Mason Jar Newbie
So I've never actually "canned" with mason jars, and I'm not even quite sure how it works, I just know you boil them, that's about it.
My question is this, I have a case of jars, that I just use for storing some things. I recently made some chicken broth, and put it in the mason jars so I could freeze it. When i put the broth in the jars, it was just shy of boiling temp. I noticed that while waiting for it to cool down a bit with the lids on, it sucked the little pressure button thingy in.
So my question, is could I store the chicken broth in the cabinet like I would a commercial broth? or should I still freeze it?
And if I should freeze it, is it possible, through "canning" to store it in the cabinet, or am I just dreaming??
I'm also new at canning, but this much I CAN tell you... unless it's frozen, chicken soup MUST be processed in a pressure canner if it is to remain safe. Even a boiling-water bath (boiling the contents in jars for a designated amount of time) will not kill the organisms in food that will cause spoilage or poisoning in low-acid foods.
What you've observed in the lids is caused simply by the cooling of the air in the jars. If you're serious about canning, I'd suggest you read up on it. One place to start is a website I've recently discovered, www.CanningUSA.com
Your "pressure button thingy" popped in because you created a seal around the rim of the jar, then the air in the headspace above the stock cooled and contracted, creating a partial vacuum. This vacuum will keep any nasties that are floating around in the air from getting into the jar. The question is whether there are any nasties inside the jar. The answer: You don't know. And finding out the hard way could be REALLY unpleasant. If not lethal. Can you say "botulism"?
It is entirely possible to can stock so that you can store it in the cabinet. You'll need a pressure canner and some good guidelines for using it. But even though my pressure canner comes out several times a year, I generally find it easier just to freeze stock.
If you're just freezing, I'd put it in something else to make sure your jars don't break. In the past, I've just put stock in zipper freezer bags and tossed them into the freezer.
We very infrequently make stock. Our too-busy-with-work-and-Chowpup solution is to use Knorr Roasted Chicken base (http://www.unileverfoodsolutions.us/p...). It has a bit more sodium than I'd like, but the flavor is great and no MSG. I add a little less than 1 tsp. per cup to make it less salty.
Honestly, we were even using this stuff pre-Chowpup. I used to get the Minor's version at a Sysco retail store in B'ham. That's since closed, and now I buy the Knorr at Restaurant Depot.
re: Stuffed Monkey
They make Mason jars that are designed for freezing, as well as the expected canning. The jars are wide mouth, with 'no neck'- the jar is wider at the top then bottom, making it easy to slide out any frozen contents. Not all places that carry canning jars have them- you really have to look sometimes to find them. You know they are the right ones when the box says for canning & freezing.
I'll weigh in and be contrarian.
I freeze stock in glass jars and have never had a problem. Leave enough head space so the "surge" of volume from freezing has a place to go.
I love being able to take out a quart (about) and pop it in the microwave, then dump the mason jar in the dishwasher.
Someday there will be a breakage and I will curse myself, but it ain't broke yet and I'm not gonna fix it.
BIG recommendations to the ice cube trick for small amounts!
I've been taught by the local University Extension folks that: If it has ANY meat in it, you MUST pressure can. Hot water bath will NOT reach the temps required for shelf safety.
The ice cube thing doesn't just work with jars. please think outside the frozen glass (just the idea of glass in a freezer sends scary shivers down my spine).
When I make stock to freeze/save, I line up several sizes of disposable storage containers, and yes a few ice cube trays. I fill them up with the stock, freeze, pop the frozen stock out, freezer baggie them, and reuse the disposable bins for other things (alot). This way I save on freezer space and have alot of various sizes of saved stock. I really like to make the BIG ice cubes of stock, I use the sandwich size disposable bin. This is pretty much a serving of soup size for me. I take out as many servings as I wish to make, and often itis just one for me. Very very easy.
I often like to drink a cup of soup at night, and found that some plastic "glasses" make the perfect size and shape to fit into my favorite mug.
I also save those odd little bits of some great veggie dish I made in baggies. And the little leftovers of pasta or rice. Lots of times I have come home, late tired, cold and wanting comfort food. Pull a baggie of stock, one of veg and a pasta; in 5 min fresh home-made soup.
I have both wide- and narrow- mouth mason jars that both have a line on them indicating where to fill them for freezing.
I can't see a reason to be concerned about breakage...
If thermal shock is a concern, chill them in the fridge before you drop them in the freezer. If you're worried about expansion, just make sure you leave enough head space and don't screw the collar down too tight. The content will take the proverbial path of least resistance as it expands, so the lid will vent before the glass breaks.
I would also recommend investing in something to pump the air out which will give you better seal and resistance to freezer burn, and make the jars even less likely to break. If you have a FoodSaver or some such, the jar sealer attachments are only around $10-$15 each. They make a different one for both wide- and narrow-mouth jars. If you don't have a FoodSaver there are probably cheaper devices available that accomplish the same thing.