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Canning 203: Introduction to Meats – Poultry and Rabbit

Canning meat is no different than any other food you process. In fact, it may even be the easiest food to can, even though it takes a longer processing time. You may be timid about canning meats, and while care should certainly be taken in the processing of any food item, meat is no more difficult than any item you’d put into the pressure canner.

The flavor and texture of the meat you can is in direct proportion to the breed of animal, the method of slaughtering, and the type of aging process employed. For instance, if you hunt your own game, you should ask your county extension agent or a reliable friend in the meat processing industry about aging and chilling your meat before canning.

Your meat should be free of excessive fat, gristle, and bruising, as these will affect the flavor of the finished product. Game that has a strong flavor should be soaked in a mild salt-water solution before canning. Be careful with poultry and pork—these meats tend to absorb salt, and it can make them unbearable to eat. If your meat has a particularly gamey taste, you can process the meat with tomato juice.

Poultry and Rabbit

Poultry that is one-to-two years of age is the best meat for canning. Again, this meat absorbs salt easily, so refrain from soaking any wild poultry (such as turkey) in a salt-water solution. Chill the meat for about six to twelve hours before processing.

You can process your chicken in a variety of ways. When my children were younger, I’d process 4-ounce jars of deboned white chicken meat. They could take these in a lunch box with some whole wheat crackers, a cheese stick, and a fruit or fruit bar of some type, and have a delicious, healthy school lunch. Larger half-pint jars can be used to can chicken for making chicken salad. You can process whole chicken pieces such as legs and thighs in a quart jar for use in dishes like chicken pot pie. It’s quick and easy to open up a jar of chicken, quickly debone it and dump it into pan, and then add the rest of the ingredients for whatever dish you want.

To can quart jars of whole chicken pieces, simply cut the chicken at the joints, leaving the bone and skin intact. Pack these raw pieces tightly into quart jars, leaving an inch of headspace. If you want, you can add a teaspoon of salt to the quart jars, but it’s not necessary to the canning process. Personally, I don’t usually try to can turkey legs, but I have processed the thighs and breast meat with no problem. For boneless chicken, pack your jars tightly with meat leaving one inch of head space, and add salt if desired. There’s no need to add liquid as the meat will produce its own broth as it processes.

Because rabbit meat is so similar to poultry, you can use the same processing methods and times for rabbit as you do for poultry.

The recommended processing times for boneless chicken or rabbit in a dial-gauge canner, either raw or hot packed, is 75 minutes for pint jars and 90 minutes for quarts. Use the following poundages depending on your altitude:

0 – 2,000 FT:           11 lbs

2,001 – 4,000 FT:   12 lbs

4,001 – 6,000 FT:   13 lbs

6,001 – 8,000 FT:   14 lbs

The recommended processing times for bone-in chicken or rabbit in a dial-gauge canner, either raw or hot packed, is 65 minutes for pints and 75 minutes for quarts. Increase your poundage for higher altitudes the same as above.

The same time for processing applies to weighted-gauge canners as stated above with dial-gauge canners. However, set your weighted gauge at 10 lbs of pressure for all altitudes up to 1,000 Ft, and 15 lbs of pressure for altitudes above 1,000 ft.

Once your jars have processed, allow your canner to cool down normally. Don’t force depressurization at all. You’ll want to allow your jars to cool down in a spot out of the way of sudden changes of temperature. Don’t sit them underneath an air conditioner register, for example. Once the jars have sealed, you’ll need to wipe them down well before putting them up.

We’ll be bringing you the next article in this series of home canning methods—Canning 204: Beef, Venison, and Pork—soon.

© Copyright Off The Grid News

46 comments

  1. Is it safe to store canned items on a shelf in the garage? (I live in Texas and it gets pretty hot even in the garage.) What’s the shelf life and would it be different if stored in the house year round? Do you change storage methods if you lose electricity?

    • If the jars get too hot, the seals will start unsealing. The reason I know this is that I have a friend that cans all sorts of things like jelly, chicken etc, and sells it at the town fun days. Well they set her up on main street, she had no canopy and it was hot, her jars started popping,(unsealing) so she had to pack up and go home. As hot as it gets in Texas I would be afraid to do it. After all the work of canning you sure don’t want to have it all spoil..

      • samnjoeysgrama

        Good point. My mother always said canned food doesn’t freeze because of the internal pressure. She grew up on a farm during the Depression and canned food was their entire diet. I still keep mine in a heated basement. It’s too much work to take the chance.

