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How To Can Cheese And Butter

>29 May 2010
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canning cheese

I came across the coolest articles the other day. Have you ever heard of canning butter or cheese? I’d never even thought about it, but what a great idea! Of course the big FDA doesn’t approve of these methods, so use at your own risk (usually if something isn’t approved it just means that it hasn’t been tested by the FDA). Though you know, I don’t understand why you can buy canned butter or cheese from a grocer, but it’s not safe to do it yourself. Whatever. Politics as usual.

Anyways… as I was saying…

Here is how to can butter, from End Times Report:

1.   Use any butter that is on sale. (Salted is better; don’t use margarine.) 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.

A lovely glow seems to emanate from every jar. You will also be glowing with grateful satisfaction while placing this “sunshine in a jar” on your pantry shelves.

We have canned over 75 pints of butter in the past year. Miles loves it and will open a jar when I’m not looking! I buy butter on sale, then keep it frozen until I have enough for canning 2 or 3 batches of a dozen jars each.

Here is a recipe for canning soft cheese, also from End Times Report (.com):

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.

Ingredients:

* 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’s another recipe for canned cheese, from Jenny at Frontier Freedom :

Jenny shares that she has used this recipe to can Cheddar, Swiss, Mozzarella, Monterrey Jack, Colby Jack, and Cream Cheese! Please check out her post to read the entire article.

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.

Here’s what Jackie Clay from Backwoods Home said about how she cans cheese:

You won’t find this one in a canning manual, but I experimented around and found something that works for me. One day I was canning tomatoes while whacking a chunk of cheddar cheese for “lunch.” Mmmm, I wondered. Tomatoes are acid. Cheese is acid. So I cut up cubes of cheese, sitting a wide-mouthed pint jar in a pan of water, on the wood stove. Slowly cubes of cheese melted and I added more until the jar was full to within half an inch of the top. Then I put a hot, previously boiled lid on the jar, screwed down the ring firmly tight and added the cheese to a batch of jars in the boiling water bath canner to process. It sealed on removal, right along with the jars of tomatoes. Two years later, I opened it and it was great. Perhaps a little sharper than before, but great. So I started canning cheese of all types (but not soft cheeses) and, so far, they’ve all been successful. To take the cheeses out of the jar, dip the jar in a pan of boiling water for a few minutes, then take a knife and go around the jar, gently prying the cheese out. Store it in a plastic zip lock bag.

— Jackie

There are also a few discussion threads about canning butter and canning cheese, if you wanna read more about what others are saying. You can also see how Cocoa at Chocolate On My Cranium canned her own butter using the method mentioned above.

Have you ever tried canning butter or cheese? I’d love to know if you have, and what you think of it!


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12 Comments »

  • Caroline said:

    I think I would tend to lean towards canning ghee (clarified butter with milk solids removed) rather than whole butter. For one thing, you don’t have to worry about mixing it, for another it has been time tested in India as a safe way to preserve an otherwise highly perishable dairy product.

    As for USDA/FDA rules, I asked why things that were safe back in the day supposedly are no longer and got a pretty convincing answer.

    Today we have far more virulent strains of micro-organisms in the air and environment than we used to have before antibiotics became so widely used. (Most people don’t realize that there are now strains of pneumonia that there is no cure for, that was not the case even a few years ago.) These new “superbugs” are tougher and more resistant to the things that used to kill their predecessors. Also as we have bred plants and genetically altered them to have qualities we find pleasing,(like lower acid tomatoes), we have inadvertently changed some of the properties that made them safer or longer lasting using old fashioned methods of preservation. Commercial methods are far more stringent and fast. The fast is the big deal that prevents bacterial growth and preserves quality. Some bacteria double in population every few minutes! 15 second flash freezing often gives a better product than when it takes 2 or more hours to freeze. In that two hours, there will be bacterial activity that may of may not be negative, depending on the product. (Aging meat is a positive use.)

    Completely healthy people will be less effected by possible bacteria than compromised people- but there are so many things that can compromise even a normally healthy person- a case of hives or poison ivy, lack of sleep even can weaken your immune system for the day.

