Yes, You Can Easily Can Meat

meat-butcherIf you’re like me, you’re an avid meat eater.  I plan on having meat protein in at least one meal a day, even during an emergency.  Rather than relying on my hunting skills or the availabilty of tasty game after a nuclear blast, a hurricane, or an earthquake, I’ve made sure to store chicken, turkey, SPAM, seafood, and beef.  However, I got sick of paying $4 to $6 a pound real fast!  I also didn’t really want to eat “jerky” for a whole year either.  So I simply HAD to find out for myself whether or not it’s possible to can “bottle” meat.  Sure enough, YES, it is.  And it’s EASY to can meat!

Yes, you can easily can meat of all kinds—beef, seafood, ham, turkey, chicken breasts, roasts, sausage, bacon, pork chops, chicken breasts, salmon, tuna, whitefish, ground beef, beef chunks, roast, and turkey.  You can bottle just about anything but shrimp.  There really isn’t much of a limit to what you are able to can!  In fact, when you can meat it’s actually healthier, costs about 25% of the price of canned meats, and is more tender and tasty than what you can buy in the can.  Sounds like a no-brainer, right?  Did I mention that it’s also EASY? I have a local grocery store that has a sale every Friday on various meats.  I can usually get chicken for a great price and ground beef for as little as 99 cents a pound!  But, my freezers are filled to the brim.  So my husband is resistant to allowing me buy anything that needs to go in the freezer.  Well, now that I’ve shown him how easy it is to can meat, I don’t hear a grumble out of him.  I’ve been able to find very fresh, chemical-free meat at local slaughterhouses as well.  Now that I bottle my meat, it’s possible to save SO much money on meat! Look how easy this is.  Simply stuff a clean, new jar (does not have to be sterilized) completely with your preferred meat—RAW—not processed meat within a ½ inch of the rim of the jar. Add a little salt (¼ to ½ teaspoon).  With the exception of ground meats, no water is added to the meat.  In a small pan, boil the lids for about 2 minutes in order to soften the rubber seal.  Be sure the rim of the jar is clean before you put the heated lid and ring on.  Place the clean and sanitized lids on the jars and then place them in your pressure canner for the appropriate period of time, based on the kind of meat you’re canning.  (Your canner instruction will tell you how much time and you can obtain the canners for cheap on ebay—of course, and when exactly to put your lids on.)  About 60 to 75 minutes later you will have fully cooked meat that you can eat today or 5 years from now fresh from the jar.  Better yet it will be so juicy and tasty.  A pint jar will hold about a pound of meat.  Usually a pint is good for just about any recipe.  Be sure to keep your eyes out for jars on sale. pressure-canner Note: Ground beef is the ONLY meat that I cook prior to canning.  Also, there is a BIG difference between a pressure COOKER and a pressure CANNER. You need a CANNER for bottling foods. You can add spices to your meat, but don’t add any starches or dairy.  If you want to have a meat sauce or a beef stew during your “roughing it” phase, I recommend that you bottle just the meat separately and store your other items otherwise.  This way you can use the meat however you want and aren’t pegged into a particular dish.  You can bottle the meat with the bone inside, but it takes up more room.  I wouldn’t plan on bottling drumsticks, for example.  The canning process will cook the chicken already, so frying it after the fact won’t be that great. can-meat-jarsWhen you’re finished, just date and label the jars and store them in a cool dry place like your basement or a box under your bed.  You literally cannot buy canned meat as good as you can bottle it yourself.  It goes through at least two cooking processes and therefore loses so much of its moisture, taste, and nutrition.  When you bottle your own meat you’re not paying for all of the “parts” and liquid in the container with your $6 price tag.  So plan on eating all of the yummy meats you want when times get tough and doing it affordably!  This is a GREAT strategy not just for an emergency, but to stretch your dollars when you find a great sale on meat.  It takes a lot less time, energy and money than putting the food in the freezer, running the electricity, thawing it, and then cooking it.  And you don’t have to worry about all of that meat in the freezer in the event of a power outage! Aren’t you glad to discover that you can easily can meat?!

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For good meat deals for canning, be sure to check Sam's or Cosco. They sell meat by the case at a really good deal. I really love the chicken, beef and pork that we've canned so far. Thank you for your site, I've really enjoyed it.
I also have done turkeys when they are cheap around Thanksgiving. You have to pressure the bird whole for an hour and then the bones slip off and you can use the meat and broth to process the meat.

thanks for reminding about case purchases of meat at Costco. I had totally forgotten about that. Also, I hadn't discovered turkey canning yet, so I'm glad to get a jump on things!

