Canning meat (beef, elk, deer, pork, rabbit, chicken, rattle snake, or whatever else your bunch eats) is so easy. Yes, it is time consuming. Yes, it tastes a little different than fresh cooked meat. Yes using the raw pack method does create its own juices. Yes, it’s safe. Yes, you can use it in any recipe that calls for meat. Yes, it’s convenient. Yes, it looks weird. Yes, it tastes okay. No, you can’t put it in a water bath.

Your canned meat can be used in casseroles, for things like chili or spaghetti sauce.  Anywhere you would use cooked meat you can just substitute the canned meat.

One of the ways I use meat is to just dump the jar in a pot.  Heat to a simmer.  Add a bit of water or broth if it is too dry, then add some cornstarch or flour to thicken a gravy.  Then serve with mashed potatoes and a side vegetable.  You can also use those packaged gravy mixes too for convenience.  I’ve used the brown gravy mix before.

Ready to get started?  The first step is to wash your jars in hot soapy water, rinse them well and allow to air dry- while they are drying slice  your meat across the grain into strips about 1 inch thick, and cut into chunks the size you desire. You can divide into lengths to fit your jar, or cut into cubes. I figure about one pound of meat per pint jar- I always use wide mouth jars when I do meat because it comes out easier, but that’s my preference. If you have issues with the appearance of canned meat because it’s not “browned”, I have seared my chunks in a hot cast iron skillet (without oil) to add color. It didn’t change the taste, but it did produce a darker broth in the final product. When I say SEAR it means QUICK and HOT- you want a raw product here!

raw pack

Add canning salt if desired. I suggest 1 teaspoon per pint. I use plain old kosher salt- no added iodine. If you wanna add canning salt have at it, but I buy kosher salt, so that’s what I use. Most of the time I use Better than Boullion instead of salt or one of those small bouillon cubes.  Do not add liquid! This was the hardest part for me to get. You really don’t add liquid. The meat will produce its own juice.

Place your lids into a small pan with water and simmer to warm the rubber gaskets

Use a chopstick or the fancy blue thing that came with your canning set to pack the meat in the jars and get the air pockets out. You will never get all the air out, so stop stressing out over it. Just pack the jars as tight as you can and leave an inch of head space.

Wipe the rims of your jars clean.  This is important.  You don’t want any grease or meat schmootz (an official canning word) on the rim or it will not seal properly. Just use a wet paper towel and wipe around each jar rim.  I am anal retentive, I know this, and I wipe it again with vinegar or bourbon after the initial water cleaning. Why? Because I am anal and that’s just the way I operate. Can you use scotch or vodka? Yes, even tah kill ya. Alcohol is why I do it; in my mind the alcohol cleans up any bits of grease or schmootz I missed the first time.

Place the warmed lids and screw bands on finger tight. Place jars into your pressure canner with three inches of room temp water and a splash of white vinegar. The vinegar will help keep the outside of your jars from becoming cloudy.

Place the lid on your canner and turn on the heat; I use a medium setting to bring everything up to temp. Allow your canner to vent for ten minutes, add weights and adjust temp as needed to maintain proper pressure.

Follow pressure canning instructions using the processing times below. Don’t forget to adjust the pressure requirements for your elevation.

Process Times:

Pints – 1 hour 15 minutes

Quarts – 1 hour 30 minutes

Adjustments for Pressure Canner

Altitude in Feet Dial Gauge Canner Weighted Gauge Canner
0-1000 11 10
1001-2000 11 15
2001-4000 12 15
2001-4000 12 15
4001-6000 13 15
6001-8000 14 15
8000-10,000 15 15


After pressure canning at the recommended time and weight, turn off the heat to your pressure cooker, and allow the pressure to release naturally over the course of an hour or so. When the vent tab releases, you can safely remove the lid and your jars. I place them on a towel and cover them with another dish towel so people won’t be tempted to mess with them. Now, you just have to sit back and listen for the pings of success.

Later in the day, when the jars have cooled completely and sealed. Remove the rings and wash your jars in warm soapy water to remove any schmootz the pressurizing may have caused. I also check for seal by lifting the jar by the rim. Allow the jars to dry completely and label your product with ingredients and date you canned it.

Quick Tips-

  • Be sure to trim away any gristle, bruised areas or excess fat.
  • Meat MUST be processed in a pressure canner. The processing times may seem long, but the investment of time now is so worth it in the end.
  • Preserve cooked in a broth or dry raw pack.
  • If meat is raw packed, it will provide its own juice.