(Originally published 12/12/12.) Sometimes you just get lucky and you hit the mother-lode on meat. Maybe it’s a great sale – for example, my favorite butcher gave me a great deal on some beef this week. Perhaps you’ve bought a portion of a cow or pig in cooperation with some others. Maybe there’s a hunter in the family and you have been blessed with venison.
However you acquired your roast of beast, you need to get it canned as soon as possible. We’re all well aware of the delicacy of the power grid – there are still people in the New York City area that don’t have power more than a month after Hurricane Sandy struck. With snow and ice season beginning, ’tis the season for power outages.
The other benefit to canning your meat is that not only will it be preserved no matter what your electricity situation, it’s immediately ready to eat. If you have a way to cook, you won’t have to waste fuel actually cooking the meat – you will only need to heat it up. And worst case scenario, if you can’t warm it up, it’s safe to eat right out of the jar.
I started out with 8.3 pounds (3.75 kg) of roast and 7.7 pounds (3.5 kg) of lean ground beef.
You’ll notice my lovely counter-top in the photo – when dealing with all this raw meat, I like to make it easy for myself and I cut open a cardboard box (which is how I get my groceries, so I have a free source of them) and lay it out on my freezer. Then I use a cookie sheet to hold the meat and place my cutting board in another cookie sheet. This way I don’t have to clean up a bloody mess after preparing all that meat for canning. (I’m sure you know this but be certain to put a few drops of bleach in the wash water afterwards in order to kill bacteria left from the meat.)
I sliced the roasts into pieces that would fit into my sterilized jars.
For some of the roast, I made simple canned roast beef (or roast whatever – this works well with any type of red meat).
Canned Roast Beast
Ingredients (per jar)
- 1 pound of roast (approximately)
- 1 clove of garlic
- 2 small cooking onions, halved
- salt and pepper
- Place a kettle of water on to boil.
- Jars should still be warm from being sterilized.
- While waiting for the kettle to boil, place roast in each jar, leaving an inch and a half of space for the additional ingredients.
- Add garlic, onions, salt and pepper to each jar.
- Pour water from the kettle into the jars over the meat and veggies. Using a table knife, run it down the sides of the jars to remove any air pockets, then top up if needed. Allow 1 inch of headspace.
- Use a cloth with some vinegar on it to wipe the lip of the jars. If there is fat from the meat on the lip, the jars won’t seal properly.
- Lid the jars.
- Using your pressure canner, process the jars for 90 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure, adjusting for altitude.
When you are ready to serve your roast, use the canning liquid to make gravy.
You may not want to can all of your beast as a simple roast – another great way to preserve your meat is in a homemade barbecue sauce. This sweet sauce is especially nice with game to reduce the flavor that some people find offensive. It can be used for roast or for ground meat. If you have some left over, use it to brush over chicken when roasting it in the oven.
(Make sure you check out our free QUICKSTART Guide to home canning for more awesome canning information.)
Barbecue Sauce for Canning
- 4 cups of crushed tomatoes (canned or fresh)
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 6 small cooking onions
- 2 tbs of dried bell pepper or 1/2 cup of fresh bell pepper
- 1/4 cup of brown sugar
- 1/4 cup of white vinegar
- 1 tsp of Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp of hot sauce (like Frank’s Red Hot)
- 2 tbsp of salt
- 1/4 tsp of powdered cloves
- 1 tbsp of paprika
- Using a food processor, finely mince peppers, garlic and onion.
- Mix all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Ladle the hot liquid over the meat, being sure to use a knife to remove air pockets.
- Proceed with canning as for regular roast beast, above, or pour over uncooked ground beef (or other meat) and proceed as above.
Meatballs for Canning
For the ground meat, I made also made meatballs – these can really well. I have always made them eggless because Rosie is highly allergic to eggs and it seems as though these slightly dry meatballs hold together well during the canning process. I canned them in Italian Marinara Sauce.
- 5 pounds of ground beast
- 2 cups of very fine crumbs (I freeze bread for this purpose and use a food processor to make the crumbs)
- 2 tbsp of salt (note: account for the salt in your source of crumbs and adjust accordingly)
- 2 tbsp of dried parsley flakes
- 1 tbsp of garlic powder
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mixing well with hands. Form very firm meatballs. The right size sits nicely in the palm of your hand.
- Place 8-10 meatballs into each sterilized quart jar – don’t over fill the jars with meatballs – you want to leave room for sauce.
