This weekend, I picked up some beef stew meat at a great price. I could have divided it up and put it in the freezer, but there were several reason I chose to can it instead:
* My freezer is pretty full.
* I tend to forget to get food out of the freezer in time to thaw it for meals.
* If I can it, I never have to worry about power outages.
* Canned stew meat is ready to go; I don't even have to cook it before adding it to recipes.
Canning stew meat (whether beef, venison, lamb, mutton, pork, or veal) is really easy, too. (Before you begin, if you need to review basic pressure canning procedure, please click here.)
What You Need:
Stew meat of your choice
Hot broth or stock*
(To help you gauge how much of each ingredient you need, I used a little over 10 lbs. of stew meat and a bit less than 64 oz. stock, slightly watered down. I obtained 6 quarts of canned meat.)
Canning lids and screw bands
Plastic or wooden handled utensil
Cooling rack or bath towel
How to Do It:
1. Partially cook the stew meat in a skillet with just 1 tablespoon or less of olive oil added. Brown on every side, but leave the center pink. (Use tongs to turn the meat; forks produce holes that let the meat's juices escape.) Work in batches, wiping the skillet free of fat after every batch.
2. Heat the broth in a pot on the stove until just boiling.
3. Fill jars one at a time with the stew meat, leaving a generous 1 inch between the meat and the top of the jar. Ladle hot broth over the meat, retaining 1 inch of head space. Use the handle of the large plastic spoon to remove air bubbles from the jar. Wipe the rim of the jar with a towel. Place a lid and screw band on the jar. Screw down until just tight. Use the jar lifter to place the jar in the pressure canner.
4. Repeat step 4 until all the meat is gone.
5. Place the lid on the canner and lock it in place. When steam begins appearing through the vent, wait 10 minutes, allowing the steam to keep escaping. Then, place the canner's weight on the vent. When the gauge reads 10**, begin timing the "cooking" of the jars: 75 minutes for pint jars and 90 minutes for quart jars.
6. Turn off the heat and let the canner return to 0. Wait 3 minutes and remove the canner's lid. Wait 10 minutes and use the jar lifter to move the jars to a wire rack or a towel placed over a counter to cool completely.
7. Allow the jars to cool, untouched and undisturbed, for 24 hours. After 24 hours, press down on the lids to make sure they sealed properly. If well sealed, the lids will not move up or down when you press on them.
* You can use store bought or homemade beef broth. Learn how to make your own stock here. It may be tempting to use water instead of broth, but this will make the meat very bland. Don't feel you're wasting stock! When you open a home canned jar of stew meat, just use the liquid for your cooking.
** If you live at a high altitude, read this important information about adjusting canning times.