This week I bought over 80 cans of chicken breast. Gourmetmamma had a post about a deal at Krogers. I got the hormel 5 oz cans for $.43 which equates to $1.40 a pound. The cheapest I find boneless chicken is $1.69 / pound, so I'm very pleased with this buy. I've never cooked with canned meat, so this is an adventure:)

I'm sort of a slow study in the world of canning, but only because I've never done it, other than tomatoes in a water bath -- and that I did only once. We purchased a large pressure canner and jars, etc. recently, but I've been putting off using it for some reason (OK, it scares me). This site is really motivating me, though, with all the great ideas and the testimonies of successful and safe canning.

I love this site and check it almost daily. It is so nice to know there are others out there who take this emergency preparedness seriously.

E-bay! You can buy these things cheap from people who never learned to use theirs. Half the price of new, or even cheaper. Make sure they have all the parts, though replacements like racks can be ordered from manufacturer.

Not quite sure how to 'credit you' but I did use your article today to get off my butt and finally can meat. It was SO easy, now I'm hooked! If I'm supposed to do something else, just let me know. Oh yeah, thanks for the push :)

Please DO! You'll love it. It used to be done all the time. It's just another lost art.

I bought another 50 pounds of meat today (on sale, of course) for less than 50 bucks. I also went to the local thrift store and snagged some Mason jars as well. I'm ready to do some canning! I've got pork roast, bacon, ground beef (which is the only kind I cook beforehand), beef roast, and sirloin. Yup. Bring on the crisis. I'll be eating good. I also bought several Hershey's Almond big sized bars that I'll can this weekend as well with my Foodsaver.

Oh, what a good idea to "can"

Oh, what a good idea to "can" the chocolate with the Food Saver! I have those things that seal jars. It's very convenient and you can re-use the lids. I've stopped buying the bags. So Expensive. :(

That's SO wonderful to hear! That made my day!

I was wondering, do you season the meats before putting it in the jars? I just found your blog and i think you are my new best friend....need to check out your Women of Caliber too!

Connie, I don't season my meats ahead of time. The reason being is so that I'm at liberty to season them any way I want to when I open them to use.

I love the idea of layering the ingredients to make it pretty. What is it about women thinking even prep food needs to look good? Thanks a lot of the tips.

Great suggestion, Michael. Thanks!

Make a white cream gravy with mixed veggies and canned chicken to go over biscuits. Greatest thing on cold days. Chicken salad sandwiches can start with canned. And, of course, the ever popular chicken noodle or rice soup. Made quicker with canned.

Emily, I can relate to the being scared about the canner. These things are really safe. But just remember not to leave the house and keep an eye on the pressure level.
I also shunned the thought of "being old-fashioned" with canning. But I've clearly rethought that stigma and have decided I prefer being smart, safe, and have extra money that I saved on canning! :-)
SO glad you like the site!

I was so afraid of my pressure caner that I would not do it alone at first and even the second time, I guess I was afraid of it exploding or something. Anyway now my husband can't get me away from it. My favorite thing to can is meat. I will not can anything that is not high calorie and possibly hard to get during hard times. Meat, jams, chunky apple. This week I will can blueberries because they don't dehydrate very well (too much work)

Thanks so much for your post! I've been tinkering with the idea of canning meat, but didn't know if it would taste good/be 100% safe. You've now given me the confidence to jump in and do it! Thanks again!

Oh yeah! One more tip: My wife does cook the chicken in chicken broth and the beef in beef or vegetable broth. Also throwing in a chicken wing will help bring out the flavor of the canned chicken with the dark meat added.

Love my pressure canner! And I love your blog! I have a food storage friday on omy blog! I find I get a ton done if I consentrate on it one day a week! Thanks for the ideas!

My wife used the wide mouth jars, and made hamburger patties the same diameter as the opening. She put about 4 in a pint jar. She grilled them a little first then canned them like regular canned beef. Now we open the jar, and throw them on the grill for a few minutes. Quick and easy hamburgers and you don't have to defrost them first!!

She also did some veggies this way to make chicken pie. The veggies are layered by type, and look cool while they sit on our shelves. Yes, I know my wife is awesome!!

I would do it the exact same way that you do hamburger. Cook it up. Then run it under cold water. And then put it in the pint jars with just about a cup of water. Then pressure can it.

Do you have any suggestions on how to do ground pork sausage? We bought a whole hog and I would love to free up space in my freezer. I would think doing it precooked, drained then pressure cooked, like hamburger, but should the grease be something to worry about?

Greetings from your newest fan ;-)

Question about storage of canned meat. I live in S. Texas where it is incredibly hot during the summer. I don't run the a/c during the day to keep the costs down so my house gets really hot (in the 80's to mid-90's in the middle of summer) so I can imagine that is hard on some canned goods. HOWEVER...I just discovered a crawl space UNDER my house that is accessible ONLY through a closet. I checked the temp and even when it was 86 in the house it was only about 77 under that space. I thought this would be a GREAT place to store food -- both from a temp standpoint as well as thieves. My question is whether or not 77 (or even possible if it got up to 80 down there) degrees would be cool enough?



