Pressure cooker + stock
I've been browsing some of the pressure cooker threads, but I'd like to get a little more input.
I'm thinking about getting a pressure cooker in the next few months, primarily for low-acid canning purposes. I was looking through my Ball canning book last night, and I've run into a couple of questions:
1) One of the things I'd like pressure canned is stock/broth. However, I never utilize a particular recipe or the same ratio (I know, it's never consistent, but I'm okay with that) of things, as I prefer to go the throw-all-the-scraps-in-the-pot route. So even with my meat stocks, sometimes they're really meaty and sometimes they're closer to a vegetable-with-hint-of-meat broth. With pressure canning, though, is it like with boiling water canning in that you have to follow the recipe strictly otherwise you end up with contamination? As in, could I continue just throwing scraps in a pot and then pressure can them like the directions for stock say, and be safe, or will I have to follow the recipe specifically for the pressure canner exactly?
2) I like the convenience of cans of beans, but I always buy dried for the cost and control. I usually cook up a big batch and freeze them, but the problem lies when they get freezer burned, or even more problematically, when I need some spontaneously and quickly, and I don't have time to thaw them (I have no microwave, and sometimes running them under hot water takes too long). In the Ball book directions for shelling beans (lima, etc.) it specifies *not* to use beans that have been dried to store. It doesn't say why, just don't do it. Is it possible to cook-can previously dried beans with other directions, or is this a no go, only to be used for fresh beans?
If you think of anything else that might clench me into getting a pressure canner/cooker, I'm all ears!
Re: your first question, I'm not sure if you're looking to make stock in the PC or whether you want to make it on the stove and then use the PC to can. I've done the former with great success. The stock takes a fraction of the time required for all day stove simmering, and the PC gets a lot more gelatin out of the bones - my stocks gel up much more nicely. The tradeoff is that batches are smaller (if your PC is smaller than your biggest stockpot, as mine is) but the turnaround time on each batch is so fast that even doing 2-3 smaller batches in the PC saves me time.
If you are making stock, liquid with no solids, I don't think it matters what you make it with. Both Chicken and beef stock use the same time and pressure, according to my handy dandy 'So Easy to Preserve' book from the University of Georgia--all USDA approved recipes.
Canning dried beans is possible--also according to this book.
Here are online instructions: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/he250
Google the book--it is pretty inexpensive and has great recipes.