        • Yes, canned food in jars and cans can and will freeze given the right conditions. Usually it will take lower temps better than non-pressurized food storage methods, salt also lends to prevent freezing but an
          extended time below freezing will just about guarantee freezing (broken jars, swollen cans)

      • We live in Texas, and we can meat all the time. We raw pack it and add our flavorings to the jar as we pack it. We store our jarred canned goods in an old farm house that doesn’t have heating or cooling. We haven’t had any problems. We really enjoy the convience of having the meat already cooked, and it comes out very tender. It is fun to experiment to find which spices and seasonings work best with th different meats!

        • The “oldest” canned meat I ever had was C-rats made in the Second World War, that chicken was 25 years older than I was. Canning my own deer meat in college, I kept one Qt jar and moved from Missouri to Hawaii and back again, I ate the meat when a friend asked what it was. It looked like a science experiment gone bad, but I openned it dredged it in flour, browned it and had a great stew. That jar was about 14yrs old and would have lasted longer.
          The Col

  2. Can you use older blue canning jars if they are free of cracks and chips?

    • Yes you can use the blue jars. Just check around the mouth to make sure of no chips broken out, on any jar. Check that blue jar out! If it has a date on the jar anywhere it is worth some bucks. Un forunately none of mine do, but maybe you will be lucky. I had an old fellow in the grocery store tell me he saw a blue jar with a 35,000 dollar price tag on it. Yes I typed that number correctly.

  3. I have been canning turkey for several years now. It has been very cheap to buy at Thanksgivng time. The canning book that I have states that poutry should be cooked before canning. I cook my turkey in my waterbath canner, let it cool a little for easier handling, (I can use the jar rack to pull the turkey up and let it drain over the canner) then pull the meat off and place in warmed jars, add “hot” water and then pressure can. I then can the broth from when I cooked the turkey, so I have stock/broth for soups thru out the year.
    To answer Robins question, I will ask one, will the jars withstand pressure from a pressure canner? I would only use them in water bath, but that is what I would do.

  4. We can Chicken……boneless, skinless breasts.

    Raw pack only, cut the meat into 1-1 1/2 inch cubes, 1/8 tsp Himalayan Salt per pint.

    Pressure can for 75 min at 10 lbs pressure.

    The Ball Blue Book is your friend.

    Never had a problem…..eats great!

    Bob
    III

    • I am canning meat also and I have that Ball Blue Book. I am wondering what is the shelf life of
      canned meat. Does anyone know?

      • i have used canned hamburger that is 3 years old and as long as the seal isn’t broken or the lid popped, it should be good. incidentally I cook my burger and rinse it in a sieve until it runs clear & all the fat is off it and can it with water and salt.

      • In the Mid Eighties i had some elderly friends passaway and i along with other family members cleaned out their house and they had canned food of all kinds dating from 1860 to 1930 and we popped several jars and they were still sealed so we divided them up and took them home to eat. Out of the 250+ jars i had only one was bad. If properly done i would not hesitate to eat “old” food. Modern lids and ring are not made as good now as they were then. These jars also had a quarter inch or more of parrafin on the top.

        • Man, that must have been awesome! My grandmother lived in Dearborn, Michigan and canned peaches from an old tree in her backyard. The spiced peaches were awesome! Of course she also canned bunches of other things as well. But Lordy those spiced peaches were awesome!

  5. samnjoeysgrama

    My Amish grandmother always canned meats. Her aunt lived in Wyoming and even canned bear (tastes exactly like pork, according to my mother). I never tasted the bear, but Grandma used the beef in a dish with noodles that was my favorite. I like to precook the meat when I can, simply to season and flavor it the way I prefer. Meat canned with only salt is totally acceptable, it is just bland. Canning raw meat with flavoring is uncertain. It’s hard to tell how much of an herb to put in the jar as you can’t taste it until after it’s canned. Meat can take on the flavor of a bay leaf or other herb that becomes really overpowering. Canning cooked meat means you can get exactly the flavors you want prior to putting the product in the jar. This is less important with beef than with mild meats like chicken. Experiment with various recipes, i.e. if you can 4 pints of chicken, use different spices, etc. in each. You will learn which flavors can best. My mother-in-law aways canned vegetable beef soup. My uncle went fishing in Alaska and canned the salmon. The possibilities are vast.
    Don’t try to short the canning time or pressure. Go by the book. People are sometimes afraid they will end up with food poisoning from home canned meat, but ANY home canned food MUST be cooked properly or it is dangerous. You can get sick from applesauce or green beans if they aren’t canned properly. Sort of a backwards way to say “don’t be afraid to can meat. Just follow the rules”.
    A comment on antique jars: many have bubbles in the glass. These may cause cracking or outright bursting in the pressure canner. It is very disappointing to do everything right, then open the canner and find a mass of food, water, and broken glass from a bad jar. And you lost the lovely green or blue jar. I use new jars, other than for jams and jellies which require little canning time.. Always, always use new lids. Lots of us remember when our grandmothers didn’t pressure can jam or jelly at all, they just sealed the jar with a layer of wax instead of a lid. And we lived through it. Go figure.

