by WRETHAOFFGRID on JUNE 9, 2010 - 30 Comments in FOOD, OFF-GRID 101, SELF-SUFFICIENCY, WRETHA
I received an email ad today from one of my regulars about buying up the last stock available on their website of canned meats, cheese and butter, once it’s gone, it’s gone. That prompted a flurry of searching for the best prices on these items. In the process I ran across an article about canning your own cheese. I already knew about canning butter, but didn’t think about canning cheese too.
DISCLAIMER: The methods discussed in this article for canning cheese and butter are not approved or recommended by the powers that be (FDA), neither I or anyone associated with this website are responsible for anything that may happen as a result of using anything discussed here. You are responsible for your own actions and consequences of trying anything I write about here.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled article. There is nothing new about canning, you can find commercially canned butter and cheese. But if you are willing to put in a bit of time and effort, you can easily can your own cheese and butter. Just think, you find a great deal on cheese and butter, you pick up a large quantity of each, you go home and get out your canning supplies and get to work. In a few hours you will have your own supply of cheese and butter that doesn’t have to be refrigerated and should last quite a long time.
First we can discuss canning butter, it’s the easiest of the two to make, it doesn’t even require a water bath! Be sure to use a good quality, full fat butter, salted is better, it lasts longer. Do not try this with margarine or spreads, it will not work.
1. Use any butter that is on sale. Lesser quality butter requires more shaking (see #5 below), but the results are the same as with the expensive brands.
2. Heat pint jars in a 250 degree oven for 20 minutes, without rings or seals. One pound of butter slightly more than fills one pint jar, so if you melt 11 pounds of butter, heat 12 pint jars. A roasting pan works well for holding the pint jars while in the oven.
3. While the jars are heating, melt butter slowly until it comes to a slow boil. Using a large spatula, stir the bottom of the pot often to keep the butter from scorching. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes at least: a good simmer time will lessen the amount of shaking required (see #5 below). Place the lids in a small pot and bring to a boil, leaving the lids in simmering water until needed.
4. Stirring the melted butter from the bottom to the top with a soup ladle or small pot with a handle, pour the melted butter carefully into heated jars through a canning jar funnel. Leave 3/4″ of head space in the jar, which allows room for the shaking process.
5. Carefully wipe off the top of the jars, then get a hot lid from the simmering water, add the lid and ring and tighten securely. Lids will seal as they cool. Once a few lids “ping,” shake while the jars are still warm, but cool enough to handle easily, because the butter will separate and become foamy on top and white on the bottom. In a few minutes, shake again, and repeat until the butter retains the same consistency throughout the jar.
6. At this point, while still slightly warm, put the jars into a refrigerator. While cooling and hardening, shake again, and the melted butter will then look like butter and become firm. This final shaking is very important! Check every 5 minutes and give the jars a little shake until they are hardened in the jar! Leave in the refrigerator for an hour.
7. Canned butter should store for 3 years or longer on a cool, dark shelf. (It does last a long time. We have just used up the last of the butter we canned in 1999, and it was fine after 5 years.) Canned butter does not “melt” again when opened, so it does not need to be refrigerated upon opening, provided it is used within a reasonable length of time.
there are many other great ideas on this site, including “hamburger rocks”, that’s canned hamburger pieces.
Here is a recipe for canned cheese.
CANNING SOFT CHEESE
Home canned “soft cheese” has better cooking properties than store bought bottled cheese meant for snack food. It contains no preservatives and is more economical than commercial products for cooking purposes. These instructions yield a product that is similar to “Cheese Whiz”, yet better tasting for a recipe of macaroni and cheese. This simple to do recipe for home canned cheese will keep for 2 years plus.
* 1 (5 oz.) can evaporated milk
* 1 T. vinegar
* ½ tsp. salt
* 1 lb. Velveeta cheese or any processed cheese
* ½ tsp. dry mustard
Melt milk and cheese in double boiler. Add rest of ingredients and mix well. Fill pint jars about 3/4 full and seal. Place in Boiling Water bath for 10 minutes.
