Monday, June 27, 2011

Home Canning Meat Instructions by a Pro

I have been following Granny Miller for several years, and I've learned how to do so many different things that I had never thought of with canning. I've only been canning since I moved to Utah. In California you buy fresh from the farmers stands almost year round. I didn't know anyone who canned, nor did we have canning supplies in our grocery stores. Canning meat is so simple. It's always ready when you are. And if you don't have any fresh meat to feed your family, what a treat canned meat will be!
May 15, 2011 By grannymiller

The home canning of meat, fish, wild game, and poultry affords the home canner a wider variety of storable foods. Home canning meat is very safe and it’s an affordable and easy way to increase a family’s long-term food supply. Canned meat on the pantry shelf can be a real time saver too.

When things get hectic, unexpected guests show up or when nobody feels like cooking – What could be easier than opening a can of chili or heating up canned sausage patties for breakfast? With home canning, consumers can take advantage of grocery store specials; and livestock producers and hunters have the ability to preserve their animal harvest. And unlike frozen meat – home canned meat has an almost indefinite shelf life and requires no major appliance or electricity to store it.

Meat and all other low acid foods MUST be processed at a temperature that is high enough, and for long enough, to destroy all bacteria that can cause food spoilage or food poisoning.

Never take a chance with your life or someone else.

Never take a “short cut” or get “creative” when canning low acid foods. Keep your family safe and don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

Popular meats for home canning include:

· Beef, veal, lamb and pork
· Chicken, duck, goose, and turkey
· Domestic rabbit
· Fish and shellfish
· Small and large game animals

Frozen meat can also be used for home canning.

To use frozen meat allow it to thaw before canning in a refrigerator at a temperature of 40º F. or lower until most of the ice crystals have dissolved.


Keep Work Areas Clean

Cleanliness and good sanitation are imperative to the safe home canning of meats, fish and poultry. 

To control the bacteria that can cause food spoilage, all knives, pans and bowls should be well scrubbed with hot soapy water and rinsed.

If wooden cutting boards, spoons or work surfaces are used, they will need special treatment to keep them clean and safe.

All wooden surfaces should be well scrubbed with hot soapy water, rinsed with boiling water; and then disinfected with a mild chlorine solution.

Keep all meat as cool as possible during the preparation for canning. If  need be place the meat back into the refrigerator between canner loads.

Once the jars are filled do not delay and process the meat immediately.

The Pressure Canner

Pressure canners work differently from conventional pots and pans and require special safety precautions in addition to normal cooking practices.

Pressure canners are manufactured in different styles and with different mechanisms and safely features and are larger than pressure cookers. Some are weighted, some are dialed gauges and some are both.

All types of pressure canners will safely process meats and poultry for home canning as long as they are in good working order and a proven and tested recipe is used.

Before using your pressure canner, read and make sure you understand all the manufacture’s instructions for your particular canner.

Other Equipment

As with all home canning it is a good idea to have all equipment ready and tested before canning day.

Planning ahead of time will minimize the frustration and delay of having to hunt something you need or forgot.

A supply of clean towels, dish cloths, oven mitts, spoons, a measuring cup and spoons ready will make the work go smoothly.

A canning funnel and lid wand are very helpful during the packing process; and a jar lifter is an absolute necessity for removing hot boiling jars from the canner.

There are many different sizes and styles of canning jars to choose from.

It’s makes good sense to plan ahead for serving sizes and favorite recipes so as to meet your individual and family needs.

In general, wide mouth canning jars are easier to fill, to empty and to clean than regular mouth jars.

Wide mouth canning jars and lids are more expensive than regular size and may not be worth the extra cost if those considerations are not important to you.

A Word About Altitude

In home canning the altitude of a location is an important consideration.

If you live much above sea level you will need to adjust the steam pressure for the recipe you have chosen. 

Because of the thinner air at high attitudes it takes more pressure to reach 240ºF  inside the pressure canner.

240º is the magic number for 100% bacteria kill.

