Friday, October 5, 2012

Canning Meats


One thing we all need in our food storage is meat!  I mean, think of what would happen if you could no longer just run to the store and grab a pack of chicken for that weeks dinner.  Either you are suddenly becoming a vegetarian, or you have hopefully prepared in advance and you have a supply of meat on hand.  Freezers are great for storing meat, but only as long as you have electricity to keep it cold- otherwise you are going to be eating a TON of meat for about 2 days and then none thereafter...SO, I am going to show you how to CAN your meat so that it is shelf stable, and can be used at any point in time- no refrigeration required!  Its also delicious, unlike store-bought canned meat, which is not only expensive but tasteless in my opinion.

Now, the part that might gross you out at first is that we are stuffing the jars with RAW MEAT.  When I first heard about this, I had a vision of jars of raw meat sitting on my shelf...gross.  The truth is, the meat cooks in the pressure canner for 75-90 minutes.  Its VERY cooked when you are done, and you can literally eat it right out of the jar!
What do I do with this lovely canned meat?  I make,

Chicken Salad
Chicken Biscuits
Chicken Wraps
Etc Etc Etc.
Basically anything that you would put shredded chicken in, this is great for!
As for the Beef, I add it to anything that I would normally put ground beef in like....
Taco Soup
Sloppy Joes
and the list goes on and on

The best part is, you can buy meat when its on sale and can it, and use it whenever you want!  This saves me a ton of money on my grocery budget.  Last week Beef was 1.99 a lb which is a FABULOUS price, so I bought 15 lbs to can

How long will it last?  Well Wendy DeWitt (the food storage expert) says she has jars that are 5-10 years old and that they are just fine.  Mine never lasts that long because they get eaten LOL.  My research suggests that 1-2 years is a safe estimate, and I doubt seriously you have any that lasts that long because you will use it first :)  Just make sure you always eat your oldest jars first!

Alright here we go!


Gather your supplies, in my case I am using wide mouth Kerr Jars, Rings and Lids- I always put the lids in a pot of water on the stove, so when I am ready to heat them up all I have to do is turn it on.

Make Sure you Wash your Jars with Soap and Water
Here's my chicken, all packaged up from the store.  I don't like buying it in the big tray packs- cause it leaks all over me and you have to buy a ton of them. When I find chicken on sale at a particular store I just go to the meat counter and ask for the amount I want.  In this case 20 lbs. And its the same price!

Here are all my supplies.
Jars washed and rinsed, ready to go (they don't have to be sterilized first)
Salt and measuring spoon
Cutting Mat
Chicken and a good sharp Knife
Two bowls, one for the chicken in the Pkg to go into and one for the scraps 
Now stop and have an ice cream'll need your energy.

Simply cut the fat off of your chicken, some pieces have more than others!  Then cut them into small enough chunks to fit into the jars.  It takes about a lb per jar.  If you can get tenderloins for the same price, I recommend it- because they are usually already trimmed and then you don't have to do ANY cutting- you just stuff the jars. (anything that saves you time, right?)

So then you just stuff the jars up to about 1/2 inch from the rim and add 1/4 tsp of salt (1/2 tsp for quart jars)

Now I am going to go ahead and show you the instructions for putting beef in the jars, since the canning method is the same for both- if you are just canning chicken today, feel free to jump ahead!

BEEF! Its whats for dinner :)

I love doing Beef, because it comes out of the jar all nicely shredded up.  We put this beef in any recipe that calls for ground beef.  I don't like the texture of ground beef anyway- but canned ground beef is just gross to I do regular beef.
It doesn't matter what kind you get, it can be anything from Bottom Round Roast to NY Strip Steak- I typically get whatever is on sale for less than $3 a lb

This time it was London Broil, and it was 2.29 a lb- which is a great price here in AZ
Take a minute to feed the baby with bed-head hair :)

Here is my work station :)  Jars, meat, knife, cutting board, bowl for scraps (looks similar doesn't it? That's cause its the same as for chicken...exactly!)

Simply cut the fat off, as much as possible- I do this by pulling the edges of the fat up and kind of sliding my knife between the fat and the meat- the fat kind of pulls away without losing any of the meat.
Now you just cut it up into chucks that are small enough to fit in the jars

And fill them up!  Like the chicken, you want to leave 1/2 inch from the top of the jar.
and add 1/4 tsp of salt- I typically add 1/2 tsp cause I like it saltier- its up to you.
 Oh, and don't add any other spices!  You can season the meat after you pull it out of the jars,

Here's my meat all salted and ready to go!

