Pressure Canned Ham Stock

ham hocks

This year, for my 30th birthday, my fiancé gave me a pressure canner. Some might look at this gift as decidedly unromantic, but it was actually exactly what I wanted. In fact, I started telling him it was what I wanted sometime back in February, more than three months ahead of time, just in case he got it into his head to get me jewelry or some other impractical bauble.

However, since my birthday back in May, the only thing the canner (a 16-quart aluminum Presto) has been doing is look pretty while sitting quietly under one of my dining room chairs. You see, while I understood the basics of pressure canning intellectually, the reality of it still scared me a bit. So I let the canner sit, satisfying my canning needs by making batch after batch of preserves and pickles, that needed nothing more than a good, hot water bath to set to shelf stable rights.

beginning of stock

But then, a couple of weeks ago, Joy Manning and Tara Matazara Desmond, co-authors of the cookbook Almost Meatless invited me to participate in their blog potluck (Joy is blogging about all the potluck dishes over at her blog What I Weigh Today if you want to check out some of the other recipes). As we talked back and forth about which recipe of theirs I’d tackle, it became clear that this blog and I were best suited to try out a stock recipe, as stock is cannable. In a pressure canner. It was finally time to conquer my pressure canner nerves once and for all.

I decided to make the recipe for Ham Stock that’s found on page 136 of the book. While it’s not a main event on its own, it’s an incredibly useful cooking cast member to have on hand, as it gives you the ability to boost the flavor of many a meal while still keeping them light on meat. Not having the remnants of a ham laying around, I got my hands on a couple of nice, meaty ham hocks with which to make the stock.

one jar in pressure canner

As soon as I fired up the stock pot, a wonderfully smoky/porky scent began to fill the apartment. Scott and I sat around, enjoying the aroma and becoming increasing hungry as the broth bubbled away. After it had cooked for two hours, I fished the hocks out of the pot with a pair of tongs, removed the meat to a plate and returned the bones to the pot for another hour+ of simmer for “maximum gelatin extraction” (a tip offered by Tara that isn’t included in the book).

By the time the stock was done, it was late Sunday evening (and I’d had a stomach ache all day, I’m a trouper I tells ya!). Had I had a spare bit of room in my fridge, I would have put the stock away for the night and returned to pressure can another day (this is actually the recommended technique, as it allows you to completely defat the stock prior to canning). However, being me, my fridge was full to bursting and so I needed to push on. I strained the stock through several layers of cheesecloth to get out the finest of particulate matter and returned it to the pot in order to bring to a boil.

filling jars

While all this stock processing was going on, my quart jars were in the pressure canner heating up. Once the stock had return to a boil, I began the process of removing a jar, filling it, wiping the rim, applying the lid/ring and returning it to the pot. Instead of creating an assembly line, I processed each jar one at a time, in order to keep the jars and stock as hot as possible (part of pressure canning best practices). I’d been told by Doris of Doris and Jilly Cook that it’s important to really get those rings on there tight when pressure canning stock, as otherwise your stock will “siphon” (the official canning word for when the liquid in your jars bubbles out from underneath the lid), so before I returned each filled jar to the pot, I used a dish towel to hold it in place as I muscled the ring into place.

Once all the jars were full, I locked the pressure canner lid into place and began the process of venting the air out of the canner. After ten minutes of venting, I popped the weight onto the vent stem and watched as the pressure began to rise. Quarts of stock need to process for 25 minutes at 11 pounds of pressure (that is, if you have a gauged canner like mine. If you have a weighted canner, you process at 10 pounds of pressure).

I only have six heat options on my stove (and that includes ‘off’) so I was never able to get the canner at exactly 11 pounds, it hovered around 13 pounds for most of the canning session. However, I knew from what I’ve read that it’s okay for the pressure to be a bit over (it can lead to overcooking, which isn’t a concern with stock, but could be a problem if you were working with fruits or veggies), as long as the pressure doesn’t drop below 11 pounds during the 25 minute processing time.

filled jars

I’ve never been so delighted as I was when the timer beeped to announce that the 25 minutes were up. I danced to the kitchen to turn off the stove and wait until the pressure had dropped enough for me to remove the lid. Nearly every jar pinged  the moment I lifted it out of the water, and I’ve never had lids that have so vigorously sealed. Those things are seriously concave.

canner at pressure

So now I have seven quarts of homemade, shelf stable stock (in my insanity, I also made a batch of chicken stock – from chicken feet! – the same day I made the ham stock. In for a penny…) in my pantry. I’m particularly in love with the ham stock though, and am already dreaming of making a big pot of rice with it that I will then turn into a vege-ful fried rice. Such flavor!

