Thursday, November 19, 2009

Canning and Using Stew Meat

I know this jar of meat doesn't look all that appealing, but I promise you that inside this jar is the tastiest quick meal starter ever.

Let's face it. Even those of us who thoroughly enjoy cooking and are committed to making food from scratch for our families, need a few quick and easy meals every now and then. The way I see it, we have two choices. We can buy heavily processed convenience foods filled with who knows what, or we can create some convenience foods of our own. I'd rather make my own. My favorite "convenience" food is canned stew meat.

Canning meat is a little time consuming, but the process is easy and the time involved is mostly passive while the pressure cooker is running.

First you need meat. Canning is perfect for the tougher cuts of meat. I can the leg meat and other small pieces from venison, but this process works for other red meats like beef, lamb or pork. This is a great way to preserve meat when you come across a fabulous sale.

Trim as much fat as possible, and cut the meat into cubes or chunks.

Pack raw meat into clean, hot jars. Loose pack and leave one inch head space. Put lids and rings on.

Process at 11 pounds pressure; 75 minutes for pints, and 90 minutes for quarts.

As the meat cooks under pressure it becomes extremely tender. Far more tender than I've ever been able to cook stew meat on the stove or in the oven. It also creates its own broth. The meat and broth together make a delicious quick start to a meal.

So, how do you use canned stewed meat? Here are some ideas:

Soups or Stews.
It is great for chili, vegetable soup, beef stew or any other stew or soup you like to make that calls for meat. Just add some water, tomato juice or more broth, vegetables, and spices.

Pot Pies
You may need to drain the meat a little for this use. Reserve the broth for later use. Mix in vegetables throw it in a crust and bake.

Beef and Noodles
Cook the noodles in broth. Add the stew meat and spices, and thicken with sour cream or corn starch.

Sautee mushrooms and onions. Add some flour and then slowly add in the meat with the broth to create a gravy. Serve over mashed potatoes, toast or both, hot roast beef sandwich style.

Drain the meat. Add barbecue sauce. Heat and eat.

Beef and Rice
Cook rice in broth and water with spices and vegetables. Add in the meat.

I love having this ready cooked meat on hand to use when I've failed to plan or the plan has failed. It is cheaper, tastier, and likely more nutritious than any convenience food I could pick up at the store.


  1. I canned deer meat for the first time this fall.. actually the first time I have canned any meat. We LOVE it!!! I really enjoy the ease of cooking with it and it tastes wonderful.... SO tender! This week I made stew with it. I will definitely be canning meat every time my hubby gets a deer.

  2. I have a question. You can the meat without any liquid? No salt? Just put the chunks in a clean jar and seal? From your "finished" photo, it looks like there is liquid up to the top of the jar. What if I tried to can meat in a liquid, like tomato juice or even tried to can stew? Would the meat throw off so much juice that the jar was too full?
    I am butchering goats this weekend and so this is kind of a topic of great interest for me right now! Thanks for the info!

  3. Aimee,
    I just put meat in and nothing else. The liquid is created during the processing. You can add salt. I just prefer to do my seasoning when I use the meat. I don't think you can raw pack meat with other ingredients. I am pretty sure you'd have to cook the meat at least part way. Most canning references I've seen suggest you can meats and veggies separately for soups and stews. I think it is a quality thing though, not a safety issue. My mom cans a beef veggie soup, and it is wonderful.

    For the experts guidelines check the USDA guidelines:

  4. More questions Steph...Do you need to debone the meat first? Would this work on chicken wings and leg quarters? I found family sized packs for $1 last week so I've got like 5 pkgs of chicken in my freezer right now!

    I scoop up tons of meat when I find a really good deal but I'm limited on my freezer space. This would change the way I shop for meat FOREVER!!! As long as I can figure out how to can stuff. It's the one thing I haven't done before!

  5. Wow what a deal!
    I've only canned deboned meat, but you can can it with the bones. Processing times actually are a little shorter with the bone according to my canning book. (seems counter intuitive to me.) I'd check the USDA guidelines link above for exact times for what kind of meat you have.

  6. My husband got a deer last week and I set aside some stew meat to try this. Six qts. later, it's wonderful! Even my mother (who, after eating a lot of game meat less than properly prepared as a child, really dislikes venison) thought it was delicious. Thanks!


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