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Yes, You Can Can Meat!

Updated: Mar 25

Introduction to Canning Meat

Regarding long-term food storage, canning meat is a reliable method that ensures a steady supply of protein-rich sustenance. Whether you're an avid hunter, a homesteader looking to preserve your livestock, or want to stock up on meat during sales, learning how to can meat is a valuable skill. This article will guide you through canning meat for long-term storage, from selecting the right cuts to properly preserving them and their wonderful flavor. With the knowledge and techniques shared here, you can create a pantry stocked with safely canned, delicious meat that will last for months or even years. 

Understanding the Benefits of Canning Meat 

Canning meat is like a superhero power for those who want to be prepared for any situation. It allows you to store meat for a long time without

worrying about it going bad. Having food stored in many different forms is very beneficial. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak. Say your power goes out due to a storm; if you have all your meat in a freezer, that could be a real game changer when all your frozen goods thaw. Canning is a great way to have ready-to-eat protein for the long haul. So whether you're a prepper, a lover of home-cooked meals, or just someone who hates last-minute grocery runs, canning meat is a game-changer.

Exploring Different Types of Meat Suitable for Canning 

When it comes to canning meat, you have plenty of options. From chicken, beef, and even fish, you can preserve a wide range of meats. The key is choosing meats with a lower fat content, as fatty meats tend to spoil


Selecting and Preparing the Right Meat

How to preserve meat - beef tips

Choosing High-Quality Fresh Meat. The secret to delicious canned meat lies in selecting high-quality fresh meat. Look for firm meat that has a vibrant color and smells fresh. If it's been sitting on a grocery store shelf or in the back of the fridge for too long, it's probably not the best choice. Remember, you want your meat to shine, not be a mushy mess. We raise our own; that way, we know how it’s been fed and tended to. 

Trimming and Cutting Meat for Canning

Now that you have your meat, it's time to get down to business. Trim any excess fat or connective tissue from the meat. Fat can lead to spoilage, and nobody wants that. Cut the meat into smaller, uniform pieces  , about

1-inch squares, that will fit nicely into your jars. Just ensure they're not too big, or you'll end up with uneven cooking. It's time to put those knife skills to use! You can also can hamburger! Using very lean ground beef is best if you are going that route. 

Equipment and Supplies Needed for Canning

Essential Canning Equipment: You'll need a few essential tools to embark on your canning adventure. A pressure canner is your trusty sidekick in this process, as it ensures your meat is cooked correctly and safe to eat. Here is a link to one I use:  


You'll also need canning jars, lids, and bands to seal in the goodness. I prefer Ball Jars & lids.


And let's remember a canning essential kit to make your life easier. It's like assembling your very own canning superhero team!

Additional Supplies for Meat Canning

While the essentials are important, you might find a few extra supplies handy. A kitchen scale will help you measure the correct amount of meat for each jar. You'll also need a sharpie to label your jars because trust me, you don't want to mix up your canned chicken with your canned beef. And, of course, don't forget about patience and a positive attitude – they may not be physical supplies, but they're essential, too! 

Steps for Properly Canning Meat

Easy Canning Meat
Preparing Jars and Lids 

Before diving into the canning process, preparing your jars and lids properly is essential. First, inspect them for cracks or damages; nobody wants a leaky jar mess, right?  Then, to sterilize the jars & lids, you can do this in a few different ways. Be sure to place on a clean cloth after each of these steps.


1.    You can wash the jars in hot, soapy water, but make sure to rinse thoroughly.

2.    Put the jars in the oven on a cookie sheet at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. 

3.     Boil the jars for 12 minutes on a full rolling boil, ensuring they are fully covered in water facing up. 

4.    You must also heat your lids in a pot of simmering water to soften the seal. Leave the lids in the warm/hot water until you’re ready for them. Now, you're ready to assemble the dream team!

Correctly Processing Meat in a Pressure Canner

It's time to tackle the main event - processing your meat in a pressure canner. Follow your canner's instructions for the specific processing time and pressure required for your meat. For most meat, you will need to fill the jar with evenly cut pieces, about 1-inch square, and leave 1-inch of head space, then fill with a liquid such as broth or even just water. If you feel creative, you can make pre-made meals such as stew or chili. There are all kinds of amazing recipes on the World Wide Web! Also, be sure to take a paper towel and dip it in vinegar, not to where it’s dripping, just damp, and wipe the edge of the jar to ensure no residue from the meat or liquid you have added. Once you have done this for all your jars, take the lids from the warm water with your magnet grabber and place them on the jars. Now, set the rings on the jar; don’t put them on too tight, just finger tight and then a little more. 

Once you have all the jars ready to go, place them carefully in the canner with your jar lifter. Place the lid on your canner and lock it down according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Turn your stove on (glass top stoves are not recommended); propane and natural gas are the best way to go. The Glass top stove is fragile and can break under the extreme heat and weight of the canner. Let the pressure build. As soon as the steam starts coming out of the spout, wait for it to be steady, and then let it do that for about 3 minutes. Once you have reached that point, place your weight on that spout. The pressure plug will pop and seal the canner, and then oversee your pressure gauge until it reaches the proper pressure. Turn the heat down to maintain pressure once it’s achieved its appropriate pressure. 

Every stove is different, so it may take a couple of times to figure out that sweet spot on your stove. But once it is there, set your timer and wait; you’re golden! This is where the magic happens, as the high temperatures and pressure ensure your meat is safely preserved. Don’t worry; the lid won’t come flying off in the middle of the process as long as you have followed the manufacturer-recommended instructions for sealing it. I thought for sure it was going to happen the first time I did it, LOL, but lo and behold, it did not!  I was so excited after my first canning session, and you will, too! Just think of yourself as a culinary wizard.

