Canning meat,fish

Discussion in 'General Food and Foraging Discussion' started by Meerkat, Aug 19, 2011.

  1. Meerkat

    Meerkat Seeking The Truth

    I was ask by Neldarez about canning meat,this is something I have'nt tackled yet ,but plan to soon as we get time from other chores.
    Could yall walk us through it?
  2. Dixie

    Dixie Well-Known Member

    I'll be taking notes also. Please make it "canning meat for dummies". I realize that we have talked about it before, but my train of thought is: maybe you have found techniques that work better or more tips.

  3. gypsysue

    gypsysue The wanderer

    The easist thing to can is chunks of meat or ground meat. You can brown the meat first or just put it in the jars. If I have roast beef I cut it into pieces to fit them in the jars. Wide-mouth jars are the easiest for getting the meat out when you go to use it.

    At this moment I have two large kettles full of whole chickens boiling on the stove. When they're done I'll let them cool, then debone and remove most of the skin. I'll pack the meat into jars and ladle the broth from the kettles over the meat.

    The lids are done the same as for any pressure cannning. Let them simmer in water to soften the rubber seals while you work on filling the jars. After the meat is in the jars, wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, wet cloth, put the lid and ring on.

    You should set your canner on the stove and put the required amount of water in your canner. For a 7-quart load my canner wants 2 quarts of water in the canner. Make sure you have the rack in the bottom of the canner so the jars aren't touching the surface of the bottom. I love the racks in pressure canners and use mine in my water bath canner instead of that goofy rack that doubles as a jar lifter! For meat you should ALWAYS use a pressure canner, not a waterbath canner.

    After the jars are all in the canner put the lid on, turning it so it locks at the handles. Have the heat at kind of a medium to medium high while it heats. After a while steam should start escaping through the weight hole in the middle (I'm primarily talking about canners with a weight rather than the gauge. I haven't used one with a gauge in over 30 years and don't really remember). Don't worry if steam/heat is escaping around the edges of the lid or the weight hole. As pressure builds inside the canner it'll force the lid tight. Just wait it out. If it still doesn't stop you might need a new gasket for your canner, or just to oil it good to refresh the rubber.

    When the steam starts coming out the vent/weight hole, wait 10 minutes and then set the weight on it. There should be 3 numbers on the weight: 5, 10, and 15. The number you want should be on the bottom of the front, upright when you look at it, and line up with a hole below the number. Set that hole right on the vent thingy.

    Beef and pork are processed for 90 minutes, chicken and fish for 70 minutes. If you're under 3,500 feet of elevation, can it at 10 lbs. pressure. If you're over 3,500 feet, can it at 15 lbs. pressure. The timing starts when the weight jiggles (if you have that kind of canner) or the gauge is at the right pressure. The book says it should jiggle "2 or 3 times a minute", but mine jiggles more than that. If it seems too aggressive I turn the heat down a little. If it's not jiggling enough, turn the heat up a little.

    When the time has passed, turn off the heat. Let the canner sit at least half an hour. Don't remove the weight. The quick escape of pressure and steam can cause your jars to boil all over the place and you'll have a mess to clean up, plus you'll lose your batch of canned goods. After half an hour you can gently lift the weight just a little (use a hot pad, it's probably still hot) and see if steam is trying to escape. If it isn't, go ahead and take the weight off. Then you can remove the lid of the canner at any time, and using a pair of jar lifters, lift the jars out and set them on a dish towel or any cloth. Don't set the jars right on a counter or other hard surace. The difference in temperature could cause your jars to break. I've never had a jar break setting it on a cloth.

    You don't have to take the weight off until it's totally cool. In fact, you can leave the whole thing sitting there for hours. But at some point you'll want to know if the jars are sealing. If they didn't seal, put them in the fridge and either re-process them again with different lids, or eat them as you would any cooked meat stored in the fridge.

    I've canned hamburgers and sausage patties before by browning both sides in a frying pan, then stacking them in a wide-mouth jar. I use a lid from a wide-mouth jar as a pattern for the size of the burgers/patties That way the patties aren't too big to fit in the jar, and they aren't too little, wasthing space in the jar.

