Canning your own meat means you’ll have a meal ready to heat up at the end of a long day. It eases up space in the freezer and you won’t lose the meat when the power goes out. The biggest benefit of canning meat is that it’s a time-saver. Load up the pressure canner once and you’ve created a week of meals.
Lavonne Meyer is an extension food safety field specialist at South Dakota State University. She says any meat can be canned as long as it’s lean and of good quality. Beef, chicken, and game meat such as venison are popular choices, and preparation is simple.
"You cut it up into cubes or strips, I generally go with cubes for beef. For chicken you can just put the whole pieces of chicken in the jar, you don’t even have to take it off the bone. You just put what fits in a jar and you don’t have to add anything to it," says Meyer. "You have a clean jar, you pack your meat in there, you put a clean new lid and ring on there, and you process it in a pressure canner."
Meat is a low-acid food and must always be processed in a pressure canner and never in a hot water bath. Bacteria that cause food poisoning thrive in low-acid foods. A hot water bath doesn’t get hot enough to kill it. The pressure canner super-heats food to 240-degrees.
Meyer says the meat becomes fully cooked, and very tender. You can eat it right out of the jar if you want, or save it for future use.
"You would store it in a dark, cool place. If you have a basement or a pantry-type room, that would be ideal where it’s going to be a little cooler and dark," says Meyer. "Generally one-year is the recommended time for any home-canned food."
If you want to experiment, try adding salt, spices, and maybe a little water – then it makes its own gravy.
Learn more about canning meat
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