Sealing and Cooling the Canned Meat

Once your meat is fully cooked and processed, it's time to seal the deal. You will turn your stove off and let the canner depressurize entirely. You don't need to help it along by interfering, let it do its work. Wait until the pressure gauge reads “0” and the pressure plug drops down entirely and on its own. Do not remove the weight to speed up the process; this will ruin the whole process. Open the top very carefully; always open it away from your face because steam will come pouring out of the canner, and it can definitely burn you. Remove the jars from the canner using your jar lifter, gently place them on a clean, dry towel, and let them sit there while they cool down, anticipating that magic sound of the lid going “POP,” allowing the lids to seal correctly. 

That’s my favorite part! It's like the grand finale of a cooking show, where your delicious creations get their well-deserved applause. After they have cooled completely, check them by taking off the ring and giving the lid a slight tug to ensure it is sealed, and then replace the ring if you choose to. Some people leave the rings off; it’s okay either way. Don’t be discouraged if you have one or two that didn’t seal; it happens. Just use those for a meal that night and enjoy the fruits of your labor! After that, store your canned meat in a cool, dark place, and get ready to enjoy home-cooked meals whenever you please. 

Safety Measures and Precautions

Understanding the Importance of Proper Sterilization

Canning your meat can be a gratifying experience. It allows you to have a stockpile of delicious protein at hand and gives you a sense of self-sufficiency that'll make you feel prepared and confident. It's imperative to remember that safety should always come first. Proper sterilization is critical to preventing any nasty bacteria from spoiling your hard work and potentially causing a stomachache, or worse, take extra precautions to prevent contamination and spoilage. Keep your work area clean and tidy, wash your hands frequently, and use fresh ingredients. So, ensure you've got your sterilization game on point before diving into the world of canned meat.

Storing Canned Meat for Long-Term Preservation

Choosing the Ideal Storage Conditions 


Now that you've successfully canned your meat, it's time to find it a cozy home for the long haul. When it comes to storing canned meat, cool, dark, and dry is the name of the game. Find a cool corner in your pantry or basement where the temperature remains relatively stable. Avoid areas prone to extreme temperatures or direct sunlight, as they can accelerate the deterioration process. Remember, nobody likes a sunburned canned chicken.

Maximizing Shelf Life and Quality

No one wants to brave a zombie apocalypse only to come face to face with a jar of spoiled meat. Practice proper rotation to ensure your canned goods maintain their quality and have a long shelf life. Always use the oldest cans first to prevent them from sitting idle for ages. Additionally, periodically check your jars for any signs of spoilage, such as bulging lids or strange odors. If you notice anything suspicious, it's better to be safe than sorry; when in doubt, toss it out! 

Using Canned Meat in Recipes and Meal Planning

Incorporating Canned Meat into Everyday Meals

Just because you're a proficient canner now doesn't mean you have to turn into a reclusive, canned-meat-only hermit. There are countless ways to incorporate your canned meat into everyday meals. Toss some canned chicken into a salad, mix it with mayo for a quick sandwich spread, or add it to your favorite pasta dish for an extra protein punch. If you're feeling more adventurous, dive into the world of canned meat recipes. From hearty stews to mouthwatering sandwiches, the internet is brimming with creative ideas to transform your canned goods into culinary masterpieces. Canned meat can be your secret weapon in creating quick and delicious meals without sacrificing flavor or nutrition. 


1. How long can I store canned meat?

The shelf life of canned meat can vary depending on various factors, such as the type of meat, the canning process, and storage conditions. Generally, adequately canned meat can be safely stored for 1 to 5 years. However, it is essential to regularly check the seals, appearance, and smell of the canned meat before consumption to ensure its quality.

2. Can I can meat using a water bath canner instead of a pressure canner?

No! It is not recommended to can meat using a water bath canner. Due to the low acid content in meat, it needs to be processed at a higher temperature to eliminate the risk of bacteria and food-borne illnesses. A pressure canner provides the necessary high temperatures to safely can meat by killing any potential bacteria, ensuring the preservation of the meat.

3. Can I reuse jars and lids for canning meat?

Reusing jars and lids for canning meat is not recommended. While jars can be reused as long as they are in good condition and free from chips or cracks, lids should always be used only once. This is because the sealing compound on the lids becomes less effective after the initial use, increasing the risk of spoilage and contamination. Always use new lids for each canning batch to ensure the safety and quality of the canned meat. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I hope this helps you feel more confident about canning meat and expands your culinary knowledge! Happy canning!


About Me:

Melissa Hoskins resides in Southeast Tennessee on her 10-acre off-grid mini farm, Patchworx Farm. She and her husband, Michael, are wholeheartedly dedicated to reviving self-sustainability and guiding others back to traditional practices free from modern materialism.

In 2021, the Hoskins made a transformative decision to relinquish their material possessions while living in Florida and embrace an off-grid lifestyle. They now reside in a cozy 177 sq ft tiny dry cabin on their Tennessee property, where they raise sheep and chickens and nurture a 3,000 sq ft high-tunnel greenhouse to cultivate their food. In addition, they generously provide community members without space the opportunity to grow their gardens.

Melissa finds immense fulfillment in passing down valuable wisdom and stories to the younger generations, empowering them to navigate life's challenges with resilience and strength. Her hobbies include the art of canning, baking, and indulging in enriching literature. She also possesses a deep love for training and grooming dogs, as well as a love for all animals.

With Michael, Melissa continues to inspire and educate others on the path to self-sustainability and traditional living while embracing a lifestyle that honors the earth and fosters a sense of community.


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