i posted this on another forum, thought i'd post it here too to kinda add to another thread currently running. My directions are for venison, but you can do the same with any meat (poultry should be hot packed, not cold packed...as later if you really want to know), even fish. I've read that some less than palatable critters actually come out pretty dang good when canned. Ground hog and beaver are two such critters that supposedly take well to cold pack canning.
this is just a guide...feel free to ask questions. I'll address one small topic again later, but feel it's important enough to address from the beginning. The USFDA lists only a pressure canner as an acceptable means to canning meat. I personally have consumed meat canned in the water bath method. I know many people have. I also know folks who have oven canned meat before. that said, I simply will not do it again. Any time someone offers me a jar of canned venison, I ask if it was pressure canned, and at what pressure and for how long. Botulism spores can ONLY be killed at a temp of 240 or higher. To achieve this temp, a pressure canner must operate at 10lbs so most canned meat recipes say to run at 11PSI or better. I personally process at 13-14 psi and I process a few minutes longer than required as well. it's hard to overprocess meat, to a degree. but UNDERPROCESSING is always a concern. If in doubt, process longer. Botulism is the hardest to kill of all foodborne illnesses, and unfortunately it's kinda like rabies. Noone recovers from it, death is certain, and I simply will not take a chance with this. Get a pressure canner to do your meat...they don't cost much. Note that all pressure canners are also pressure cookers, but not all pressure cookers are pressure canners. A canner has the means of determining and regulating pressure at a certain level, whereas most pressure cookers operate only at one noticable pressure, usually 10 lbs.
okay...now to the "meat" of the post:
Heres a quick pictorial on exactly how it's done. I will address this from the viewpoint of someone who has NEVER done this before since this is my first time too.
First, sanitation is key. The purpose of canning is to kill the little nasties that live in our food. Freezing is another good way to preserve food for a long time when done correctly, but canning does not require additional electricity. It only takes having to replace a fridge/freezer full of food once to recognize the benefit of having some of your meat stored by this method. So...lets begin.
Wash the appropriate number of jars for the meat you have on hand. You can always put clean jars away, or cook up the extra meat if you find you don't have enough jars (like me...)
After inspecting the jars for cracks and rough rims which would prevent a good seal, then wash the jars, rings and lids in hot soapy water - as hot as you can stand the water.
Once cleaned, then the jars need to be sanitized - a dip in boiling water will accomplish this. Keep the boiled water handy - you need to keep the lids in this until ready for use. Not BOILING water, but just below - about 180 degrees. Let the lids rest here until you need them for the packed jars. This pic shows the sanitized jars, rings, and the lids are ready for thier dunk.
I will now begin to pack my jars. What you put in them is entirely up to you. The proven recipe used by many people every year is simply a single tsp of canning salt in a quart jar, packed with raw meat as tightly as you can get it in without breaking the glass. make sure to leave 1" of head space for cold packed meat. Do not add any liquid. You will see soon that the meat will make its own liquid very quickly.
My recipe is 1/2 teaspoon salt or beef bouillon powder, 1/8 of an onion, a grind of pepper, and one clove of garlic in pint jars.
Here are my jars ready for packing (minus the bouillon powder):
When packing the meat chunks into the jars, make sure to work clean, and be sure to leave the proper amount of headspace or when you open your canner, you will have glass and venison stew. I use a small sandwich bag with the bottom cut out to keep meat off the rim of the jars. I simply did not have a funnel at this time which helps alot. You can get the funnels at the same place you get most of your canning supplies. a jar packer helps to get all the bubbles out too.
I've read that batch processing when doing meat is not the way to go but I can't find any supporting evidence. So i find no need to lid each jar as it's packed, I lid them all at once. Here's all my jars, packed and ready for sealing. Note that the lids are ready for the hot water bath to soften up the seals.
Also note that there is more meat...It will get a fine dice and turned into street taco meat. Recipe to follow
Here's all the jars in the PRESSURE canner, ready to rock. Water filled to the line as instructed in the manual for MY canner. Yours may/will have different levels of water to maintain during the canning process. An old tip to keep white reside from forming on the jars is to add a couple table spoons of vinegar to the canning water.
My canner suggests that you bring the water inside to a boil, then place the lid, and allow it to semi-pressurize before putting the pressure regulator on. Allowing the pre-seal to engage and letting the canner vent steam for 10 mins as directed in the manual is seen here:
Process at 11 to 14 lbs pressure (10 lbs will get you to 240 deg F) and process pint jars for 75 minutes, quarts for 90. I did mine for 80. Do not quick cool the canner after the time is finished, just shut the heat off and allow the canner to cool on it's own. once the pressure vent and overpressure plug drop on their own, check for steam by tipping the regulator. DO NOT let the pressure gauge be your indication that pressure is gone. it will still read zero lbs and have a good degree of steam inside.
Once the canner has cooled and pressure is gone, remove lid, and using a can lifter, remove jars to a clean towel and allow them to rest for 12-24 hours. You should hear the lids click within the first 10 minutes if done properly.
I found it interesting just how much liquid was in the cans after the cooking had completed. be careful not to tilt the cans until they are cool to the touch, this may prevent them from sealing. I also found it interesting that the liquid inside the jars would continue to boil for some time after removing from the canner.
You are on your own for recipes for the canned product. some folks like to put some barbecue sauce into the jars before canning. I've heard that this is QUITE good. just be careful to NOT put any flour or gravy or any thickeners at all inside the cans. You can thicken after it comes out and you are preparing the canned meat.
Last note - the smell of spoiled meat might not be present when the product is cold. Be sure to heat the meat up prior to consumption just to be safe. Some folks also like to tell us that a pressure canner isn't necessary - that they've canned meat in with the water bath method for years - good for them. I won't do it. Botulism will kill you. PERIOD. it only takes once. I'm not big on Russian roulette.
Enjoy...this was easy enough that it is now a permanent part of my deer processing now that I have the pressure canner.
Good job. The pressure canner is the way to go.
Good tutorial! And AMEN on using a pressure canner for ANYTHING that is NOT acid!
Tom who wants to die of old age a long time from now
This REALLY should be a sticky here, I'll use it several times a season...
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Thx for the article.. I'm planning on doing some canning this year.
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Nana did LOTS of canning but never any meat. I've read plenty on pickling meats but never has anyone else mentioned using a pressure cooker. It makes sense!
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To each his own. My experince is that venison has so much water in it that what is in the jars will taste like boiled venison unless you season the heck out ot it and then it will be only good for what you season it for.
I am glad God made freezers.
If i needed to worry about long term storage of meat without cooling I would make sausage and lard it or I would Salt the meat in barrells. Both methods are safer than canning, easier too.
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I tried a small batch of this with stew beef and it worked very well. Good practice for later in the season Thanks for the recipe and refresher!