    It's also possible to "dry can" meats, which is nice for things like ground meat (hamburger) and patties. That way they aren't soggy when you go to use them. Simply place the meat in the jar, add salt if you're going to, and can it dry. It does work, and no, the jars don't break. The main thing to watch for is not to overfill the jar. The heat must penetrate to the center of the meat. Water conducts the heat in traditional canning, so if you've packed ground beef into a jar, make sure it's kind of loosely packed. We've been dry-canning meat for 3 or 4 years and have never had one go bad.

    I've heard that adding other spices to the meat isn't a good idea. Some people say it gives the spices an "off" flavor after canning. I've only done it twice and it turned out okay. I mixed ground beef into "meatloaf", with all the ingredients I normally use, and canned it in wide-mouth jars. When I went to use it I just slid it out of the jar into a bread pan and heated it.

    I also sliced some pork and seasoned it for stir-fry, browned it and canned it. Delicious.

    For most meat I add a heaping teaspoon of salt to a pint and a tablespoon to a quart. It's not enough to act as a preservative, it's just for flavor. I figure if I'm adding it now, while times are (reasonably) good, then the salt is already in it if TSHTF. Same with fruit, I go ahead and add the sugar now and figure it's a place to store sugar, just in case! :D

    NOTE: When you buy lids, count them. I order mine by the case, 60 boxes of 12 to a case. The case I just started has been short one lid per box in every box. I sent the company an email yesterday and told them, and I also told them I want my 60 lids (one per box) that I was shorted. I'll let you all know what they say! :D
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2011
  4. Meerkat

    Meerkat Seeking The Truth


    I think this about covers it all.:cool::beercheer:
  5. Dixie

    Dixie Well-Known Member

    Printed and in with my cookbooks. Thank you GypseySue.
  6. gypsysue

    gypsysue The wanderer

    Your welcome! Happy canning! Eat in good health. :)
  7. neldarez

    neldarez Supporting Member

    I've now done beef roast, hamburger, and boneless chicken, I will try cooking whole chicken like you did and can it next........I like the idea of having the chicken stock poured over's nice to know that you can can cooked meat........suppose you could also can left over turkey right? I bought 2 hams on sale and wanted to can them, they are fully cooked so I assume that I just cut into chunks and I right? Sure do appreciate all of your knowledge and how readily you share it.........thank you.......:2thumb:
  8. Jason

    Jason I am a little teapot

    The Ball canning book is pretty much the canning Bible. I forgetr the name of it right now (a little help, someone?) but if you get it you'll have the majority of your questions answered.

    The point of the pressure canner is to kill botulism-the 212° water of a water bath won't kill it but the ~250° water in the pressure canner will.

    DO NOT open your canner until all the pressure is gone, as Gypsy Sue stated above. 10-15 pounds of pressure doesn't sound like much but it is nothing to trifle with, I assure you. The first time we pressure canned (and believe me, we're still kinda new at it ourselves) I was amazed how long the jars kept boiling while they were cooling on the shelf.

    The big thing is, follow the directions. Canners are safe, reliable, and really a lot of fun. And a room full of canned goods presents one with an incredible feeling of security and satisfaction. At least, that's what they tell me. ;)
  9. gypsysue

    gypsysue The wanderer

    Yes, Jason is right, if you follow the directions it's safe and fun to can.

    Neldarez, your leftover turkey and those hams you bought will can up nicely. We've canned those things too. Very tasty!
  10. Riverdale

    Riverdale Well-Known Member

    My (humble) meat canning experiences

    ONLY raw pack loin and steaks. (We discovered that the hot pack works MUCH better on poultry, boneless). I prefer to raw pack whenever possible, BUT why do the work twice. We regularly get the 10# bags of chicken quarters and can them, hot pack, boneless).

    With fish (only suckers and salmon IME) half smoke then can.

    Fat is your enemy in canning meat.