    • I am not very good at using seasonings. Will you tell me what kind of seasonings you use in your canned chicken?

  6. I tried my first canning of meat last Thanksgiving when turkeys were 39 cents a pound. I cut the turkeys up like a chicken and boiled just till the meat was “done”; a little over an hour. I then de-boned it and packed my quart jars with cubed meat. One 12 to 14 lb turkey did a 7 quart jar “run”. As it was cold weather, I did all the canning on a wood cookstove. I had great success and all jars sealed. One important note: fill jars after packing with broth that has the fat skimmed off. Fat can turn rancid over time in canned meat. Leave 1 inch of headspace so proper vacuum will form to seal jars. This meat is great for using in casseroles, soups, pies or other recipes. It’s a little bland tasting by itself.
    My next try was when I found chuck roasts on sale. I cubed the meat and boiled till about half-done, again, about an hour. I packed jars and filled with cooking broth after skimming the fat. I canned in quarts, processing an hour and a half at 15lbs pressure as we are above 1000 ft. The result has turned out great! I’ve read ground beef is great for canning to use in chili, soups and the like. I’ll can them in pints… We are now thinking of going in with 3 other families on purchasing a steer. A quarter steer doesn’t sound so over-whelming and now that I can can a lot of the meat, only the steaks and roasts will take up freezer room. And I’m really excited about finding re-usable canning jar lids. They’re made by a company called Tattler.
    So my advise, jump right in there and start canning meat! I’m really excited about this “new” side of canning that seems to have been forgotten!

  7. Iam so looking forward to trying canning meats recipes would be appreciated. also vegitables and fruits

  8. Can anyone explain why using a FoodSaver attachment to seal jars wouldn’t be good enough compared to pressure canning? If it is a good vacuum seal in a sanitized jar with cooked meat, then shouldn’t that replace the pressure canner?

  9. Can anyone explain why a FoodSaver vacuum sealing jar attachment would not replace the pressure canner? If the food is cooked, the jar is sanitized and then vacuum sealed. Isn’t it the same thing?

    • Paul AKA Robotics Geek

      The vacuum is really an after effect, the reason you pressure can is to increase the internal temperature of the food above 240 F and kill any bacteria in the food. Without the temperature increase over an hour or more (depending on the type of food) bacteria, which is present everywhere, will grow and ruin the food and make anyone sick who eats it and could kill. So short answer is without the temperature increase just vacuuming the food does nothing to preserve it.

  10. Charlotte Boucher

    I remember my mother canning meat in the oven of course this was some 65 years ago. We would butcher in the fall and hang the meat in the corn crib where it froze, then be fore it would thaw out she would can it for the summer and we would have it till fall. would not recommend canning in the oven now ,too many types of bacteria strains now. we never got sick and was so good,

  11. We raise a steer every three years or so and a pig about every year. I have the butcher cut and wrap the good steaks and some roasts and burger off the steer. Then I have them cut up the rest in cubes about an inch in size, like stew meat. I can that cubed meat in my pressure canner. You don’t have to worry about the meat getting freezer burned and the cans last forever as long as the seal is good. I found some that I canned back in 1998 and it was just as good as the last I canned. The pig, I have the butcher smoke the hams, bacon & jowls and cut some of the good pork chops and cut and wrap them. If you don’t know about pig jowl, you are missing out on some good pig. You can sometimes find it at the store, down south mostly. I have found it sometimes here in Idaho. When we moved here when I was a kid [now lots, lots older] we couldn’t find it. We raised a pig and told the butcher to smoke the jowl and he said “What” we usually put that in the sausage. What a waste, try it, it is great. I have the butcher cube the pig meat and I can it. I also can some of the ham with the juice after I take the fat off the top. It is great to put in beans, so easy to make ham & beans quickly and you can use canned beans in a pinch. I also look for meats like boneless chicken breasts, ham, beef roast on sale and can it. You can’t beat finding ham on sale for 99 cents a pound, you can’t raise the pig for that. I raise a huge garden, raise animals and I love to can. There is nothing more satisfying as after a long day of canning to see all those beautiful jars, full of good things to eat… Mary

  12. Do NOT try to use just a foodsaver vaccum instead of a pressure canner, you need the extra heat (up to 250 degrees) from pressure canner to kill all the bacteria or things will not go well.

