>>How do you can ground meat? Do you cook it in a sauce or soup before caning? <<
I used to hear how complicated and dangerous canning meat was, and I’m really glad that one of the very first things I canned was turkey. That way I did the ‘hardest’ thing first and I wasn’t intimidated by it because I had nothing to compare it to. Some people will tell you to start out with fruits and jams and then work your way up, but it worked out well for me the other way!
Despite what people may say, it’s really not hard or complicated to can meat. It does require precisely following instructions, like any other low acid food (ie, not fruits and jams). You MUST have a pressure canner and follow all proper safety guidelines. Fill with water up to the water line (marked inside the canner), and fill up the jars you’re going to use half way with water. While you prepare the meat, your jars will be sterilizing, and then the jars will be ready to be used at the same time the meat is ready to be packed.
Before preparing the meat, you have to decide what you’re going to later use it for. I decided I wanted to cook it up as crumbles that could be added to stews, pot pies, etc because that has the most possibilities. (I considered making patties and then decided against it, but it is possible to make little meat balls or burgers and can them.) I sauteed the meat in its own juice and broke the chunks up into crumbles. It’s suggested to drain off the fat since it could interfere with the seal.
I removed each jar, poured out the boiling water, and filled it with hot meat. Then cover it with boiling broth or water, leaving 1″ headspace. Make sure there’s no air space in the jars. Wipe down the top of the jar, so that there’s no residual grease that might keep it from sealing later on. Put the heated jar lids on, screw on bands, and put back in pressure canner. It needs to process at 11 pounds pressure for 75 minutes for pints, 90 minutes for quarts. Exhaust the canner for ten minutes with the steam steadily rising from the vent hole, then put the weight on top and wait for it to get up to the proper pressure. Start timing the process from the point that it’s at the proper pressure.
You have to keep it at the right pressure the entire time. If it gets a little high, that’s okay, but if it drops below 11 pounds pressure, you have to restart timing the canning all over again (to prevent possibility of botulism). So don’t let it drop!
So far in the meat department, I’ve canned beef cubes, beef stew, turkey pieces, ground chicken, ground beef, broth, and meat spaghetti sauce. The only problem I had was with jars that failed to seal because I didn’t drain the fat enough, so when it reached the high temperature inside the canner, it boiled over the jar lid, and then the lid couldn’t adhere. I put those in the fridge and used them right away, but they could have been reheated it, and then reprocessed.
If you start canning and do some meat, please share your experience!