A couple of thoughts...1) yes, I believe the crawl space will be acceptable, however 2) what if you were to run your a/c during the day at 79 degrees? That should keep your temperature down without costing you a mint, and thus lowering the crawl space temperature as well. Ideally, you don't want to exceed 76 degrees often. Also, running your A/C during the day even at that high, will actually SAVE you money in the long run because then your a/c doesn't have to work so hard when you get home.

Well, actually I usually have it set, just set pretty high. It is a new unit so running it to "catch up" isn't more expensive (although with an older unit I would agree with you).

Actually I was basing the question more in keeping if there was ever a situation where I was without electricity for days or even weeks. I deliberate didn't run the a/c at ALL today just to see what would happen (I'm such a nerd, LOL). and it stayed about 77/78 down there.

You're not a nerd. You're just experimenting when there's time to decide what you'll do. *wink*
Yes, if you are having to keep the meat when there is no electricity you'll be ok, so long as you're not storing that way for years. Some people have actually found the burying the food will help if they find themselves without electricity for extended periods of time during the hot summer months. I'm sure you've heard of people storing foods in "the cellar." That's why.

Hey just wondered if you have thought of dehydrating hamburger. I dehydrate at least 10 lbs a month. It dehydrates down to a very small amount and will be easier to move and keep cool during the hottest months. Hamburger is really easy to dehydrate and does not take any longer to do than canning meat. By the way I have an Excalibur dehydrator but I use my oven for hamburger.

Just remember that higher storage temps decrease the storage time. Your canned goods stored at 77- 78 are good for a year, but not much longer. Every degree lower you can get it extends that time.

I love this site!!

I am a single mom of a two year old daughter and a four year old son. My son was diagnosed with autism last year. After running tests, his doc found that he is loaded with lead, mercury, and aluminum. I am now trying to buy organic where I can. Canning fresh foods without chemicals is the way I want to go for my family.

Not only am I looking for healthier alternatives, I am trying to save money where I can. I am currently trying to go back to doing things the old fashioned way (where possible). I line-dry my clothes to stop using my dryer. I hand-wash my dishes and only use my dishwasher as a drying rack. I recently lost my job because the daycare my son was attending terminated care stating that my son needs a personal assistant. I couldn't afford one, and the only family members I would trust to keep my son all have jobs. My son is nonverbal and I have to be careful who he is with due to the fact that he cannont tell me if someone hurt him or touched him wrong. Saving money where possible is a MUST.

I had no idea that meat could be canned. I don't have a pressure canner, but I plan to have one by August. That would be a great investment. I am totally new to canning. I've seen my grandmother can veggies and her homemade slaw, but I was just a child and I have no idea how she did it. I would like to can veggies, fruits too. Is it easy to do?

(sorry for such a long reply)

Kisha, welcome to our site. Sounds like you're living through a crisis pretty much everyday. Good for you for rethinking how you do things in your life.
the good news is that canning really is easy. I believe that you should have no trouble finding a good canner for cheap on e-bay, your local classifieds, craigslist or at local "salvation army" type of store. It doesn't have to cost you an arm and a leg. AND if you'll use coupons like I highly recommend, you'll be able to afford a whole lot more! Take care!

I'm wondering why you say to not use a pressure cooker. I guess my real question is what is the difference? I have a pressure cooker that holds 3 quart jars. I think it was also called a pressure canner. So what is the difference?

the difference is the ability of the tool to maintain sufficient pressure. There are some "cookers" that you can can in. Make sure that they can adequately maintain 10 -15 pounds of pressure if you're going to can in them.

Hello Kellene, I so agree I love to can meat, mostly beef. I remember my grandmother talking about meat ration cards and they had to have their own chickens to fill in. But I have a question for ya, I have not tried Salmon yet. How do you can fish so it does not turn to powder, and bacon I never thought of it. Thanks for posting this. I really hope that more people will try canning it is so easy.

Crissala, I haven't done much dehydrating primarily because about 90% of the nutrition is lost. That's not to say it's a bad thing. It's just not my personal preference. Just curious- Wouldn't the deydrator heat up your home less than the oven?

You can can the salmon the same way you do the meat--raw. The only thing I haven't really enjoyed the taste of is any kind of shellfish. But the salmon turned out GREAT.
The bacon I just roll into circles and stack them up in the jar. They are GREAT.

