Home canning meat is one of those afternoon projects that can easily add variety to your home food storage. It also makes for some quick dinners!
Growing up, canning was a big thing in my life. I watched the women in my family make mason jars full of garden vegetables, spaghetti sauce, jams & jellies. It was an amazing thing and I loved to help. I didn’t realize until much later in life that canning meat was an actual thing. It makes sense though, we buy tuna, salmon, corned beef, etc. in the grocery store. I was hooked.
HOME CANNING MEAT IS THE BEST
How could it not be? Having fully cooked meat on my shelf ready to go in meals at any time is a huge blessing! I’m big on meal prepping but things don’t always go as planned: traffic, emergencies, you’re just too tired to cook, anything is possible. If I get home late, I don’t have to worry about thawing meat from the freezer. It’s ready to just go into whatever I’m cooking. By canning it myself, I know everything that is in the jar. I don’t have to worry about preservatives, additives, sodium or MSG.
The other amazing thing about home canning meat instead of just filling the freezer is we have hurricanes. I know every September or October we’re going to have either a hurricane or a serious tropical storm. Power outages usually follow both of these incidents. A lengthy power outage can mean all the meat in my freezer is lost. That’s a lot of money to go down the drain. By canning the meat, that worry is gone.
HOT PACK VS. RAW PACK
This process can be used with almost any type of meat: beef, elk, moose, venison, pork, chicken…the list goes on. There are 2 ways to can meat. You can hot pack or raw pack. Hot pack requires browning the meat, adding broth, etc. it’s a whole process. Raw pack is so much simpler because you cut it up, pack it in the jars and process in a pressure canner. I like simple so raw pack is what I do. If you’re interested in hot pack canning, there are tons of examples on Pinterest.
You must always use a pressure canner when canning low acid foods like meat, beans and potatoes. This pressure canner is a great one to start with. It’s the one I currently use. At some point, I’ll invest in this one but right now the lower cost one works great. You just have to have extra seals on hand with the lower priced one. Not a major thing.
You must also always use new lids. The rings can be reused but the lids (the flat piece) needs to be new with each canning session. You can reuse your jars. They just need to be cleaned with hot, soapy water inside and out.
You’re going to start by picking your jars. I prefer the wide mouth. They’re easier to clean and it’s just easier to pack in the food. The size you pick depends on how much you will be serving for each meal. Pint jars usually hold 1 pound, quart usually holds 2 pounds. For my villagers, we use quart jars. Teenagers eat a lot. Also, when you’re working with glass jars, it’s easier to put a towel on the counter. It makes them less likely to slip around and putting a hot jar on a cold counter can cause breakage. The towel absorbs the heat so they don’t break.
My canner will hold 7 quart jars at a time. You always want to run a full canner load so if you’re canning 7 quarts like I am, you’ll need 14+ pounds of meat ready to go.
CANNING MEAT AT HOME
Take your meat of choice, today I’m canning beef. Cube up the beef into 1.5 inch or so pieces. Trim the meat pretty well. You don’t have to get everything but getting it trimmed well is important.
Take your clean jars and fill them. Using a jar funnel will help keep the rims of the jars clean. If they’re not fully clean, you won’t get a good seal. You need to leave an inch of headspace. Pack the meat down a little to fill it.
I add a teaspoon of salt to each jar. This step isn’t necessary but I think it adds flavor. If you’re on a salt restricted diet, you can skip it completely.
Add 2 inches of hot water to each jar. You don’t need boiling water but a good simmer is great. This is one of those controversial steps. Some say to add the water, some don’t. It’s your choice. Take your bubble tool and go around the inside of the jar.
Wipe the rims of your jars to help make sure they seal, I use vinegar. If they’re not clean, they won’t seal correctly.
Add lids and rings fingertip tight. It’s time to process. Use the USDA guidelines according to your elevation.
Once they’ve processed, celebrate!
Having these jars in my pantry give me a great sense of security. Knowing that my family will have food even if the power goes out is priceless!
What about you? Do you participate in canning? What is your favorite home canned food?
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