20 Rules for Canning Meat Safely

Summertime is the perfect time to eat meat. If you’re new to canning, here are some tips to help you get started.

corned beef in jars ready for canning

By following these simple rules, you can ensure that your meat is safely canned and will last for months.

Let’s take a look at some of the most important guidelines to remember when canning meat.

Benefits of Canning Meat

Canning meat is a great way to save space in your freezer and to have more tender meat without having to slow-cook it for a long time.

There are many different benefits of canning meat that make it a great option for anyone who is looking to save space or time.

Canning meat can help you save space because you can store the meat in jars instead of taking up space in your freezer. This can be especially helpful if you live in a small home or apartment where space is limited.

Canning meat can also help you have more tender meat without having to slow-cook it for a long time.

Slow-cooking meat can sometimes make it tough and chewy, but canning helps to preserve the delicate flavors and textures of the meat.

Canning is also a great way to make sure that your food will last longer and be less likely to spoil.

If you are looking for a way to save space, time, and money, then canning meat may be the right option for you.

What is the Safest Way to Can Meat?

When it comes to canning, there are two main methods: pressure canning and boiling water bath canning.

Pressure canning is generally considered to be the safest method, as it allows for thicker, tougher pieces of meat to be canned.

In general, pressure canning is considered to be the safest method of canning meat. This is because the pressure process ensures that all bacteria and other microorganisms are killed.

However, pressure canning also requires more time and effort than boiling water bath canning, and if not done properly, can result in dangerous food poisoning as well.

20 Rules to Can Meat Safely

Canning meat is a great way to preserve it for long-term storage, but it’s important to do it safely in order to avoid food poisoning. Follow these rules to make sure your canned meat is safe to eat.

1. Start With a Sanitary Work Environment

Any time you work with food, it’s important to have a clean and sanitary work environment.

This is especially true when you’re canning meat because you’re dealing with raw meat that can easily spoil if not handled properly.

Start by making sure your counters and utensils are clean and then sanitize them with a solution of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach per gallon of water.

Once everything is clean, set up your canning equipment according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

2. Use Fresh, Chilled Meat

Any time you handle raw meat, there is a risk of food poisoning. However, there are some simple steps you can take to minimize this risk. First, make sure to use fresh, chilled meat. 

Frozen meat is also safe to use, but it should be thawed in the refrigerator, not at room temperature.

 Second, keep raw meat separate from other food items. This includes using separate cutting boards and utensils for raw and cooked meat.

3. Be Careful Not To Can Meat That Has Gone Bad

 To can meat safely, start by inspecting the meat for any signs of spoilage. If there are any discolored or slimy areas, throw the meat out.

4. Keep Meat Cold Until You Can

 Meat can be a breeding ground for bacteria, so it’s crucial to keep it cold until you’re ready to cook it.

If you’re going to be cooking within a few hours, store the meat in the refrigerator. If you’re not going to be cooking it right away, store it in the freezer.

5. Can Within a Few Days of Aging

One of the most important things to remember is that meat should be canned within a few days of aging. This is because older meat is more likely to contain harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning.

If you are canning meat that is more than a few days old, it is important to cook it thoroughly before canning it.

6. Age Beef 3-10 Days

Canned meat will be safe to eat as long as it has been processed properly.

One important step in canning meat is to age it for 3-10 days. This allows the enzymes in the meat to break down, which makes it more tender.

In addition, it helps to prevent the growth of bacteria that can cause food poisoning.

When aging beef, it is important to keep it refrigerated at all times. Once the beef has reached the desired age, it should be cooked thoroughly before being canned.

7. Only Use a Pressure Canner

One of the best ways to preserve food is by canning it, and there are two methods of canning: water bath and pressure canning.

The first one, water bath canning, is only recommended for high-acid foods like fruits and jams, while pressure canning is the only safe method for low-acid foods like meat and vegetables.

The reason for this is that low-acid foods need to be heated to a higher temperature in order to kill bacteria, and this can only be done with a pressure canner.

In addition, pressure canners also create a vacuum seal that helps to prevent bacteria from contaminating the canned food. For these reasons, it is always best to use a pressure canner when canning meat.

8. Follow a Recipe

Canning is a great way to preserve meat for long-term storage, but it’s important to follow a recipe to ensure that the meat is canned safely. There are many different recipes available online or in canning cookbooks.

When choosing a recipe, make sure to choose one that is specific to the type of meat you are canning. For example, there are different recipes for venison, pork, and beef.

Once you have chosen a recipe, follow it carefully. Don’t try to change it, as this could result in spoilage or even food poisoning.

If you do follow a recipe correctly, you’ll be able to enjoy your canned meat for months or even years to come.

