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!
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.
- It keeps me out of the grocery store! (I hate grocery shopping!)
- We choose who will raise our beef and can set specifications, so we know what we’re eating! (We prefer grass-fed beef)
- The price per pound is so much less when you buy 1/4, 1/2 or a whole beef!
- Regardless of what the weather or economy does, we’ve got meat!
- If the power goes down, we won’t have a freezer full of meat going bad! (By diversifying)
- 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.
Supplies Needed for Canning Meat
What Do I Need?
-Good quality beef
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)
-Lid and rings
-Large skillet to cook meat in
-Canning book of your choice
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.
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.
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.
Once you’ve got about 5-6# of meat cooked and drained in your bowl, bring the bowl over to your clean counter area.
Then add 1/2 tsp of canning salt to your pint jars, 1 tsp. of salt for quart jars.
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!)
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.
Look how beautiful your canned meat is!
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.
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.
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.
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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