How to Can Meat… and why you should do it!

8 years ago, someone told me I could can meat.

When I was introduced to canned meat, I was amazed! It was just like any other canned meat. I open the lid, dump out the meat, and use it in my meal!

I was amazed!  How did I NOT know about this?!

This concept CHANGED my life!  Well… when it came to “cooking dinners” it did.  Newly married… I HATED having to defrost hamburger, brown it, and THEN make my meals.  It was SO annoying and took so much time!

This also allowed me to buy bulk meat for cheap prices, and NOT waste room in my freezer.

When I was introduced to canned meat, I was amazed!  It was just like any other canned meat.  I open the lid, dump out the meat, and use it in my meal!  NO defrosting OR cooking!  A lot of my meals involved browned ground beef, and this saved me around 10 min of prep time working with raw meat.  All of my dinners went from 15-20 min prep work to 5 min!

*Updated June 2022* This post contains affiliate links.  Read my affiliate link disclosure here

Did I mention how much I HATE working with raw meat!

I hate the blood, squishy-ness! And not to mention how un-sanitary it is so I have to CLEAN everything!!!

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3 Reasons you should can meat

  1. It’s a one time deal working with raw meat.  Get it all prepped in one shot.  Once it’s bottled and cooked, it’s SO much easier to work with.
  2. Fast meals for your family.  Just take the meat out of the jar and dump it into your casserole, or stovetop dish.  You can even make bottled hamburger patties to just warm up!  (I haven’t tried those yet)
  3. Cheap.  You can buy bulk Hamburger from Costco, The Savory Butcher, or when it’s on sale; bottle it at one time, and use it up until you find another great sale!  No more having to buy $$$ meat at the last minute.

Have I convinced you that you should try to can meat?  If so… here’s how you do it!

How to can meat

There are lots of steps, and it’s about a 6 hr process overall… but don’t be deterred!  It is all worth it to give you 6 months of hamburger quick meals!

Things you’ll need:

*Pressure Canner (I like the 23QT one because I can do MORE with pretty much the same prep work)

*Meat (around 10-20 lbs)

*Beef Broth (Optional, you only need it if you are cooking your meat first.  I use water and beef bouillon cubes.. although there are MUCH healthier and tastier options.)

*Clean Canning Jars, lids and bands – Pint or Quart. I find 1 lb meat fits into a pint jar perfectly… this works great for my small family of 5.

*A way to brown your meat… I like to use my Electric Skillet

*You DO NOT have to brown your hamburger first… I CHOOSE to because it makes the meat look more “normal” and I think it tastes better*

*Canning Kit (Optional… I only use the “tongs” and “magnetic lid lifter”)

*Canning and Pickling Salt (Optional… You can use regular sat too)

Prep Work

(usually done the night before)

*Clean bottles, lids, and rings

*Clean Kitchen:  Sink empty and clean, dishwasher empty, all counter tops clean, stove clean, new dish towels and rags out and ready to use, ect.

Meat out defrosting… when I do this in the winter time, I can leave it out on the counter all night and it’s just right (still a tad frozen) for me in the morning.  The process goes A LOT faster when the meat is already defrosted, esp because it’s a lot of meat!  You can also start defrosting your meat in the fridge 2-3 days prior.

*Pressure Canner out, checked and ready

Browning the Meat and Getting the Bottles Ready

When canning meat I usually start in the morning, because although the process is 6 hours… it takes longer for the bottles to cool off.  I’ve done 2 whole sessions back to back…. and did NOT enjoy being up till 1 am finish the project :/

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When I can 18 Pint size jars, it took me about 1 hour 30 min to cook the meat and put it in the bottles, ready for the canner.

Start browning your meat.

When I was introduced to canned meat, I was amazed! It was just like any other canned meat. I open the lid, dump out the meat, and use it in my meal!

The meat does not have to be 100% cooked.  I like to cook it mostly brown, but having some pink showing is OK.  Again, this is optional… if you CHOOSE to just put the raw meat into your jars, you do can SKIP this step.  I like to use an electric skillet for mine because it holds 3-5 lbs at a time.

Clean jars ready

While your meat is browning, have some clean jars ready beside it to be loaded.  I found my large Ice Cream Scoop works GREAT for dipping the meat into the jars.

Place your flat lids into HOT water and set aside.

Fill your jars

When the meat is finished browning, fill your jars till 1 inch from the top.  I recommend using something to pack your meat down tight.

Drain, out the grease.

Then ADD your broth until it’s full and 1 inch from the top.  Add 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp canning salt to each Pint size jar… you’ll want to do more for Quart-sized jars.