- Cover the meatballs with hot spaghetti sauce.
- Very gently use a spatula to remove the air pockets so that sauce completely fills the jar, allowing 1 inch of headspace at the top.
- Process for 90 minutes in a pressure canner at 10 pounds of pressure, adjusting for altitude.
Today’s canning session resulted in the ingredients for 36 meals ( side dishes will be needed with them). It was approximately 5 hours of work but less than half of that was hands-on. The (nearly) 16 pounds of meat turned into 9 quarts and 5 pints of canned food, plus supper tonight.
Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites. 1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2) The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.
Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceand Survival.com You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.
Excellent info and website, thanks! I have several freezers but after reading your canning “why I do it” it makes so much sense I just have to try it with some of the fresh venison I hope to get over the holidays…
What do you think is the shelf life of canned meat such as you prepared in this article? 1 year??
Again, thanks for the great info…loved reading it!
According to food safety websites, the shelf life is one year for home canned meats. This isn’t to say I’ve never used it past the one year mark but I do try to stay pretty close within that amount of time. I have one small chest freezer and keep limited amounts of meat frozen – nearly all of our meat goes directly into jars. 🙂
Let me know if you have any questions at canning time and I’ll try to help!
I have to admit, I have home canned meat (especially turkey) that is 3-5 years old! I have not opened it to eat yet, maybe I should get going on that! I thought I was the only person who used the term ‘roast beast’!
I have a couple freezers too and always said if the power goes down I will just quickly can everything then one day it happened! A hurricane and we lost power ! Needless to say I didn’t have enough jars to can everything and I didn’t think about how much time it takes to can everything in just one freezer never mind two. I have eaten food I canned as much as three years after the canning date. Nothing wrong with it. Those freezers cost me dearly in food loss and time spent . I was sick. It will never happen again. I know now that when that happens you will not have time enough or jars enough to process everything in your freezers, it will be gone and some people say well I have insurance to cover my freezers and I say good luck in collecting when a SHTF situation happens. Be smart not sorry like I was.
Excellent response! Too many people think they will just can what they have in the freezer, if the power fails. But how do you sterilize your jars? If you have a gas range, you could boil water…think of the time that would take. If you are an all electric home, you don’t even have hot water.
when making a roast i usually like to brown my meat first. can you do that before you can it? does it change the directions? can you deglaze the pan and add that to the liquid you are putting in the jar?
Hi Laura –
Yes, you can definitely brown the roast in advance and deglaze the pan. I’m just lazy so I generally just raw pack. Slice the meat into sizes that will fit in the jar before browning it. Be extremely careful to wipe the lip of the jar with a cloth soaked in white vinegar – fat can cause issues with sealing. Also, don’t be surprised if you see a thick layer of fat congealed at the top of the jar. This is very likely if you are adding the contents of the pan and it’s perfectly normal. Just stir it in and use it to make gravy or scrape it off if you prefer not to have the added fat.
Thank you very much for reading!
Greatly enjoyed your post. We have canned some of our meat and fish, off and on, for Wmany years. We recently discovered a case of venison, canned in pint jars ten years ago. We did not consume the contents, but it is worth noting that odor, color, and texture was no different from the most recently canned beast. Our intent is to run the generator just long enough to can the contents of the freezers in the manner you described. Short cut is to simply add two beef bullion cubes to the top of the jar and skip the added ingredients. Thanks again.
Is it O.K. to brown and fully roast the meat before canning? Can I make gravy and add to the roasted meat before canning? What about something like Brunswick Stew? What about fully smoked pork ribs still on the bone? Sorry for so many questions.
Thanks for your info and time answering!
Hi, Terry. I’m always happy to answer questions!
Yes, you can brown and fully cook the roast before canning. Sometimes I can leftover roast and this would be the same thing. What you must remember is that when you pressure can it it is at very high temps for 90 minutes. If the meat is strictly to be canned you will have better results and maintain more nutrients by just browning it, then allowing the pressure canner to cook it thoroughly.
I don’t recommend making gravy. You are best to include the drippings and add water to it and then, when it’s serving time, make gravy then. The flour or cornstarch used to thicken gravies and stews really does not preserve well. It thickens to the point of solidity, then sometimes separates while sitting on the shelf – you end up with a congealed mess. Brunswick Stew would be delicious canned, but remember to leave out the thickener until serving time.
