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Consistency of Chili

Posted by jenswrens z6 (My Page) on
Fri, Mar 14, 14 at 15:14

What should the consistency of canned chili be? I made the BBB recipe (using ground beef and a jar of whole tomatoes I canned last year), and after cooking for the requisite time, it seemed like it was really thick - mostly just ground beef.

The NCHFP recipe, which uses beans, explicitly says Do Not Thicken. When I tried searching for images of what canned chili should look like, I got a myriad of different confusing images, mostly from sites that everyone here says are not trusted.

How thick should it be? Anyone have a photo to share? I know density can be an issue, and I just want to make sure I'm doing the safe thing. Here's what my BBB chili looked like. Is that about right?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Consistency of Chili

  • Posted by digdirt 6b-7a North AR (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 14, 14 at 18:14

Looks a little thick to me if it is just out of the jar. It also looks like the meat wasn't browned well first and is still awfully pink but that may just be the color in the photo.

Best way I know to describe it is it needs to be able to freely slosh around in the jar and you can see free liquid. It always contains more liquid in the jar than you would serve normally. We always open the jar, dump in the pan, and cook it down to the desired consistency.

The problem with chili questions is that "chili" means very different things to different people and many recipes called chili have little in common with each other. In my house we can't imagine chili without kidney beans, chili beans, and chunks of peppers and onions and tomatoes. Nor can we picture chili made with anything but ground meats. And ours is a dark brown not pink. But we never make the BBB recipe, only the NCHFP recipe.

But I will add that given the long processing time I would consider it safe to eat especially as it gets further cooking after opening the jars.


RE: Consistency of Chili

This was the recipe as made before I canned it. I never actually even got around to putting it in jars (we just ate it), because I was concerned it was too thick to can.

It tasted okay. Just didn't look like any chili I had ever made before. And it certainly wouldn't have sloshed around in the jar. It was like lumps of ground beef colored with a bit of tomato. :-\

Maybe I will try the NCHFP recipe, although I really don't want beans in my chili.

Are these the only 2 recipes for chili out there?

RE: Consistency of Chili

  • Posted by digdirt 6b-7a North AR (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 14, 14 at 21:12

You can use the NCHFP recipe and just leave out the beans. Just don't increase any of the other ingredients. It will produce less jars of course.

Likely there are other approved recipes but browsing through all my books they are just minor variations of the NCHFP recipe.

Primarily because as I said, just like "spaghetti sauce". chili means very different things to people. Just as you don't want beans in yours. :)

So most won't find a finished recipe that meets their tastes and they will elect to just can the ingredients separately - meat, tomatoes, sauce, etc. - and then combine them into chili at serving time. That way you can have or leave out whatever you wish.


RE: Consistency of Chili

browsing through all my books they are just minor variations of the NCHFP recipe.

What other books would those be? :-) Care to share a few? I would love to add to my paltry collection of just the BBB and the online NCHFP.

RE: Consistency of Chili

  • Posted by digdirt 6b-7a North AR (My Page) on
    Tue, Mar 18, 14 at 17:49

Sure, we have lots of recommended books discussions here the search will pull up if you want a whole list.

Personally I have So Easy to Preserve (the NCHFP book), the Ball Complete Book, Putting Food By, Joy of Pickling, Small Batch Preserving, The Farmer's Wife (used only with care), Putting Up (not recommended), You Can Can, the Dehydrators Bible, Canning for Dummies, Preserving Made easy, The New Preserves, and decades worth of BBBooks.

I have many others too but many are not current and not all of them are good for beginners or those who haven't had the training to accurately evaluate the recipes so I don't list them.

The best bets for anyone without training or years of experience and working with low-acid foods is NCHFP, BBB, and Ball Complete Book. They cover everything that is needed by the majority of home canners. Beyond them one can easily get into trouble. For high acid recipes there are many jam, pickling, relishes, etc. books available that are fine.

But there are also many so-called "canning books", not to mention blogs and recipes sites, on the market that are NOT safe instructions for low-acid canning and we have reviewed many of them here before too. They are often authored by those who insist that you can safely can anything you want to and can safely can your own made up recipes. Neither claim is valid.


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