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Canning Red Meats

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Preparing and Canning Red Meats

Note: There are no safe options for canning these foods in a boiling water canner.

Meat Products

Please read Using Pressure Canners and Using Boiling Water Canners before beginning. If this is your first time canning, it is recommended that you read Principles of Home Canning.

To prepare the meat, cut slabs of about an inch thick, slicing across the grain, then cut with the grain until you have pieces of an appropriate size for the jars you're using. (If it's to be used for stew, cut the meat into uniform cubes.)

Make certain that you trim away gristle, bruised spots, and fat. Too much fat is likely to give the meat a strong flavor and may also damage the compound used for sealing the jars. Furthermore, you should not let meat stand in water ... with the exception of strong-flavored game, which should be soaked in salt water before it is canned.

Prepare and pack the meat according to the recipes below, and process it for the time prescribed. Keep in mind, though, that because air is thinner at higher altitudes, it affects both pressure and boiling point. The times given in the recipes here are for foods to be processed at altitudes under 2,000 feet. For higher elevations, half a pound of pressure is required for each additional 1,000 feet above sea level. So, if you live at a high elevation and your pressure canner has a weighted gauge rather than a dial one, use 15 pounds of pressure instead of 10. Do not raw-pack meats for pressure processing at altitudes above 6 1 000 feet.

Only enough food for one canner load should be prepared at a time. Special care should be taken in filling the jars ... and headspace?the area in the jar between the inside of the lid and the top of the food or liquid-should be carefully measured to achieve proper venting and sealing. If too little headspace is allowed, the food may expand and bubble when air is being forced out from the lid during processing, leaving a deposit on the rim of the jar or lid that will prevent the container from sealing correctly. If there is too much headspace, the food at the top is likely to discolor, and/or the jar may not seal properly because insufficient processing time won't drive all the air out of the container.

After the food has been packed in the jar, any air bubbles present should be removed by running a clean wooden spoon or plastic paddle between the food and the jar. Knives and other metal devices are not recommended, since they may nick the bottoms of the jars, leading to breakage. A commercially produced plastic bubble-freer that doesn't melt or bend with ordinary kitchen use is ideal.

The tops of the jars, screw threads, and top surfaces of rubber rings (if they're used) should be wiped with a clean, damp cloth, as particles of food that remain in such places could prevent a tight seal. When placing closures on your containers, follow the manufacturer's directions carefully, since the method varies with the type of jar used.

To minimize the possibility of contamination by microorganisms, process the meat immediately after the containers are closed. Put 2 or 3 inches of hot water in the canner (or whatever amount is recommended by the manufacturer), set it on your heat source, and place the jars inside ... in a manner that allows steam to flow freely around each vessel. Fasten the canner's cover securely, making sure that steam escapes only through the petcock. Allow steam to vent steadily (according to the manufacturer's directions, or for 10 minutes) to drive all the air out. Otherwise, you'll have air pressure as well as steam pressure inside, and you'll get a faulty gauge reading.

When that's done, close the petcock, or-if the gauge is weighted-put the weight in place. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to determine when 10 pounds of pressure has been reached, and start counting processing time at this point. (Refer to those instructions before opening the canner, too.)

Canning Poultry, Red Meat & Seafood Products

Note: There are no safe options for canning these foods in a boiling water canner.

Poultry Meat Products Seafoods

These documents were adapted from the "Complete Guide to Home Canning," Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539, USDA, revised 2009 &
From "So Easy to Preserve", 5th ed. 2006. Bulletin 989, Cooperative Extension Service, The University of Georgia, Athens. Revised by Elizabeth L. Andress. Ph.D. and Judy A. Harrison, Ph.D., Extension Foods Specialists.