Canning Ground Beef for Long-Lasting Convenience

Canning ground beef is a simple and convenient way to ensure you have a ready-to-use protein source on your pantry shelf for several years. You can use this method not only for ground beef but also for ground venison, elk, bear, lamb, pork, sausage, and more. From tacos to lasagna, spaghetti sauce to casseroles, having a jar of canned ground beef handy can save you time and effort in the kitchen.

Can You Can Raw Ground Beef?

One important thing to note is that you cannot can raw ground beef. It must be fully cooked before the canning process. The reason for this is to prevent the ground beef from clumping together during canning. Cooking it beforehand ensures that the ground beef stays evenly distributed in the jar.

Can You Water Bath Can Ground Beef?

No, you cannot use a water bath canner to can ground beef. Meat is considered a low-acid food, which means it doesn’t have enough acid to prevent bacterial growth, including botulism bacteria. To safely can low-acid foods like meat, you need to use a pressure canner. The high temperature reached during pressure canning guarantees the elimination of harmful bacteria.

While some may claim that you can water bath can anything as long as you extend the processing time, it is not recommended. The exact time needed to safely kill all bacteria in low-acid foods using a water bath canner has not been scientifically determined. Therefore, to ensure safety, it’s best to stick to using a pressure canner.

Additionally, avoid canning low-acid foods like ground beef in multi-cookers, ovens, or any other method besides a proper pressure canner.

Pressure canner on a stove

Tips for Canning Ground Beef

Here are some valuable tips to consider when canning ground beef:

  • This canning method works for various types of ground meat, including venison, elk, bear, lamb, pork, and sausage.
  • One quart-sized Mason jar can hold approximately two pounds of cooked ground beef. Similarly, a pint-sized jar can hold one pound, and a half-pint jar can hold half a pound. Understanding this will help you prepare the right amount of ground beef and clean jars for the canning process.
  • Determine how many jars your pressure canner can accommodate. This will help you plan the amount of ground beef to cook in each batch. For example, if your canner holds seven quart-sized jars, you’ll need to cook 14 pounds of ground beef at once.
  • Consider your family’s consumption habits and can an appropriate amount of ground beef per meal.
  • Keep your cooked ground beef hot before canning.
  • Boiling ground beef is a quick and efficient method to cook large portions. Since the ground beef will be canned with liquid, the texture remains the same.
  • It’s crucial to remove excess fat from the cooked meat before canning. You can either pour off the fat or rinse it off the meat.
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Supplies Needed

When canning ground beef, you’ll need a few essential supplies:

  • Large pot or skillet: This is necessary for cooking the ground beef before canning.
  • Pressure canner and rack: A reliable pressure canner, such as the All-American Pressure Canner, is highly recommended. Make sure it can accommodate the number of jars you plan to use.
  • Jars and lids: Clean Mason jars without nicks or cracks, along with two-part canning lids, are necessary.
  • Canning tools: Although not mandatory, canning tools like jar lifters, funnels, and bubble-releasing tools come in handy during the canning process.
  • Clean towels: Keep clean towels nearby for cleaning and handling jars.
  • Measuring spoons: Use measuring spoons to add the right amount of seasonings to each jar.

Ingredients Needed

To can ground beef, gather the following ingredients:

  • Ground beef: You can also use venison, elk, bear, lamb, pork, sausage, or any other ground meat you have available.
  • Salt: While optional for safe canning, adding salt enhances the flavor of the ground beef. Omitting salt is also acceptable if you prefer unseasoned meat.
  • Herbs and seasonings: You can add up to 2 teaspoons of dried herbs or seasonings per quart-sized jar (or 1 teaspoon per pint-sized jar). This adds extra flavor and makes the meat more versatile.
  • Canning liquid: You’ll need a liquid to fill the jars after adding the ground beef. Options include water, de-fatted chicken or beef broth, or tomato juice. If using homemade broth, make sure it is de-fatted by refrigerating it overnight and removing any fat on the surface.
  • Distilled white vinegar: Use this to wipe the rims of the jars before canning for a proper seal.

