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Canning Bacon and Sausage

Canning of meats is a bit daunting for some, especially beginners. But there are people who have pioneered these preserving processes for us, so we can use their experiences to build up our confidence in this area. Learning these processes will allow you to have bacon and sausage on hand, even if you don’t have a freezer.

Before starting, inspect jars for nicks and cracks. Reusing rings is okay if they are in good shape – not dented or rusty. However, reusing lids is not. That may lead to food poisoning, so buy new lids each time. Wash jars, lids, and rings in soapy water. Rinse well. Boil jars, lids, and rings in a large kettle or canning pot. Keep jars, lids, and rings in boiling water until ready to fill.

Canning Bacon

You will need plain brown paper a foot wide (you can get this from a hardware store). You can also use butcher or parchment paper.

  1. Lay paper out on your work surface about two feet long.
  2. Line the raw bacon out on the paper as close together as possible, without overlapping. Depending on the thickness of your bacon, you will fit between eight and sixteen slices of bacon on this length of paper.
  3. Trim paper to the length of the bacon; don’t leave a paper tail.
  4. Cover with another layer of paper the same length.
  5. Lay a yardstick on top of the bacon and paper layers to help keep everything together, then fold the whole thing in half lengthwise.
  6. Starting at narrow edge, tightly roll the rectangle of bacon and paper. You will need to tuck as you roll.
  7. Slide the roll into a wide-mouth quart jar. It may need to be “screwed” in. If the roll won’t fit, unroll it just far enough to remove one slice of bacon, then put it into the jar.
  8. Repeat for all the bacon. You will fill approximately one quart per pound of bacon. There may be a few slices left over. Make some bacon bits for a salad or baked potato bar.
  9. Place lids and rings on the jars. It may take a bit of squishing to get them in place if the bacon sticks up above the jar rim.
  10. Do NOT add water or any other liquid to the jars. Bacon is canned RAW and DRY.
  11. Put two to three inches of hot water in your pressure canner (or the amount specified by the manufacturer).
  12. Place jars in canner so that the steam can freely move around each jar.
  13. Place the lid on the canner and fasten it securely so that the steam escapes only through vent.
  14. Let the steam vent for ten minutes (or follow manufacturers directions). This will allow all of the air to escape from the canner. If it is not vented properly, you will have air pressure as well as steam pressure and will get a faulty pressure reading.
  15. If you are using a dial gauge, close the petcock at this point. If you’re using a weighted gauge, put the weight in place.
  16. With either type of gauge, follow the manufacturers instructions for determining when ten pounds of pressure has been reached.
  17. Process at ten pounds of pressure for ninety minutes.
  18. Follow manufacturers directions for cooling and opening the canner.
  19. When you take your jars from the canner, there will be about an inch of liquid in the bottom of the jars. This is normal. When the fat cools, it will turn white and be solid.
  20. Cool the jars and check the seals to be sure they have sealed properly. Modern rings and lids are easily checked; slight pinging sounds will be heard as the jars cool. This sound is your signal that the vacuum seal has formed. The center of the lid will also dip slightly. To check for that dip, try pushing the center of the lid down; if it doesn’t push down, it is sealed. If the lid does push down and springs back up, the jar is not sealed. If the lid is dipped but pushes down and holds, the seal is questionable. If jars leak when tested, they are not properly sealed. Remove lid carefully and either reprocess with a new lid or use contents immediately.
  21. If using anything other than modern rings and lids, read the manufacturers instructions for the proper way to check your seals.
  22. Label and store in a cool, dry place. Shelf life is generally six to eight months, but up to a year is possible.
  23. To enjoy your preserved bacon, open jar and slide out bacon. Unroll and spread open. The paper will be greasy and creased, but it should not disintegrate. Peel the paper off the bacon (it will be a bit messy, but it will peel away).
  24. When paper has been removed, just fry like normal. It cooks up really well.

Canning Sausage

Canning sausage works best with freshly made sausage.

