Sunday, March 13, 2016

Canning Series - Meat

I like having jars of canned meat on my pantry shelves.  I usually can the meat plain and then add it to whatever meal I am cooking.  By doing it that way, I have many more options than if I canned meat seasoned for a particular dish.

I think I use more ground beef than any other canned meat.  When I first started canning ground beef, I browned it, packed it into pint jars, added either water or beef broth and pressure canned it.  I wasn't happy with the results.  It seemed to me to turn out sort of the consistency of dog food and didn't taste much better, either.

So I tried a different method and have been using it ever since.  I brown the hamburger, drain off the grease and pack it into pint jars but do not add any liquid.  I wipe the rims of the jars with a clean cloth or paper towel dipped in white vinegar.  The vinegar cuts any grease left on the rims that could cause the jars to fail to seal.  I add the lids and rings and process the pints for 75 minutes at 10 lbs. pressure.  The pressure amount is according to your altitude and is usually listed in the pressure canner instruction manual..

Hamburger canned this way turns out just like hamburger you would brown and use in any dish.  About one pound of meat will fit into a pint jar.   I have never tried canning hamburger in quart jars, but quart jars of any meat are processed for 90 minutes.

Beef, pork, venison and ham are all canned the same way.  If you want roasts, cut the meat into large chunks, packing 4 or 5 chunks in each pint jar.  Bigger pieces can be used in quart jars.  Some will sear the meat before packing into jars, but I just pack mine raw without any liquid.  It is a personal preference as to whether or not to add liquid - either way is good.  Process pints for 75 minutes and quarts for 90 minutes.  For use in dishes like beef stew or barbecue pork sandwiches or scalloped potatoes and ham, I cut the meat into about one inch cubes and then proceed the same way as for roasts.    Sometimes I will can a few half pint jars of meat cubes.  These are just the right size to use in sandwich spreads.

I have successfully canned meatballs.  I make up my favorite meatball recipe and form into about golf ball sized meatballs.  I lay them out on a cookie sheet and bake them until they are browned.  Then I pack them into pint jars.  Sometimes I will cover them with beef broth and sometimes I will dilute cream of mushroom soup in a ratio of one can of soup to one can of water, ladle the soup over the meatballs and process.  This way I have a choice of using plain meatballs in dishes like spaghetti and meatballs or using the soup covered ones for meatballs and gravy.

I can chicken a bit differently.  Sometimes I will fill wide mouth quart jars with chicken pieces like drumsticks or thighs, cover with water and process.  The wide mouth jars make it easier to remove the chicken pieces from the jars.  If I want large chunks of chicken breast, I will cut the chicken into pieces, pack them into jars and cover with water or broth.  When I want small pieces of chicken breast to use in stews or casseroles, I will bake the boneless, skinless chicken breasts until they are cooked through and then cut them into one inch pieces, pack them into jars and cover with water or broth.  Some will raw pack chicken, but I like the results better using a liquid.  I also can some smaller pieces in half pint jars for sandwich spreads.

At holiday time when turkey goes on sale I will buy several.  I get these ready to can two ways.

The first way is to roast the turkey same as for Thanksgiving dinner.  I have only one large roaster pan, so when one turkey is done I will roast another right away.  When both are fully cooked, I will take the meat from the bones and refrigerate it.  Then I take the bones and cook them down for broth.  After that, I cut up the turkey meat, pack it into jars, cover the meat with the broth and process.

The second method is to cut up the thawed turkeys as if I were cutting up a whole chicken.  The pieces go into stock pots and I add water to cover the meat.  I bring the water to a boil and then simmer the meat until it is cooked through.  I remove the meat from the bones, cut it up into small pieces and pack it into jars.  I strain the broth from simmering the turkey and ladle it over the meat and process.

I have also filled quart jars about half full of shredded turkey and added broth to within one inch of the jar rim.  This is canned for the same time and pressure.  This makes a really quick, easy and good tasting base for turkey soup.  Sometimes I will dump a quart of soup base into a kettle, add a pint of mixed vegetables, thicken the broth and serve it over biscuits or rice.

Bacon is a good thing to have canned.  There are videos on YouTube that have instructions for canning slices of bacon by first wrapping the slices in parchment paper.  I have not tried this as yet because bacon at my local stores is now over $5 for a pound.  Instead I can bacon bits.  I buy the boxes of bacon ends and pieces, cut the bacon into about one inch pieces and lightly brown the pieces in a frying pan.  After I drain off the grease (I save the grease for cooking.) I pack the bits into half pint jars and process for 75 minutes.  I use the bacon bits mixed in with scrambled eggs or sprinkled over a green salad or in one of those breakfast casseroles - anywhere I would use crumbled fried bacon.

