Home Meat Preservation with a Pressure Canner

Ease pressure on your lofty self-reliance goals by mastering the ins and outs of meat preservation at home.


| August/September 2016



Canning Chicken

If you're planning to pressure can chicken at home, keep in mind that raw-packed chicken is perfect for chicken salad.


Photo by Andrea Chesman

Whether you raise your own meat, hunt wild game, or track down bargains at the store, the list of reasons to add home meat preservation to your skill set starts with money and ends with time. When properly done, putting up meat with a pressure canner is safe and economical — and yields excellent results.

Yes, canning does take time, but the commitment will be less than you think if your canning project includes reserving some of the results for dinner that night. And picture yourself weeks or months later, popping open a jar of home-canned chili for your hungry family. Two minutes sounds mighty good for prep time!

How to Preserve Meat Without Refrigeration

My advice is to can meat simply, without veggies and sauces (with a few exceptions) in the canning jar.

Most vegetables, such as zucchini and green beans, overcook in the time it takes to safely process meat. All the brassicas (cabbages, turnips, rutabagas, broccoli, kale, and collards) contain sulfurous compounds that will leach into the meat and broth, rendering it unpalatable. That leaves celery, carrots, and potatoes for your stew mixture; you’ll notice that most pressure canning recipes approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) contain them. These mixtures work very well for the occasional stew or potpie, especially if reheated with frozen peas, green beans, or corn for more flavor and texture. But as a steady diet? Not for my family — and maybe not for yours. We’re used to a more varied cuisine than our grandparents enjoyed — Italian one night, Thai the next, and Mexican after that. By canning meat with pared-down preparations, you can later transform them into a diversity of dishes to suit your tastes.

Meats can be canned on or off the bone, either raw (a method known as “raw pack canning”) or partially cooked and canned with hot broth or water (“hot pack canning”). There’s virtually no difference in taste or texture between meats canned raw and those submersed in boiling liquid and canned. The advantage to raw packing is that it’s faster because you can skip browning the meat. Raw-packed meat will generate its own broth, although not enough to cover the meat.

Consider what your family likes to eat, and then plan your meat preservation projects accordingly. My family loves chicken salad, so pressure canning chicken is something I do a lot. Raw-packed chicken is perfect for chicken salad; you can use a little of the broth that’s produced during canning to moisten the salad, or set it aside for another purpose. One of my kids says all industrial canned chicken “tastes like tuna fish,” but mine “tastes like real chicken.”





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