Canning Beef can be easy and even fun!
Why Can Beef?
What comes to mind when you think of canning meat? Perhaps you are intimidated by using a pressure canner or the safety concerns of canned meat. Maybe you think it will taste disgusting. Or maybe you just don’t know how to can meat. Today I am going to bust all these myths about canning meat. Canning meat is safe. Canned beef tastes delicious. Best of all, it is easy! Today, I am going to share with you the easy way to can beef at home.
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I have been canning beef for about ten years. The first time, I canned beef, I was pretty new to using a pressure canner. It brought back memories of my childhood and watching my mom can venison from a deer my dad had harvested. The canning supplies all over the kitchen counters, the sound of the pressure canner, and the delicious smell of canned meat. Although, I was canning beef the process is the same. I felt like a pioneer woman.
Four Benefits of The easy way to Can Beef
Perhaps you have purchased beef in bulk and you do not have enough freezer space to accommodate all that delicious beef. There is a solution besides buying another freezer, which I have done. But three deep freezers are not enough for our family! Why not try canning? Canning Beef is a great way to preserve the harvest without taking up freezer space.
Canning Beef is easy but somewhat time-consuming on the front end. However, it is so easy to grab a jar of beef off your shelf and add it to your favorite meat dish. No thawing time and short cooking time.
Canned beef is delicious. It is tender and favorable. It is one of my favorite ways to eat beef. Canned beef doesn’t even need seasoning. One of our favorite ways to eat canned beef is to open up a can, warm it up, and serve it over bread (for the children) and over a bed of sauteed greens for me.
You don’t need to be a hardcore prepper to enjoy canned beef. If your freezer breaks or the electricity goes out for a long period of time. Your canned beef will be just fine sitting on the shelf.
Given these benefits, you should give canning beef a try. Today, I am going to share with you the easy way to can beef at home.
If you raise beef or if purchase beef from a local farmer and you able to request custom cutting. Most butchers will cut the beef for canning and give you the proper poundage for a canner. Most pressure canners can accommodate 7-quart jars. You can read more about buying beef in bulk here.
Any cut of beef work for canning, however, stew meat is a good choice. Canned meat turns out tender due to the long processing time. Therefore you can use a tougher cut of meat. Save the more tender cuts such as steaks for eating fresh out of the freezer.
The ONLY way to can beef is by using a pressure canner. Using a pressure canner can be intimidating if you are new to canning. However, once you get over the fear and get familiar with your canner, it is simple and safe. You will wish you would have tried canning meat sooner.
If you do not already own a canner, there are many options. Regardless of the size of your family, I suggest purchasing a pressure canner that can hold 7-quart jars. Canning meat has a long processing time, so make the most of each canner full of jars. Here is the canner that is similar to the one I use. It is a no-frills canner and it works great. Now it is called a 23-Quart canner even though it only holds 7-quart jars. You will also want to purchase a rack if one isn’t included with the pressure canner.
I highly recommend using wide-mouth quart or pint jars. Wide-mouth jars are easier to pack. However, the real reason I recommend wide-mouth jars is on the tail end of the process. When you open the jar, empty the meat out, the jars are messing and require scrubbing to remove all the meat residue. You can stick your entire hand into a wide-mouth jar and really scrub them. You should also purchase additional lids since they can only be used once. The rings can be used over as long as they do not rust.
Another kit that I recommend that is optional but very convenient is the canning starter kit. At around $12, it is totally worth the money because it will save you many possible burns. According to the description, the kit consists of :
- Funnel for filling regular and wide-mouth canning jars
- Bubble remover for releasing trapped air bubbles
- Magnetic lid lifter removes canning lids from hot water
- Kitchen tongs for easy handling of hot foods for canning
- Jar lifter easily removes hot jars from canner Jar wrench helps to remove sticky screw bands
Steps to canning meat
1. Preparing the Meat
If you have had the butcher prepare your canning meat, you will simply trim extra fat and perhaps cut the meat into smaller 1 or 2-inch pieces. If you are preparing your own canning meat from large slabs of meat, simply cut the meat into 1 or 2-inch pieces, trimming as much fat as you desire.
2. Packing the Jars
Examine jars for nicks, cracks, and sharp edges. Check the screw bands for dents or rust. Use only jars, lids, and bands in perfect condition so that an airtight seal may be obtained.
