How to can meat – by Repair Mama
Home canning meats can be economical and rewarding. When you home can a portion of the meats in your freezer, you are making part of your storage shelf stable. Should something happen to the power, or if the freezer should fail mechanically, you will not be stuck with a freezer full of thawing meats that you could lose.
Canning meats can also enable you to purchase meats while on sale, or storing your fresh hunting results thus saving loads of money and ensuring that you have a stockpile of good non freeze-dried , nonfrozen protein that you will want to eat. Home canned meats make it possible to prepare many meals that taste like you were in the kitchen all day slow cooking a wonderful meal for your family.
I will prepare a list of recipes that use home canned meats with in another post for you to add to your binder as you please. I can only hope that you enjoy canning and cooking with canned products as much as I do.
It gives me much-needed security knowing that I am helping provide for my family in normal times while saving money and will feed my family should something go wrong and the stores no longer are there to provide for our nutritional needs.
It gives me many choices of what to cook and does not need more than a nice dark cool room to be stored in till we want to use it. It also gives me more security in knowing what is in the jar and who handled it before we use it in a meal. No artificial colors, flavors,added fats and preservatives that we try to reduce in our diets.
So many of the commercially canned products have additional ingredients that we would love to avoid, but in the necessity of food storage, can not always be avoided.
O.K. enough of the reasons why. Here is what you need to get started:
The only major purchase up front is a pressure canner. Prices of canners can vary based on name brand, size and features. There are weighted pressure canners and the pressure gauge type. There are also one that take a rubber gasket and ones that have a smooth milled edge that does not require a gasket.
The canner that you purchase is your choice. You can utilize the internet for information in making your choice. Just remember, what ever you choose, it will not be wasted money! You can even purchase an inexpensive canner and then later choose to purchase a 2nd one that is better a little down the road.
Meats cannot be safely canned any other way. Meat is a low acid food and needs the increased temperature (higher than 180 degrees at boiling) to make it safe to eat. Some of the older generations did can meats without a pressure canner.
That is just the way it was done. It may have worked then, but each jar that was opened and used was a risk of food borne illnesses and poisonings. Some poisonings could be fatal if you consumed meats that contained bacterial growth and/or botulism.
Much has been tested and published on the subject of home canning meats safely and the procedures should be followed to a“T”. These procedures have been tested and have shown time after time to produce a safe product. It is advised that you purchase a good canning guide to follow.
Here are some basics of using a pressure canner:
- Inspect the gasket for nicks and cracks. If it won’t seal, you will not be able to process your food at safe temperatures.
- Your jars do not need to be completely covered with water for the processing to work like in a water bath canner.
- Jars do have to be clean, but with pressure canning, you do not have to sterilize your jars unless you want to. The increased temperature in the canner will take care of that for you.
- Always use the rack in the bottom of the canner. It is necessary to have in place for proper water circulation and to keep the jars off of the bottom
- Always inspect your jars for nicks and cracks. These things can cause the jar to break during processing or keep a jar from sealing.
- When loading the canner, make sure the jars are not touching. This will reduce the chance of jar breakage while processing.
- Never try to cool the canner faster. It could blow up! Let it cool with the weight in place. Do not remove the weight until the canner has cooled enough to release the pressure. Then you can remove the weight.
- Keep all small children from the stove during canning. Severe burns could result.
- Read the instruction manual with your canner for all information that is particular to the brand and type of canner you have.
Other needed items:
- Jar lifter- looks like a funny set of tongs. It may have rubber coating on the end that comes in contact with the jars and rubber handles on the other end for your hands.
- Lid lifter- this is a plastic rod that contains a magnet on the end to lift the canning lids from a pot of hot water without burning your fingers.
- Canning funnel. (This makes the process easier, but not really necessary.
- Small rubber spatula
- Wide mouth canning jars.(size of your choice for what you are canning) The wide mouth makes it easier to load the jar and makes it easier to remove the food when you choose to use it.
- Wide mouth canning bands and lids.
- Canning salt (table salt can be used, but the product will result in cloudy liquid because of additives that prevent caking)
- Pot holders or mitts
- A couple of clean kitchen towels
- Cutting board
- Good sharp butcher knife and another knife of your choice.
Now that you have your equipment together, turn on some good music and get out the meats that you want to can.
We will start with boneless meat - chicken, beef, or pork.
The method I will walk you through is called “RawPack” This process is for the meat in chunks and not ground meats. Ground meats have a method of their own.
Wash your jars, lids, bands, and other equipment that will be touching your food. Get the cutting board out and choose the boneless meat that you will be canning. This meat should be thawed or only a little frozen. Cut away all bones, fat, and gristle.
Only place the meat in the jar that you are willing to put in your mouth. Too much fat can ooze from the jar during processing and coat the rim of the jar and cause the jar to not seal.Cut the remaining meat into chunks. I can most of my meats in large chunks.Pay attention to the run of the grain in the meats and cut against the grain. This will make the strings of the meat smaller and easier to use.
Place the meat chunks in the clean jars. Pack the meats down getting as much in the jar as possible leaving 1” of head space or to the bottom of the threads on the jar. Use the handle of the rubber spatula and run it down the inside of the jar and push the meats down at the same time. This helps release air bubbles. Depending on the capacity of your canner, pack the amount of jars that your canner will hold.
Put canner on the stove and add water to the bottom of the canner as stated in the instructions of your canner. My canner takes3” of water to the bottom of it before adding the jars to the canner. (I put a small“Glop” of vinegar to the canner to keep the jars from taking on a haze of minerals that are in the water) Turn on the burner and heat the water,but not to boiling yet.
Make sure that the circular metal plate is in place in the bottom of the canner. This lets the water circulate around the jars and keeps them off of the bottom of the canner.
