Mason Jar Meals: 3 “Fast Food” Canning Recipes for a Home-Cooked Meal ASAP

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By Daisy Luther

Author of The Prepper’s Canning Guide

I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating – canning is the perfect way to provide “fast food” for preppers.

Last night we got home after a long day.  We were tired and hungry.  It was so nice to pop a lid off a jar and heat up a tasty, nutritious, and filling meal in less than five minutes, without worrying about all of those nasty additives that a store-bought can of soup would contain.  The instant gratification from a home-canned meal is wonderful on a day that you just don’t feel like cooking, and invaluable when disaster strikes and you are unable to use your usual methods of preparing a meal.

  • You can preserve your own recipes easily – find the guidelines HERE.
  • Canning meat – HERE.
  • Canning beans – HERE

Soups, stews, and chili can help you quickly produced a well-balanced meal.  Check out my book, The Prepper’s Canning Guide for lots more recipes, including the 3 below.

Some meals need only a quickly boiled carbohydrate like rice or pasta to make a satisfying meal at the drop of a hat. Here are 3  tried-and-true canning recipes to enjoy.  These recipes cannot be water bath canned. They must be pressure canned to be safe. Use quart-sized jars.

Hungarian Goulash

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds of stewing meat (beef, pork, etc.)
  • 4 tbsp of REAL Hungarian paprika (must be the real stuff for an authentic flavor)
  • 2 tsp of dry mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 onions, quartered
  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 4 carrots, sliced into coins
  • 6 potatoes, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • ½ cup of red wine vinegar
  • Water as needed

Directions

  1. In a bowl, mix Hungarian paprika, dry mustard, salt, and pepper.
  2. In a large stockpot, heat olive oil and begin to sauté your onions and garlic.
  3. Dip your stewing meat in the spice mixture, then place the meat in the stockpot to brown with the garlic and onions.  Brown lightly – the meat does not have to be thoroughly cooked.
  4. In quart jars, layer your meat and vegetable mixture, carrots, peppers, and potatoes.
  5. Add 6 cups of water, vinegar and the jar of tomato paste to the stockpot and mix with any drippings or spices that remain after browning the meat.  Bring this mixture to a boil.
  6. Ladle hot liquid into sanitized jars over the layered contents.  Use a table knife to remove any air pockets in the jars. If necessary, top up with water, allowing 1 inch of headspace.
  7. Lid the jars and process in your p-canner for 90 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure, based on altitude.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS:  When heating your goulash, whisk in 1 tbsp of flour in order to thicken the sauce.  Once it is hot, stir in a half cup of sour cream or yogurt and heat only until the sour cream is warmed through.

Serve your goulash over egg noodles, potatoes, spaetzle or dumplings and don’t forget a side of fresh sourdough bread!

Beef Stroganoff

Ingredients

  • 3-4 pounds of stewing beef or sliced sirloin
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 cups of mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 2 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Water to deglaze pan

Directions

  1. In a large stockpot, sauté beef, onions, garlic, and mushrooms in butter until lightly browned.
  2. Stir in Worcestershire sauce and enough water to deglaze the stockpot.  Use a metal utensil to scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen the flavorful pieces there.
  3. Add 1 cup of water and stir well, bringing to a boil.
  4. Ladle the stroganoff into sanitized jars, distributing the sauce evenly across the jars.
  5. Lid the jars and process in your p-canner for 90 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure, based on altitude.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS:  When you are ready to serve the beef stroganoff, stir 1 cup of sour cream or plain yogurt into the heated sauce.  Serve this over rice or noodles.

Chicken Cacciatore

The rich herbed tomato sauce and the tender chicken will not last long on the pantry shelves – as soon as you serve one jar of it, your family will beg you to make it again!

To make life even simpler, this is a raw-pack recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds of boneless chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces (a mix of breasts and thighs is nice)
  • 2 cups of red and green peppers, cut into chunks
  • 2 cups of onion, cut into 8ths
  • 2 cups of mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 4 cups of diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 bottle of red wine
  • 2 tbsp of oregano
  • 2 tbsp of basil
  • 2 tbsp of thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Layer chicken, peppers, onions, mushroom and garlic in quart jars.
  2. In a large stockpot bring wine, tomatoes, and herbs to a boil.  Ladle hot liquid over the layered ingredients in your sanitized jars.
  3. Lid the jars and process in your p-canner for 90 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure, based on altitude.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS:  When preparing the cacciatore, stir in a small can of tomato paste when heating to thicken the sauce.  Serve over pasta, with a side of garlic bread.

