8 Important Things To Know Before You Pressure Can Meat

Pressure canning is a great way to preserve meat, which is an important part of building a self-sufficient backyard, but it requires careful attention to detail and adherence to safety guidelines.

Here are 8 important things to know when pressure canning meat.

Tip 1 – Choose the Right Type of Meat

Not all types of meat are suitable for pressure canning. Only use high-quality, fresh meat that has been properly handled and stored. Lean meats such as beef, pork, and venison are the best options for pressure canning. Avoid canning fatty meats like bacon or sausage, as they can become rancid and spoil easily.

Tip 2 – Use a Pressure Canner

Unlike water bath canning, which is suitable for acidic foods like fruits and pickles, pressure canning is necessary for low-acid foods like meat. A pressure canner is a special type of canner that uses high pressure to create a high-temperature environment that destroys bacteria, viruses, and spores that can cause foodborne illness. A pressure canner is different from a pressure cooker, which is not suitable for canning.

Tip 3 – Follow a Trusted Recipe

When pressure canning meat, it’s essential to follow a trusted recipe from a reputable source. The National Center for Home Food Preservation is an excellent resource for safe canning recipes. The recipe should specify the type of meat, processing time, pressure, and altitude adjustments if necessary. Do not alter the recipe or substitute ingredients, as this can affect the safety and quality of the canned meat.

Tip 4 – Clean and Sterilize Equipment

Before pressure canning meat, it’s crucial to clean and sterilize all equipment, including the pressure canner, jars, lids, and utensils. Use hot, soapy water to wash all equipment thoroughly and rinse well. Sterilize jars and lids by boiling them for ten minutes or by running them through a dishwasher cycle.

Tip 5 – Pack Meat Properly

When packing meat into jars for pressure canning, it’s essential to follow the recipe’s instructions for headspace. Headspace is the space between the top of the meat and the top of the jar. A proper headspace allows for expansion during processing and helps to prevent overcooking or undercooking of the meat. The recipe should also specify whether to pack the meat raw or cooked. Raw packing means adding raw meat to the jar, while hot packing means cooking the meat first and then packing it into the jar.

Tip 6 – Vent the Pressure Canner

Before pressure canning meat, it’s crucial to vent the pressure canner to remove any air pockets. To vent the pressure canner, place it on the stove over high heat without the weight or pressure regulator in place. Allow steam to escape from the vent for ten minutes before adding the weight or pressure regulator.

Tip 7 – Process at the Correct Pressure and Time

When pressure canning meat, it’s crucial to process at the correct pressure and time specified in the recipe. The pressure and time required for canning meat vary depending on the type of meat, altitude, and size of the jar. Do not use a lower pressure or shorter processing time than the recipe specifies, as this can affect the safety and quality of the canned meat.

Tip 8 – Allow Jars to Cool and Test for Seals

After pressure canning meat, allow the jars to cool naturally for 12-24 hours. Do not force-cool the jars, as this can cause them to break or lose their seals. Once the jars have cooled, test the seals by pressing down on the center of the lid. If the lid pops up and down, the jar did not seal properly and should be refrigerated or reprocessed. Properly sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to a year.

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