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!
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