Let me know what you think.

If you’d like more delicious recipes like this, be sure to check out my book, The Prepper’s Canning Guide.

Have you tried the recipes? Do you have any added serving suggestions? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below.

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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43 Responses

  1. Maybe I’m missing something, but in the above recipes, how many quarts do they make? Sound delicious and I have just started pressure canning. Thanks and love the site.

    1. Catherine – I didn’t put the amounts because it really depends on personal preference, as well as the size that you cut up your meat. I will say APPROXIMATELY 6 quarts can be made from each recipe. I generally find, myself, when I cook from a recipe, that I end up with a little more or a little less than the recipe says I will. This can also come from variation of package sizes – I rarely find meat in packages that are precisely one pound, at least at our little local butcher shop. Sorry for the confusion!

      Thank you for the very kind words – if you have any questions about pressure canning, please feel free to ask and I’ll help if I can.

      🙂 Daisy

  2. stupid stupid stupid question since I am soooo new to all the canning. I’m accustomed to cooking in a slow cooker or cooking roasts, etc. for HOURS AND HOURS to get them tender. When you can a meal, it is cooked when you’re pressure cooking them in the jars? Was going to pick up a vacuum sealer machine and canning/pressure cooker if I can even find one in a store and not wait to order it.

    1. Not a silly question at all! Yes, foods DO cook thoroughly in a pressure canner. If you’ve ever used a stovetop pressure cooker, you know how fast that can cook up a tender, juicy pot roast? It’s the exact same concept in your pressure canner. The only “fail” I’ve had was cooking beans in jars without soaking them first. However, if you soak them overnight before you can them, they cook perfectly. P)

      Please let me know if I can answer any other questions for you!

      ~ Daisy

  3. I stumbled upon you and I am going to devour all your different recipes for canning. I have a P canner but never used it yet because I am bit afraid of it. I am a whiz at jams, jellies, and pickles.
    I think I should choose one of these recipes up here, put them in jars and just go for it.

    1. Hi, Heidi! Welcome!

      First, you aren’t alone in being worried about pressure canning. The first time I did it, I sent the kids off to school and put the dog outside, just so I’d be the only victim if I somehow blew the thing up. I think everyone is nervous about doing this. The risk is honestly very very low with the new pressure canners. There are a lot of safety features there!

      The how-to is right here: https://www.theorganicprepper.com/canning-101-pressure-canning-12152012

      Please feel free to ask if you have ANY questions at all – pressure canning tech support, right here!

      Daisy

  4. Those recipes sound delicious!!! I am currently looking into dried meals and trying to run my dehydrator as much as possible. It is exhausting to prep – but I wouldn’t live any other way!

  5. Daisy, Thanks for the great sight and the many recipes and suggestions, they are great! I would like to say to all the new canners out there afraid to try! Don’t be afraid, it is so easy and you are not going to blow anything up. Read your pressure cooker book before starting. I have seen some people on youtube do some really stupid things and they are still here so fear not ! Also remember that in a severe situation you may not have water enough to prep dried or dehydrated meals right away so canning solves that problem. Just open and heat. I use all methods for storage and have for years. There is also a method of canning dried goods in the oven that also works great but it is only for dried goods. I can crackers this way. Put the crackers in sterilized jars and heat in the oven at 225 degrees for one hour and then take out and immediately apply lids and rings and set aside to cool. Be careful because the jars are very hot.

  6. New to canning…Do you have to leave space at the top,of,the jars? Is there a standard space used unless otherwise noted,1″ maybe?

  7. The recipe calls for 1 bottle of red wine. How big of a bottle and what kind do you use? I haven’t canned with wine before. Does the taste of wine fade or get stronger depending on shelf life of the Cacciatore?

    1. Hi Kathy. I just use a standard bottle of wine – which is about 750 mLs or 25 ounces. I chose something fairly inexpensive for this recipe. In my opinion you can’t taste the wine at all, it just makes the sauce richer and more flavorful. I hope that you enjoy the Cacciatore – we love it! 🙂

  8. Well,

    True Hungarian Paprika is a hit and miss.
    I mean, I literally live in the great plains of Hungary, and they can range from not being spicy, to mediocre at best… if your lucky you actually get a good, tasty, spicy paprika… but they are all sold at the local market as “spicy paprika”.