Add canning salt to the jars (1/2 tsp for pints and 1 tsp for quarts) just on top of the raw meat. You do not need to add water or broth to raw packed meat. As the processing takes place, the meat will make its own juice.
Wipe the rims of each jar with a paper towel to remove any residue. Anything left on the rim will can cause the jar not to seal. Place lid and band to each jar and only tighten finger tight. Place the jars into the canner and place the lid in place and lock. Do not add the weight to the canner yet.
You will need to know the altitude at the location that you are doing the canning. This will determine the pressure that you will need to set the canner. Up to 1000 ft you will use 10lbs of pressure and above 1000 ft you will need to use 15lbs of pressure.
The size of the jar will determine the length of time that you will process your meats.
A pint-sized jar will need 75 minutes of processing time and a quart will need 90 minutes of processing time.
Bring the canner to boiling. Let the steam vent from the canner for a full ten minutes. This will purge the air from the canner. Once the 10 minute mark has been met, place the weight on the canner (using the proper side of the weight for the pressure needed)
You will see numbers around the weight as 5, 10,and 15. Use the one appropriate to the elevation where you are doing your canning. My elevation at home is right at 1000 ft so I use 15 lbs of pressure. You have to wait for the weight to bob or “Jiggle”. You are looking for a few jiggles a minute. Once you have reached the“Jiggles”, you can set the timer for the appropriate length of time for the size of jars that you have used.
Stay near the canner and watch it. If the pressure drops or the weight stops jiggling, you will have to bring it back to pressure and start the time over. Usually you can adjust the temperature of the burner a little lower after the canner comes to pressure.
Once the processing time is done, turn off the burner and let the canner cool on its own naturally. DO NOT TRY TO HURRY THE COOLING PROCESS!! Do not try to pour water on the canner to cool it faster. Do not lift the weight and blow off the steam. This could result in the jars boiling over and ruining their ability to seal. This could also result in injury!
Let the canner rest and cool until the weight no longer has pressure on it. I usually bump the weight to see if it is still under pressure. Or you can press on the blow out plug to see if it still pushed upward. Once the canner is cool enough to have released its pressure, you can remove the weight.
Wait another 2-3 minutes (or until the handle release will let you open the lid) to try to open the canner. Be very careful! The contents are still very hot. Open the lid away from you using pot holders or mitts to prevent steam burns.
Place a towel on the counter in a place out of the way of air conditioning vents and drafts. This is where you will place the finished jars. Using the jar lifter, carefully lift the jars and very gently, place the jars on the towel leaving some space between them. Let them sit and cool for at least 12-16 hours.
Resist the urge to push on the tops of the lids or adjusting the bands at this time. You will be able to hear the “Pings” as the jars cool on the towel. This is the sound of triumph! That jar has sealed!
But don’t mess with them at all till they are completely cool.
Now you can look at the meats in the jar. It has produced some juice (will not be liquid to the top, but at least ½ way. The meat will have shrunk a little, and float a bit in the juice. These meats are now completely cooked and when you use them, all you have to do is open the jar and put contents into pot and heat up.
Once the jars are completely cool, I have found that they seem to have a little bit of a greasy residue on the outside. Now is the time to run your finger along the top of the lid and feel if it has sealed. If it makes a popping sound when you push down, it did not seal.
If the lid is slightly concave or sucked downward, you have a seal. I remove the band at this time and wash the jars and bands with soapy water, dry and replace the band. You do not have to replace the band, but I do this by choice. Now you are ready to label your jars with the contents and date canned.
If you find a jar that did not seal, you can reprocess it, or simply place in refrigerator and use in a day or two. I prefer not to reprocess the jar because it would be like overcooking the contents. We just eat it.
Most of the literature I have found online states that home canned meats are good for a period of 1 year if properly stored. I have also seen posts and blogs stating that the meats are good for 2-3 years before the taste and quality starts to degrade.
Based on the information that I had found, I have decided to try to use each one before the period of 1 year is over, but would not be afraid to eat it if it were over 1-year-old. You can do your own research on this topic and make the time choice for yourself.
Use of Home Canned Meats
It is recommended that you do not eat the meat out of the jar cold. It should be cooked or boiled for 10-15 minutes before consumption. Cooking or using in a dish will suffice for the 10-15 minute cooking time.
Now you have produced some wonderful sources of protein for your family that will only require being stored in a cool, dark,dry place. Place it on the shelf and know that it will be there until you want to use it. I love to look at my pantry after a canning session.
I see rows of beautiful,simple, healthy food for my family. I know that if the power fails, freezer fails, or the prices of meat should skyrocket, that this is already purchased, stored, and no longer requires electricity to be usable. It will not spoil or thaw and go bad. A product made with my own hands. I know that it was handled cleanly, at the proper temperatures, and I also know exactly what is init because I put it there.
All that is left now for this segment is to cleanup the kitchen, make a cup of coffee, and relax. You have done a great job! Added a new skill to your preps! Now you have the first step in beating the rising prices of meat and can purchase while the ranchers are selling off their herds due to drought and the rising cost of feed for the animals.
Meats prices will skyrocket this winter and into next year once these initial animals are gone. You now know how to put up venison during hunting season and not having to worry about losing all of your care, time and hard work due to a power failure or breakdown of a freezer. This will also allow you to store more than your freezer will hold.
I hope this post was informative enough to walk you through the process. I hope and pray you find the results of canning meats as a good one. I pray that this helps you save money and provide quality food for your family no matter what may come. We are all in this together and we need to share our experiences and skills with one another so we can pull through whatever comes our way.
Your friendship and camaraderie means so much to me and is what keeps me going on days that I feel down or pressured. I want to thank everyone for everything and hope that God blesses everyone in your lives, families, work, and preps.
Happy canning and happy prepping! Repair Mama