  13. thats just what im doing is canning up as much as i can for meats as far as shelf life goes i dont know as none ive been able to can have made it to a year yet we keep eating them its nuch faster to put together a meal with the cannrd meats than with the stuff in the freezer we dont have to wait to thaw and cook it as its already cooked just heat it up but ive found that we need lots more canning jars im thinking for a years worth of meats we would use about 300 jars of just meats alone then the jams and jellys another 24 jars then veggies another 300 jars thats a lot of jars to need to have around its going to be a long project to put up a years worth of foods let alone hard to get that many canning jars ive got both the hot water bath canner and a pressure canner im glad i got them both on sale but findingthe jars on sale is lots harder to do

    • I agree that it is a daunting task to calculate the amount of jars needed to put up enough food for the family for the entire year. But… we set out three years ago, sometimes against my wifes wishes to purchase enough canning supplies. She did not realize how many we will actually need even after I showed her the numbers. So we set out to not only find the jars on sale, every time we went to the store for milk (we dont do this anymore now we have Nubians for our milk) we would pick up a case of Quarts, and Pints. Sometimes we would find them at garage sales or from Y2K folks getting out of their food storage items, (paydirt there!!!)
      Any way, yesterday, we were pulling out our supply for inventory of empties, lids, rings, and with what is already in the larder, we are still looking at approximately 175 more quarts and 250 pints needed, just for this year.
      Since we can literally everything from June 1st to November, we try to can at least every weekend. She understands the value of them.
      The Tattler plastic lids are on their way, anxious to get them this week.
      Can it be overwhelming? Yes, is it worth it, Oh Yes, remember, since there is really no place in the stock market anymore, this is the new investment of the 21st century.
      Don

  14. So glad to have been able to read the articles on canning meats. I remember mom canning meats, vegetables and fruits. Tried telling my children that these home canned items lasted for a long time, but did not realize over 200 years! That’s great! Will be starting small this year, as I’m not up on the Steaming and Hot Bath, need more information on these.
    Any information forth coming would be appreciated.

  15. I have been canning for 40 years – my mother and grandmother and great-grandmother did before me. There are several canning books available – but the best, I have found, is a mentor. While Ball, Kerr, and the other brands have their books, there is nothing better than finding an older friend that knows what they are doing. My mother-in-law taught me almost everything that she knew about it, and it has stood me in good stead all these years of my marriage. Even more so now -

  16. We used to can all our meat, every time we butcher a pig, chicken or anything else, going to start this year again, we just cut an oinion into four pieces and put raw meat on top, put lid on and process in pressure canner. The meat cooks in his own juice and all you have to do is open jar and finish gravy, serve with noodles, rice, potatoes or whatever else u like. Enjoy

  17. I’m a newby gardener and canner this year. I live in a suburban neighborhood, 0.15 acre lot. My garden has only been producing enough for us 3 adults in the home to eat as it grows – not enough to can. The large canner I purchased at the beginning of the year has gone unused until I recently started seeing what I considered good prices on produce – peaches at .68/lb, corn 7/$1. My question is – when looking for good buys in fresh fruits and vegies – when do you know you’ve got a price good enough to save money home canning versus buying a can of the same goods off the shelf? I made peach preserves and after buying the items called for on the Kerr booklet recipe, my cost per half-pint came out to about $1.50 each, not counting the cost of the jar/lids, or factoring in any part of the cost of the canner. I don’t want to lose money making home canned foods when the price of store canned (yes I know we add value and you know where your stuff comes from) can be nearly the same. I agree with the earlier comment on the cost of jars. Wow. Does anyone use the jars from the store (like mayonaisse jars, or hot-sauce pint jars) to can with – use new canning lids on store product jars? Jars in San Antonio for pints runs about $0.70 each.

  18. i hunt Deer,
    haven’t been able to go in the past 2 yrs because of little ones! the deer i did have, i slow cooked in a cooker, until the meat was half done, added my onions and peppers, salt and pepper, poured into qt jars that were hot, liquid and all, put in the pressure cooker for 90 minutes, lids sealed, this was back in 06. popped one open for lunch the other day and it was delicious! i can’t wait until the venison canning section or article comes out!