  1. Cook sausage to brown lightly.  It can be made into patties or broken up into crumbles. Brown patties on both sides.
  2. Fill jars with HOT sausage, leaving one inch of headspace.
  3. Pour 1-2 inches of HOT sausage grease into jars.
  4. Place lids and rings on jars tightly.
  5. Put two to three inches of hot water in your pressure canner (or the amount specified by the manufacturer).
  6. Place jars in canner so that the steam can freely move around each jar.
  7. Place the lid on the canner and fasten it securely so that the steam escapes only through vent.
  8. Let the steam vent for ten minutes (or follow manufacturers directions). This will allow all of the air to escape from the canner. If it is not vented properly, you will have air pressure as well as steam pressure and will get a faulty pressure reading.
  9. If you are using a dial gauge, close the petcock at this point. If you’re using a weighted gauge, put the weight in place.
  10. With either type of gauge, follow the manufacturers instructions for determining when ten pounds of pressure has been reached.
  11. Process at ten pounds of pressure – seventy-five minutes for pints or ninety minutes for quarts.
  12. Follow manufacturers directions for cooling and opening the canner.
  13. Cool the jars and check the seals to be sure they have sealed properly. Modern rings and lids are easily checked; slight pinging sounds will be heard as the jars cool. This sound is your signal that the vacuum seal has formed. The center of the lid will also dip slightly. To check for that dip, try pushing the center of the lid down; if it doesn’t push down, it is sealed. If the lid does push down and springs back up, the jar is not sealed. If the lid is dipped but pushes down and holds, the seal is questionable. If jars leak when tested, they are not properly sealed. Remove lid carefully and either reprocess with a new lid or use contents immediately.
  14. If using anything other than modern rings and lids, read the manufacturers instructions for the proper way to check your seals.
  15. Label and store in a cool, dry place. Shelf life is generally six to eight months, but up to a year is possible.
  16. Be sure to heat to 170° F when reheating for your meal. Use the grease it was packed in to make gravy or fry potatoes (or both) to go with your meal.

Happy canning!

REFERENCES:
Canning bacon process comes from Enola Gay at: http://www.rural-revolution.com/2011/01/canning-bacon.html
Ball Blue Book 31st edition, copyright © 1984
© 2008-2014 Off The Grid News

7 comments

    • Off The Grid Editor

      Canned bacon will keep as long as any other canned product. The factors that determine this are storage conditions (cool, dry, dark) and the seal is still good. After opening, the jar should contain no foul odors. Even though the bacon is cooked, you’ll need to crisp it in a skillet. While I’ve had stores that I’ve used five years after putting up (they were still perfectly fine), all recommendations are to rotate your canned goods stock out on a yearly basis. Successful storage depends entirely on the care you taking during the canning process.

  1. I have about 50 lbs of sausage I want to can.. I want to do it in crumbles but I am worried about the grease that comes off the sausage.. Will it be alright with the fat in the jar sealed? Thanks!

    • Yes, the fat in the jar is alright. I recommend you use wide mouth jars when you can any meat – it is so much easier to remove meat – esp ground – from jars with straight sides and no shoulders. When you open a jar to use it, just heat it up before you add it to your dish so you can drain off what fat remained (after you drained it before you canned it). I opened a jar of bacon in October that I canned last December, and it was fine! Cooked up it and it was great. I can all my meats now so I don’t have to depend on electricity for food preservation, plus dinner goes together must faster this way.

  2. I’m getting ready to can up a bunch of sausage. Some will be in crumbles and some in patties. My question is, when canning patties do they crumble upon opening or do they remain in firm patties?

    • They will remain patties unless you have canned them in a jar with a shoulder (rather than straight sides) and you have to ‘dig’ them out. You might try placing a square or round of parchment paper between each patty. (I did this and it worked, but the paper got might soft as well.) When you open a jar later on, separate them carefully with the dull edge of a table knife. Remember, they have been pressure cooked in the canner and they will be much more tender and fragile than being fried in a skillet. They also shrink up, so they will probably come out smaller than you expect them to. They are nice heated up and placed in a small bun or on toast with a slice of cheese!

  3. I would like to know if I can can Italian sausage? Does it have to be just by itself or can I add peppers and onions or Spaghetti sauce to the sausag?. I would be making them in a wide mouth jar so how long would I cook them and what pressure? I am new at canning, so any help is welcomed.

    Thank you

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