I’d canned vegetables, fruits and jams for years, but I was a bit skeptical when I first heard about canning meat. How could that possibly be safe, I wondered, and what would the quality of the finished product be? Then, my friend Janice, a registered dietician and canning diva, came to my house and spent an afternoon teaching me how. I was surprised and pleased with the results.
The meat was perfectly preserved, tender, and flavorful. Since it was already cooked, I could use it for spur of the moment, quick meals. Canning meat is also a great money-saving strategy. Even when the freezer’s full, by canning meat, I can stock up when prices are at their lowest—think about the $6 turkeys every November. From a survivalist standpoint, having some canned meat on hand makes sense too. If I lose my power, I can still make a satisfying meal with canned meat.
Read on to learn more about how to can meat and poultry safely in your own home. The process may seem complicated, but canning meat is one of the simplest canning projects you’ll find.
Canning Meats And Poultry
The first thing to remember is that meat and poultry is a low-acid food so it cannot be canned safely in a water-bath steamer. You must process these foods in a pressure canner to avoid dangerous food-borne illnesses like botulism.
Additionally, keep in mind that if you live 1,000 feet or more above sea level, you must make some adjustments in pressure. If you have a weighted gauge, adjust the pressure to 15 pounds above 1,000 feet. If you have a dial gauge, set the pressure to 11 pounds for 2,000 to 4,000 feet above sea level. Increase the pressure by 1 pound for each additional 2,000 feet above sea level you live. You should also leave a bit more headspace (1/8 to 1/4 inch) at the top of each jar at higher altitudes to allow for expansion.
There are two methods of canning meat and poultry—raw pack and hot pack. I prefer hot pack because the broth gives the meat more flavor. However, the pressure cooker will cook the meat completely so you can pack it using the raw pack method too. Some people can chicken and other meats with the bone in. Again, this is a matter of personal preference. I prefer to remove the bones to make the most of the space in the jars (and on my pantry shelf). I also prefer the convenience of canned meat that is already cubed and ready to add to recipes.
To can brisket, roast, London broil, or other cuts of beef, simply cut it into 1 inch cubes or long strips. Place the meat in a roasting pan or baking dish and add 10 cups water. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
Pack the hot, partially cooked meat into hot jars. Fill the jar with the broth, leaving 1 inch headspace. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to pint jars, 1 teaspoon of salt to quart jars. Remove air bubbles with a plastic spatula and wipe the rims. Place the lids and rings over the jars. Process beef at 10 pounds pressure at sea level. Process pint jars for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Process quart jars for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
To can hamburger or chopped pork, brown it in a large pan. Add 6 cups water, tomato juice, or broth. Pack the meat into the jars with the broth, leaving 1 inch headspace. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to each pint and 1 teaspoon of salt to each quart. Process your filled jars at 10 pounds of pressure. Process pint jars for 1 hour and 15 minutes; process quart jars for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Place whole chickens or turkeys in a roasting pan and add 6 cups water. Cover the poultry with foil and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. If you prefer, you can simmer the meat in a pot on top of the stove.
Cut the partially cooked meat into cubes or strips and pack into hot clean jars with the liquid. Leave 1 inch headspace. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to pints and 1 teaspoon of salt to quarts. Remove the air bubbles and wipe the rims. Secure the lids and process at 10 pounds of pressure. Process pints for 1 hour and 15 minutes; process quarts for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Cut pork tenderloin, chops, or roasts into cubes or strips. Place in a roasting pan and cover with 6 cups liquid. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Pack into hot, clean jars with the liquid, leaving 1 inch headspace. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to each pint jar, 1 teaspoon of salt to each quart. Leave 1 inch headspace. Secure the lids and process at 10 pounds pressure. Process pints for 1 hour 15 minutes and quarts for 1 hour 30 minutes.
Using Canned Meats And Poultry
You can use canned meats and poultry in place of fresh or frozen meat in almost any recipe, but I like them best in casseroles, soups, and stews. Try the following:
- Mix canned beef with salsa, corn, black beans, and onions. Top with cheese and a cornmeal batter and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes for a delicious, fast tamale pie.
- How about Italian beef sandwiches? Heat a jar of canned beef in a slow cooker with some sliced onions and peppers. Add 1 package of Italian dressing seasoning and a little red wine or beef broth. When the onions are tender, spoon the beef and vegetables onto Kaiser rolls. Top with provolone cheese and toast in the oven for 5 minutes.
- Canned beef is a great foundation for chili. Add a can of kidney beans, some chili powder, dried onions, garlic, and tomatoes, and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Use canned chicken or turkey in chicken noodle soup or chicken pot pie.
- Mix canned chicken or turkey with mayonnaise, celery, diced apples, grapes, and seasonings for a terrific chicken salad. This is my teenage son’s favorite lunch food.
- Heat canned pork or chicken with hominy. Add green chilies, onions, tomatoes, and chili pepper for a savory posole stew. Top with cheddar cheese and cilantro.
- Use canned pork for sweet and sour pork or shredded pork sandwiches.
Quick Tips on Canning Meat and Poultry
- Always examine any canned food before eating. Discard any that have a bulging lid, spurting liquid, or off odor.
- Add onion, celery, and carrots to the cooking broth for extra flavor. Discard the vegetables before you place the meat in the jars.
- Adapt these recipes to any type of wild game, including venison, pheasant, or rabbit.