How To…Can Meat

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Yes, my friends, we can meat. Some people have looked at us quizzically when they learn this fact, then the inevitable question of “Why?” immediately follows. It may not seem to make sense to can meat when one can just run down to the local supermarket and buy it fresh, but there is definitely method to our madness!

We live in Florida which means that we have a fifth season of the year; we call it hurricane season. It is always a good idea to have a stockpile of food on hand if you live in an area with this fifth season, but that is not the only reason we preserve food through canning.

There have been plenty of nights when dinner rolls around after a busy day, and there isn’t much time to throw a meal together. But instead of resorting to takeout or frozen pizza, we can simply pull one of our jars of meat off of the shelf for a quick start to a healthy meal. It also comes in handy in times of sickness, not only if mama is sick, but if someone in your church or neighborhood is sick and could use a ready made meal.

There are also times when we run across some super deals on meat so we stock up on it and can it. Why not freeze it? you ask. Good question. We do freeze a lot of meat, berries, cheeses and butter, but a freezer only has so much room, food will get freezer burnt if it isn’t used up in a sufficient amount of time, and if that dreaded hurricane comes and the power fails, there is no way to keep that freezer full of food frozen.

Canning preserves our food for at least a year and sometimes much longer. We can all sorts of things such as apples, pumpkin, beans, soups, fruit butters, jams, and different kinds of meat such as chicken, pork, pot roast and hamburger.

I admire the Proverbs 31 woman and strive to be like her as much as I can. One of the verses from that chapter echoes often in my head “She looks well to the ways of her household.” When I can and preserve food, especially food that we grew or picked ourselves, found on sale or even for free, it makes me feel as if I’m being a good steward of the resources God is providing for us and that it is contributing to my attempt to look well to the ways of my household. (To read about a great free resource we ran across, click here.)

Canning ground beef is a simple process that I’d like to share with you here, so let’s get started with how to can meat…

What you will need:

  • pint-sized canning jars
  • lids and bands
  • pressure canner
  • canning salt
  • ground beef

In order to know how many pounds of meat you can fit in a jar, just remember “A pint is a pound the world around.” Our pressure canner can process up to 14 pints at one time so we generally cook up about 15 lbs. of beef, can 14 of them, and reserve one cooked pound to go in spaghetti sauce for dinner that night.

  1. The first step is to prepare your jars. Make sure they are washed and check the rims for any nicks. Discard any jars with nicks or cracks. Fill each jar with hot water to keep the jars hot.
  2. Place the lids and bands in a small saucepan of warm water until ready to be used.
  3. Brown all of the ground beef until the traces of pink have just disappeared.
  4. Prepare a kettle of boiling water.
  5. Empty water out of jars and fill each pint with cooked meat, leaving a 1 inch headspace.
  6. Place a 1/2 tsp. of canning salt in the top of each jar.
  7. Slowly pour hot water over the meat, releasing air bubbles with a plastic canning tool, leaving a 1 inch headspace.
  8. Wipe the rims of each jar with a damp cloth or one that is dipped in vinegar to remove any grease.
  9. Place lid and band on each jar.
  10. Load the pressure canner and process according to the manufacturer’s directions. Pints are processed for 1 hour and 15 minutes while quarts are processed for 1 1/2 hours.

When we can ground beef, we pre-cook it for safety reasons and to produce the texture we want. Any meat that is pre-cooked requires added liquid to prevent it from drying out as it is processed in the canner. However, for most of the meat we can, we raw pack it. Chicken breast, pot roast, and pork loin are just some of the meats we have successfully preserved in this way, and it is even quicker and simpler. To raw pack, simply cut the raw meat into cubes, and pack into clean jars leaving a 1 inch headspace. Add the canning salt and proceed as usual. No added liquid is needed since the raw meat will produce its own broth as it is being cooked in the canner. This is definitely my favorite way to can meat!

This may sound like a lot of work, but it is rewarding, and to my husband and I, it is fun as we work together. It is such a blessing to me when I see shelves and bins full of jars of food that will provide for us and others.

Why not give canning a try?


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