    MMMMMMMM, meat :D

    note we can pork sausage patties for when we go camping, the original "Brown and serve" ;)
  11. The_Blob

    The_Blob performing monkey

    I've always done atmo pressure+gauge=30

    so at sea level 15 &...


    my gauge is marked in 1 psi increments, but I can put the needle between the lines ;)

    perhaps I overpressurize? :dunno:

    P.S. I have NO personal experience canning at altitudes >3500'
  12. Outbreak

    Outbreak Member

    The following is a post from another forum by XS29L. Very complete, it just about covers all the basics.


    Home Canning: How To

    The purpose of this thread is to help those who are new to canning, or those who want to know the "whys" of home food preservation. This is such a massive subject, so I will be adding to it over time. If anyone has a question or a suggestion, please feel free to post it.

    First Step
    The first step for any new home canner is to pick up a hard copy canning guide. Unless you plan to can only one food or plan to look up every step of the process, this book will be a priceless reference that you will use for years to come. It will give you specific instructions on what method to use for certain foods along with guidelines to fit you personally. I recommend the “Ball Blue Book of Preserving” which is easily found and covers nearly every subject. Of course you'll need jars, lids, and the proper canner to suit your choice of food.

    Home Canning
    Home canning is an extremely broad subject that deals with everything from meatballs to marmalade. Though the subject of canning itself is vast, food preservation by canning follows quite a narrow set of rules. If these rules are followed, your home canned food will be safely preserved and delicious for many years.

    Food Spoilers and Spoilage Inhibitors
    There are a few main things that seek to spoil your food, and a few main ways to destroy them. Mold, Yeast, Enzymes, and Bacteria not only have the ability to spoil your food, but they also have the ability to make you sick to the point of death. With that said, you can easily avoid food spoilage with a little knowledge and a few simple steps. There are 3 common ways to protect your food from spoilage: Acid, Sugar, and Heat. Heat is the most important and is used (to some degree) in every type of home canned food. Acid is used to preserve things like pickles and sauerkraut, and sugar is used in jam and fruits. If you can destroy the spoilers and keep them from getting back into the jar, you have successfully preserved your food.

    The Two Canning Techniques
    Pressure canning and water bath canning are the two canning methods and both should be considered carefully. These two methods have the same principals but entirely different food spoilage targets, a mix-up in procedures could have bad consequences. Water bath canning is a method in which the temperature of the food never gets any higher than 212 degrees F, the boiling point of water. Water bath canning is only reserved for foods with enough acid or sugar to make them safe at these temperatures. The point of pressure canning is to increase the temperature of the food to a minimum of 240 degrees F at which point the nastiest bacteria spores are destroyed. Pressure canning is used for (but not limited to) low acid foods such as meat, soups, vegetables, gravies, and meat stock.

    Your altitude affects both methods of canning and should be considered before you start. You should have a canning book, it will guide you through these variables. If you live higher than 1000 feet, you will need to adjust the canning pressure or length of time to suit your altitude. At high altitudes, water boils at a lower temperature than is required to kill certain spoilers.

    Hot Food into Hot Jars
    You’ll often read, “Hot Jars, Hot Liquid, Hot Canner”. This is because it is the quickest way to finish the sterilization process and it prevents a number of problems. The longer food is heated, the less flavor and nutrients it will have. Temperature and pressure are more quickly gained if all parts are heated before canning. You can put cold food into cold jars and put it all into a cold canner, but it will take three or four times longer to heat up the entire thing. One major mistake, however, is putting cold or cool jars into a hot canner, or vise versa. You’ll break a bunch of jars this way because of the temperature shock to the glass. If you decide to start out all cold for some reason, just remember to start your timer after heat and or pressure have been achieved.

