Bottled meat is practical...not pretty!

Bottled meat is practical...not pretty!

Since we purchased our pressure canner last year, we’ve wanted to try canning meat.  We love the idea of being able to store meat from the cuts that we like to reduce fat and mystery meat.  And, we can buy meat in bulk when it’s on sale and have a way to store it long-term outside of our freezer.  It’s a win-win.  Canned meat will store for 3 years if it is kept in a cool dark room.

We bottled super lean (93% / 7%) ground beef and chicken breasts in pint and quart jars.  Here is the step-by-step process we used:

1.  Start with clean bottles in new condition (no chips or cracks).

2.  Ready a large pot of hot water to fill jars, or create a vegetable stock like we did.  Combine water, celery, carrots, onion and herbs (if desired) in a large pot on a back burner of your stove to create a vegetable stock that will season the meat in the jars.  We liked adding this stock to the meat.  It is subtle enough that the meat can still be used in any recipe, but just adds a little flavor.

3. Meats need to be lean for canning.  Fatty meats may not can well because the fat can interfere with the seal of the jar.  Use ground beef that is 90% lean or leaner.  For chicken, cut raw chicken breasts into large pieces and place raw meat into jars.  We got about 1 lb. of meat per pint jar. For ground beef, brown the meat until it is almost cooked through before loading it into the jars.  Fill the jars with meat up to 1/2″ from the rim.  Some sites online say to add 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. of salt to each pint jar at this point.  We had read that with pressure canning, the salt is only added for seasoning rather than preserving, so we left it out to reduce sodium.  I don’t know there is an official rule on this.

4. Using a canning funnel, pour water or stock over the meat up to within 1/2″ of the rim to fill in around the meat.  Use a canning wand or handle of a wooden spoon to poke into the jars and release any air bubbles in the jars.

5.  Wipe jar rims clean of any grease or meat pieces. Place lids on jars (it is good to place the lids in hot water for about 2 minutes to soften the rubber seal).  Tighten on rings, but don’t twist them on hard or you may cause your jars to crack during cooking.

6.  Put the rack into the pressure canner (Remember this process does not work correctly in a pressure cooker. You need a pressure canner.) and add 2-3 inches of water (refer to the instruction manual for your canner) and about 1/4 c. white vinegar (this will keep your jars free from hard water marks during processing). Place filled jars onto rack.  Attach the canner lid and secure it on.  Leave the weight off of the vent port.  Turn the burner to high heat and “exhaust” the canner–wait until a steady flow of steam is leaving the open vent port.  Let this column of steam flow continuously for 10 minutes.  After exhausting the canner for 10 minutes, put the weight on.  Watch for the gauge to get up to pressure.  For our elevation, we canned at 15 lbs. pressure.  Once the canner reaches the appropriate pressure, reduce the heat to maintain the poundage.  Closely monitor this at first to assure that the gauge is staying where it needs to, and adjust burner as necessary.

7.  Once the pressure is where you want it, begin timing. Pints: 75 minutes.  Quarts: 90 minutes.  If you are canning fish, add an extra 15 minutes.

8. Continue checking on the canner to monitor pressure.  Never leave the canner unattended.

9.  When the cooking time has ended, turn the burner off and allow the pressure to fall slowly on its own.  When the pressure is down to zero, remove the weight (or release the pressure valve, if that is how your canner is equipped), take off the canner lid, remove the jars with a hot pad or canning tongs and allow the jars to cool on the counter away from drastic temperature changes.  DON’T TRY TO RUSH THIS PROCESS.  If you try to remove the canner lid before the pressure returns to zero, your jars may break.  The jar lids should start making a plinking sound as they seal, and should all be sealed within about an hour.  If any of the jars don’t seal, you can refrigerate the meat to use right away or reprocess it using a new lid.

10.  After the jars have sealed and cooled down, wipe the jars clean, remove the rings and place them on your pantry shelves.

The meat is surprisingly delicious prepared this way.  The chicken ends up moist and just falls apart the same way as it does after cooking in a crock pot.  It’s great used in any recipe calling for shredded chicken like soup, enchiladas, etc.   Once you’ve tried canning meat, you’ll see how simple the process is, and you’ll enjoy all the fast and tasty week-night meals you can create.  If you want, you can customize the recipe as your canning by adding peppers, onion or celery to the ground beef…or even a tomato base to make jars of sloppy joe that are ready to go! 

Happy canning!

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20 Comments to “Canning Meat”

  1. Carolyn says:

    Thanks for a grea post. I am learning about pressure canning and will be giving it a try soon. Meats are one of the things I want to try.

  2. I HIGHLY suggest that you use stock to can your meat, not water. Beef especially will have no flavor if it is canned in water, but it will taste fairly good if you can it in water. It is great in pasta sauces, chili, and even sloppy joes. If you can it in water it will add nothing but protein, no flavor, to your dishes.

  3. Kim says:

    I completely agree, Erin. I was glad we used stock with our jars, and will from now on. I’m surprised how many sites online suggest just using water.

  4. Tauna says:

    I’ve canned for over 25 years and last year was the first time I was brave enough to try meat. I LOVE it! I did meatballs, chicken, hamburger and pulled pork. It’s so nice to be able to just grab something from the shelf and have a fast dinner.
    The only thing I wish I would have done differently was NOT canned the chicken in quart jars. That’s a lot of chicken for our family to use at once.

