You will need: a large (tall) pressure canner; a rack on feet OR 2 racks and jelly jars with caps and rings; quart jars with caps and rings, preferably wide-mouth, thick-sliced bacon, and parchment paper (or paper bags).
Get lots of parchment paper; I buy mine in rolls at Sam’s – much cheaper this way.
Get your jars ready – quarts will work best for this project, and wide-mouth will be easier to fill than regular mouth jars.
Remember that canning bacon works best with thick-sliced; most other will disintegrate or turn into a large blob of bacon.
Cook your bacon in advance (trust me when I say this works better than packing raw bacon, although, you CAN do that, too!). I microwave ours; but, cook it until it’s “crispy” (or, however you like it cooked). You will have to cook it up again to crisp it again when you open the jars, but, that won’t take much “cooking” when you pack it cooked.
Tear off a strip of parchment paper to hold about 8 slices, rolled up; if you get it too short, it doesn’t matter; you’ll just pull off another piece of parchment and keep going. Parchment paper cans just fine; don’t use wax paper – it does not. You CAN use paper bags, if necessary, but, parchment paper works best.
Roll your bacon, one cooked strip at a time, in parchment, making sure each strip is rolled and protected from the next strip by paper; if the bacon is wrapped meat-to-meat; it will all stick together after processing and cooling, and you will have one big lump of bacon. Good luck getting that out of the jar!
When you have about 8 strips (you may be able to get more in there!); fold the strips of wrapped bacon in “half”; trim the ends of the parchment, leaving about one (1) inch at either end of the bacon (one inch parchment paper hangover on each end).
GENTLY stuff the folded strips down inside your jars. This is where you will understand why I tell you wide-mouth is best here. You CAN use regular mouth, but, GENTLY work it down, using a spatula, or some such tool. And try not to mutter to yourself too much while stuffing regular mouth jars!
When the jar is filled (it’s o.k. if it’s not “full-full”, as in there are air spaces – that’s normal for this project), wipe jar openings with hot water. Each jar opening needs to be wiped down with VERY hot water and a fresh paper towel; fat is very easy to transfer. Wear protective insulated rubber gloves for handling the hot paper towels, but use one fresh paper towel per jar.
Sterilize your caps and place them; sterilize your rings and place them.
Now, you can process these down in the water, and the result will be “o.k.”. What I find works much better is to DRY CAN THE BACON. This is not running your canner dry – that will ruin your canner; what it means is the jars need to be held ABOVE the water line while processing. (BTW: you can use this method to sterilize tools and instruments, but, that’s another story for another day).
This is where the height of your canner is important, and thus, a bigger canner works better for this project – make sure you have three (3) inches of clearance between the top of your bacon jars and the top of your canner, when it is sealed. So, when you put in all your racks and your jelly jars of water, or whatever, then your next rack and the jars of bacon, you need 3 inches of clearance at the top.
Make sure you have about three (3) inches of water in your canner; you don’t want to run out of water.
Use a rack with legs that hold the jars above the water line (good luck finding THAT!), or – do this:
1. Place one rack in the bottom of the canner, as you always do.
2. Fill at least four (4) jelly jars with water and add lids and rings; you can either process good, clean water (not municipal, fluoride, nano-particle drug water!) and store it as sterile water (an excellent prep item – use for cleaning out wounds, etc.), or, just sacrifice a few caps for the sake of the project without saving the water – you can use the same jelly jars of water as many times as you need. Let them cool a little between loads. You’re going to use the jelly jars to build up the height for processing bacon; YOU CAN NOT DO THIS WITH EMPTY JARS – THEY WILL ‘FLOAT”, AND CRACK DURING PROCESSING. You can not process other food in the jelly jars at the same time, as jelly jars are much smaller than quarts; food processed in a jelly jar for that length of time will turn to mush.
3. Place jelly jars of water atop first rack that is protecting them from bottom of canner.
4. Place a second rack on top of jelly jars – this rack can literally lay across them
5. Set your quarts of bacon atop this SECOND rack. Check your water in canner – you need three (3) inches of water; if water laps bottom of jars, o.k., but you don’t want them immersed in water.
6. Seal your canner and fire her up!
7. On high heat, build your steam; steam it out for 10 minutes, as always (10 minute tornado from the vent pipe);
8. Place your counterweight on the vent pipe; bring to 10 lbs. pressure and process @ 10 lbs. for 90 minutes because we’re doing quarts. After 90 minutes at 10 lbs. pressure, turn off heat if gas, remove from heat if electric.
9. Allow to cool naturally; remove jars; if wide-mouth, remember, they don’t make the noise regular mouth make when sealing, and they don’t make the same sound when tapped. NEVER TAP THE CENTER OF THE CAP TO TEST – TAP AROUND THE EDGES.
10. When thoroughly cooled, wash your jars of bacon in hot, soapy water (fat everywhere!), rinse in hot water, allow jars to thoroughly dry; mark caps with contents and date and store away.
To enjoy: it’s already cooked; you could just set it out in the sun and heat it up, or, eat it straight from the jar. But, Yes! It will be greasy (the paper does absorb a lot of the grease). I like to throw it in a pre-heated cast iron skillet and just “re-crisp” it. It doesn’t take long at all!
This works out great for camping (even though it is in glass). That glass jar comes in handy for storing other leftovers, as well, so, you’ll get more than one use from the jar while traveling.
It’s also convenient to have pre-cooked bacon at the ready for a quick breakfast, casserole, etc.
How long is this good? 5-6 years, if you store it out of direct sunlight, and away from heat sources.
And now you know: how to dry can bacon! If you don’t want to dry can, just use the standard method of one rack sitting in the water; all other instructions do not change.
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