Get the jars ready

With a clean, warm cloth wash the tops of your bottles to make sure they are clean.  This allows proper sealing.  Trust me… It STINKS to not have your bottles seal tight!  I  feel like it’s such a waste!

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Place flat/seal lids on each clean jar.  Tighten ring lids until Finger Tight.They NEED to be tight, but not “Manly, manly CRAZY tight”

Cooking your meat

Now that your meat is cooked, bottles cleaned, lids on… you are ready to start the cooking process.

  1. On your CLEAN stove, place your pressure canner on the largest, most even burner.  Place the rack in the bottom of the canner. DO NOT place the jars on the bottom of the canner, it NEEDS to be on the rack.
  2.  Put 3 quarts HOT/warm water into the canner.  You MAY add 2 Tbsp Distilled white vinegar to help keep the jars from getting a “foggy” look.
  3.  Add your bottles.  In the 23 qt canner, It says it holds 20 Pint size jars… but on a good day, I can only get 18 (9 on top, 9 on bottom).  Make sure they are not touching each other, or the sides of the canner.  Although, they may be VERY close together.
  4. Put the lid on properly(following the instruction manual), and turn on stove to a high setting.  Do NOT put the “gasket” on yet.When I was introduced to canned meat, I was amazed! It was just like any other canned meat. I open the lid, dump out the meat, and use it in my meal!
  5. Wait… about 10-15 min depending on your stove… till you start to see/feel/hear steam coming from the steam vent.  Set your timer for 10 min.
  6.  After 10 min of exhausting the steam, you will place on your “Gasket”.  This will allow your canner to start to build pressure.
  7. Wait… Keeping your stove on a high setting, wait until the “topper” pops up.  (this means your canner is going to start building pressure).  This takes about 5-10 minutes depending on our stove.  Wait… until your pressure gauge shows designated pressure.  For bottling hamburger, it’s 11 lbs.  This took about 15 min.

Make sure you read the instruction manual for YOUR specific location/elevation and pressure for bottling hamburger

  1.  Once up to designated pressure, set your timer for 75 min(for pint size jars, see instruction manual if you do quart).  You will want to slowly lower your stove setting so it stays at 11 lbs pressure… and check it periodically!  Mine typically goes down to a low-med setting.
  2.  After cooking for 75 min.  Turn the stove off, and GENTLY move your caner off the burner (sometimes I’ve forgotten this step, it just takes longer to cool down).  DO NOT OPEN THE LID!!!
  3.  Once the pressure gauge has dropped to zero, and the “topper” drops back down, you may lift up the “gasket”.  There should be NO steam escaping before you take off your pressure caner lid.
  4.  Using your canning tongs… take out the bottles one by one, and set the on a cloth to cool off.  Slowly they will cool off and you will hear “popping” noises as the seals are popping down.
Your house will smell yucky!  But it is TOTALLY Worth it!
  1.  Once completely cooled, make sure ALL lids are popped down, showing they are sealed.  Remove the rings.  Date and label your bottlesThen store.  
  2. Clean your kitchen and be GLAD you are good for about another 6 months!  No more dealing with raw hamburger, or browning your meat before getting dinner prepared.  (Depending on how much you made of course)

Finished with your canned meat

Congratulations!  That was a LOT of work!  You now have x # of bottled hamburger for your FAST meal prepping! 

So… I’m dying to know… Did you try it?  Did you like it?  Comment below to give me more tips!

Total Average Time to can meat

Remember times may vary with your stove. These are just estimates… each time I always get worried about “why is it taking so long”… then I remember… it ALWAYS takes this long…
1 hr prep work
1 1/2 hr Cook meat, put into bottles, and ready for the canner
25 min to get up to steam and exhaust steam for 10 min
25 min to get up to pressure
75 min to cook
45 min to 1 hr to cool down to take off the lid.
it takes 2-3 hours for bottles to completely cool off, but this is not included in the time.

TOTAL Time:  5 hrs 35 min

Ready to build a food storage which fits with your families eating plan? Grab my 3 step strategy here!

Did I mention you can bottle all kinds of meat?!  I also bottle chicken, but you can do fish and steak too!  

P.S.  You can also check out my Facebook group for more help answering your questions.

Further Reading

The Ultimate List of Food Storage Websites
The #1 Tip from Food Storage Experts
100+ Food Storage Recipes

As always, if you love what you read or have found it helpful, please PIN, share or comment below.  Thanks for reading!

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37 thoughts on “How to Can Meat… and why you should do it!”

  1. Michelle Hurlbut

    Thanks for the detailed info about how long to vent the steam before turning the heat down!!! This hasn’t been totally clear in recipes I’ve used. I LOVE canning premade soups, stews, taco meat, sloppy joes, etc; it saves SOOOO much time and $ when I find meat on sale!!!!

