Oct 29, 2012

A Different Method for Canning Pork (and Beef Steaks)

Canned pork chop pieces on the left; canned beef steak pieces on the right.
Canning meat is an ideal way to stock up during sales. When you can the meat, it will never get freezer burn, and it will last for many years, rather than just 6 months to a year in the freezer. Plus, the end result is more convenient (the meat is already cooked and doesn't need thawing). I've already taught you how to make fantastic canned chicken (it's super easy, too!). I've also talked about ground beef, and beef stew chunks. I've even showed you how to can ham. But what about other types of pork? If you read up on canning pork, you'll find many people hate it, saying it ends up bland. But that's just because they don't know my secret!

When it comes to meat there are two basic, safe canning methods. One is to can the meat without cooking it first (called "cold packing," as is a perfect for chicken breast). The other method is to sear the meat first, sealing in the juices (called "hot packing"). But there is no reason you can't completely cook the meat before canning it. In fact, by doing so, you'll end up with very tender and flavorful meat. That's why I suggest cooking pork before canning it. (You may also use this method of canning beef steaks.) Here's how I do it:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove as much fat from the pork as possible; don't cut into a pork chop and end up with lots of little pieces, but do cut off the visible fat along the outer edges. If there is bone in the pork, do not remove it! The bone will add lots of flavor. (If you have chickens, feed them the pork fat; they love it!)

2. Place the pork in a roasting pan. (I've also used a baking sheet with high sides for relatively small pieces of pork, like chops.) If you are using chops, place them in a single layer; they can touch each other.


3. Season the pork well. Use salt and pepper, or my personal favorite, Montreal Steak Seasoning. (Make you own Montreal seasoning by following the recipe here.)

4. Add stock or broth to the roasting pan or baking sheet. If you have pork stock, use that. Or you can use chicken or beef stock, or any mixture of these three. The stock should go at least 3/4 of the way up the sides of the pork. (For chops or steaks, I usually bring the stock almost to the top of the meat.) Cover the roasting pan with its lid, or place foil over the baking sheet.
Seasoned pork chops in a roasting pan filled with pork stock.
 5. Pop the roasting pan or baking sheet in the oven and bake for 1 1/2 hours.

6. Very carefully remove the lid from the roasting pan or foil from the baking tray. (There will be lots of hot steam.) If at this time you notice most or of the liquid is gone (which always seems to happen when I use a baking sheet instead of a roasting pan), add a little more stock. Bake for another 1/2 hour. In the meantime, heat up more stock on the stove and prepare the pressure canner, jars, and lids.
The same chops, cooked.
 7. Remove the pork from the oven and allow it to cool in the pan until you can handle it. Remove any bones; this is quickly done because the meat should fall off the bone very easily. (Set the bones aside and use them to make pork stock; learn how to make stock here.). Removing the bones is not optional, since leaving them in can interfere with properly heating of the meat while it's in the canner - which can result in canned meat that goes bad. Also remove any remaining fat from the pork. I then cut the pork into large chunks, but you could also slice them into strips that will fit into your canning jars.
Left: Pork fat (for the chickens). Middle: Usable pork meat. Right: Pork bones (for making stock).
 8. Pour whatever pan juices there are through a sieve and into a measuring cup or bowl, and add the liquid to the stock on the stove. Bring the stock to a boil.

9. Pack the pork into jars, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Try to keep the rim of the jar free of grease; a funnel helps. Add hot stock to the jars, retaining 1 inch of headspace. Bubble the jar. Wipe the rim of the jar clean; I recommend putting a little white vinegar on a paper towel and wiping the rim with it. Switch paper towels with every jar. Place a lid and screwband on the the jar and place in the canner.

10. Process pint jars for 75 minutes in a pressure canner. Process quart jars for 90 minutes.*

Although this may seem like a lot of steps, there is very little actual work time. It took me about a total of 25 minutes to prep about 9 1/2 lbs. of meat and get it in the canner. When it's done, you'll have flavorful, tender meat perfect for adding to stews, soups, beans, or rice!


*NOTE: If you live at a high altitude, read this important information about adjusting canning times.

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1 comment:

  1. I do a lot of pressure canning with my mother in law, so this will be a must have instruction to put with all of our canning info. Thanks for sharing! Have a great week!
    PS The photos are so pretty, such an awesome accomplishment when they come out of the canner.

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