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Easy Step-by-Step Instructions for Canning Beef

Don’t let the word “canning” scare you. Canning beef is easy and I will walk you through it step-by-step. You’ll be able to make good use of beef sales and not have to depend on a freezer to keep it in. Below are the things you’ll need. I use a Mirro Pressure Canner and this recipe is for pints.

Pressure Canner

Make sure to check your gasket and wash your canner first to make sure there is no debris. Hold the canner lid up and peek through the vent tube, you should see light, if you do not, clean it out.. This is very important! Make sure you have a rack for the bottom. If you double stack the jars, you must have a second rack for in between the layers of jars.

Canning Jars (Pints)

I use WIDE MOUTH pint jars for my meat. I have canned quart jars of it too. The wide mouth jar is easier to get the meat in and out of. Check for any chips or cracks especially around the rims. Use a dishwasher if you have one or wash the jars in hot sudsy water and rinse well.

Lids and Bands

You must use NEW lids each time you can. But you can reuse the bands if they are clean and in good shape. Check them!

Canning Utensils

Big pot for water.
Small pot for heating lids in.
Large bowl.
Strainer that fits bowl.
Sharp knife
Canning salt
Jar grabber
Sink of hot soapy water
Cutting board
Magic Marker
Butter Knife

Buying the beef

If you’re having a beef butchered, simply ask the butcher for canning or stewing meat, they know what that is. If you are buying through a super market, ask them to cut your meat for canning, somewhere in the neighborhood of 2×2 or 2×3 inch pieces. By having the butchers do it, it saves time for you and makes this an easy, easy task.

My first year, I started with 25 lbs. 1 lb. = 1 pint. So if you get 25 pounds of beef, you’ll get approximately 25 canned pints. This is really pretty accurate. When you get your meat home. Either put it in the frig or put it in ice chests packed with ice. I do the latter. I find it keeps it really cold in case I have to finish the job the next day.

First step:

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Put water in big pot and get it very hot.(Get this boiling before you start.) Also heat small pot of water to put your lids in. (This water does not have to boil. We are merely warming up the lids with it.)

Open a bundle of the chunked beef and empty it into the bowl with a strainer in it. Let the excess blood drain off. IF your meat is not lean, you may want to trim the extra fat off, using your sharp knife and cutting board.

Next step:

Start filling your jars. I pack my meat fairly firm in the jar. Try to leave an inch at the top. I use a little canning salt, ½ teaspoon for each pint jar and 1 teaspoon for quarts. A lot of people double that, so do what is good for you and your family. Measure out salt and put on top of the meat in the jar.

Take a measuring cup and use it to dip out the hot water from the pot on the stove. Be careful. Pour hot water over the meat, it won’t take much if you have packed it firmly. IMPORTANT: Take a butter knife and run it between the meat and the glass to let out air pockets. You will notice that the liquid drops when you do this. Add enough water to reach 1 inch from the rim.

Wet a paper towel with vinegar and squeeze the excess out. Wipe the rims of the filled jars with this. Why? To remove any grease or debris that might keep it from getting a good seal.

Take a hot lid ( I use tongs to do this) from the pan on the stove and put it on the rim, followed by screwing a band on snuggly but not tight. Then set the finished jar in the pressure canner. I can fit 8 wide mouth pint jars in my Mirro Canner per layer. Continue this until you have enough to fill the bottom layer or double stack them (with rack). You may want to do a single layer the first time.

Filling the pressure canner.

After your jars are filled and in the canner, you will have to add water to the cooker. For my Mirro canner, I need to add 2 quarts of water for a single layer. Make sure you use COLD water. Yes, it takes it a long time to heat, but during the heating process, you are cooking the beef. IF you use warm or hot water, your cooking time is severely cut and the product might not turn out right. So use COLD water.

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The pressure canning process.

Place canner lid on, make sure you have it on securely. Move the canner onto a burner. Some of you will have gauges and some will have a pressure control disc. I have the disc. Do not put the disc on yet. Set the heat on high. Wait for steam to come out of the vent tube. When it does, let it vent steam for about 10 minutes.

On the disc are the numbers 5, 10 and 15. Use the 10 setting and put this on the vent tube.

Wait some more..I know, this can be nerve racking. Be prepared for some steam to come out around the canner lid. There may also be some water spurt out in very small amounts. After you can a time or two you will be more used to the sounds that your canner makes.

When the control starts to jiggle, you have reached the pressure needed. Reduce the heat so that it jiggles about 3-4 times a minute. It is very important at this point that drafts and turning the heat up and down do not occur. As it can cause uneven pressure and liquid can be forced out of the jars.

For pint jars of meat, process for 75 minutes. If you are using quart jars, the time will be for 90 minutes. Set your timer. Never leave your canner unattended.

When your timer goes off, remove the canner from the heat. Let the canner cool. NEVER try to speed up the cooling process. DO NOT run water over canner or set it in water to cool it. DO NOT remove control to release pressure.

Opening and unloading the pressure canner.

You’ve let the canner cool. To test the pressure, quickly “touch” the control, if you don’t hear a hiss from pressure, it is probably no longer pressurized. But always treat the canner like it is under pressure so you don’t get hurt.

If the pressure is gone, take the pressure disc off and slowly turn canner lid. Lift lid off. (Up and away from your face/body.) The jars and the remaining liquid will be very hot. Remove jars using jar grabbers and place on flat surface that is out of any drafts. Let them gradually cool and they will make a “pop” sound. That means they are sealing.

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Let stand for a couple of hours and look at the lids. Make sure you have a good seal. Take your finger and touch the lid, there should be no give or clicking sound. If they didn’t seal correctly, refrigerate and use beef promptly.

Notice that the fat will accumulate at the top of the cooled jar of beef. If you want to use it that’s fine. And if you don’t, just take the solid white off the top of the jar and throw it away. (We use it as it adds flavor. It melts when heated.)

Care of canned jars of beef.

I like to let my jars set 24 hours. Then wash the outsides with a hot soapy rag and wipe dry. Do not submerge jars in water. When the lids are dry, I use a magic marker to write the date of canning on it. Then I take the jars of beef to the basement where it’s cool and put them on the shelves.

Canned beef can last for years and it is so easy and quick to use. I hope that these easy step-by-step instructions for canning beef have helped you. People do things differently, so this may not be how everyone does it. I have had excellent results with this method.

Now go enjoy some of that beautifully canned beef.

This method is the raw pack method. There are other methods out there. I do not guarantee anything in this article..it’s how I do it.

Use every precaution you can think of while canning. You are working with things under pressure and very hot materials.

Keep hot soapy water in your sink to wash your hands and utensils and surfaces as you go. Keep everything very clean.

Do not try to rush the process. No short cuts.

ALWAYS check YOUR canner’s handbook. The instructions here work for my Mirro Canner. Check your Extension office for instructions for where you live.