9. Adjust for Altitude

If you live in an area with a high altitude, you may need to make some adjustments when canning meat. At higher altitudes, water boils at a lower temperature.

This means that if you are canning meat using the boiling water method, the meat may not reach a high enough temperature to kill bacteria.

As a result, it is important to adjust your canning time and temperature when canning meat at high altitudes.

10. Remove Excess Fat

Fat can sometimes make meat taste greasy or oily, so removing it can result in a tastier dish. Finally, removing fat can help to ensure that meat cooks evenly.

Fat often melts during cooking, causing the meat to become uneven and patchy. Trimming away fat before canning can help produce a more consistent dish.

11. Soak Strong-Flavored Wild Meats in Brine Water Before Canning

When canning wild game, it is important to take steps to ensure that the meat is safe to eat. One way to do this is to soak strong-flavored wild meats in brine water before canning.

This will help to remove some of the gamey flavor from the meat, as well as kill any harmful bacteria.

To make a brine solution, simply dissolve 1 cup of salt in 1 gallon of water. Then, soak the meat in the solution for at least 24 hours before canning.

This method is sure to help you produce safe and delicious canned meats that your family will love.

12. Remove Large Bones

One way to ensure safety is to remove any large bones from the meat before canning it.

Bones can break during the canning process and contaminate the meat, so it’s best to take them out beforehand.

Additionally, large bones can make it difficult to get an airtight seal on the jars, which could allow bacteria to enter and contaminate the food.

13. For Hot Pack, Precook Meat First

One way to reduce the risk of food poisoning is to cook meat thoroughly before canning it. This process, known as hot packing, involves pre-cooking the meat in order to kill any harmful bacteria.

Hot packing is especially effective for cuts of meat that are difficult to cook evenly, such as stew beef.

In addition to reducing the risk of food poisoning, hot packing also helps to preserve the quality of the meat.

The precooking process helps to tenderize the meat, and it also reduces the amount of time that the meat needs to be cooked in order to be safe to eat.

14. For Cold Pack, Just Add Salt (No Liquid)

Cold pack involves adding salt to the meat instead of liquid, which helps to prevent bacterial growth.

The meat is then placed in a sterile jar and sealed tightly. When done correctly, this method of canning will keep meat fresh for up to one year

15. Cut into Strips, Cubes, or Chunks

When pressure canning meat, it is important to cut it into strips, cubes, or chunks. This allows the heat to evenly penetrate the meat, ensuring that it is cooked all the way through.

In addition, smaller pieces of meat are easier to pack into the jars and will take up less space in your pantry or fridge.

16. Hot Pack is the Best Quality During Storage

One of the most important steps is to hot pack the meat before adding it to the pressure canner.

Hot packing involves pre-cooking the meat in order to kill any bacteria that may be present. This also helps to shrink the meat, making it easier to fit into jars.

In addition, hot packing helps to retain the meat’s natural juices, resulting in a tastier product.

While it takes a bit more time and effort, hot packing is well worth it for anyone who wants to enjoy delicious canned meat that is safe to eat.

17. You Can Always Can Frozen Meat Later On

Frozen meat can always be thawed and canned later on. And while canned meat may not be as tender as freshly cooked meat, it will still be safe to eat and taste delicious.

18. For Lean Cuts, You May Need to Add Fat to Prevent Dryness

While most people are familiar with the process of canning fruits and vegetables, meat can be a bit more tricky. That’s because meat contains a lot of fat, which can prevent the proper seal from forming.

As a result, pressure canning is the best method for preserving meat. And while lean cuts of meat can be canned safely, you may need to add fat to prevent them from drying out.

19. Ground Meat Might Be Watery

Though canning ground meat may seem like a convenient way to store it for later, it’s actually not the best method.

This is because when ground meat is canned, the water content of the meat rises to the top, making it watery and less enjoyable to eat.

Freeze-drying ground meat, on the other hand, removes all the water content while still preserving the flavor and texture of the meat.

As a result, it’s a much better option for storing ground meat. Not only will it taste better, but it will also last longer.

20. Don’t Can Cured Meat

Cured meats, such as bacon, ham, and sausage, are a delicious way to add flavor to many dishes. However, these meats can pose a serious risk if they are not properly processed before being canned.

Curing involves the use of salt, nitrates, and nitrites, which work together to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

However, these same chemicals can also prevent the meat from reaching a high enough temperature to kill bacteria.

As a result, cans of cured meat have the potential to harbor dangerous pathogens. The USDA does not have published processing times for cured meats, so it is best to err on the side of caution and avoid canning them altogether.

Final Thoughts

By following these simple steps, you can ensure that your canned meats are safe to eat and will last for an extended period of time.

For more information on the safety and handling of home-canned meats, please consult the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning!

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