Pressure Canning Meat

Pressure canning meat.


There are dozens of articles blogs and webpages devoted to pressure canning meat. The main issue is those are set for what we folks in the high country call low altitude. Canning at 7000 feet has it’s own challenges.  For folks at say sea level to 2000 feet it’s basically a plug and play item. Fill jars fill canner process for set amount of time and presto done.


I live at 6700 feet (2000 meters) above sea level in the high prairie of New Mexico

My front yard. Yesterday we had 6 inches of snow. Today 6 inches of mud!


To the west is the Sandia Mountains just shy of 11000 feet, hidden by the clouds is Santa Fe and Pecos Baldy each at 12000 feet. The lowest part of NM at 2842 feet is still considered high altitude by the canning gurus.


The basics of canning never change.  First off Wash jars in hot sudsy water; rinse. Cover with boiling water until ready to fill. Jars used in recipes in which food is processed for less than 10 minutes must be sterilized by immersion in boiling water for 10 minutes. Prepare lids and screw bands according to manufacturer’s directions.

Me being an OCD type of person who works in medical and HATES infections  My jars are washed rinsed then set in the canner in the hot water until I need them

Don’t mind the pill bottles After I got things ready my son dropped off a sack of empties. I use them for storing portable sizes of herbs for tisanes and decotions in the field.


The local Smiths had roasts for 2.99 a pound and the freezer was pretty full. Also a lot of the time I just grind the roasts into hamburger. (Hey when roast beef is 2.99 and hamburger is 3.99 a pound it’s a net savings. The labor is free since my wife and I are in the kitchen together) But since I had the beef, enough hamburger and a full freezer we decided to can. Choose the most lean roasts and trim them well. Beef fat normally doesn’t cause off flavor but too much fat can interfere with the seal of your jars.


Hot pack vs Raw pack.

I RARELY do the raw pack technique at our altitude. There is no difference in safety of either method, but raw pack sometimes at our altitude gives a dry finished product. Similar to the store bought canned meats. Yuck.

Hot pack: After I cut the meat into about 1 inch chunks I lightly season (I use what we would normally use) and just brown the meat.

Never mind the messy stove. Move along now nothing to see here


The browning process really helps the flavor of the meat. I use some of the drippings and add them to beef broth ( If I have to bone the meat I make bone broth) I really do not like using water, some recipes say you can,


You want to cover the meat  and leave a good headspace on it, Here I am “rough filling” getting the weighed amount in. Then the broth covers the meat. One image I didn’t include is where I have the nifty headspace gauge and “de bubbler” to run down the sides of the jars. One note that doesn’t show up here is the broth and meat are kept hot.

The canning funnel is a lifesaver and a must have for filling jars.


Once the lids are on, (Firm but not Hulk tight) the jars are loaded in the canner.


Be sure to leave space between the jars. My canner will hold 9 pint jars, but I load 8 to keep things well spaced. And no comments from the peanut gallery on how the 2 jars are touching on the left side!! 🙂

Venting the canner. It is VERY important to vent the canner prior to closing the petcock or putting the weight on. If you don’t vent the you are just compressing the air trapped in the canner and it’s possible to reach your prescribed pressure and it’s possible to NOT hit the target temperature since the air transfer heat differently than the partial vacuum generated by the steam pushing out. I vent for @ 10 minutes

Venting. Mine is an OLD All American canner. It does not have the weights so it’s totally silent. I go totally by pressure on the gauge, which is checked by the local county extension office, Us folks in rural America still have them!


Under Pressure! At my altitude (6700 feet) I use 14 psi Trying to read 14 psi on my gauge is well, I use 15 psi. For pint jars 75 minutes Quarts 90. Timing starts when you hit the proper pressure Weighted canners are easier in this. You turn on the heat, it warms and you hear  the PSSST PSSST rattle PSSST. The weight lets out the excess pressure while not letting it drop below 15 psi. The older styles with the petcock like mine it’s all about the heat. I turn the heat on full until it gets close to the magic number then I turn down the heat so that it reaches it slowly then I turn it down further to maintain. If the pressure drops below 12 psi start the time over.

Cool down. Once the time is up on turn off the heat and let it cool and drop it’s pressure to 0 on it own. Don’t be tempted to douse it with cold water. First it’s bad for the canner. And next it causes a pressure differential.  The cold exterior and hot interior cause a minor vacuum to form and can pull out what is in your jars into the cooker. This can cause seal problems with the lid.

Once it’s cool, the gauge says 0 the weight is silent when moved, carefully remove the weight  or open the petcock let the final bit of steam out and then open the lid. Once the lid is off carefully remove your jars and set out to cool Be very careful as the jars are VERY hot and a cold shock can crack or shatter them. I have tile counters, so we always put the hot jars on a cutting board to protect them.


Now wait for the “Pings” of the leds sealing and once completely cool LABEL the jars!

This was wrote a few weeks ago. The other day it was cold windy and nasty in Edgewood. My wife wasn’t feeling well and late in the day she decided that Beef Stew would be a perfect dinner. But this was at 5pm. WAY too late to make stew properly. What we did is take some of canned beef stock, cut up our vegetables and precooked them for about 45 minutes. Added the canned beef directly into the stew cooked another 15 minutes and then add some Roux to thicken it. Roux is easy to make. Take equal parts of butter and flour (For gluten intolerant Corn starch or Xanthan gum works great) melt the 2 together and then pour into ice trays and freeze When need take out of the freezer thaw and stir in until you get the thickness you want.


Canning meat is safe if proper techniques are used. Plus you get a MUCH better product than the store bought canned meats. And your storage time is way longer than the freezer. We are now canning a lot of meats when we have extra money and our local stores put meats on sale. Also for those of us that butcher canning is more work than freezing, But the results are worth it for putting that extra bit by. And also for those cheaper tougher cuts of meat that always are tough canning makes a very tender product.


Here is the USDA link on canning.
USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, 2015 revision
Some Amazon links for different equipment

Next time I’ll include some recipes and folks don’t be shy on sharing yours

One Response to “Pressure Canning Meat

  • Hooligan
    6 years ago

    Outstanding write-up! We have been getting our Canning on on the stove and have yet to bust out the Pressure canner. This is motivating!

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