You could definitely do the pork ribs. I imagine they would be somewhat like ham, however. The smoked flavor and salt will intensify to such a degree that the meat will be more of a condiment than a main dish. Fantastic in a soup or casserole but a bit too strong on its own. I do ham this way all the time, then I use the canning liquid and the ham in scalloped potatoes or a pot of beans. Very delicious!
Let me know if you have any more questions! 🙂
Would a 1 year shelf life be expected if properly pressure canned with high heat for 90 minutes.
Jesse (Happy Holidays)
I read answer above, Thanks!!
Yes, just confirming – approximately one year. 🙂
Daisy, I have had no problems with pressure canned meat 2+ years old. My canning mentor has had had jars older than that. She expressed that the key is storage…..so my pantry in the basement is a dark, unheated room at a steady 45-50…..
Great Article !!! __ I have been wanting to get a pressure canner just for things like you write about. __ I have never had one , so no experience at all. __ What kind of pressure canner would you recommend ? I have read about the ” All American ” ( I believe that is the name )pressure canner . It seems popular. __ I want a quality one for sure . Any thoughts ? Thank You !!!
The All-American is the top of the line. It was out of my price range so I purchased the Presto canner. The biggest difference between the two (to my knowledge) is that the All-American has no gasket – the Presto does. I like the idea of fewer parts to replace. I recommend purchasing a couple of spare regulators whichever brand you end up getting. If you get the type with the rubber gasket (like the Presto) – order a few extra gaskets to have on hand – they are only about $10 each. Spare parts = a back-up plan! There could come a day when these parts are not easily available.
I hope this helps – let me know if you have other questions! 🙂
Thank You !!! __ I bookmarked your site. Thanks Again for the great information !!!
When you mention 1 year recommended on safety sites, do you interpret that to mean unsafe after 1 year, or just loss of nutrients?
Places like the USDA and the FDA say that the home-canned food is no longer safe to eat after one year. I can’t say that I’ve never tried something past the one year mark and lived to tell the tale, but it is not recommended. I date my jars and do my best to finish them off by the one year point. If something you’ve preserved ever looks or smells “off” it’s not worth the risk – you should discard it.
The good thing is, if you purchase seaonally, you’ll just be running out from the previous year when it’s time to can a new batch of food from the garden or venison from hunting season.
Could please explaine how you got 36 meals out of 9quarts and 5 pints of meat. thanks linda
Hi Linda. I should have been more clear – sorry. I break it up into servings. And clearly I can’t do math, because it should have been 37 servings. 😉 3 servings in each quart jar and 2 in each pint jar. They aren’t enormous servings – they are based on the needs of my household, which consists of an adult woman and a 12 year old girl. The meal would also need a grain and a veggie to round it out.
First Daisy let me say that you are a great writer. Your directions are clear and concise and your other articles about being a hero or victim and prepping are inspiring and very well thought out. I also read your getting in shape as a prepper and I am ashamed to say this is the one area where I fail big time. In any event this article is great!
I was wondering about raw pork – is it safe to can to your knowledge or even homemade sausage? Should I leave tha fat in(for flavour and gravy making) or cut it to lean it out a bit- will it can better leaner?
Also when you say an inch of head space that includes the area where the jar narrows (which is about 1/4 inch?
All I can say is thanks for your site and I will put you as one of my favourites.
I read your article with interest about canning meat. My husband and I have been canning pork, chicken and beef for a few years now with excellent results. We always cook the meat for about 2.5 hrs in chicken or beef broth with whatever seasoning you prefer. We like Montreal steak seasoning for the beef and pork and chipolte for the chicken. We then can use the hot seasoned broth to fill up the jars and process quarts at 90 minutes and pints at 75 minutes.
I know you may think this overcooks the meat, but I can assure you, this will be the most tender and flavorful meat you will ever have. We use it to add to potato soup, scalloped potato, rice dishes, and the list goes on. I haven’t tried cold pack method, but certainly may try it sometime. I have also used meat slightly longer than one year with no problems.
That sounds delicious, Denise! Now, some seasonings intensify when they are canned – do you find that the Montreal steak spice does that? It’s one of my favorite seasonings!
I don’t think that would overcook it at all – it would be no different than canning your leftovers after Thanksgiving. Is this done with a roast or with ground meat?
