My Grandma did a great job of putting the fear of pressure canning into my mom’s heart. My mom always loved to can, but she greatly feared a hole in the roof, or worse, from pressure canning. Regardless, when I first started to see the economical benefit of bulk buying, storage was an bit of a concern. Buy and extra freezer or figure out if I could pressure can the meat without incident. Minimal research convinced me that I could do it, and I bought a pressure canner. I only needed to use it once to learn that I loved it!
Types of Meat to Can
You can pressure can pretty much any type of fresh meat – beef, ground beef, chicken, lamb, venison, rabbit, turkey, sausage, veal, chevon, pork…. Although you can cook the meat before canning, the pressure canning process also cooks the meat deliciously and tenderly. So cooking is not needed. The only meat that I pre-cook is ground beef and ground sausage. I prefer to be able to pack it in the jar without the meat squishing together, but it is absolutely not necessary to cook it before canning. Sometimes I can chicken that I have cubed up, and sometimes I prefer to leave the pieces whole so that I can shred it or whatever I want the day I open the can and use it. Venison was a pleasant surprise for me. I cubed it up, and it tasted like a wonderful beef stew meat. And of course, when I have served my family canned rabbit, they all said the chicken was great!
The Pressure Canning Process
- Clean glass jars, rims, and lids
- Fresh raw meat
- Water or broth to add to the jars
- A pressure canner
The pressure canning process takes several hours from start to finish, so make sure to set aside the time to be able to finish the job.
Set up your Supplies:
On canning day, I get everything set up ahead of time. I clean and sterilize the jars in the dishwasher. They are hot and ready to fill with a hot liquid. (Be careful not to add cold jars to hot water in your pressure canner. Otherwise the jars could crack.) I heat up a mild flavored broth in a pot on the stove. (You can use water if you prefer.) I also add 2-3 inches of water into my pressure canner. I soften the lids in a small pot of hot water. They seal better when they are heated up. And I have my meat ready to go into the jars.
Prepare the Jars:
Loosely pack the meat into your hot jars leaving a 1 inch headspace. Add your hot water or broth into the jars again leaving a 1 inch headspace. Clean the rims of the jars ensuring there is no grease from the meat or broth on the top of the glass. Dry the rims of the jars and cover with the hot, dry lids. Put on the metal rims and secure tight enough to stay on the jar, but do not overtighten.
Pressure Canning Process:
Add your packed jars into the pressure canner. You will need a utensil, a jar lifter, to add them as the water will be hot. Place the lid onto your canner and close. Make sure you leave the pressure regulator off for now. You will continue to heat the water. Watch for steam to eventually come out of the steam vent. When you notice a steady amount of steam escaping, start your timer for ten minutes. After ten minutes are up, put your pressure regulator in place on your canner. Pressure will continue to build as you continue to heat up the canner.
When your pressure canner reached the amount of pressure needed for your canning project, you can start your timer for the appropriate amount. You need to keep an eye on the pressure. If the pressure falls below the amount required, you will need to start the timer over. There are many charts you can find online to help you figure out what pressure you need to can at and for how long. I always use the guide from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
When the canning time is up, remove your canner from heat and let it naturally cool down. When the air vent drops down, you can remove the pressure regulator. Give it a few more minutes before carefully removing the lid.
Using the jar lifter, remove the jars and let naturally cool. The jars will start to pop indicating they are sealed. DO NOT FORCE THE LID OF A JAR TO SEAL. It will not seal properly, and the food could make you very sick. Once the jars are cooled off, remove the metal rim, wash the jars, and label them. For jars that do not seal, which occasionally happens, keep the metal rim on and either refrigerate or freeze to use later.
Pressure canning meat can be a big job, but it is so reward! The food tastes great, is easy to use, and is very economical.