camping.

  28. E.M.Smith says:

    I tried so many things… hot water, soap, alcohol wash. It would be fine… for a day or two.. then the semi-bitter and icky smell would return… It’s not had a nice decade long aging in the cupboard… maybe I’ll check it again…

    FWIW, it’s the only one I’ve ever had with this much and this strong an issue.

  29. Larry Ledwick says:

    Knowing Starbucks, and the lowest bidder Chinese manufactures the stopper was probably made out of shredded bus tires and old vinyl dash boards, with recycled Styrofoam packing peanuts added for extra durability. ;)

  30. Gail Combs says:

    Larry Ledwick “Related item on preparedness….”

    Gee, I just finished the last spoonful of tough old billy goat… (He was seven years old)

    I marinated the stew chunks for three days in wine, soy sauce, lemon juice and Chinese 5 spice then tossed into the crockpot with onions and fresh garlic for 8 hours. I added celery and a carrot for the last hour plus a teaspoon of sugar. Made a nice sweet and sour broth and the goat meat was nice and fork tender.

    Sounds like the same sort of cooking the shepherds did only in a kitchen. I used to do the same in a enameled iron dutch oven set on the top of the wood stove to slow cook. Boy do I miss my wood stove….

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