How to Can Meat… and why you should do it!

How to Can Meat… and why you should do it!

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step by step instructions on how to can meat. When I was introduced to canned meat, I was amazed! It was just like any other canned meat. I open the lid, dump out the meat, and use it in my meal!

6 years ago, someone told me I could can meat.

I was amazed!  How did I NOT know about this?!

I found out about 5 years ago… and it CHANGED my life!  Well… in the part of “cooking dinners”.  It did.  Newly married… I HATED having to defrost hamburger, brown it, and THEN make my meals.  It was SO annoying and too so much time!

This also allowed me to buy bulk meat for cheap prices, and NOT waste room in my freezer.

When I was introduced to canned meat, I was amazed!  It was just like any other canned meat.  I open the lid, dump out the meat, and use it in my meal!  NO defrosting OR cooking!  A lot of my meals involved browned ground beef, and this saved me around 10 min of prep time working with raw meat.  All of my dinners went from 15-20 min prep work to 5 min!

Did I mention how much I HATE working with raw meat!

The blood, squishy-ness, and not to mention how un-sanitary it is so I have to CLEAN everything!!!

3 Reasons you should can meat

  1. It’s a one time deal working with raw meat.  Get it all prepped in one shot.  Once it’s bottled and cooked, it’s SO much easier to work with.
  2. Fast meals for your family.  Just take the meat out of the jar and dump it in to your casserole, or stove top dish.  You can even make bottled hamburger patties to just warm up!  (I haven’t tried those yet)
  3. Cheap.  You can buy bulk Hamburger from Costco, Zaycon Fresh, or when it’s on sale; bottle it at one time, and use it up until you find another great sale!  No more having to buy $$$ meat at the last minute.

Have I convinced you that you should try to can meat?  If so… here’s how you do it!

How to can meat

There are lots of steps, and it’s an overall about 6 hr process… but don’t be deterred!  It is all worth it to give you 6 months of hamburger quick meals!

Things you’ll need:

*Pressure Canner (I like the 23QT one because I can do MORE with pretty much the same prep work)

*Meat (around 10-20 lbs)

*Beef Broth (Optional, you only need of you are cooking your meat first.  I use water and beef bouillon cubes.. although there are MUCH healthier and tastier ways)

*Clean Canning Jars, lids and bands.  Pint or Quart. I find 1 lb meat fits into a pint jar perfectly… this works great for my small family of 5.

*A way to brown your meat… I like to use my Electric Skillet

*You DO NOT have to brown your hamburger first… I CHOOSE to because it makes the meat look more “normal” and I think it tastes better*

*Canning Kit (Optional… I only use the “tongs” and “magnetic lid lifter”)

*Canning and Pickling Salt (Optional… You can use regular sat too)

Prep Work

(usually done the night before)

*Clean bottles, lids, and rings

*Clean Kitchen:  Sink empty and clean, dishwasher empty, all counter tops clean, stove clean, new dish towels and rags out and ready to use, ect.

Meat out defrosting… when I do this in the winter time, I can leave it out on the counter all night and it’s just right (still a tad frozen) for me in the morning.  The process goes A LOT faster when the meat is already defrosted, esp because it’s a lot of meat!  You can also start defrosting your meat in the fridge 2-3 days prior.

*Pressure Canner out, checked and ready

Browning the Meat and Getting the Bottles Ready

When canning meat I usually start in the morning, because although the process is 6 hours… it takes longer for the bottles to cool off.  I’ve done 2 whole sessions back to back…. and did NOT enjoy being up till 1 am finish the project :/

When I can 18 Pint size jars, it took me about 1 hour 30 min to cook the meat and put it in the bottles, ready for the canner.

step by step instructions on how to can meatStart browning your meat.

The meat does not have to be 100% cooked.  I like to cook it mostly brown, but having some pink showing is OK.  Again, this is optional… if you CHOOSE to just put the raw meat into your jars, you do can SKIP this step.  I like to use an electric skillet for mine because it holds 3-5 lbs at a time.

Clean jars ready

While your meat is browning, have some clean jars ready beside it to be loaded.  I found my large Ice Cream Scoop works GREAT for dipping the meat into the jars.

Place your flat lids into HOT water and set aside.

Fill your jars

When the meat is finished browning, fill your jars till 1 inch from the top.  I recommend using something to pack your meat down tight.

