One of the neatest things I’ve ever come across in the cooking/canning world has been pressure canning raw meat.
I live nowhere close to a grocery store, so our meat either has to be used fresh, or we freeze it to be used at a later date. Freezing meat is great, until you realize you forgot to leave it out to thaw.
Then there’s the waste of freezer burned meat. Sigh. I too dealt with these issues until I discovered in a very old cookbook of mine how to pressure-can meat. I did more research online and got brave enough to try it.
Pressure canned meat is shelf staple, fully-cooked and ready to go! No need to freeze or refrigerate. Need chicken for chicken salad, poppy seed chicken, chicken and dumplings? Simply open a jar of fully-cooked chicken and proceed with the recipe.
Need ground beef for spaghetti, tacos, or sloppy joes? Open a jar of canned ground beef, dump contents in a pan, heat, drain, and proceed.
The first time I canned meat, I was terrified. The pressure canners are big beasts, and I had never used a pressure cooker that big. But after it was done, I was thrilled with the results and with the ease of the pressure canning process.
Every four to five months, I will take a Saturday, and I will can boneless, skinless chicken breasts, ground beef, and beef chunks.
It is so nice to pluck a jar off the shelf and have dinner made in mere minutes! ANY type of meat can be processed in this way. Mutton, lamb, deer, pork, beef, chicken, etc.
Here are the basic rules:
You MUST use a PRESSURE CANNER. You can’t use a small pressure cooker and you can’t use the water bath method to can meats.
You MUST use canning jars -- Ball or Mason or any brand that is designed to be used in intense heat under pressure for long periods of time.
You MUST use new lids to ensure a tight, safe seal.
Tightly pack pint or quart jars with raw ground beef, boneless chicken or cubes of meat. Leave one inch headspace.
Do not add any liquid. The meat will make its own.
Use a paper towel with vinegar to wipe the rims of the jars to ensure the lids will seal.
Add lids and screw down bands just until tight. DO NOT WRENCH THEM DOWN.
Add four inches of water to pressure cooker.
Add jars to pressure cooker. Only can pints together or quarts together. Don’t mix jar sizes.
Follow the manufacturer’s directions on your pressure canner on its use.
For pints, can at 10 pounds pressure for 75 minutes.
For quarts, can at 10 pounds pressure for 90 minutes.
Let the canner cool naturally.
When the pressure is back at zero, carefully remove the lid and use a jar lifter to remove jars.
Set jars on a towel, then using clean towels, tighten the lids.
Let jars cool completely. Remove the bands if so desired.
Store in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.
To use pressure-canned meats
Ground beef: Open the jar, dump the entire contents into a pan, when meat is hot and fat has melted, drain fat and proceed with recipe.
Chicken: Open jar and use chicken and broth if using for chicken and dumplings or soup, drain and shred if using for chicken salad, or cut into pieces if using in a casserole.
Chunks: Open jar and heat chunks, make a gravy with broth if desired.