Preserving Meats: A Guide to Canning for Extended Storage

In a world where food security and self-sufficiency are becoming increasingly important, the art of canning is making a comeback as a method of preserving meats for extended storage. Canning not only ensures that meats remain safe and flavorful for longer periods, but also provides a sense of independence and control over the food supply. With the ability to stock pantry shelves with home-canned meats, individuals and families have the opportunity to reduce waste and cost, while guaranteeing a supply of high-quality, home-preserved meats regardless of external factors.

This guide aims to delve into the essential techniques and best practices for canning meats, providing valuable insights for both beginners and experienced canners. Through understanding the fundamentals of canning, individuals can gain the necessary knowledge and confidence to embark on a journey towards self-reliance and sustainable food preservation.

Key Takeaways
To can meat for long-term storage, start by preparing the meat and cutting it into appropriate pieces. Then, pack the meat into sanitized canning jars, leaving a bit of headspace. Add salt and boiling water, and place the lids on the jars. Process the jars in a pressure canner according to the recommended times and pressures for the type of meat being canned. After processing, allow the jars to cool, check the seals, and store them in a cool, dark place for long-term preservation.

Choosing The Right Meats For Canning

When it comes to choosing meats for canning, it’s crucial to prioritize safety and quality. Opt for fresh, high-quality cuts of meat that are free from blemishes, discoloration, or strong odors. Lean meats, such as beef, pork, and chicken, are ideal for canning purposes as they have lower fat content, which can lead to spoilage and a shorter shelf life. Avoid using processed meats, as their high fat and sodium content can make them unsuitable for canning and pose food safety risks.

In addition to selecting the right types of meat, it’s important to trim off excess fat before canning, as fat can negatively impact the quality and safety of canned meats. Consider consulting reputable sources, such as the USDA guidelines, for specific recommendations on the best cuts of meat for canning. By prioritizing freshness, quality, and lean cuts, you can ensure that your canned meats are not only safe for long-term storage, but also retain their flavor and texture for extended periods.

Preparing Meats For The Canning Process

In order to prepare meats for the canning process, it is crucial to start with high-quality, fresh meat. Trim off any excess fat and remove any gristle or bones. Cut the meat into evenly-sized pieces to ensure uniform cooking and heating during the canning process.

Next, it is important to properly season the meat according to personal preference. This may include adding salt, pepper, herbs, or spices to enhance the flavor. After seasoning, it is recommended to brown the meat in a skillet to add depth of flavor before placing it into the jars.

When it comes to poultry or game meats, it is essential to remove the skin in order to reduce the fat content and ensure proper canning. Additionally, it is important to follow the specific instructions for each type of meat to ensure safe canning practices. By taking these preparatory steps, you can ensure that the canned meats will be flavorful, safe, and enjoyable for extended storage.

Understanding Canning Methods And Safety Precautions

When it comes to preserving meats through canning, it’s crucial to have a solid understanding of the various canning methods and the safety precautions associated with them. Two primary canning methods are boiling water bath canning and pressure canning. Boiling water bath canning is suitable for high-acid foods, while pressure canning is essential for low-acid foods like meats. Understanding the difference between these methods is essential to ensure the safe preservation of meats.

Moreover, it’s important to follow safety precautions to prevent the risk of foodborne illnesses. This includes using proper canning equipment, ensuring jars are sterilized, following tested recipes, and processing meats at the correct temperatures and for the required time. By adhering to these safety measures, individuals can minimize the risk of contamination and ensure the long-term preservation of meats through canning. Taking the time to understand canning methods and implementing safety precautions is fundamental to successfully and safely preserve meats for extended storage.

Packing And Sealing Methods For Preserving Meats

When it comes to packing and sealing methods for preserving meats, there are a few key techniques to consider for ensuring the longevity and quality of your canned meats. First and foremost, it’s crucial to use appropriate canning jars with new lids to create a proper seal. Regular mouth or wide mouth Mason jars are popular choices for canning meats, as they provide a reliable seal and make it easier to pack the meat into the jars.

Once the meats are packed into the jars, it’s important to remove any air pockets by using a non-metallic spatula or plastic knife to press the meat down and release any trapped air. This step is critical for preventing spoilage and ensuring a tight seal. After packing, the jars should be sealed using the appropriate canning lids and rings, and then processed in a pressure canner according to the recommended guidelines for the specific type of meat being preserved.