The general rule of thumb is this: For each 2,000 feet above sea level, increase the pressure by 1 pound on a dialed gauge, but do not increase processing time.

If you are using a weighted gauge canner you will need to adjust the weight to 15 pounds of pressure rather than 10 pounds if the altitude of your location is over 1,001 ft. of sea level.


The number of jars that any given amount of meat will yield varies with the manner and method by which the jars were packed.

The size of the meat pieces, whether or not a raw or hot pack was used; and or whether or not the bone was left in, are factors that will determine jar yield and outcome.

As a general rule of thumb, allow 2 to 2 ½ pounds of boneless meat per quart.


In home canning there are two different methods to pack meat and poultry.

The RAW PACK method
The HOT PACK method

Both methods are safe and both methods have advantages and disadvantages.

Both methods often use the same processing times and both  require the same head space in the canning jar.


With the raw pack method, jar sized pieces or cubed meat is packed directly into the canning jar with no liquid added.

The advantage of the raw pack method is time and effort.

Raw meat is put directly into the jar and a lid and band are applied. That’s it.

It’s fast and easy.

The disadvantage to the raw pack method is that it leaves very little meat juice for making gravy or sauce when the jar is opened.


With the hot pack method, meat is par cooked to medium done, and then covered with boiling meat juice, tomato juice or other type of broth.

The advantage is that meat can be seasoned in the jar and plenty of liquid is available for gravy and sauce. The disadvantage is that it requires extra cooking and preparation.

A Word About Fat

Remove as much fat as possible from the meat before canning. Trim the excess fat off the meat and cut out all large chunks of fat without cutting into the lean meat.

When canning fatty meat use extra care when wiping the top rims of the jars.

Any fat or grease that gets under the lid can prevent a jar from properly sealing and too much fat can insulate botulism spores and protect them in the canning process.

This is one of the reasons that bacon, butter and other fatty foods are not recommended for home canning.

Many new “preppers” and home canners are canning butter and bacon but I don’t recommend it.

This goes back to don’t trust or believe everything you see on the Internet or in the print media.

There’s an entire generation that does not remember the food born botulism outbreaks from the early to mid 1970′s due to improper home canned foods.

There are safer, more energy efficient and far easier ways to store bacon and butter- but that’s a whole different post.

A Word About Salt

In the home canning of meat and poultry salt is not required to preserve it.

Salt is only used in home canning as a flavor enhancer. One of the real advantages to home canned meat, fish and poultry is that the sodium content can be designed with personal preference or special dietary needs in mind.

If you need low sodium foods – home canned food is the way to go!


Prepare The Meat & Gather Equipment

Prepare the meat according to the recipe you have chosen.

Gather and assemble the jars, lids, bands, jar funnel, jar lift, a non-metallic utensil for bubble release and pressure canner.

You may also find a few clean kitchen towels, a dishcloth and hot pads helpful.

Check to make sure that everything is in good working order.

Visually examine all jars for cracks, nicks or sharp edges.

Wash the jars and keep them hot.

An automatic dishwasher is perfect for keeping and holding hot jars.

But a sink full of very hot water works just as well.

Start Heating the Pressure Canner & Simmer Lids

Place the bottom rack in the canner and add the recommend amount of water according to your canner’s manufacturer.

Begin to heat the canner while you are working on filling the jars.

Simmer the lids for 3 to 5 minutes and keep them hot until ready to use – don’t boil them.

Fill the hot jars with meat and leave the recommended head space.

1 inch is the standard headspace for canning meat.

A jar funnel is an easy way to help you to determine head space.

The distance from the bottom of the jar funnel as it sits inside the jar is 1 inch.

If you are using a recipe that calls for broth or other liquid, run a non-metallic object down the sides of the jar to release any trapped air bubbles.

If you are using the raw pack method pack the jars tightly – but don’t crammed the meat into them.

Wipe the rim and threads of the jar with a clean damp cloth.

Remove a lid from the hot water and center the lid on the top of the jar.

Make sure that the sealing compound is against the rim.

Now apply a clean band and tighten.

Tighten the band – “finger tight” – but not over tight.