Thanks Daisy for your response. The Montreal seasoning is perfect and does not have too strong a flavor. The beef we have used is usually rib-eye steak, but we are going to try a roast or London broil next. My favorite time to can meat is when our local Winn Dixie has buy one get one free. Our favorite pork is the boneless pork loins about an inch and a half thick and 4″x3″ or so. Good luck and happy canning. I”ll check back often.
very imformative article, tell me please, with the chemicals, fed to chicken and beef these days, will that have any effect on the canning process, my digestive process etc
Hi Samuel. I try to source meats that are fed more naturally because I don’t want to ingest the hormones, anti-biotics and secondhand GMOs. As far as canning goes, this should not affect the canning process at all.
We make a green chili w/pork and I now realize that I can can it 🙂
My question is we also use a little bit of corstarch at the start of the recipe to thicken a little. Approx. 1 tablespoon to 6 quarts of liquid. Does anyone think thia might seperate?
Hi – that sounds SO GOOD!!!! Yummy! I would hold off on adding the cornstarch. When you are ready to heat up the contents of the jar, pour a bit of the liquid into a separate bowl and whisk in the cornstarch at that time, then stirr it into the rest of the dish. 🙂
Having already-prepared meals is so great!
Thanks! Will hold off the cornstarch. Now just waiting on fresh jalapeno’s to make more. Ran out of the jars we placed in the freezer. Living in the South it’s hard to find HOT peppers so we are adding to our garden this year.
My friends from the NC mtns. have canned meat “forever”….they put the cut up raw meat in the heated jars with canning salt and process according to directions….the meat is delicious !
Daisy, Was just curious about cover of the juices over the meats??? is there a head space that is recommended??? the canning book I got has info for veggies etc but I didnt really see anything specific to meats as far as covering the meat with a given amount of liquid and leaving a set space like 1″ or whatever below the cover…just curious if it matters. may be brain dead and just missed it in your article or the comments but didnt see anything.
Hi, Tom – I usually leave about an inch of headspace. You will get a bit of extra liquid from the meat, so you’ll need that much room.
Have a great day!
Thank you, sorry about that, I went back and re read the article,,, and saw it, sometimes my ADHD makes me jump around and not read everything,,, Love your site,,, lots of great articles,, on an un related note here, I have been making bread a lot lately, real simple, 1.5tbs salt, 1.5 tbs yeast, 6.5 cups flour makes 3 rough loaves bake 450 30 minutes when doing one loaf, real good and real easy, can peel off enough for 1 loaf, then refrigerate the balance for up to almost 2 weeks if you like sour dough it makes it delicious the longer you leave it sit,,, want to try it in a dutch oven on a camp fire,,, anyway, sorry to be off topic,,,
Are you the Kulafarmer I think you are?
That bread sounds wonderful – I’m going to try it out. Can you use whole wheat flour or do you use a combo?
Yes, i have done a bunch of experimenting, can use all whole wheat, but as you know will be dense, i sorta like that though, tried puting rough ground whole grains in it but should have soaked them before i added them to the mix, were sort of hard to eat, the whole wheat recipe called for 1 cup whole wheat and 5.5 cups all purpose, i usually put 1/2 and 1/2 whle wheat to all purpose, recipe is from a book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, has excellent ideas in it, if you let the dough sit even the whole wheat turns into a nice sour dough, longest i went was 3 weeks, was un believably delicious. And simple too,
Sprry to be taking up space on this thread, will just email ya next time
Please don’t apologize – this is great information for everyone! I am now mentally brewing a bread-making experiment!
3 cups warm water, add in salt, add in yeast, stir, add flour, mix well, hands work fine with a little water, let sit 2 hours, no need to knead, so don’t be kneady, after 2 hours refrigerate, or you can break some off and form a loaf, let sit about 2 hours then bake
I thought this would only be for cooked meat, and I did not realize you could actually can raw meat. Thanks for the tips.
I make brunswick stew in huge batches & freeze but would like to can it. I have a pressure canner. Would you still process for 90 min after it is cooked already? Would like to save on freezer space.
Yes – you still need to process meat for 90 minutes at 10 pounds pressure, adjusting for altitude, regardless of whether it has been cooked or not, in order to avoid the risk of botulism. 🙂
Happy canning –
I want to thank you Daisy for this post. I have been wanting to can meat ever since I started canning. ( last summer ) And thanks to all who tossed out their questions also, it saved me from asking them.. Kudos all.