Yes, it would but I can do 5 lbs in a little over 2 hours and it is much longer in the dehydrator. And my oven is a small "in the wall" kind, if I had a larger oven I could probably do all 10 lbs at once. There are other factors like metal pans verses plastic treys and humidity levels.
On the nutrition aspect, a dehydrator does not expose food to high temps. Meat would be the highest at around 150 degrees. So you would not lose any more nutrients than pressure canning at 240 degrees I would think.
But now that you've mentioned it I will look for a study for the quality of food nutrition for both forms of food preservation because it would be a factor in how much I do of one or the other.

Thank you I can't wait to try them both.

Heck yeah! My Nana used to always tell me that it doesn't matter how it tastes if it doesn't look good. :-)

can your bottle frozen meat? or do you need to thaw first. My husband can get frozen chicken breast at 60 cents a pound but it's frozen. I want to do about 200 pounds and I have to order it all at the same time. thanks


I think I made a newbie mistake and would like your suggestion. I bought a canner for my birthday and excitedly followed the enclosed instructions to can my first bits of meat. On my first attempt, most of the liquid boiled out and my dh called a friend's mom who suggested that I canned it for too long and that I should shorten the canning time. I listened and pressure canned the remaining precooked meat for about 20 minutes each.

I've started reading articles and they ALL say meat should be cooked for 75/90 minutes based on pint or quart, and now I'm concerned about bacteria. Do I need to throw all the meat I have canned out? I don't suppose I can "re-can" it? Any suggestions you have would be appreciated.

I would recommend just cooking it normally and then freezing it. Yes, you do need to can your meat for 75 to 90 minutes depending on your altitude.
Yes, you need about 4 inches of water in the bottom of the canner.
I would say you could re-can it if you are meaning that you ran out of water in your canner. If you ran out of water in your bottles, then just cook it and freeze it and try again. If you stored the bottles in the fridge while you waited for a solution, then you should be fine re-canning them.

I would definitely thaw it first. The reason being it with the meat being that cold of a temperature, it will take a LONG time to bring your pressure canner up to appropriate heat. And then when it does get to the proper temp. it will keep dropping as more of the frozen meat is exposed. So just thaw it first and then can it. I'm sure you can thaw it in segments, no?

Im so glad to have found this site.I've been wanting to can but I'm a city girl and no nothing about it. I wanted to buy mason jars but people keep telling me i cant can stews or meat.My question is can i cook the whole meal with seasonings like beef stews,homemade chicken soups,ect. also can i can cold produts such as bulk cheese or sliced or can any cheese be stored.I dont want to do them separet unless i have to.please be right to the point with my questions to much talk I'll get confused. Im still learing.will the food taste the sameafter opening the jar. how long can you store these products for, crockpot food is important to no.thank.

when I can the meat, I don't season it so that I can use it for whatever dish I want, such as chicken soup, stews, etc. I haven't tried or even researched the canning of cheeses. Check my cheese wax articles for storing those.
The canned meat is tender and yummy right out of the jar!
Shelf life is 3 to 5 years depending on how cool, dry, and dark you store them.

Bless your heart, and your son. Look for the Ball on-line instruction site. Most agricultural universities have great sites on home canning. Real easy to follow instructions and suggestions.
Be sure to check Social Security for assistance with the costs of a challenged child.

Start by making sure you fill any fluid or broth in the bottle is only about half full. Bring the heat up on the caner a little more gradually, and let it cool naturally. Don't hurry it. Let the bottles sit in the caner after it is opened for about a half hour. Most of that fluid loss (siphoning) happens from too quick of cool-down.

Actually, I don't put any liquid in the jars themselves except for ground beef.

where is the best place to buy lids for my mason jars?
the cheapest i can usually find them for is about a quarter apiece.
12 lids for $3

You can't use "a pot instead of a pressure cooker" to can meats. They need much more than a water bath to be safe. There are great recipe books out there for various canning recipes like you've described.

I don't put broth in with my meat because the canning process makes a great broth on it's own when I add water to the meat in the jar. YUM!

After reading your directions, I now have a good store of cannned chicken & ground beef in my pantry. it possible to can the brats I buy at the store (not homemade)? I have a ton of them in my freezer and cannot possibly use them up in the near future. How about breakfast sausage?
Thanks for everything you help us with.

yes, it is if you cut them into chunks or slices, not whole, so that you're certain that they get heated properly all the way through.

I bottled some pork it looks amazing my question is it shrunk so I knwo I need to squeeze more in next time, but the bottles now have about 1.5 inch empty space are they still ok to save? as long as they sealed??

Nope, it will always shrink, that's natural. The more you "manhandle" the meat, the more tough it will get, so leave it alone as much as possible so that you can enjoy delicious results. :-) So long as they've sealed, they're good!


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