  19. Bradley,Thanks For Reminding Me About Canning Deer . Sounds So Good . My Son And Myself Usually Freeze 50 Or So Pounds Of Deer Burger Each Year. I Have Never Canned Meat Before. Do You Think It Would Be Ok TO Add Rice To It ?

  20. I found the website that sells them bulk. http://shop.reusablecanninglids.com/ in case anyone is interested.

  21. pork is something i never thought about canning but next spring im planning on picking up a few little piglets to raise in our back yard but i have done deer,beef, and chicken so far and they have all turned out great right now up here the strawberrie season is about midway into it and we have been freezeing a bunch of them next time we go picking we are going to be makeing jam with them and ive checked out our raspberrie bushes and the black berrie bushes and they are loaded with berries that should be ready in a few weeks we are going to be putting up a bunch of them as jam also and when blue berrie season starts up wife already told me she wants 2 of the 5 gal buckets of them one for the freezer and the other one for canning right now we are splitting up every thing between our chest freezers and canning we have enuff foods here now we are pretty much set for a few months as far as meats and veggies go with just whats in the freezers alone the canned stuff we use when we forget to thaw something out we are going to try to build up our chicken flock that way when we start culling out the extra roosters we will be canning them but in the means time we are canning meats that we find on sale and veggies from the country veggie stands because about the only things from our garden that we arent able to eat when its ready is the tomatoes we did put in a bunch extra plants so that we would have plenty to can this summer

  22. Has anyone used the Tattler lids yet? Can I use my old rings and just order the lids and seals?

  23. Wow! Although my husband and I have canned tomatoes and a few other veggies, this year is THE year we put up meat and a garden. Food prices are headed no where but up, so the above article and comments have proven very valuable to me. Please, keep such articles coming and thanks to all our your readers for contributing their experiences. Best thing I’ve read on the Internet in weeks!!!!

  24. Keep watching your local grocery stores for sales on jars. My local HEB here in Houston has been running a $2.00 off sale on the quart, pint and jelly jars for the past week. I also stock up on the lids for future use. I have not canned meat but have seen several videos on YouTube that show the process and it does look easy. Wish I could find some venison to can! But Chicken and Turkey will have to suffice for right now.

  25. For jars and lids check Craig’s list, or local recycling groups. Also, if you know an older person who has canned all their lives and may not be doing it anymore, ask if you can buy their jars and rings from them. We have a lot of estate auctions in our area and their are almost always boxes of canning supplies.

  26. Thank you everyone for the info about canning. Makes me feel good inside to know that we still have good friends that are willing too help one another.

  27. I would just like to say that I started canning with my wife this year. The garden did wonders, and I just read about canning meats. Why haven’t I heard of this before? I am a hunter, and I can not wait to put those jars on the shelf. But it was the last comment on the post that made me write in. From the “Red Neck”
    It is nice to know that their are people out there willing to help one another. This is so true. This country is turning into a weaker society, not knowing what to do if the power goes out. Doesn’t know how to eat if they can’t get their Big Mic from Mc Doogles. It is time for Americans to stand and teach other Americans to learn how NOT to depend on everyone else to take care of them. It is time for Americans to stand with other Americans and teach what you know to others. Mr. or Mrs. Red Neck; you can’t be more right. Thanks Off The Grid for opening my eyes.

  28. What about canning without a pressure cooker? My mom used to do jars of venison in a large pot.

  29. I agree a mentor is the best way to learn, but if you do not have one, watching videos on canning will help to alleviate some of those fears. Just go to that popular “upload your own video” site and search on “canning” or “canning meat”. There are some really good ones out there. Meats and other low acid foods must be pressure canned. It practically guarantees success. The old methods worked… sometimes. The problem with botulism is that it doesn’t necessarily look or smell bad, it just kills you. Be safe out there and don’t gamble with your or your families’ lives.

  30. I do not even understand how I finished up right here, however I thought this post was once great. I do not realize who you’re however definitely you’re going to a well-known blogger when you aren’t already. Cheers!

  31. Why do most require one to heat the jars , water in canner . Then place cold chicken in hot jars , cover with hot water before placing in canner to cook ?

  32. I just canned some venison and realize I didn’t leave the jars in the pressure cooker long enough. I am trying to find out if I can pop the lids, put new ones on and re can them?

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