The Ham Stock recipe from Almost Meatless can be found after the jump and is reprinted with permission from Ten Speed Press and the authors. Make it!

processed jars

Tara and Joy suggest that you make this stock after the holidays, when many of us happen to have some ham bones laying around. While I think that’s a fine suggestion, I find this stock to be so delicious that I don’t think you should wait months before making it. I used two ham shanks from Meadow Run Farm, who raise only happy, pastured pigs, which also provided enough meat for one and a half generous meals in my little household. Everybody wins!

Pressure Canned Ham Stock

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 medium carrots,cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 to 3 pounds ham bones (shank, hock, or left over from spiral ham)
  • 1 cup loosely packed parsley leaves (about 4 sprigs)
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 to 5 quarts cold water

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until the vegetables just begin to brown.
  2. Pour in the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to release the browned bits.
  3. Add the bones and the parsley, peppercorns, thyme, bay leaf and water. Bring the liquid to a boil, then drop the heat to medium and simmer for at least 2 hours.
  4. Strain the liquid through a mesh strainer into a clean pot, discarding the solids. Use immediately, or cool and transfer the stock to the refrigerator or freezer (or pressure can it!) for later use.

Notes

The Ham Stock recipe from "Almost Meatless" is reprinted with permission from Ten Speed Press and the authors.

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35 Responses to Pressure Canned Ham Stock

  1. 1
    M says:

    Darn you, woman! I am now wanting a pressure canner 902823472385798 times more. Oh, to not stuff my tiny freezer with stock..

  2. 2
    Lisa says:

    I’ve always frozen my stock, but this spring I helped my mother-in-law can some fish in her pressure canner. I’m still not ready to use it on my own, but I’ve been making chicken stock today to take over to her place and can tomorrow. Oh, I look forward to having it in a jar, and not in the freezer!

  3. 3
    Rebekah Denn says:

    Doggone! I wondered what you were going to do for the potluck! “Awesome,” as my 2-year-old says. I keep going back and forth on whether I should conquer my own fear of the pressure canner.

  4. 4

    [...] pot luck than Marisa McClellan, whose blog, Food in Jars, extols the virtues of home canning? In her post about the ham stock recipe in Almost Meatless, Marisa takes it a step further and pressure cans the flavorful liquid to make [...]

  5. 5

    I have been pining for a pressure canning set for ages. This might have just pushed me over the edge. :)

  6. 6
    Marisa says:

    Having now crossed over to the pressure canning side, I firmly believe that everyone should give it a try. It wasn’t hard at all, felt totally safe and now I have gorgeous homemade stock that’s ready to go and isn’t taking up space in my fridge or freezer.

    Maybe consider going in on a pressure canner with a couple of friends if it feels too expensive? Mine was $80 which isn’t actually all that much for a piece of cookware and would be downright affordable if split between several people.

    • 6.1
      Sandy says:

      Just wondering if any jars broke? I was under the impression if you do anything over finger tight on the bands before canning the lids can buckle or jars can break because they can not release the pressure. Have you had any problems with this? Thanks

  7. 7

    That’s it. Clearly, a pressure canner should be my next big kitchen-related purchase. It would be worth it to have all that freezer space back!

  8. 8
    Ivy Manning says:

    Yum. I have a garden full of greens that need to be cooked up…I am thinking this stock would be really good as the ellixir to cook them. Do you think it would work?

    Ivy, I used it to braise down a mix of chard, kale and mustard greens a couple of nights ago and it was divine. -Marisa

  9. 9
    Karen says:

    What a great idea! I have so much stock in my freezer, but hadn’t thought og canning it. Brilliant! I even have a pressure canner (also sitting in a box since it was purchased because it makes me nervous). Thanks!