Sausage is canned the same as ground beef.  I use it in any recipe that calls for sausage browned and crumbled.  Some say that the sage in sausage seasoning will turn bitter in the canning process, but I have not found that to be the case so far.  I usually buy Jimmy Dean rolls of sausage at Sams Club or when it is on sale at the grocery.

I'm adding a recipe here with the disclaimer that I have not yet tried it, but it sounds really good and when I have time, I think I will give it a go.  I like sweet/sour food and I think this would be good over rice.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

4.5 lbs chicken,boneless, skinless, thighs and breasts cut in bite sized pieces
2 large green peppers chopped
1 large red pepper chopped
2 onions chopped
3 20 oz cans pineapple chunks drained, reserve juice
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cups white vinegar
6 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons ketchup
1 tsp ginger

Layer the chicken, onions, peppers and pineapple in quart jars.
Heat the brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, ketchup, ginger, and 3 cups of pineapple juice (add water if there is not enough) and bring to a light boil until the sugar is dissolved.
Pour liquid over the solids in the jar to the fill line.
Pressure can for 90 minutes at 10 lbs. pressure or according to your elevation.

If there is leftover sauce, it could be canned in a Boiling Water Bath for 10 minutes.  I think I would can it in half pint jars for use in other dishes.

And that's probably more information than you all needed about canning meats!


  1. Going to get brave and try canning meat - maybe this fall. I'm afraid I'll ruin it and all that money will be wasted. Bacon is expensive here, too.

  2. I'm new to canning could you explain how to make chicken broth
    Thanks Ann

  3. Chickenmom...Meat is one of the easiest foods to can. The big thing is to use vinegar to clean the jar rim because grease or little bits of meat will keep a jar from sealing. Even at that, once in a while I will have a jar that doesn't seal - I just use it right away or dump it into a freezer bag and freeze it for later use. You would have to try really hard to ruin it. :)

  4. Ann...Everyone has their own method of making broth - here's mine. When I roast a chicken or turkey I put the bones (leaving any small bits of meat attached) in a freezer bag and freeze them. When I cut up a chicken for frying, I save the back pieces and freeze them, too. When I have enough bones and backs to fill my biggest stock pot about half full, I toss them in along with an onion, a couple of carrots and two or three stalks of celery if I have some on hand, cut into big chunks. Then I add enough water to fill the pot to within a couple of inches from the top. I just let it simmer on the stove for two or three hours, dip out the bigger bones and strain the rest through a colander or large strainer. You might get some foamy stuff on top while it is simmering - just skim that off with a spoon.

    If I am boiling turkey pieces for canning, I just add the vegetables along with the turkey pieces. The vegetables are just for flavor and will be tossed at the end along with the bones. Some will add salt, pepper or maybe garlic while the broth is cooking, but I don't. I season according to taste whatever it is I use the broth for. Homemade broth is really nice to have on hand and it is so much more cost effective than buying those little boxes of broth at the store. It is really so very easy to make. It is canned the same as meat - 75 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts at the pressure for your elevation. Hope this helps.

  5. Great information, Vicki. I am always more apt to try a new recipe or technique when I know someone else has tried it with success. Thank you for taking the time to share. Blessings, Fern

  6. I canned ground venison without the added liquid this past fall. We love it as it tastes more like fresh cooked. Also cooked some venison neck in oven, took meat off and put into jars without liquid. This too tastes like it was just cooked. You had mentioned not adding liquid to ground meat before, so I had to try it. And am so glad I did. I like my roast partially cooked before canning...just don't like the bloody type stuff that cooks out.

  7. We raise straight run chicks and end up canning the roosters as it helps solve the toughness problem. I boil the roosters and pick the meat off of the bones and chop it and can it in pints without adding water. It has a lot of broth in it already. I also can the broth in quarts. We canned cubed beef when we butchered and it is tender and perfect for stew, better than fresh as hard as that might be for some people to believe.

  8. Thanks, Fern...I am also reluctant to try new recipes or canning methods unless I know they have been successfully done by someone I trust. The recipe for Sweet and Sour Chicken that I posted came from a Yahoo Group on canning that I followed some years back and the one who posted it had years of canning experience behind him. These days food is becoming too expensive, especially for those of us who rely on Markets or grocery stores, to do much experimenting. The farther down the rabbit hole we go, the more I stick with the tried and true. If I can something that turns out bad, I feel like I wasted meals that might have kept my family going.