  5. Brooke says:

    In step 4 you state to use a butter knife to release air bubbles. My research has shown that you should never use any metal utensil in your jars. Metal utensils can cause tiny cracks that can cause your jars to break during the process. Only use wooden or plastic utensils. I use the end of a wooden spoon. Thank you for your site!

  6. Brittney says:

    Nice tutorial, Kim!! Maybe one day I’ll buy a pressure cooker.

  7. Brittney says:

    hmm I meant canner 🙂 or whatever…

  8. Kim says:

    You’re right! Thank you for the reminder. I’ve edited the post.

  9. Tammy says:

    Wow! I totally need to invest in a pressure canner.

  10. noel holley says:

    any suggestions on type of pressure canner?

  11. Kim says:

    I definitely recommend buying an All-American brand pressure canner. They have all metal parts so you won’t ever need to replace rubber gaskets in the lids. They are heavy duty and reliable. We love ours! Prices are starting to drop on them on since canning season is approaching. I think you’ll find your best price there. I hope this info is helpful. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

  12. Doug says:

    I found my Presto 21 quart pressure canner, minus a few parts on someones lawn for FREE. Bought the missing parts (weight, seal, book) from Red Hill General store, and have been addicted every since. Mostly interested in pork beef fish recipes. Anyone her ever canned fresh bluegill? Im planning on heads, tails, fins, scales removed, bones in, small fish. Sardine style, and anyone fishing in the great lakes region knows how many of these stunted bluegill you can catch in a day.

  13. Sandy Wallace says:

    I am new to the pressure canning meats and I just did hamburger. I did it according to the directions but when I pulled the bottles our I noticed that the bottles lost some of the water, is this normal?

  14. Kim says:


    Yes, my jars have done this too! Just check each of your jars carefully to ensure that they sealed completely, and that the leakage didn’t prevent the jar from sealing. If you have any that didn’t seal,just remove the meat and freeze it for future meals. You can even prep it with taco seasoning or sloppy joe sauce before freezing.

  15. JD says:

    I am confused if you raw pack various meats you do not add any is water is that right if so why?

  16. Excalibur says:

    Here’s my 2 cents, for what it’s worth. I have canned venison every year for the last 12 years. Each buck Deer will yield 14 quarts of meat. Your shelf life will far exceed 3 years if care is taking during preparation and processing. At present I have 56 quarts of Deer canned up. I raw pack to a half inch from the top, all my meat is processed with 1tsp of salt and 1tsp of quality Lemon pepper. No liquid(water or broth) is added..(Liquid is only required if the meat is precooked) After the lids are set on the jars add the ringers just finger tight as not to scratch the finish of the lid, if scratched the lid will start to rust over time if kept in a basement or other areas prone to moister. Process for 90 minutes at 10lbs (check you altitude your pressure my be higher)The meat is cooked down an inch or so with the liquid cooked out of the meat 2 inches or so from the top. I always remove the ringers once the jars are sealed. Then label and store. Knock on wood, to date I have never had a jar go bad on the shelf. This meat is great on French Dip sandwiches, as a replacement in Hamburger helper, chillies or about anything else you can think of. But the main objective is food preservation with out the use of electricity.

    Thanks for the Article.

  17. laurel allen says:

    have started meet processing this year. what i read here answered lots of questions. especially wanted info on venison. now i know the shelf life of the meats i put up i don’t feel the need to use it up all in the same year. so glad i found this site. thank you to all who contribute.

  18. Sue says:

    It seems that the more you read the more a person can become confused. I have canned all my life and put a lot of things in a jar. I have read several things on different sites that says you should not “make a recipe” then can it. Well I just did. I canned beef cubes with mushroom soup and onion soup mix, it makes a “stroganoff”. If I canned it at 17 #’s for 90 minutes, what could possibly be wrong? Can someone answer that for me? I have always been told if you use the correct pressure and time, things will be safe to eat. The reason I use 17#’s is because of altitude. Help

  19. John says:

    I’ll join this but it seems that replies have died out.

    I have been canning pork sausage for over 60 years. I buy pork shoulders and cut all the meat away from the bones. The bones are cooked later for broth. I then cut the entire amount of pork into pieces that will fit down the throat of my grinder. Before grinding I salt and pepper layers of the cut pork. I don’t measure, I just sprinkle both over the top. Once that layer has been ground, I lay out another layer and salt and pepper it. When done grinding I am left with a huge pan or ground pork.

    I set the temperature of my oven, yes I said oven, to 255 degrees. I then make patties and place them into a skillet. I brown both sides of the patties and put 4 into each wide mouth pint jar. Size the patties to fit the jar. Do not add any liquid!! I firm up the lid and slide into the oven. I generally do 16 pints at a time.

    When the last pint is slid into the oven I set the timer for 4 hours. At the end of 4 hours I turn off the oven and open the door. I leave all the jars in the oven until they have popped.

    This sausage is probably the best sausage you will ever eat. I generally have to give 5 or 6 jars away each time I make it.

    One of the nice things about canning sausage is one can remove any fat as it forms a white ring just above the gelatine layer.

    If you never have canned sausage this way, you don’t know what you are missing.

  20. Jane says:

    I would like to know just how long (years) can you keep can meat, chicken, beef, hamburg, veg. I was told indefinite

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