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Canning Meat
By Kim Pratt

Here on the farm we have been canning meat for many years. We raise our own beef, pork and poultry and often have excess - that is one reason to can it. Another reason is that we find it convenient to have cooked meat in the jar that can quickly be used to make some of our favorite meals.

If you don't raise your own animals as we do, but still would like the convenience of canned meat, you can simply pick out your favorite cuts from the store and start from there. Or, you might find one day that beef, pork or poultry is on sale for an astonishing price. Buy some now and can it for later use.

Why can meat, when you can freeze it? I get asked this question quite often. Certainly you can freeze meat, either cooked or frozen and that is a convenience in itself. However, meat in the freezer has a limited lifespan which varies between different cuts. After a few months or longer in the freezer you might find that due to freezer conditions or simply father time the meat has degraded somewhat. When meat is canned it can last for many years if processed and stored correctly.

What kinds of meat should you can?

Certainly you will do well by canning only those cuts and types of meat that you will enjoy eating. Here is a list of some of the possibilities:

  • Chicken or Turkey
  • Rabbit
  • Ground or Chopped Beef or Pork
  • Strips, Cubes or Chunks of Beef or Pork
  • Clams and Oysters
  • Crabmeat
  • Fish
  • Dishes that contain meat (Chili, etc)

    The Basics

    I will be providing a link below to the USDA recommendations for canning different types of meat. Please read it before you attempt to can anything. But here is a quickie on the basics:

  • Meats, or dishes with meats can only be pressure cooked. Never use the boiling bath method or any other methods.
  • Always pressure cook the meats for the recommended amount of time. Typically this is 75 minutes for pints, and 90 minutes for quarts.
  • Meats can be canned either raw or cooked. I prefer the raw method because it is more convenient for me, except in the case of ground meat. This works out better if I cook it first. Either way, raw or cooked, it takes the same amount of time in the pressure cooker. Typically you do not add water or broth to the jar for raw meat (it makes it's own juices) but you do for cooked meat.

    Important Information

    I want to emphasize again that you should read the latest USDA information on canning meat before you start. Here is a great link:

    USDA Information on Canning Meats

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