Here is another recipe for canned cheese.
When I heard about canning butter, I was also told that you can do cheese the same way. Here’s what I do. I’ve only canned cheddar cheese, but I suppose it would work for any hard cheese. As with the canning butter recipe, I could not find any “approved” method in any of my books, and when I called the extension service, I was told that canning cheese like this was not an approved method by the FDA. Sooooooo, use at your own risk. This is just for information and to let you know what I do. Remember, this is not an FDA approved method.
Since the original writing of this post I have used this with Cheddar Cheeses, Swiss Cheese, Mozzarella, Monterrey Jack, Colby Jack, and even Cream Cheese (regular, not the soft kind in the tubs). All have worked beautifully, even the Cream Cheese. I have used them as long as 5 years after canning and have not become sick from any of them, even when eating the cheese right out of the jar. But, again, the FDA says that this is not an approved way to preserve cheese, so . . . use at your own risk. I have found that the flavor of all the canned cheese intensifies a bit over time, but it is not at all unpleasant. We prefer it. The Mozzarella Cheese darkened a bit, but it did not seem to affect the flavor, except that like the others, it was more flavorful.
There are really 2 ways. I used to melt the cheese in a double boiler, then spoon it into the sterilized jars. Sometimes the cheese sticks to the bottom of the pan, and the whole thing is a big, gloppy mess.
Here’s better way that’s cleaner, faster and easier.
1. I sterilize wide mouth pint jars (wide mouth half-pint jars may be used) in a 250 degree oven for at least 20 minutes. Since it’s harder to regulate a woodburning cookstove oven to that low a temperature, mine is usually hotter. Since you’ll process the cheese in a boiling water bath for awhile, this probably isn’t necessary, but I think it’s safer, so it’s what I do.
2. Sterilize new canning lids according to package instructions. I let them simmer in water about 5 minutes, then keep them in hot water until I need them.
3. Now I either cut up the cheese, or if it’s frozen I crumble it and pack it into clean, dry pint jars. Then I place the jars (without lids) on a rack in my boiling water bath canner, to which I have already added some water. Do not put the lid on the canner while the cheese is melting. You want the water to come about halfway up the jars. Any higher and it bubbles into the jars if it gets to boiling. Then, as the cheese melts, I add more cheese until the cheese fills the jars to within about ½ inch of the top.
4. When all melted, I remove the jars from the canner, wipe the rims, and seal the jars. Then I proceed with the boiling water bath for 40 minutes. (I use the Extension Service method of doing a boiling water bath.) When ready, remove jars from water with a jar lifter. Leave undisturbed until completely cooled. Check to make sure all the lids have sealed before labeling and storing.
As with butter, 11 pounds will fill about 12 1/2 pint jars — or just over 3/4 pound per pint jar. We keep ours in the cache year round. We’ve eaten cheese that I canned like this several years earlier and it was delicious. It tends to get a little sharper, which I like. It doesn’t melt as good as fresh cheese, but when you’re in the bush and don’t have fresh cheese, it’s more than acceptable any way you’d use fresh cheese! During the winter, we usually keep cheese stored in buckets outside so it stays frozen. But, like meat, come springtime with the warmer temperatures, I start canning.
To remove the cheese from the jar, there are basically two ways. You could place the jar in a pan of water (loosen the lid a bit first), and then place that pan in another pan of boiling (or hot) water. This melts the outside of the cheese and will help it slip out of the jar. But, it also heats the cheese, which may or may not be desirable. I usually just run a knife between the cheese and the jar. Sometimes the cheese will slide right out, but usually I have to sort of cut and pull it out in chunks.
I usually can butter in regular mouth jars because I don’t try to take it out of the jar all in one piece. That would be hard with cheese.
This recipe came from
Thanks Jenny for the update!
I hope I have inspired you to dig our your canning jars and run to the store next time there is a sale on butter and cheese! Be sure to visit the websites listed above, they have lots of great information.