For this recipe, we will be raw packing meat into sterilized jars. Tightly pack the meat, pushing it down with your hands or a kitchen tool. Use a butter knife or bubble remover to remove air pockets. Leave 1 inch of head-space at the top of each jar. Add 1 tsp. salt at the top for quart jars and 1/2 tsp. salt for pint jars. DO NOT ADD LIQUID. Wipe the rim of the jar with a damp, clean cloth to remove any debris. Place lid and ring and hand tighten.
3. Preparing the Pressure Canner
Read and follow the instruction manual for your pressure canner. However, here are basic instructions for using a pressure canner.
- Remove the sealing ring and examine for dirt, cracks, misshaping. You may need to replace the ring after a couple of years. Lubricate sealing ring. Replace the sealing ring into the canner lid.
- Examine mason jars for nicks, cracks and sharp edges. Check screw bands for dents or rust. Only use jars, lids, and bands in perfect condition. Jars and screw bands may be reused, but always use new lids to ensure proper sealing.
- Sterilize jars by placing lid end into a boiling pot of 2 inches of water for a couple of minutes.
- Place 3 quarts of boiling water, canning rack into canner. Always use a canning rack to prevent the jars from breaking. You may add 2 Tablespoons of vinegar to the water to prevent water stains on the canning jars.
- Fill jars with raw meat pieces, leaving 1-inch headspace. DO NOT ADD LIQUID.
- Work out air bubbles with a clean nonmetallic spatula.
- Add 1 tsp canning salt for quart jars or 1/2 tsp canning salt for pint jars.
- Wipe sealing edge with a clean, damp cloth.
- Adjust jar lids and screwbands.
- Place jars into the canner.
- Place the cover on the canner according to the manufacturer’s directions.
4. Processing Time
If you live 2,000 feet above sea level, please follow the processing directions in the canner owner’s manual. If you live below 2,000 feet, processing pressure is 11 lbs. of pressure. Pints will take 75 minutes and quarts will take 90 minutes. This processing time begins after the canner has reached 11 lbs. of pressure. DO NOT leave the canner unattended. You must diligently watch the canner to regulate the pressure by increasing or decreasing the heat.
5. Cooling down
When the canning time has finished, remove the canner from the heat source carefully! The whole canner will be heavy and very hot. Allow the pressure to drop on its own. Do not attempt to speed the cooling of the canner. It could break jars.
You will know the pressure is completely dropped when the air vent lock drops. Do not go by the pressure gauge. Remove the pressure regulator and allow it to cool at least 10 more minutes.
6. opening the canner and storing the jars
Remove the cover very carefully, by lifting the cover towards your body. This allows the steam to escape away from you. There will probably still be steam and you do not want to burn yourself.
Once I remove the lid, I wait about 10 more minutes before removing the jars. Using canning tongs or hot pads, remove the jars from the canner. Set the jars on a wooden cutting board or a cloth towel rather than directly on the counter since they are still very hot.
Let the jars sit undisturbed until they are completely cooled. You will probably hear a pop for each jar. This is part of the sealing process. It is music to your ears. Once the jars are completely cooled, wipe the jars clean and check the seal. You check the seal by pressing down on the middle of the lid. If it is tight, it is sealed. If you can push it up and down, it did not seal. You will need to put it in the refrigerator and eat it within a few days.
preparing canned beef
Canned beef is very easy to prepare. However, it is important to pay close attention to the jar while you open it.
- Physically examine the jar, checking for mold.
- Open the jar by popping it open with a can opener. You should hear the seal break. If it opens without a can opener or popping sound, it is NOT safe to eat.
- Smell the meat. It should smell like meat and not spoiled.
- Again, visually examine the contents. White fat is normal. Mold or mildew means spoilage. DO NOT EAT.
- Thoroughly heat the meat before eating.
Two quick and easy Canned Beef Recipe
One of my favorite ways to serve canned beef to my children is simply heating it up and serving it over fresh, homemade bread. Think open-face sandwich. Honestly, you do not even need to season the beef because it has an excellent flavor right out of the jar. I serve it with a side of freshly steamed, in-season vegetables from the garden. Easy, frugal, healthy, and fresh!
Another way that I use canned beef is to simply heat up the meat and add a variety of stir-fried veggies. I serve it over rice for my children and over riced cauliflower for a low-carb alternative.
If you want a delicious, convenient way to preserve beef that will save freezer space and prepare you for emergencies such as power outages, give canning beef the easy way a try. You will feel like a pioneer of the 21st century!
Have you ever tried canning beef? Tell me about your experience in the comments.