    If these posts of mine help just one person to take the plunge toward preserving food to feed their family when the going gets rough, it is worth any time or effort involved. After all, we are all in this together.

    So good to hear from you. I pray all is well in your neck of the woods.

  9. Connie...Isn't canned venison just the best tasting meat ever?! I am hoping that one or both of my sons will hunt this fall. There was a time when venison was the only red meat I had and I canned most of it. I still like it canned better than fresh. Except for those little tenderloins, sliced and fried up with eggs for breakfast. :)

    I just couldn't get past the dog food look and feel of hamburger canned in a liquid. Everyone has different tastes, but I think the hamburger canned without liquid is hard to distinguish from freshly browned hamburger. I seem to have fewer jar seal failures when I don't use liquid.

    I am not fond of the bloody stuff that cooks out of roasts either, especially because it cooks onto the inside of the jars and is a bugger to wash off, but because I tend to buy lots when beef does go on sale, I use the fastest method of processing which is raw pack canning. That's probably just laziness on my part!

  10. SF...Like you, I started canning chicken when I had roosters that were really tough when roasted or fried. I like the method of boiling poultry first. Seems like the resulting broth is a bonus. If I am running sort of low on quart jars I will ladle the broth into freezer bags and stack them in the freezer to be used first, before what I have canned.

    I am in total agreement on the cubed beef. It just can't be beat when used to make beef stew. A couple of years ago I canned lots of quarts of vegetable soup and adding a jar of beef cubes when I heat it up really makes for a tasty meal. I hope that more folks try canning foods. Sure, there is time and effort involved, but the results are so worth it. :)

  11. Deb...You are welcome. Hope it helps.

  12. My mom told me she used to can sausage balls when she was a kid. Sounds intriguing. I've only ever canned chicken as far as meat goes.

  13. Vicki glad you are doing the canning post. I do a lot of canning but it's always nice to hear how a fellow canner cans. I have canned the sweet and sour chicken a couple of times and I like it, but my husband with not eat it. He does not like Chinese food. With one person eating a canner load it last quite a while.

  14. Lisa...I have never heard of sausage balls - are they like regular meatballs only made with bulk sausage? I have read about some who fry up sausage patties and can them as a breakfast sausage. You are right - intriguing.

    I started years ago canning chicken and venison as a way to preserve both when I didn't have a freezer. My mother didn't can meat at all, so I have learned through trial and error and with the help of those more experienced than me. I like the convenience of having fully cooked meat on the shelves and here in Minnesota where summer and winter storms are common, it is nice to have most of the meat in jars and not in my freezer where a power outage for long time could cause it to spoil.

  15. steakandeggs...I like seeing what others are doing as far as canning goes, too. Some of the best ideas have come from those sources. Have you ever run across a blog called "Canning Granny?"

    Right now she is doing a series on making your own seasoning mixes, but her archives are plumb full of canning recipes complete with photos. I have spent a considerable amount of time wandering around there.

    I like Chinese food as well and think I may try the Sweet and Sour Chicken recipe. Is yours similar? It just sounds like something that would make a quick, tasty meal with rice. I am all for quick and tasty. :)

  16. I have been using Canning Granny sites for years. Some time back I told you about a Facebook group Canning Grannies. Pam of Canning Granny was the founder of that FB site. She decided to close it, and everyone split up into different groups. Which I belong to most. Yes my recipe is the same as yours. As for as I know it is the only one on the internet. I usually have it with rice and egg rolls. The second time I canned it I used less chicken and pineapple. Then added more peppers and onions, I liked it better, but that's just me.

  17. steakandeggs...Now that you mention it, I remember checking out Canning Grannies FB page. I didn't go any further with it than that because I am rarely on FB. I use it mainly for snagging pictures that my family posts. I check her blog almost daily, though. She has some great stuff on it.

    I'm glad to hear our Sweet & Sour Chicken recipes are the same and that you like it. I think the next time chicken goes on sale I will give it a try. It would be something good to have on my shelves for a change of pace kind of meal. Thanks for letting me know.

  18. Just re-read your post and took notes. For the sweet and sour chicken, would you can it for 75minutes if canning in pints? I think pints would be better for me. SJ in Vancouver BC

  19. SJ...Yes. Anything containing meat is processed 75 minutes in pints and 90 minutes in quarts. Please let me know how you like the Sweet and Sour Chicken. I think I will can some up the next time chicken is on sale. It sounds really good.