Canning Meat

Canning Meat

Ever get tired of expensive, mediocre, canned meat at the store?  Want to take control of the quality of the food you eat by learning how to can meat safely?  It’s simple to do and it’s a great way to boost your pantry! Let’s take a look at my tutorial “Canning Meat” and I’ll show you how.

Typically, I can meat in the late fall/winter.  That’s because our beef is usually ready, from the farmer, at that time of year.

This year, we’re raising our own beef! 


However, it’s April, my beef freezer is getting low and our beef won’t be ready to process until January!

jars of canned hamburger

In order to stretch our meat supply, I decided to purchase some local ground chuck and bring it home to can the meat.  We’re also raising meat birds soon, so that should tide us over.

We like to have a year’s worth of meat at a time, both canned and in the freezer.


  1.  It keeps me out of the grocery store!  (I hate grocery shopping!)
  2.  We choose who will raise our beef and can set specifications, so we know what we’re eating! (We prefer grass-fed beef)
  3.  The price per pound is so much less when you buy 1/4, 1/2 or a whole beef!
  4.  Regardless of what the weather or economy does, we’ve got meat!
  5.  If the power goes down, we won’t have a freezer full of meat going bad! (By diversifying)
  6.  It allows you to take advantage of a great sale on meat, stock up and can it!

You can can any kind of meat or game!  Definitely invest in a good canning book and follow USDA standards.

Start with a clean work area!  Make sure you wipe everything down before you start.

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preparing a clean surface for canning

Supplies Needed for Canning Meat

What Do I Need?

-Good quality beef

-Pressure canner

NOTE:  You must use a pressure canner for low-acid foods, like meat.  Botulism can grow very easily in a low-acid environment and a water bath canner doesn’t get hot enough (212 degrees) to kill it. You must use a pressure canner, as it gets up to 240 degrees!  Be sure to process as long as your canning books say to, it’s important to keep your food safe!

-Tea kettle (for hot water)

Jars (I used pint-sized jars, which hold about #1 of meat)

-Lid and rings

-Large skillet to cook meat in

-Canning salt

-Canning book of your choice

canning jars on cookie sheet in oven


It’s a good idea to keep your sterilized jars hot while you’re preparing the meat.  I keep them in my oven, set on warm and sitting on a cookie sheet.

You can also keep your jars sterile by simply placing them in your canner, filled with the correct amount of water.  Fill your jars with water and keep them hot in the canner until ready to fill.

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frying hamburger to can

Here we are with our first batch of ground beef!  You also will want to keep your lids hot in simmering water, just don’t boil!

Also, make sure your tea kettle is full of hot water, you’ll need that soon.

So on four burners, I have a tea kettle, a pan of warming lids, my pressure canner and a skillet full of meat.

browning meat to can

Fry up your meat and be careful not to burn!  I keep a stainless steel bowl next to my skillet so that I can drain my meat with a slotted spoon and put my cooked meat in it.  You’ll want to drain off as much fat as you can.pouring cooked meat into jar

Once you’ve got about 5-6# of meat cooked and drained in your bowl, bring the bowl over to your clean counter area.

Take your hot jars out of the oven and place the cookie sheet on a pot holder on the counter.  

Using a large-mouth funnel, begin to scoop your hot meat into the jars, leaving 1″ of head room.

adding salt to meat in jar

Then add 1/2 tsp of canning salt to your pint jars, 1 tsp. of salt for quart jars.

pouring hot water with funnel

Then very carefully pour your hot water into the jar, be sure the cover the meat with liquid. (Use the best quality water you can afford – distilled or RO water is best!)

releasing bubbles from jar

Using a spatula, go around the edges of your jar to release any air bubbles.  Add more water if necessary. 

Wipe the rims of your jars with a very clean dish cloth or rag, first dipped in vinegar.

placing lid on jar

Now, remove the lids from hot water and gently place them on your jars, using tongs or a canning magnet.  Put your rings on and tighten, but not too tight.

jar of canned meat

Look how beautiful your canned meat is! jars of canned meat in pressure canner

Place your jars in the canner with at least 1″ space between them and the side.

Be sure to set your time for 75 minutes for pints, 90 minutes for quarts.

pressure canning

Use your canner’s instructions to process your jars, my canner is a little older so instructions may vary.

Once my jars and water are in the canner and the lid is on correctly, I put the heat on high until the valve pops up, see below.

This important process is called “venting” and takes place the first 10 minutes or so that you turn the heat on your canner.  Venting allows all of the air inside the canner to exit through the vent and allow hot air to build up.

pressure canning valve

When the valve pops up, this indicates that there’s enough pressure in the canner to put the weight on top.

Place the weight and wait for it to “jiggle”.  When the weight begins to “jiggle”, start your timer immediately.  

Watch the valve and the weight to make sure there isn’t too much “hissing”.  If the weight is hissing a lot, turn your heat down a bit and see if it levels out, it should only jiggle.

Once the timer goes off, carefully remove the canner from the heat and let it cool.

Remove the weight once the valve drops down.  After all hissing has stopped, carefully open the lid, facing it away from you!  There’s steam inside still and it’s hot.

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jars of canned beef

Remove your beautiful jars with a jar lifter and let them cool on the counter until completely cool. 

Date and label your jars! Make sure to use your meat up within a year (some sources say longer, up to 2 years) and keep an eye on the seal of the lid.  If the lid loses it’s seal, or the food discolors or smells in any way, don’t eat it.

Now you know how to can meat!  Give yourself a pat on the back!

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This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Susan

    Very interested in canning all kinds of meat

    1. kmorris

      Hi Susan, Canning meat is a lot of fun and it’s pretty simple once you’ve done it a couple of times!

  2. Sue

    Those jars should not be stored with the rings still on.

    1. Kelly

      Hi Sue,

      Storing jars with the rings on is just a personal preference and doesn’t harm the lid or the seal. Personally, I have drawers of rings, as well as rings stored on ropes in my pantry, so I look at leaving the rings on as just a way to store them. Thanks for bringing that up!

  3. Sally

    Is a pressure canner the same as using a normal pressure cooker? Newbie here!

    1. Kelly

      Hey Sally!

      No, a pressure cooker is completely different than a pressure canner. A pressure cooker is designed to cook meats and vegetables intended for mealtime, not to be preserved.

      A pressure canner is used when you’re actually canning food, inside of jars, for long-term food preservation.

      I hope that answers your question!

  4. Cathy

    I did not see how long you need to let them pressure?

    1. Kelly

      Hi Cathy!

      It’s 75 minutes for pints, 90 minutes for quarts!

  5. Brenda

    What pressure do you go by? 10 or 12 pressure?

    1. Kelly Morris

      Absolutely!!! Look at your Ball canning book for different times!

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