Canning meat is a different take on preserving it. The process was most popular when freezers weren't an everyday household appliance and there was excess meat to be preserved. Many people still can their meat to avoid the shorter shelf life of frozen meat. Canned meat is often cooked first and preserved in the cooking juices, however, most meat can be canned raw following the same pressure- cooking guidelines. Properly canned meat can have a shelf life of years and also provides the convenience of cooked meat for making quick meals.
Prepare the Meat
Trim excess fat and remove the bones and skin from the meat you are canning. Use a sharp knife and the cutting board for this task. Cut the meat into cubes or strips for easy placement in the jar.
Heat the skillet and coat the bottom of the pan with cooking oil. Brown the meat on all sides. It doesn't have to be cooked to well done. Medium is suitable for canning. If you prefer to can raw meat, skip this step. Raw meat will make it's own juices in the process, so it doesn't require the cooking juices for preservation.
Pack the meat in clean, sterile jars. Leave a 1/2 to 1 inch of space at the top to make room for juices to cover the meat, whether it is cooked or raw.
Ladle enough of the cooking gravy into each jar so that the meat is covered. Wipe any excess juice from the rim with a wet towel and secure the lid tightly. If you run out of cooking juices, boiling water can be added to top off the jars.
Do not add liquid if you are canning raw meat. Just seal the lids tightly on the jars.
Pressure Can the Meat
Fill the pressure cooker half full of water and bring it to a boil on the stove. Place the jars in the boiling water carefully. You can fill the pressure cooker with as many jars that will fit. Add more boiling water if necessary to come up to 3/4 of the jar height.
Put the lid on the pressure cooker and remove the vent lid. Wait until there is 5 minutes of consistent steam coming from the vent before replacing the vent lid.
Heat the cooker until 15 pounds of pressure is reached. Allow the meat to process at 15 pounds of pressure for 75 minutes with pint jars and 90 minutes with quart-size jars. Turn the heat up or down on the stove to regulate the pressure in the cooker.
Turn the heat off after your processing time is up and allow the cooker to cool down to zero pounds of pressure. The cool down time is considered just as important in the processing time as the time spent heating, according to the USDA.
Remove the lid once the cooker has cooled to zero pounds. Remove them with a potholder or tongs and allow them to cool completely before storing. Check to make sure all the lids have popped and created the vacuum seal before storing. This is when you push on the lid and it doesn't give at all to the pressure. This means it has sealed.
To ensure your jars and lids are as clean as possible, you can boil them in a water bath first or run them through the hottest cycle on your dishwasher.
Using a smaller pressure cooker that doesn't hold four quart-size jars can lead to under processed meat, which can spoil and grow bacteria.