I'm looking into canning meat (commercial/store bought meat, ground beef or pork and stew meat-I came up empty handed this season; no surprise there) and have a couple questions for which I haven't found answers on the internet. Hoping some folks here can offer some suggestions.
I've been reading about canning on the web, starting with the Alaska extension office, and one thing I've noticed is they used the term pressure canner not pressure cooker. I have what my grandmother called a pressure cooker. I thought the only difference was size and the psi gauge on the lid. (I thought the psi gauge was just something a bit more modern.) Mine has a weight that goes over a valve and it rocks and toggles back and forth while you cook/can/whatever. Anyway, from reading several websites, I've discovered that these older-school models use a 15 psi weight fairly universally. Everything I've read in regards to meat canning says 11 psi at sea level and 15 psi at 1k ft and above. Apparently, the psi relates to temperature, with higher pressures equaling higher temps. (240 deg F at 11 psi to be exact.) So my first question is, can I use a pressure cooker with no PSI gauge? (Seems like I should be able to-same process.) And 2.) what happens if I can meat (or anything else for that matter) using 15 psi instead of 11? It seems to me that the same results will be achieved because the meat will still be brought to that higher temperature. Is there such a thing as over-canning meat (like over cooking)?
My other question is about food quality and such. Obviously, since I'm canning store-bought meat, I could just buy canned meat, such as canned roast beef. It seems to me that that stuff gets processed a lot more than home-canned, fresh meat. Would there be any benefit, health and diet wise, to canning my own (less chemicals, etc.) over buying commercially canned meats?
So that's it. I know that's a lot of words for a couple questions.
PS: I'm sure someone is goig to ask: there reason I'm doing this is I plan to spend most of the summer at our cabin property with my son, and I'm looking for ways to keep whole foods without having to buy ice every other day. Canning ground beef wilt let me fix spaghetti, chili (real chilli, not Hormel in a can), tacos (all foods my son likes) without worrying about refrigeration. Err, that's my plan, at least.