A woman adding water to a pot of ground beef

Ground beef cooking in a pot of water

A woman ladling ground beef into a canning jar

How to Make Canned Ground Beef

Follow these steps to make your own canned ground beef:

  1. Cook the ground beef, breaking up any large clumps. Ensure that there are no clumps larger than a small meatball.
  2. While the ground beef is cooking, prepare your jars and add two inches of water to the pressure canner.
  3. About 10 minutes before the ground beef is fully cooked, start heating up the water in the pressure canner. Place the canning rack inside and add the empty jars to keep them warm. Steam the water; it doesn’t need to reach a boil.
  4. Bring your chosen canning liquid to a boil separately.
  5. Once the ground beef is fully cooked, pour off any excess fat and water. Removing as much fat as possible ensures a longer shelf life for the canned ground beef. You can rinse the cooked ground beef in a colander with water to remove any additional fat.
  6. Take out one jar at a time from the canner and fill it with ground beef, leaving a one-inch headspace. Use a bubble remover to pack the ground beef tightly and add more if needed. Add optional salt and seasonings. Pour in the canning liquid, leaving a one-inch headspace. Use the bubble remover again to remove any air pockets and add more liquid if necessary.
  7. Wipe the rim of each jar with a clean cloth dipped in white vinegar to remove any food particles or fat.
  8. Place the canning lid and ring on each jar, tightening them to fingertip tightness. You should only use your thumb, pointer, and middle fingers to tighten the band.
  9. Return the jar to the canner and repeat steps 6-8 until all the jars are filled.
  10. Put the lid on the pressure canner (without the weight) and lock it into place. Gradually bring the canner up to pressure over medium heat. Take your time during this process.
  11. Once the canner has a steady stream of steam, set a timer for 10 minutes to allow it to vent. After 10 minutes, add the canning weight and bring the pressure up to the appropriate level. The pressure must be within the recommended range for the type of gauge you’re using. For dial gauges, check the pressure visually. For weighted gauges, aim for 1-4 “jiggles” per minute. If using a Presto-type canner, ensure a slow, consistent turning of the gauge. Any pressure above the recommended level should be adjusted.
  12. Start the timer once you reach the correct pressure. Process quart jars for 90 minutes and pint or half-pint jars for 75 minutes. If the pressure drops below the ideal level at any point during the process, stop the timer, bring the canner back up to pressure, and restart the timer from the beginning.
  13. After the timer goes off, turn off the heat and allow the canner to naturally release pressure down to zero. After 10 minutes, remove the weighted gauge and let it sit for an additional 10 minutes.
  14. Finally, remove the canner lid and carefully transfer the jars to a towel-lined counter. Let them sit undisturbed for 16 to 24 hours. After this time, remove the bands and check the seals. Wipe any grease off the jars before storage.
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Did you make this recipe? We’d love to hear about it! Leave a star rating and snap a photo of your canned ground beef (or any other ground meat) to share on social media. Tag us @homesteadingfamily so we can see and celebrate your creation!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it OK if there’s fat at the top of the jar?

Yes, it’s normal for some fat to rise to the top of the jar. It’s nearly impossible to remove all the fat from ground beef before canning. However, this does not affect the safety of the canned ground beef.

What if there’s ground beef above the canning liquid?

If you notice ground beef above the canning liquid, don’t worry. It’s safe and normal. Some siphoning of liquid may occur during the canning process, causing the meat to shift position. While the exposed meat may appear slightly discolored, it remains perfectly safe to eat.

Can I use the liquid in the jar of ground beef?

Absolutely! If you used water as your canning liquid, you’ve created a flavorful beef broth. Save the liquid and use it for cooking various dishes.

Free Canning Training

If you feel hesitant about pressure canning, don’t worry! We offer a free four-part training on water bath canning. This comprehensive training covers all the basics, allowing you to safely can food at home and stock your shelves with eight jars of convenient meals. Water bath canning is often considered an easier form of canning for beginners. Join us for the free Meals on Your Shelf Workshop here.

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More Canning Recipes & Tutorials

Expand your canning skills with these recipes and tutorials:

Remember, with proper canning techniques, you can enjoy the convenience and flavor of freshly preserved ground beef for years to come!