Canning Meat the Right Way

Preserve beef, chicken, pork and wild game for a full pantry and easy-to-cook dinners.

| September/October 1983

Much of the following material was excerpted and adapted, with permission, from the Ball Blue Book: The Guide to Home Canning and Freezing, published by Ball Corporation, Muncie, Indiana. 

There are any number of good reasons to can meat. For one thing, doing so can save a lot of future cooking (for those times when you need to prepare a meal in a hurry), and it's also a practical solution to the "overstuffed freezer" problem (which faced the author of the accompanying sidebar). Many people, though, hesitate to go this route, because they think it might be dangerous. However, that simply isn't so. Canning meat is as safe as is processing any other low-acid food in the same manner. You just have to follow the correct procedures.

Bacterial growth is hindered by the acid in food, and meat is very low in acid. Worse yet, certain harmful bacteria thrive where natural acidity is low, and these cannot readily be destroyed at the boiling point of 212°F. To can meat, therefore, you must superheat it to 240°F, which means it must always be processed by pressure canning, not with boiling water baths, which are fine for preserving such high-acid foods as sauerkraut.

Be aware, too, that the flavor and texture of any canned meat will depend upon the breed, the feed, and the manner in which the animal was handled at the time—and immediately after—it was killed. If you want to process your own livestock, contact your local county agricultural agent for complete information on slaughtering, chilling, and aging it.

Preparing the Meat Canning Equipment

The first step in meat canning is to assemble all the needed equipment and utensils and to wash them thoroughly. Clean the petcock and safety valve of the pressure canner by drawing a string through the openings, and—if you have a dial gauge—be sure the pressure gauge is accurate. If it's not, the processing won't be correct, and some bacteria, including botulinum, may not be killed. (Again, your county extension agent or the manufacturer of the canner usually can tell you where to have dial gauges checked.)

Look over all your jars for nicks and cracks, and wash the containers and their closures in hot, soapy water, rinse them well, and keep them in hot water until they're ready for use. Don't use wire brushes, steel wool, or washing soda for cleaning these receptacles, as they're likely to damage the glass. In handling the jars, take care that they don't crack or break because of sudden changes of temperature. Never put a hot jar on a cold surface or in a draft, and never pour boiling liquid into a cool container.

6/6/2013 1:01:51 PM

About canning meat.   I processed some meat, hot pack, and used the

 15 pound weight instead of the 10 pounds called for. Do you think this error rruined the contents.

Thank you 

9/26/2007 8:14:51 AM

Just wanted you to know how much I love Mother Earth. It was a 70th birthday gift. It will be on my xmas list for others this year. Now if I was just 30 I could do all thats in your book.

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