Drain, out the grease.

Then ADD your broth until it’s full 1 inch from the top.  Add 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp canning salt to each Pint size jar… you’ll want to do more for Quart.

Get the jars ready

With a clean, warm cloth wash the tops of your bottles to make sure they are clean.  This allows proper sealing.  Trust me… It STINKS To not have your bottles seal tight!  I  feel like it’s such a waste!

Place flat/seal lids on each clean jar.  Tighten ring lids until Finger Tight.  They NEED to be tight, but not “Manly, manly CRAZY tight”


Cooking your meat

Now that your meat is cooked, bottles cleaned, lids on… you are ready to start the cooking process.

  1. On your CLEAN stove, place your pressure canner on the largest, most even burner.  Place the rack on bottom. DO NOT place the jars on the bottom of the canner, it NEEDS to be on the rack.
  2.  Put 3 quarts HOT/warm water into the canner.  You MAY add 2 Tbsp Distilled white vinegar to help keep the jars from getting a “foggy” look.
  3.  Add your bottles.  In the 23qt canner, It says it holds 20 Pint size jars… but on a good day, I can only get 18 (9 on top, 9 on bottom).  Make sure they are not touching each other, or the sides of the canner.  Although, they may be VERY close together.
  4. Put the lid on properly(following the instruction manual), and turn on oven to a high setting.  Do NOT put the “gasket” on yet.
  5. step by step instructions on how to can meatWait… about 10-15 min depending on your stove… till you start to see/feel/hear steam coming from the steam vent.  Set your timer for 10 min.
  6.  After 10 min of exhausting the steam, you will place on your “Gasket”.  This will allow your canner to start to build pressure.
  7. Wait… Keeping your oven on a high setting, wait until the “topper” pops up.  (this means your canner is going to start building pressure).  This takes about 5-10 10 min depending on our stove.  Wait… until your pressure gauge shows designated pressure.  For bottling hamburger, it’s 11 lbs.  This took about 15min.

Make sure you read the instruction manual for YOUR specific location/elevation and pressure for bottling hamburger

  1.  Once up to designated pressure, set your timer for 75 min(for pint size jars, see instruction manual if you do quart).  You will want to slowly lower your stove setting to it stays at 11 lbs pressure… and check it periodically!  Mine typically goes down to a low-med setting.
  2.  After cooking for 75 min.  Turn the stove off, and GENTLY move your canner off the burner(sometimes I’ve forgotten this step, it just takes longer to cool down).  DO NOT OPEN THE LID!!!
  3.  Once the pressure gauge has dropped to zero, and the “topper” drops back down, you may lift up the “gasket”.  There should be NO steamescaping before you take off your pressure canner lid.
  4.  Using your canning tongs… take out the bottles one by one, and set on a cloth to cool off.  Slowly they will cool off and you will hear “popping” noises as the seals are popping down.
Your house will smell yucky!  But it is TOTALLY Worth it!
  1.  Once completely cooled, make sure ALL lids are popped down, showing they are sealed.  Remove the rings.  Date and label your bottlesThen store.  
  2. Clean your kitchen and be GLAD you are good for about another 6 months!  No more dealing with raw hamburger, or browning your meat before getting dinner prepared.  (Depending on how much you made of course)

Finished with your canned meat

Congratulations!  That was a LOT of work!  You now have x # of bottled hamburger for your FAST meal prepping!  

So… I’m dying to know… Did you try it?  Did you like it?  Comment below to give me more tips!

Total Average Time to can meat

Remember times may vary with your stove. These are just estimates… each time I always get worried about “why is it taking so long”… then I remember… it ALWAYS takes this long…
1 hr prep work
1 1/2 hr Cook meat, put into bottles, and ready for the canner
25 min to get up to steam and exhaust steam for 10 min
25 min to get up to pressure
75 min to cook
45 min to 1 hr to cool down to take off the lid.
it takes 2-3 hours for bottles to completely cool off, but this is not included in the time.

TOTAL Time:  5 hrs 35 min

Did I mention you can bottle all kinds of meat?!  I also bottle chicken, but you can do fish and steak too!

Further Reading

The Ultimate List of Food Storage Websites
The #1 Tip from Food Storage Experts
100+ Food Storage Recipes

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