In addition to choosing the right jars and properly packing the meat, it’s essential to follow the recommended processing times and pressures for different types of meats to ensure the safety and quality of the preserved products. By following these packing and sealing methods, you can effectively preserve meats for extended storage while maintaining their flavor and texture.

Processing And Pressure Canning Times For Various Meats

When it comes to canning meats for extended storage, it’s crucial to adhere to the recommended processing and pressure canning times to ensure food safety. The processing and pressure canning times vary depending on the type of meat being preserved. For example, for chicken and turkey, the processing time at 240°F pressure is 75 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts. Ground or chopped meat such as beef, pork, or lamb requires a processing time of 75 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts at the same pressure.

Additionally, for fish and seafood, the processing time at 240°F pressure is 100 minutes for pints and 115 minutes for quarts. It’s essential to consult reputable sources such as the National Center for Home Food Preservation or the USDA guidelines for accurate and up-to-date information on processing and pressure canning times for various meats. Following these recommended times will ensure that your canned meats are safe for consumption and maintain high quality during extended storage.

Storing Canned Meats Properly For Long-Term Preservation

After the canning process is complete, it is essential to store the canned meats properly to ensure long-term preservation. Store the canned meats in a cool, dark, and dry place, such as a pantry or cellar, to maintain their quality. Avoid storing them in areas with high humidity or temperature fluctuations, as this can lead to spoilage.

It is important to check the seals of the canned meats regularly to ensure that they are airtight. Any cans with damaged seals should be discarded to prevent the risk of foodborne illness. Additionally, arranging the canned meats by date of canning can help in rotating older stock to the front for use first. By following these storage guidelines, you can maximize the shelf life of your canned meats and ensure that they remain safe for consumption over an extended period.

Incorporating Herbs And Spices For Flavor And Preservation

Incorporating herbs and spices is an excellent way to enhance the flavor of canned meats while also contributing to their preservation. When canning meats, the addition of herbs and spices not only introduces layers of aromatic and savory notes but also aids in keeping the meat fresh for a longer period. Herbs like thyme, rosemary, and oregano, and spices such as black pepper, coriander, and chili flakes can infuse the canned meats with a delightful taste profile.

Moreover, certain herbs and spices possess natural antimicrobial and antioxidant properties that can further contribute to the preservation of canned meats. For instance, garlic, cinnamon, and cloves are known for their antimicrobial properties, while herbs like bay leaves and sage contain compounds that can help inhibit the growth of bacteria and prolong the shelf life of the canned meats. By incorporating these flavorful and preservative elements, canned meats can not only be enjoyed for longer durations, but also offer a unique and satisfying culinary experience.

Troubleshooting And Tips For Successful Meat Canning

To ensure successful meat canning, it’s crucial to troubleshoot any potential issues that may arise during the process. One common problem is improper sealing, which can lead to bacterial contamination and spoilage. To avoid this, always check the sealing surface of the jar for nicks or cracks before filling it with meat. Additionally, ensure the jar lids are in good condition and the rims are clean and free of any food residue.

Another common issue is under-processing, which can result in unsafe canned meat. It’s essential to carefully follow the processing time and pressure recommended for the type of meat being canned, and to use a reliable pressure canner. Additionally, altitude can also affect canning times and pressures, so it’s important to adjust for high or low altitude as needed.

To enhance successful meat canning, it’s imperative to use high-quality, fresh meat and follow proper canning procedures. Always refer to reliable resources for guidelines and seek advice from experienced canners if needed. By troubleshooting potential problems and following best practices, you can ensure safe and successful meat canning for extended storage.


In today’s fast-paced world, the ability to preserve meats for extended storage through canning is a valuable skill that offers numerous benefits. By following the proper canning methods, individuals can ensure a steady and reliable source of high-quality, home-preserved meats. Not only does canning allow for long-term storage, it also helps to reduce food waste and provides a sense of self-sufficiency and security in knowing that a variety of meats can be readily available in the pantry.

As awareness of food sustainability and self-sufficiency grows, so does the interest in traditional food preservation methods like canning. With the knowledge and techniques outlined in this guide, individuals can confidently embark on their canning journey, knowing they are equipped to preserve meats effectively and safely for future use. Embracing canning as a means of preserving meats not only contributes to a more sustainable and self-reliant lifestyle, but also ensures a delicious and nutritious food source for months or even years to come.

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