    Boiling Water Bath Canning
    Boiling water bath canning is a method of home canning in which sealed jars of food are immersed into a pot of boiling water for a preset amount of time. There are a few universal rules to water bath canning, but not all foods get treated the same.
    For high acid or high sugar foods only:
    - Fill jars to within a half inch of the rim of the jar with hot food or hot liquid.
    - Check for air bubbles trapped under the surface of the food or liquid.
    - In the case of pickles or other free floating food, a butter knife is handy to knock air bubbles loose.
    - Removing air bubbles allows the air to escape the jar during canning which gives you a better vacuum.
    - Apply lids and rings finger snug, not tight.
    - Place jars into the boiling water and make sure they are covered by a minimum of 2 inches of water.
    - Put a lid on the canner or pot to help hold in the heat.
    - Start the timer when the water comes back to a full boil.
    - When the time is up, turn off the heat and wait until the water stops boiling.
    - Remove the jars from the water bath and set them aside for two minutes.
    - After a minute or so, tighten the lids fully to “complete” the seals. A silicone oven mitt is a good tool for this purpose.
    - This step is unnecessary, but greatly increases the chance that your jars will seal.
    - Place the finished jars aside at a minimum of one inch apart to cool.
    - Within a couple minutes, you should see and hear the first jars sealing.

    Pressure Canning
    If you are going to get food poisoning, it is likely to be from low acid and low sugar home canned foods that were improperly preserved. This doesn't mean not ever to even try pressure canning, it means to follow the tried and true guidelines. If you do this, you won't have any problems and you’ll love the results! Pressure canning MUST be used when preserving food that doesn't contain enough acid or sugar to kill the worst bacteria. Also, pressure canning relies totally on heat to kill the bacteria spores that are almost certainly found in the food.
    - Most pressure canners come with an instruction manual, which will help a lot with the details.
    - Depending on the type of canner you have, you’ll want one to two inches of water in the bottom to begin with.
    - Distilled or rain water is the best because it leaves no calcium or deposits on your jars. These are sometimes very difficult to remove.
    - If you want to use tap water, add a little vinegar to avoid these water deposits to some degree.
    - Here's one way that pressure canning differs from water bath canning: the jars don't have to be completely submerged.
    - Now is a good time to preheat the canner, but make sure it isn’t sealed so that it builds up pressure yet.
    - Put hot food and or liquid into hot jars to within a half inch of the jar rim.
    - Check for air bubbles trapped under the surface of the food or liquid.
    - In the case of green beans or other vegetables, a butter knife is handy to knock air bubbles loose from around the food.
    - Put lid and ring on and tighten it to finger snug, not tight.
    - Put the jars of food into the canner and apply the lid.
    - It’s very important to turn the heat up high at this point and allow the canner to vent steam steadily.
    - Once the water begins to boil, it usually takes 10-20 minutes for the steam to force out any remaining air in the canner.
    - You’ll notice the air escaping the canner going from white to clear even though it is blowing air out the entire time.
    - This means that steam is replacing air inside the canner, which is important.
    - Steam will give you a more accurate pressure reading and it cooks the food more completely.
    - When it blows out steam constantly, it’s time to apply the weight and build up pressure.
    - When the pressure reaches (a minimum of) 10 pounds, it is time to start the clock.
    - At this time you must reduce the heat to just maintain 10 pounds (or more) of pressure.
    - If you don't have a gauge, use the weight as your guide. If the weight is moving, you are at pressure.
    - If you allow the canner to get too hot, the jars will lose liquid and might not seal properly.
    - The pressure and time are both variable to your specific food and altitude.
    - When the time is up, you simply turn off the heat and wait for the canner to cool down and de-pressurize all on it’s own.
    - Pressure decreases as the temperature decreases, reducing pressure prematurely will cause big problems for your efforts.
    - If you manually release pressure at this point, you could break jars or force liquid out of the jars.
    - When the pressure is zero (between 30 and 90 minutes), you can begin to check your canner.
    - Start by lightly jostling the canner weight to see if the pressure is gone.
    - If the canner still has pressure on it, leave it for another 10 minutes or more to cool on it’s own. Don’t get in a hurry.
    - When you are very sure the pressure is gone, slowly open the canner lid until it is loose and peek at your jars.
    - The jars will still “boil” for quite some time, which is normal, but taking the lid off too quickly could result in fluid loss or worse.
    - Allow them to cool for a few minutes with the lid loosely attached, this will help cool the jars more slowly than fully open.
    - You should be able to safely remove the jars no more than 20 minutes later.
    - Many times, the jars will start sealing right inside the canner, which is normal.
    - Remove the jars and wait a minute or so before “completing” the seal by tightening the lids firmly.
    - This step is unnecessary, but greatly increases the chance that your jars will seal.
    - Set them an inch or more apart to cool and you are done.
  13. partdeux

    partdeux Senior Member


    that was a GREAT summary!