Canning Meat

Okay, by now you should have your jars, whether chicken or beef, all stuffed and salted and ready to go.  Next we are going to add the lids and rings and can them!  The pictures show Beef, but the process is the same whether you are doing Chicken or Beef.

Bring your lids and rings to a boil (I usually turn the heat on this pot about the time I am adding my salt, that way they are ready when I get done)
I dip a napkin or a rag into the hot water
And then I use it to clean the rims of the jars- make sure there are no pieces of meat dried up on the edges- this is IMPORTANT, because anything on that rim will affect whether your jars seal or not.

Now lift your lids and rings out of the pot, shake the water off  (I managed to grab a lid and ring at the same time, but you don't need to do that LOL)  If you don't have fancy lid lifter like this...get one.  They sell a pack at walmart that comes with a funnel, lid lifter, and jar lifter.  You WILL need these for canning.

Put your lids on your jars.  Use NEW LIDS.  Don't reuse old metal canning lids.

Then put the rings on and tighten "finger-tip" tight.  This basically just means tighten it to wear you can loosen it with the slight push of a finger.

Now, put 3 inches of water in the bottom of your canner
And put your Jars in :)  I can fit 13-14 pint size jars into my canner- you do this by staggering them.  So that each jar on the top level is resting on two jars beneath it.  The one in the center is resting directly on the center jar below- and I don't really recommend that- the one below it doesn't always seal for me- so I usually just do 13 at a time now.  Someday I will buy another canning rack thing so I can put it in between the two levels.

So there's my jars all ready to go

Now you put your lid on and tighten it
That metal pipe looking thing sticking up with a hole in the top? That's your steam vent.  Make sure your weight is not on the vent just yet.
Now you turn your stove on HI and you wait...till steam starts coming out of the vent 

Pretend like you can see the steam coming out of the vent-   its there, but HARD to take a picture of.

Once the steam starts coming out, set the timer for 10 minutes.    Allowing the steam to come out for 10 minutes, allows all the air to be expelled out of the jars and the canner.

This is where I sit back and start reading a good book

When your timer goes off, put your weight onto the vent

Ta Da!

Your pressure will start building inside the canner right away...
DON'T read a good book during this time- sit and watch it!

Once your pressure reaches about 5-6 start turning down your heat quickly!

The pressure you are going for is going to vary somewhat according to your altitude.  Your manual that came with your canner should list the altitudes and the pressure required for canning meat.  Here in AZ and other places that are close to sea level, the pressure I am going for is 10 lbs.  So once you reach YOUR optimal pressure you are going to turn your heat way down.

I turn mine to about 2-3 otherwise the pressure keeps going up  too fast

Once you have reached your optimal pressure, 
you set your timer for 1 hr 15 minutes (75 min) for pints and 1 1/2 hours for quarts

You may have to play with the heat a little for the first 15 minutes or so.  Here, my pressure had started dropping

So I had to turn the heat back up

A little over 10 minutes into the process my pressure finally stabilized

You really do have to babysit the canner this entire time, and keep an eye on the pressure.  If it starts to drop a little, you turn the heat up a little and if it starts to get too high, you drop the heat a little.  I usually watch a movie or read a book during this time, so I can keep an eye on it, but I'm not totally bored!

By the time you are done, your heat will be turned almost all the way down

When your timer goes off you simply turn the heat off completely and let the canner sit there until the pressure goes all the way down to 0.  This takes about 1/2 hour.  Don't take the canner off the stove and put it in ice water or anything to rapidly cool it.  You don't want any sudden drops in pressure or your juices will be sucked right out of the jar and you will have dry meat- still safe, but not really very appetizing.  Once your pressure has come back down to 0 you open your canner and pull your jars out.  You will hear lovely little "plink plink" sounds, that mean your jars are sealing!
The jars will continue to bubble and boil inside of them for quite some time, don't worry about it, it takes awhile for the temperature inside the jars to come down.  After about an hour or so I usually check to be sure they have all sealed. If you have one that hasn't sealed after an hour or two, just pop it into the fridge and use it within the week. (or you can  reprocess it with a new lid if you are going to be running the canner again)


  1. So excited to try this! You have me all pumped up!!! :-)

  2. There is something so wonderful about looking at all the jars you did yourself :) Its such a feeling of accomplishment.

  3. LOVE this post!! I'm so excited to start canning meat & will begin with chicken this coming weekend & will definitely be keeping this page open as reference. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge! :D