Friday, November 23, 2012

Food Storage Cheeseburgers

This cheeseburger was made entirely out of our food storage.
I started canning hamburger patties about five years ago.  My first efforts weren't so good because I still canned meat by covering it with water and leaving headspace.  It left the burgers soggy and tastless.  Then I heard about dry-canning and I've been doing that ever since.

Canned Hamburger Patties
I brown the burger patties on both sides, then set them on a platter to cool a bit.  When I form the patties I use a lid from a wide-mouth jar as a sizer so the burgers will be just slightly smaller than the jar after I brown them, but not too big to drop in the jar.  I use wide-mouth jars because it's easy to shake the burger patties out, or to fish them out with a fork if necessary.

Canned cheddar cheese
I learned about canning cheese about a year later.  The instructions for that are just a couple posts away from this one on this blog.  When I'm ready to make a cheeseburger I slide the cheese out of the jar and slice off what I'll need.

Using my stored flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and oil (or shortening), I make dinner rolls. Some of my tips for storing these items will be at the end of this post.  Right now I want to stick with the cheeseburgers for those who don't need information on how to store these ingredients.
When the dinner rolls are ready I take however many I need for the meal, and slice them in half, then set them aside.  I open a jar of hamburger patties and pull out the number of patties I need.  The burgers are heated in a pan on the stove.  The burgers in the top of the jar will be drier than those farther down.  If the ones you are using feel a bit too dry, add a little bit of water to the pan. 
The burgers are already cooked, so they only need to be heated.  If you have a microwave oven you can heat them in there and skip using the stove.  Just place the burger patties on a paper plate or other microwave-safe dish and heat them in the microwave.  You'll have to experiment with time since all microwaves are different, but I wouldn't give it more than a minute at a time.  30 seconds might be better until you know how much time your own microwave will take.
Take the jar of cheese and dip the outside in hot water for a couple of minutes.  Run a knife around the inside of the jar between the cheese and the glass, then using the knife, gently pull the cheese out of the jar.  You don't have to pull it all the way out if you don't want.  You can edge out enough for a cheese slice and cut it off with a knife or cheese slicer, then edge it out a little more and cut another slice.  Or you can pull the whole thing out and slice it.  Simply push the leftover cheese block back into the jar and put the lid back on.
 Slicing canned cheese
Once the jar of burgers or cheese is open, the leftovers should be stored in the fridge
For condiments, I have dried onions from my own garden.  I soften them in water while waiting for the meat to heat.  When they're rehydrated I drain the water and let them air-dry for a few minutes while I slice the cheese.
I keep ketchup in my food storage, but if I didn't, I'd take some of the dried tomato slices from this year's garden and put them in the blender to make a powder.  This is assuming there is electricity available to do this, by the way.  If not, you might want to just rehydrate the tomato slices in water and put them on the burger.  But if you can make the tomato powder, then you can add some sugar and vinegar, and water if it's still dry.  Stir it and you have a reasonable imitation of ketchup.
I store bottled mustard and the spice jars of dry mustard.  If you only have the dry mustard, add little bit of vinegar or water, or both, and spread it on the bun.

If you don't have pickles stored, adding vinegar to the tomato powder or mustard powder can fool you a little bit, into thinking there's a pickle in there somewhere.
Mayo, if you use it on burgers, can be stored in jars, either store-bought or homemade, or you can make it on the spot if you have eggs and the other ingredients. 
It's possible to dehydrate lettuce, and I've done it, but mine crumbled when I tried to rehydrate it.  The chickens enjoyed it.
If all you have is butter or margarine it'll at least add moisture and flavor to the sandwich.
One of our favorite variations to the standard cheeseburger is to lay the bun open face on a plate and place a heated burger on each half.  Pour chili over it, sprinkle with rehydrated onions, and shredded cheese from the block of canned cheese.
We have enough solar power now to run a small refrigerator in the summer, but until a few years ago we only had meat or cheese if it was canned.  The exception was in the winter, which is consistently cold enough here that we can keep food in a cooler on the north side of our cabin.  We still disconnect the refrigerator in the fall because of the very short hours of daylight this far north in winter.  The canned meat and cheese has provided us with many good and varied meals. 
Canned meat and cheese are great to keep on hand in case you're stranded at home during a bad storm and want something interesting to eat.  Or you can take the meat and cheese with you on a camping trip, and either make or buy buns before you leave, and have a treat in the wilderness.  If you're preparing for long-term disasters it'll give you a nice break from basic storage food like rice, beans, flour, etc.
One of my upcoming posts will include pictures and instructions for canning meat.
 I store flour and sugar in 2-gallon plastic buckets from a local bakery.  I don't do anything special to it; I just pour the contents of 25-lb. bags into the buckets, then label them with a marker.  Before I discovered this source for buckets I put the bags in a large plastic tote. I taped over the vent holes in the handles with masking tape or duct tape, to keep out bugs.  If it was going to be stored more than a month or two, I also ran tape around where the lid and container came together.  I've also at times put the bag of sugar or flour in a large plastic trash bag if I had to store them under a bed or somewhere similar, but I'm not comfortable with what chemicals may be in or on the trash bags.  Some are treated with pesticides.
I set cans of salt inside a 2-gallon bucket and snap the lid on.  That keeps the salt dry, since the cardboard cans it comes in are susceptible to moisture.  I can fit 3 cans on the bottom layer and 4 cans on the top layer.
If you have a Food Saver or other vacuum-sealer you can seal the salt in bags, and then place it in the bucket or other storage container. 
If I've missed anything, please let me know.  My two-year old grandson has been playing on my lap during most of the writing of this post, so who knows what I might have missed!  :)


  1. Another ketchup substitute is to take some fresh or canned tomatoes and saute them until they're almost-but-not-quite scorched, then add salt and a dash of mustard powder.

    In the summer I also take grape tomatoes and cook them in a skillet until the skins are seared, then squish them up with salt and use like ketchup. Chunky ketchup, but it works.

    1. Thanks! I can't wait to try it. What a great idea!


  2. Thank you for this info, can't wait to try it.

    1. Be sure and write to tell us what you think after you try it. Maybe you'll think of some variations to share with us!