    Suppose you mean the pre-packaged red powder?

    Also, they are not beef eaters… at all – literally.
    I know an American ex-pat that complains about this… the lack of beef.

    They are, however, big pig eaters… pigs are everywhere… pig in this, pig in that, they even have a deal to export pigs to China now. [Seriously.]

    So, “traditional”… no beef. 🙂

    Miklos Bacsi.

  9. I am so happy to have found this absolutely wonderful site! I was trying to find out if my raw honey would spoil…

    Thank you so much.. not only the answer I was really praying for, but so much more!

  10. I have read a lot about canning whole meals and one thing that I have repeatedly heard is to use spices sparingly because they intensify during processing and storage. Do you have issues with these recipes being ‘to spiced’ after storage? Thank you for the great recipes – I will be trying them out shortly!

    1. I dialed it way back on the spices for that very reason. I haven’t had an issue with these, but some things that get horribly strong are : ham, sage, and rosemary. I don’t use sage or rosemary at all when canning, and I can ham but use it more as a condiment than a main dish.

    1. Don’t reduce the temperature or pressure, but you can slightly reduce the processing time. Check the USDA guidelines for the ingredient that requires the longest amount of processing time and use that for determining a safe processing time. Keep in mind that a quart jar will generally provide you with two servings, so your leftovers would be minimal.

  11. How big of a bottle of red wine? Enough for cooking & drinking as you cook or recipe alone? Sny recommendations as to what kind of wine? :o)

  12. This may seem like a weird question but how do you keep the pressure stable on a pressure canner? I have a gas stove and no matter how low the heat is on it it either rises too high or goes to low so I am stuck having to watch the canner for the whole time it is working to make sure it stays at the correct amount of pressure.

    1. I have the same problem Dee and I have and electric stove. It’s really touchy. I’ve also found that when I double stack my P-canner…16-18 pints it stays a lot more stable than when I’m doing 7 quarts. I just sit in the kitchen with a book or my tablet to keep an eye on it. Usually the last half hour of a 90 minute canning session is pretty stable.

    2. I find that some stoves are just not consistent with the heat. Every stove I’ve ever had has a “happy place” which keeps it at about the right temp. I often let it go a little too high so I have some wiggle room. (Never let it remain above 15 PSI though). You probably know this but in case someone is reading who doesn’t know it, if your pressure drops below the ideal number, you have to start the processing time all over again.

    3. My Presto canner came with just a weight and a dial. I purchased a weighted gauge with the choice of 5,10 or 15lbs. It sure beats sitting in front of the stove and constantly adjusting the burner controls.

  13. The recipes sound great but there is no indication of canning jar size. Is is safe to assume that they are for quart?

    Love your site and posts. Please keep up the good work.

    Thanks

    W

  14. The recwpiessound really good. My pressure would be different because of altitude but the book with the pressie canner covers that nicely.

  15. My pressure canner is the older one without the gage. It just rocks back and forth. I’ve done numerous things with it but never meat. Have tyo ever used one of these?

  16. Hello Daisy,

    Thank you for all of the amazing information you share.

    I am always happy to read your recipes but have a question about the Hungarian Goulash. When you say 4 onions, does it matter the size of the onions? I find it difficult to fina anything but giant onions in my grocery store.

    Regards

    1. I’m sort of a fly-by-the-seat of my pants cook. When I made these recipes the onions I used were probably medium size. I’d perhaps use 2 giant ones across all the jars.

  17. Two items to add from my side:

    1) Go real easy on the spices, esp. salt. Canning will increase the intensity.

    2) Paprika originated in Szeged province of Hungary about 1,000 years ago. The pungency, strength, and aroma vary from each kind of pepper used to make it. For Goulash (“gouas” in Hungarian), start with a mild paprika and work your way up. Many fine Hungarian paprikas can be found on line. Most of the stuff you find in the grocery store are either stale, poor grade, overpriced, or all of the above.

    Be safe and enjoy.

  18. For the Beef Stroganoff recipe is the meat raw or is it cooked with the other ingredients? If it is raw do you put the meat in the jar first and then add the other ingredients on top? I am so excited to can full meals. Thanks for the recipes they look delicious!

  19. Would it work if you used dry beans instead of meat in the recipes (We are plant based) as long as you processed for bean times?

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