Friday, November 4, 2011

How to: Can Meat (Dry Pack Method)

Wow folks, its been a LONG time.  I have about one billion posts to get done, so hopefully I wont be so slackish in the future.

As for now, however, we are going to talk about how to can meat at home!

This tutorial will cover how to can meat using a dry pack method; which basically means the meat is put into the jars uncooked and without liquid.  It is the easiest way (in my opinion) to can meat, and it turns out great.
This specific method can be used for any meat (without bones), like poultry, pork, beef or game.

This particular method does NOT work with:
ground meats, sausage links, or meat left on the bone.
Materials Needed:
Pressure Canner (this is an absolute must!  Steam and waterbath canners do not reach a high enough temperature to ensure safe canning of meats).
Canning and Pickling Salt or Kosher Salt
clean, damp cloth
Jars, lids and bands

1) Start by selecting your choice of meat.
Since it is cooked for a long period of time, cheaper cuts of meat work great because the meat becomes more tender the longer it cooks.  However, it also works great for your regular chicken breasts.
Personally, I only use chicken breasts when canning chicken.
When using beef, I prefer Rump Roast (seriously delicious), and tougher cuts of steak, like London Broil.
Pork chops, roasts, or loin also work great.

You also want to pick a cut of meat that has little fat, or fat that can be easily removed.

2) Prepare meat.
Start by removing as much fat as possible from the meat (don't be a Nazi, a little will help with flavor).

 Now cut the meat into equal sizes - I usually go with about 1" cubes, but you could go with thick strips as well.

3) Pack your jars.
During processing, the meat will shrink down and condense, so you want to pack as much as possible into the jars when it is raw.  Press it down lightly with your fingers and fill it up to the neck of the bottle.

4) Season (optional).
You don't have to add salt, but I always do.  To each pint jar add 1/2 tsp. salt.  Add 1 tsp. for quarts.
Be sure to use Canning/Pickling salt, or Kosher salt.  Table salt has a tendency to leave a black residue on the lids and jars (which is completely harmless if consumed, but it looks nasty).
Just sprinkle it right on top of the meat.

5) Wipe rims and put on lids.
Once you have filled all of your jars, wipe each rim with a damp cloth.
Place a new lid on each jar and screw on the bands.

6) Put in pressure canner.
One of the great things about pressure canning is that you can stack your jars!  Huge time saver!
Be sure that you have the appropriate amount of water in the bottom (about 3 quarts).  I always put 2-3 Tbsp. of vinegar in the water as well; it helps to keep the canner clean. 

Once the jars are in, seal the lid and crank up the heat.
7) Vent steam for 10 minutes.
(Sorry I failed to take a picture of this step, but its pretty self explanatory).
Once steam starts to come out of the vent pipe, start your timer for 10 minutes.

8) Put on vent cap and let pressure build.
Once steam has vented for 10 minutes, put the cap on.

If it hasn't already, your pressure regulator will pop up momentarily:
 Once your regulator is up, the pressure will start to build.

9) Process at 13 lbs.
For Utah elevation, you need to reach a pressure of 13 lbs.
Check out this post to see adjustments for different altitudes.

Once there, start your timer 
(75 minutes for pints, 90 minutes for quarts).
It is okay if you go above 13 lbs., but do not go below, or you will need to start the time over again.
Adjust the temperature to keep the pressure at 13 lbs (this is usually about medium-low on my stove).

10) When time is up, allow to cool naturally.
When you have reached the allotted time, turn the unit off and allow the pressure to reduce by itself.
Do not remove the vent cap until the pressure regulator has gone back down, and definitely don't try to take the lid off!

11) Remove jars and allow to cool.
 Once pressure has reduced to zero, and the regulator has gone back down, it is safe to remove the vent cap and the lid (be careful though, there will still be a lot of heat).
Remove the jars and place them on the counter on a towel to cool completely.

 As you can see, the meat has shrunk down and there is now liquid in the jar.
If you used meat with fat in it, it has accumulated on top of the broth for easy removal:

12) Label and Store
Once jars have cooled completely, ensure that each lid has sealed.  Lids should be indented and make no popping sounds when pressed in the center.
Write the date on the lid and put it away!

Home canned meats have a recommended shelf life of 3 years, and are fabulous in several dishes.

I personally love that they take up no fridge/freezer space, and are completely convenient and delicious!

The liquid in the jars can also be used or frozen to replace beef/chicken broth as well.

Seriously though, this is a great way to store delicious meat without a lot of space, especially if you don't have a freezer.  It is great in any recipe that calls for cubed or shredded meat, and cuts down big time on preparation since it is already cooked.

I was skeptical at first about how much my family and I would like it, but it is now a constant ingredient stored at our house.  You won't be disappointed!


  1. This is an awesome post. I got a new pressure cooker from my brother for Christmas. Cant wait for the boneless skinless chicken breasts to go on sale at Albertsons again. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  2. I loved your post, it explained everything so well, and the pictures are super helpful as I am a visual learner.My question is what brand of canner do you use? Thanks so much!

    1. Gayle,
      I'm glad you enjoyed the tutorial and found it helpful! The canner I use is a Presto 23 quart pressure canner. If you click on the "canning" tab at the top of the page it will list all of my canning recommendations after all the tutorials. The pressure canner is among them.

  3. We always canned our meat lime this when our dad had blasted k Angus on the farm!! OMG, can't beat the taste, it was terrific! We used it for beef stew, beef and dumplings, hash (cooked diced potatoes and the can ed meat) let it brown down, oh crispy potatoes and meat. Those were the days!!!