    1. Venting the steam made me super nervous too! My sister-in-law taught me everything I know. There are a lot of canners in the Facebook group you’re welcome to ask more questions in. I totally need to start canning more premade soups and stuff.

  2. For those asking if it’s safe to can meat using water bath. We used to do it at home (I grew up Amish and on a farm)… But the cook time was twice as long for water bath compared to pressure canning. So instead of an hour and a half for pressure canning, it was 3 hours. I want to can chicken and beef (I will cook both before hand), but I’ve never used a pressure canner. I’m a little freaked out about using one although I know it is the safest way to preserve meat. Any tips of safely using a pressure canner is greatly appreciated!

    1. Thank you so much for that info!!! The best tip is to go make sure your Presser canner gasket is working well. Usually, you can find a place for it to get checked out and make sure it doesn’t crack or anything. They also check to make sure your pressure gauge is correct so you know if it’s running high or low pressure, or accurate. I’ll try to find a link which helps you find one in your area.

  3. Does anyone season the meat while browning, like taco seasoning or chili seasoning? Just wondering if the flavor holds up?

    1. I did some asking in our facebook group. A member said she frys the hamburger with onion, bell peppers, salt and pepper. The recommends to drain as much fat out as possible and then follow the Ball Book instructions for pressure canning.

    1. Nope it needs to be a pressure canner so you can get it up to the right presser and keep it there for the length of time. the regular canners work for jams, applesauce and such.

      1. Kelly Fastenau

        My mother canned beef years ago and she never used a pressure canner. Just takes longer cook time.

        1. Thanks for the comment! I agree, I know many who have done it years ago, and they just did it longer. To be “safest” they always recommend a pressure cannner, so that is what I always recommend as I try to help others. But I have been know to do things the “wrong” way too. So no pressure, you do you! I’m happy to have you here!

  4. My pressure canner can do 10 pounds of pressure or 15 pounds of pressure. Which should I use and about how long for pints?

    1. You’ll need more information. What type of meat, and your altitude. Pints and quarts are typically the same pressure. Look in your user manual, do you have one?

  5. So with the new canning lids, you dont put them in boiling water because it will ruin the rubber seal. You only need to run them under warm water. It’ states that on the box. It was hard for me to change because I learned the old fashioned way.

  6. Ground beef must be cooked before pressure canning. Ground poultry (turkey and chicken) should not be canned for those who think ground meat is all the same

    1. I boil my ground beef. And you can bottle any meat. Even Chicken and Turkey. I bottle Chicken and It’s the best stuff I have ever tasted!

      1. There are some places which say you should not can poultry, I don’t know why they say that. But I do know that I have canned chicken many times without problems, and my pressure canner instruction manual even includes pressure and time for poultry, so I feel it is safe, but this is my opinion on the matter.

  7. A regular canner is only used for high acid products. Meat is low acid and requires a pressure canner. The pressure canner is the only safe way to can meats and prevent botchilism. Botchilism is deadly and odorless.

  8. Do you have to use a pressure canner? I have a regular canner where you put water and jars on a rack, put the top on it boil water and cook for appro time. Can I use this and once water starts to boil time it for 75 minutes. I want to do this but do not have a pressure canner. Thanks

    1. Hey Debbie, that’s a good question. I have a pressure canner which I use. I’m not sure what the difference is from a regular canner? It’s not an electric canner (instant pot). I do know that you want to make sure the meat gets cooked adequately under the right pressure so you kill all the bacteria.

    2. Anita answered this question for us: A regular canner is only used for high acid products. Meat is low acid and requires a pressure canner. The pressure canner is the only safe way to can meats and prevent botchilism. Botchilism is deadly and odorless.

  9. If you don’t want any fat or very little, put a metal collonder over another pan and pour hot browned meat into it. Let it drain there then scoop the meat into your jars. Pack it down, add your broth and remember to make sure there are no air bubbles in the jar. Proceed as per instructions.

    1. Nope! It’s good. Once opened, if you don’t use it all you’ll want to refrigerate it, but it’s already cooked and stored for 3-5 years. If the top lid starts bulging then its bad and you’ll need to toss it out.

  10. I’m confused do I use the largest top burner of stove or the oven? You mention both in the instruction section and what do I do with the beef broth?

    1. Sorry, that is confusing. Our stove is on top of our oven. So you want to use the largest burner on top of the stove. So after you have packed your jar and drained out the excess fat, you want to pour the beef broth into the jar till it’s about an inch from the top. Some bottles you may need more than others depending on how packed it is.

    2. I have a pressure canner it holds 9 pints. I did not know you could put 9 more on top. I was scared they would bust. Thank you, I’m gonna have to try this.

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