Canning Meat: A Tutorial

Canning meat, beef, venison, or elk with a pressure canner

Not gonna lie…

I was a bit leery of the whole canned meat thing when I first started homesteading.

I suspect it stems from my irrational fear of potted meat food product. Ever since I was a little kid, I have thought that sounded like the worst possible thing you could put into your mouth… (My apologies to any meat product fans out there)

Thankfully, canning meat at home is a whole different ballgame, and a skill you’ll definitely want to add to your homestead repertoire. Plus it’s really not any more difficult than canning veggies. Honest!

Why Canning Meat is a Skill You Need to Have:

1. It’s totally convenient. Grab a jar from your pantry, pop it open, and you have wonderfully tender meat all ready to add to your recipes

2. It saves on freezer space. We have two freezers out in our barn, but they are ALWAYS too full, no matter what I do. Anytime I can store food at room temperature, it’s a huge plus for me.

3. It’s a smart preparedness measure. Lest you be stuck eating dry cereal and crackers if your power goes out…

4. It tastes darn good. Really! Home canned meat is tender, juicy, and can be seasoned however you like.

A Super-Duper Very Important Warning

You must, must, must use a pressure canner if you plan on canning meat– no exceptions. Since meat is a low-acid food, a regular boiling-water canner will not be able to heat it at a high enough temp to make it safe for storage. I know pressure canners may seem intimidating at first, but they are actually simpler than you think. I have a full pressure canning tutorial here. It’ll walk you through the process, and teach you how to pressure can without blowing up your house (always a good thing).… [Continue Reading]

Best French Onion Soup Recipe

an elegant, yet simple, french onion soup recipe

Is it possible to be addicted to soup?

Cause I think I am.

It’s pretty much all I want to eat right now, and I’m blazing through my stash of home canned broth as I ravenously feed my addiction.

I can’t help it.

My first attempts making french onion soup were pretty dismal; it tasted like limp onions floating in wallpaper paste. My husband was soooo impressed, as you can imagine.

But my unquenchable soup addiction has propelled me forward, and I’ve happened upon just the right blend of flavors that makes this french onion soup recipe quite possible one of the best things I’ve ever put into my mouth.

an elegant, yet simple, french onion soup recipe

I like to use a mixture of yellow onions and purple onions, although if yellow is all you have, they’ll totally work too. I have to quell a bit of an unforgiving spirit every time I reach into my pantry for my store-bought onions, since our lovely turkey demolished our entire homegrown crop this year… Forgiveness is hard.

Oh! You will NEED some crusty bread to go with your french onion soup, so plan on making my French bread recipe or grabbing a baguette from the local bakery or farmer’s market.

best french onion soup recipe

Best French Onion Soup Recipe

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4-5 medium to large onions (I prefer using several varieties for the best flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme (or two sprigs fresh thyme)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups beef stock (how to make your own beef stock)
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Salt/pepper to taste
  • Cheese for garnish (see note below)
  • Crusty bread

Thinly slice the onions. I recommend using the slicing blade of a food processor for this. Otherwise, you’ll be crying your eyes out.

Melt the butter in a large stock pot, and add the onions, thyme, bay leaves, and garlic.… [Continue Reading]

39 Ways to Make Money Homesteading

how to make money while homesteading

“Eh… So where does your money come from?”

Hands down, this is the question I get the most often…  And if people aren’t asking it, I can tell they are thinking it. ;)

First off, let’s clarify a few things:

Like I mentioned in my homestead myth-busting post, becoming a modern homesteader doesn’t necessarily mean you head for the hills, go completely off-grid, and live off the land entirely. (Although I suppose you could go that route if you wanted…)

how to make money from homesteading

For me, modern homesteading is a magical concoction of old-fashioned skills mixed with our modern-day conveniences. Although we raise a lot of food on our property, are obsessive DIYers, and try to be as self-sufficient as possible, my husband has always had a “job in town” and there are times when I’m quite thankful for the local grocery store. It’s a balance.

That said, I think most of us homestead-folks would agree: the sign you’ve officially “arrived” as a modern homesteader is the day you create an income exclusively from your land. It’s something definitely on our list of goals, and we are achieving it in our own way (more on that later). However, we didn’t start out this way, and we pursued our homesteading dreams on one-income for several years before my business took off.

Thankfully, the ways of making money while homesteading are endless. Here is a list to jump-start your entrepreneur juices—>

(this post contains affiliate links)

39 Ways to Make Money Homesteading

should you wash eggs?

Selling Food Products

The downside to selling food you’ve grown or made, is dealing with restrictive food safety laws (especially in regards to meat and milk). Do your homework first and looked into your state’s regulations extensively before proceeding. One strategy to help avoid red tape is to sell the animals themselves, rather than the food product.[Continue Reading]

Do My Chickens Need a Heat Lamp?

should I use a heat lamp in my chicken coop?

Do your chickens wear sweaters?

Mine don’t, although I have to admit the pictures I’ve seen of sweatered hens are pretty cute. Alas, knitting is one area where my craftiness fails me, so I don’t see myself creating outerwear for my flock anytime soon.

But it brings us to an important topic– how exactly does one keep a chicken warm in the winter?

When I first got my chickens, I assumed they needed supplemental heat anytime the thermometer dipped below freezing. I mean, I was cold, so they obviously were too, right?

There’s actually a bit of debate surrounding the whole topic of chickens and heat lamps (not a surprise, because there seems to be debate surrounding everything these days…), so let’s look at this a bit closer.

Why do People Use Heat Lamps for Chickens?

Most people follow the same thought pattern I did: If I’m cold, my chickens must be cold too. Being the kind-hearted homesteaders we are, we want to make our animals as comfortable as possible. This usually means installing a heat lamp or two to provide extra warmth on those chilly days.

I did this for a while, mostly because I assumed it was the “right” thing to do–especially considering we homestead in Wyoming where it’s freeeezing cold during the winter months. 

But as I did more research and made more observations, I started to question as to whether this was actually correct…

are heat lamps safe for chickens?

Why Heat Lamps can be a Problem

First off, thinking an animal must be cold, just because we are cold, is a faulty assumption.

Chickens have feathers. Cows and goats have layers of winter hair. We don’t. Most all animals are designed to withstand weather conditions without any help from us humans. It can be hard for us to accept, but it’s true.… [Continue Reading]