    It took me a while to learn patience of letting the jars sit and "chill out". I very seldom ever have a seal failure anymore since learning that behavior.

    do you use anything to separate the patties in the jar?
  14. gypsysue

    gypsysue The wanderer

    Blob, the pressures you're using are higher than those recommended in the book that came with my canner (which only goes to 15 psi), but your type of canner may require different psi.

    Riverdale, I've canned raw-pack fish and ground beef, and it works okay for us. However I think the ground beef tastes much better later when I use it if I've browned it good before canning. I generally at least brown most meats before canning.

    partdeux, I can't answer for Riverdale but I just stack the patties in the jar after browing them on both sides (for hamburgers and for sausage patties). Sometimes I have to gently jostle them apart when I go to use them. A square of wax paper might be a great idea, between the patties.
  15. Outbreak

    Outbreak Member

    A square of wax paper might be a great idea, between the patties.

    Gypsy, Not sure about the waxed paper, I think the wax will melt. Another alternative is plain brown paper from the grocery or hardware store. I have used it to can bacon and it works.
  16. gypsysue

    gypsysue The wanderer

    We use wax paper when we can bacon too. That's why I thought it might be okay between the patties. Parchment paper might work too, and the brown paper probably would.

    For bacon we got the directions from Backwoods Home Magazine last year. You lay the wax paper out, lay the bacon strips on it, next to each other. Then you roll it up and fold it in half, then stuff it in a jar and can it. It works great. You have to be a bit careful when you pull the bacon off the paper and toss it in the pan. It can stretch and try to come apart. Thicker bacon might work better but I haven't tried it yet.
  17. Riverdale

    Riverdale Well-Known Member

    Nope, just stack them.

    Gypsy, I have found that the browned ground beef and stew meat taste and look better. We tried raw packing bone-in chicken, but were not happy with it, so we recanned it after picking out the bones..

    I also 'half smoke' whatever fish we can (suckers and salmon) because I like the flavor of smoked fish ;)
  18. gypsysue

    gypsysue The wanderer

    I always cook and de-bone my chicken. I boil the bones down further to make more broth. I wish I knew a way to dry and grind the bones to sprinkle it on my garden as "bone meal". Anyone have any ideas?

    Yes, RIverdale, the canned meat is a lot better if it's browned first. A few times when I was majorly pinched for time I stuffed ground meat (venison, beef, sausage) in jars raw and canned it, but it's just like soggy mush, like TVP mixed too wet.

    I've never thought of smoking or half-smoking salmon before canning it. We also can pike, perch, and bass when we catch them. The Fall salmon run here is in early to mid-September and we go snagging for them. Coming up soon!

    The chicken I canned the other day... When I lifted the jars out of the canner, the bottom fell off one of the jars. We didn't know if there might be teeny-tiny glass shards in the meat, so we tossed out the whole quart of chicken meat. Very hard to do.
  19. siletz

    siletz Member

    A book I have found to be a great canning resource is Jackie Clay's "Growing and Canning Your Own Food". She lives completely off-grid and grows and cans almost all of her food. She is a writer for Backwoods Home Magazine.
  20. goshengirl

    goshengirl Supporting Member

    Gypsy, I tried a trick tonight for even drier dry-canning. You know how when you dry can, you still get liquid on the bottom, making whatever's on the bottom a little soggy? Well, tonight when I canned meatballs, before putting the meatballs in the jar, I put some crumpled up parchment paper on the bottom of the jar. Lost a little jar space that way, but I just pulled the jars out of the canner and it did seem to do the trick - the small piece of crumpled paper kept the meatballs off the bottom of the jar where the juices go - no soggy meatballs on the bottom. :)