    Last question- why would you want to eat velveeta even “fresh”? It keeps for months unrefrigerated as it is, no need to waste energy canning it!

  • Lacey S. said:

    Hey I loved this post! One question though, I make my own honey cinnamon butter, could you can that the same way?

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Lacey,

    I don’t know, but I think I’d stick to just canning it by itself, and then mixing it with other flavors after I’ve opened the jar.

  • Olivia said:

    Wow, this is such an interesting concept! I love this! I recently made buttermilk cheese from a recipe I found in Country Living Magazine and it was so simple! It called for whole milk, buttermilk and sea salt and consisted of cooking it for 8 minutes until the curds seperated from the whey. It tasted great!! (You can find the quantities on CL website) Anyway, I realized that we don’t even know simple skills like making milk into cheese these days! Now to find out cheese and butter can be “canned”! I love all this information on simple ways to preserve food and also the advice on being thrifty, thank you so much!
    Blessings,
    Olivia
    cozycomfycottage.blogspot.com

  • erinthebeekeeper said:

    “Canning” butter in this way is incredibly dangerous and will support botulism. Here is a good link on why it is dangerous http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/questions/FAQ_canning.html#33

    If you want butter for long term storage dried butter from a reputable food storage company is your best option.

  • Shelley said:

    Thanks Erin for the link to U of G. Canning butter is extremely dangerous and NOT a political statement from the USDA! Botulism grows in a non-acid, oxygen free enviroment….so butter with a vacuum seal! It is odorless, colorless and tasteless….and deadly! If you want to kill your family….can butter!

  • Pam B said:

    I don’t know that I’d ever try canning butter or cheeses. I generally freeze extra butter & cheese, and I’ve kept some of those for 1-2 years and they’ve still been quite edible. Velveeta or the generic versions keep for so long at room temp if they’re sealed, I wouldn’t think canning would be saving much if anything.

  • Jay said:

    Erin, thanks for the link. There is a lot of good information there. However, it is important to note that their standard answer for many things including butter and cheese is “it hasn’t been tested by US yet so we can’t recommend it.” It is interesting that all of their data IS from the USDA which has taken a highly critical stance on canning just about anything at home.

    I do agree with this part though: “2. The butter is not really being ‘canned’; it is simply being melted and put in canning jars, and covered with lids. Due to some heat present from the hot melted butters and preheated jars, some degree of vacuum is pulled on the lids to develop a seal. It rarely is as strong a vacuum as you obtain in jars sealed through heat processing. The practice in these ‘canned’ butter directions is referred to as ‘open-kettle’ canning in our terminology, which is really no canning at all, since the jar (with product in it) is not being heat processed before storage.”

    I am looking into canning butter myself for long term storage “just in case.” I wonder what would prevent someone from pressure canning the butter as you would other low acid foods like meat? You could still shake the bottles after they seal as they start to cool to help remix the contents or for that matter, just let them stay separated and remix when you get ready to use it… I notice that the answer to the question was very carefully worded to reference only the most popular web sites that come up when you google.

  • Mary Dew said:

    I noticed in that UGA article that they referred to sterilizing the jars in the oven. No problem, sterilize in water, then dry thoroughly and place on cookie sheet in low oven to keep warm. The article is also refering to making butter instead of clarified/ghee butter.

    If you make ghee instead, there is less of a chance of botulism, and it will store indefinately. You remove the froth while the butter is boiling, and then only use the pure clear buttery part, and place the white substance at the bottom of the pan somewhere else to use in other things instead of storing.

    There are 2 YouTubes on canning butter. Just go to the site, the type in how to can butter.

  • Julie said:

    Mary Dew, thank you for your comments. I agree with you. I can butter the same way that you do and have never had a problem. Blessings!

  • DianeMargaret Miller said:

    I understand why you would add milk to the velvetta but WHY add the vinegar & ESPECIALLY the mustard?!!
    Would that not change the taste of the velvetta drastically?

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    LOL, Diane Margaret… I don’t know why they do this to the cheese. I personally haven’t tried this recipe, but it’s supposed to be a good one. Wouldn’t hurt to try!

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