Canning Meat in Glass Jars

Canning meat in glass jars process:

  1. Preparation
  2. Packing
  3. Sealing
  4. Thermal process
  5. Cooling
  6. Storing

1. Read the manufacturer's instructions on the use of your pressure canner. Use only standard jars intended for home canning. These jars will have the manufacturerís name molded in the glass. Never use jars from commercial food products.

2. Either a raw pack or hot pack method may be used. Add salt (1/2 teaspoon per pint jar, 1 tsp for quart jar) and spices into the empty container. Leave 1 inch headspace in glass jars.

Raw pack - use raw meat, do not brown. Raw meat is packed directly into jars. Do not tightly pack the jars. Add only meat and seasonings, don't add liquid. Raw meat will release its own juices during the canning process.

Hot pack - brown meat before packing. Brown the meat in a skillet with a small amount of fat. The meat shrinks and can be packed more tightly. Save the liquid which will be added (hot) to the jars after packing. If more liquid is needed, add broth, tomato juice or water.

NOTE it is common to sterilize jars when using a water bath canner. What about a pressure canner? Jars that will be processed in a pressure canner don't have to be sterilized as the high canning temperatures will sterilize them anyhow. Run a plastic utensil around the inside of the jar to free bubbles and remove excess air.

3. Wipe off the rim of the jar and place the lid on top. Secure the lid with a screwband, finger tight.

4. Put 2 to 3 inches of water in the canner. The temperature of the water should be similar to the temperature of the product; this prevents stress on the glass jar. Place filled jars on the rack, using a jar lifter. Fasten the canner lid securely. Leave the weight off the vent pipe. Heat at the highest setting until steam flows freely from the vent pipe. This pushes the excess air out of the canner through the vent port. If the canner is not exhausted, the inside temperature may not correspond to the pressure on the gauge. While maintaining the high heat setting, let the steam escape continuously for 10 minutes and then place the weight on the vent pipe. The canner will pressurize during the next 3 to 5 minutes. Turn the heat down slightly when the canner reaches about 7 psi, then wait for the pressure to build up. Wait until a dial indicates 11 psi or the 10 pounds weighted gauge starts to jiggle. Now you can start timing the process.

  • Process meat and poultry in half pints and pints for 75 minutes and quarts for 90 minutes.
  • Process fish in half pint and pint jars for 100 minutes.
  • Process fish in quart jars for 160 minutes.

Regulate heat under the canner to maintain a steady pressure at or slightly above the set gauge pressure. Quick and large pressure variations during processing may cause unnecessary liquid losses from jars. The pressure must be maintained in order to hold the lids in place during processing and in the early stages of cooling so that the pressure in the canner always exceeds the pressure inside the container. Follow the canner manufacturerís directions for how a weighted gauge should indicate it is maintaining the desired pressure.

NOTE if at any time pressure goes below the recommended amount, bring the canner back to pressure and start the timing of the process over again, from the beginning (using the total original process time). This is important for the safety of the food.

5. When the timed process is completed, turn off the heat, remove the canner from heat if possible, and let the canner depressurize. Do not force-cool the canner. Allow the pressure to drop naturally, donít apply cold water, cold cloth or remove the weight until the pressure drops completely. Forced cooling may result in unsafe food if the cooling period has been included as a part of the thermal process. Cooling the canner with cold running water or opening the vent port before the canner is fully depressurized will cause loss of liquid from jars and seal failures. After the canner is depressurized and the pressure drops to 0, test the canner to ensure there is no more steam left. Slightly rock the weight, no steam should be released and no resistance should be felt. Remove the weight from the vent pipe or open the pet-cock. Wait 10 minutes, unfasten the lid, and remove it carefully. Lift the lid away from you so that the steam does not burn your face. Depending on the size of the canner it may take from 30 to 45 minutes for the pressure to drop to zero. Remove jars with a jar lifter, and place them on a towel or a cooling rack. Do not retighten lids after processing, you may damage the seal. Let jars sit undisturbed to cool at room temperature for 12 hours. Never rush the cooling process or jars may break. Jars should be cooled in an area away from drafts. Air blowing on hot jars may also cause breakage. Jars will seal as they cool. The jar lid will pull in when a vacuum is formed. Test the seals.

6. Label the jars with the type of meat, date, processing time and pounds of pressure. Store in a cool dark place. The screwbands may be removed. Do not freeze jars as this may compromise the seal.

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