  10. 10
    Tara says:

    I have an older pressure canner with a weight gague (which I think does not “lose” it’s calibration like an older dial gague canner). I was freezing green beans last night and thinking about canning them, but still a little scared of the process. Maybe I will drag it out of the garage and give it a try…………..

  11. 11
    Stephanie says:

    Yum! Think of those yummy bean soups you’ll make in the winter from your work in the summer. My pressure canner has been getting the workout this summer… first with chicken and this week with green beans. Bravo to you to jumping in with the pressure canner!

  12. 12
    pam says:

    Canning stock makes me so nervous, you make it seem doable. It would take the burden off my already overstuffed freezer.

  13. 13
    Amelia says:

    I just watch my pressure canner. We have all heard the stories of it about blowing up the house. If you watch it and adjust the heat it is not as a big of deal as we have all heard. I might just do some chicken broth now. I have went back and forth, to can it or freeze it. I have a huge freezer, but if you don’t have to use space and sometimes you thaw it out and it’s more than you need and then you refreeze it. That settles it going to pressure can broth. When I don’t know, but I’m going to do it. I love the blog and keep the ideas coming.

  14. 14
    MK says:

    Great blog! Doris isn’t correct about having to super tighten the bands – just tighten them until resistance is met. Happy canning!

  15. 15
    Natalie says:

    I pressure-canned some homemade chicken stock a few weeks ago, but something went wrong. The jars all sealed, but when I opened one to try to use it, it smelled and tasted funny (I didn’t use it), so did the second jar I opened. So we dumped it all. Not sure if it got “overcooked” or something. I don’t know if I’ll try it again or not. I have plenty of freezer space (we have an extra freezer that I pretty much only use for stocks).

  16. 16
    Beth Ann says:

    as for unromantic gifts – my partner claims the composter as her favorite ever… just proves how well you are known and loved for being yourself!

  17. 17
    anduin says:

    I’m in the market for a pressure cooker–to can stocks at least, but also to cook meats and beans. I have friends from India and Nepal who use one all of the time to cook. It seems like a great way to cook with less energy and time, and I’d love to be able to can some of the things I have to freeze now. I’m curious about what you were looking for in a pressure cooker and if yours has met your specifications. Would you feel like a 16 qt. pressure cooker is too big to make dinner with? Would you feel like anything smaller would be too small for canning? Please share with us how you made your decision on model and size and if you would change your mind. Thanks so much! I have really appreciated your blog.

  18. 18

    [...] Mine was full of vegetables (cauliflower, leeks and carrot) simmered in home canned chicken stock (learning to can homemade chicken stock in the pressure canner has revolutionized my pantry) and enriched with a quick, cheddar-y white [...]

  19. 19

    Great post with lots of helpful information. My grandmother used to pressure can stuff (greenbeans, meat, corn) but I’ve never gotten a pressure cooker/canner but would dearly like one (as long as I can find a place to keep it in my smallish NYC kitchen). Stock seems like a perfect thing to can at home – it’s easy to make and very useful. I have some chix stock in my freezer right now, but space is tight. Ah, space.

  20. 20
    Heather says:

    Well now I’m convinced! A pressure canner is worth it’s weight in stock, for sure!

  21. 21
    threadbndr says:

    My DiL wants a pressure cooker/canner for her ‘big’ Christmas gift. I’d also like to know about how to choose, since she hasn’t clued me (or son) in on make/model.

  22. 22

    [...] the liquid component, I used two quarts of the ham stock I pressure canned last July. Lately, I’ve been really working on using the foods I’ve preserved (I get so excited [...]

  23. 23
    Ruth Ann says:

    I had the same fears about using a pressure canner so really researched to find the safest one. I settled on an All American Pressure Canner which I purchased on the internet. It was expensive but all the information pointed it to being the best and safest and it comes in several sizes. If you are going to can very much it pays to purchase this canner. I have used it quite a bit for the last 2 canning seasons and have not been sorry I put the money into it that I did. Just a note though, you can’t can with a small pressure cooker (the kind you cook with) – you must use a pressure canner for canning. If you search the internet when purchasing this canner you will find places that have better prices than others and occasionally a sale. With the present economic situation and food shortages that have been predicted it pays to can as much food as you can now while it is available. Happy Canning!!!