You’re very welcome – and speaking of welcome, it’s great having you here! 🙂
Is there anywhere to learn how to can meat without the use of a pressure canner? And some recipes for vegetables and such without a pressure canner as well… I realize that you can’t promote the other methods for legal/medical reasons, but I wondered if you knew of where to find some… A pressure cooker is all well and good if you have a ton of electricity and supplies, but what about when you don’t have access to those…? Plus, my great-grandmother taught my mother, who taught my grandmother, who taught my mother how to can, and they never had issues. They started to teach me and taught me to look for a popped seal, but then I didn’t want to learn, and now I’m kicking myself and would like to…
I very strongly recommend against it. A good comparison is this: none of us rode in carseats as babies and we survived to adulthood. However, there was a risk. Now, we’d never dream of putting our babies in the car and NOT buckling them into carseats because we know the risks and because these safety precautions are available.
Of all types of food poisoning, botulism is the most deadly. It attacks the nervous system and can cause paralysis, nerve damage and death. It’s absolutely not worth the risk.
If you don’t want to pressure can meat, you can look into other ways of preserving it that would be safer – drying, smoking, or curing. Please don’t take the risk.
I have a question that I hope you can answer. I recently raw packed chicken drumsticks in quart sized jars, filled in the spices and water to a 1″ headspace and processed in my presto pressure canner for 90 minutes. Unfortunately, when my canner got to pressure in the beginning of the processing time it went well above 10 pounds (not quite 15, but close). It took me a while to get it down into the correct range. After the processing, when I pulled out the jars there was no longer a 1″ headspace. Two of the jars had lost quite a bit of the liquid (down about 3″) during the processing. However, the jars are sealed.
Do you think they are still fine to eat?
Jennifer – let me make sure I understand this correctly – your pressure was OVER 10 pounds the entire time, just too high?
If that is the case, it’s perfectly safe. The only time you have to worry is if it drops BELOW the recommended pressure. WHen that happens you have to start your time all over again. My jars lose their liquid sometimes too – it’s normal and does not affect the safety of your product at all.
If I misunderstood your question, please clarify so I can give you the correct information. 🙂
Thank you Daisy. It never went below the required pressure, just too high for the first 15-20 minutes. The canner was too heavy to move to a different burner that had a lower gas level. It took a while to play with the burner to get the canner closer to the 11 lbs of pressure mark.
Thank you for responding so quickly!
No problem! Everything should be perfectly safe – enjoy!
I hope this isn’t a silly question. I’ve never heard the term “small COOKING onions”. Exactly what are they? I usually cook with medium to large sized yellow onions.
Maybe I made that up? I don’t know. haha. I always refer to the little onions as “cooking” onions. Any type of onion you have on hand will work in this recipe. 🙂
Thank you for these canning recipes. Do you have any recipes for canning chicken and ground beef. After loosing food in the refrigerator and freezer due to an extended power outage I am going to be canning most of the meat I purchase.
Yes, I do. Check out my book, The Prepper’s Canning Guide, on Amazon. ????
I am not clear on whether the meat is cooked first or gets canned raw. The pictures show it going in the jars raw. Can someone clarify?
In your barbeque sauce recipe you list 2 TBLSP of salt. Didn’t you mean 2 TSP?
Perfect timing! My new pressure canner just arrived and I need to learn this!
Regarding sterilization of jars, this quote comes directly from the National Center for Home Preservation (link also provided):
“In order to actually sterilize jars, they need to be submerged in (covered by) boiling water for 10 minutes. When the process time for canning a food is 10 minutes or more (at 0-1,000 feet elevation), the jars will be sterilized DURING processing in the canner. Therefore, when process times are 10 minutes or more at this altitude, pre-sterilization of jars is not needed. It doesn’t hurt your product to do it anyway, but it does require additional time and energy and is unnecessary. ”
After discovering this guidance about a year ago, I no longer pre-sterilize the jars and it saves a ton of time and fuel. Also, have had no safety issues with food processed per this guideline.
I see a number of comments regarding the length of time canned meat is good to eat. When I finish canning (anything!), I remove the ring. Even though the lid may have made that lovely “pop”, I still check the seal on the jar. I then wash my jars before putting up, WITHOUT the ring. Though rare, I will find a jar that the seal has broken; the contents go straight in the trash. I have jars of food that are several years old that are still sealed and we do eat it. That is, of course, a personal choice.
Daisy, We have a local bottle BBQ sauce, we love. We would love to use it in canning our beef. Should be heat it to thin it down or add a little water/shake it before we pour into the canning jars?
I would just put it in as is. It will mix with the juices from the beef and be AWESOME.