That is tight enough to be good and secure – but not so tight that a 6-year-old child couldn’t remove it.

If you are using re-usable lids such as Tattler, apply the 2 piece rubber ring and white plastic lid; then apply the  band. 

Tighten the band to “finger tight” and then turn back a 1/4 of an inch.

Once a jar is full and has the lid and band on, place the jar into the heating canner.

With pressure canning it’s okay if the sides of the jars touch.

Leave the filled jars in the hot canner while the other jars are being filled.

Once all the jars are in the canner, put the lid on the canner and turn up the heat.

Heat the canner with the pressure control off; and heat the canner until steam freely vents out the top of the canner.

Allow the steam to exhaust from the vent for about 5 to 10 minutes or according to your canner’s manufacture instructions.

It’s important to drive all of the air out of the canner.

Especially when using a dialed gauge canner.

Steam pressure and air pressure together can give a faulty reading in a dialed gauge canner.

Once the canner has been properly exhausted apply the control weight or close the petcock valve, and bring the pressure canner up to the recommended pressure.

Processing time in a dialed gauge canner is counted as soon as the correct pressure is achieved.

With a control weight gauge canner, processing time is counted from the time the weight first begins to jiggle.

A control weight jiggle of 1 to 4 times a minute is just about right.

The aim during the processing time is to keep the heat steady and the interior pressure inside the canner stable.

Adjust the heat on the stove if necessary during processing to keep the pressure constant.

It may take some trial and error to determine the correct heat setting on your stove to maintain proper pressure.

If at any time during processing the pressure falls below the recommend amount, bring the canner back up to proper pressure and time the processing again from the beginning.

When the processing time is complete you can turn off the heat under the canner and allow the canner to stay on the burner to cool.

Or you can carefully remove the canner from the heat.

Allow the canner to cool naturally.

Do not try to hasten the cooling process with cold water or a fan. A too rapid decrease in pressure can result in jars that do not seal or a loss of liquid or food product from the jar.

Only after the pressure has returned to normal is it safe to open the top of the pressure canner.

For a control weight canner the pressure will have returned to normal when the control weight stops hissing.

If the control weight hisses at all when you touch it – leave it alone! There is too much pressure still inside the canner. Give it more time to cool.

With a dialed gauge canner the pressure will have returned to normal when the dial reads “0”.

Take care and use extreme caution when opening the canner lid.

All surfaces of the canner will be extremely hot.

Always open the canner with the lid facing away from you.

Allow the hot water to run off inside the pot.

Very carefully remove the hot jars with the jar lifter.

Place the hot jars on a dry towel or wooden board well out of the way of drafts and leave them undisturbed for 8 to 12 hours.

It is perfectly normal for the food to be boiling inside the jar when they are removed from the canner.

Often a “pinging” sound is heard as the jars begin to cool.

The pinging sound is the lid being pulled down onto the jar and indicates that a vacuum seal has been achieved.

After Canning

After the jars have thoroughly cooled it is important to check the seal.

Remove the screw band before checking the seal.

Check the seals by pressing down into the center of the lid.

Notice if the center of the lid has been pulled down into the jar creating a slightly concave surface.

There should be no give in the lid. If the lid springs up and down, the jar has not sealed.

The meat product should be either re-processed or eaten promptly.

The meat can also be refrigerated or frozen for later use.

If you are not sure if a jar has sealed you may also check the seal by gently lifting the jar by its lid.

Jars should be wiped clean if necessary; labeled with the contents and date, and stored in a cool dark place.


Never eat any food that you’re not sure about no matter where the food came from.

Always be alert for signs of spoilage. Bulging lids, off odors, slime on food or mold are all obvious signs of spoilage.

But food borne botulism is not readily apparent or obvious in improperly home canned food and the symptoms may be delayed for hours. 

That’s the reason you must use a tested recipe and take no shortcuts when home canning low acid foods.
Publish Post
If you have any doubt – throw it out.

No comments:

Post a Comment

You are welcome to ask questions or leave a comment.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.