  24. 24
    | giverslog says:

    [...] and bring my own canned pear butter and garlic pickles, and would love to start making my own stock for fall soups. If you need yummy gift ideas this year, her blog is the place to [...]

  25. 25
    Janet says:

    I have a 6 qt and a 12 qt. I use them both to can as well as cook meals. I can only can pints in the smaller one but that’s OK. I can’t imagine not having these wonderful additions to my kitchenware!

  26. 26

    [...] skills you could also go the canning route. I briefly considered trying it this year after reading Pressure Canned Ham Stock on Food in Jars, but think I might need to tackle learning how to can before tackling advanced [...]

  27. 27
    Beth Wright says:

    I want to also add that, once you’ve conquered your pressure canner fears, you should get your canner checked yearly by your local Agriculture Extension Service. They should have a procedure for checking your gauge to be sure it’s reading psi correctly and for checking the seal made by the rubber ring inside the lid. This is essential! It is quite possible for a gauge to read high or low by a pound or even two and you not know it. Pressure canning is wonderful and safe–IF directions are followed precisely. Enjoy!

  28. 28

    [...] about the process over at my blog. I have two well-documented pressure canning posts, one on canning ham stock (and the lessons there apply to any stock you care to make) and another about canning chunks of [...]

  29. 29
    NancyB says:

    I have been using the same pressure canner that I originally ordered from the Sears catalog 28 years ago. It is branded as a Sears canner, but it was made by Presto. Still going strong. I can venison in stew meat chunks and also venison chili, as well as pinto beans in quart jars to go with the chili. The processing time for meat is a long time compared to a water bath canning project, but definitely worth it. It makes me feel secure that some of the meat is not in the freezer, subject to the whims of the electric company or the freezer breaking down.

    I also pressure can anything that is low acid. I started canning a layered vegetable combo in quart jars to go with canned meat for a quick soup or stew. Potatoes on the bottom, followed by carrots, then celery and onions. Works great! Just follow the directions and don’t be afraid of the canner!

  30. 30
    Marla says:

    RE: Just a note though, you can’t can with a small pressure cooker (the kind you cook with) – you must use a pressure canner for canning.
    I’ll respectfully disagree with this statement. I use a small pressure cooker for canning in pints and half pints. It will only hold about 6 half pints or 4 pints, but it saves space in my freezer when I have leftovers or find meats on sale or harvest my small garden. I would certainly prefer a larger canner (and now actually have one that will hold 16 quarts – WOW), but a small one has worked for me.
    Wonderful blog by the way! Thank you for all your hard work!

  31. 31

    [...] I make a lot of chicken broth, but this piece reminded me that I should add beef bone broth to my regular repertory. Healthy, delicious, and cannable. [...]

  32. 32
    Becky says:

    I have been canning my own stock for many years. I prefer this, because you can completely control the salt. Purchased stock and boullion is loaded with salt. I also can beef stock. I use bare beef bones…the less meat on them the better.
    To Natalie in reply #15. Canned chicken broth will often have a bit of an unpleasant smell when the jar is first opened…beef broth will too. I think it is because of the higher amount of protien coming from the bone marrow. If the jar is sealed well…you should be able to tell that from the pressure release when opened…the product will be safe. And also, once the broth is mixed with other ingredients, the protien odor subsides. But freezing is a great method of preservation also….just more work and time involved when using it. Which ever way you choose to preserve it, the richness of homemade broth is so very much worth the work in making it :)

  33. 33

    […] that it had been far too long since I talked about the magic of pressure canning here. The only stock canning post went up in the very early days of this site and I’ve learned a great deal about the dos and […]

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    [...] pot luck than Marisa McClellan, whose blog, Food in Jars, extols the virtues of home canning? In her post about the ham stock recipe in Almost Meatless, Marisa takes it a step further and pressure cans the flavorful liquid to make [...]

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    [...] the liquid component, I used two quarts of the ham stock I pressure canned last July. Lately, I’ve been really working on using the foods I’ve preserved (I get so excited [...]

  4. | giverslog - October 28, 2010

    [...] and bring my own canned pear butter and garlic pickles, and would love to start making my own stock for fall soups. If you need yummy gift ideas this year, her blog is the place to [...]

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