How to Can Beef at Home: A Step-by-Step Guide

Canning beef at home is a great way to preserve meat for long term storage. Having shelves stocked with home-canned beef means you’ll always have the makings for chili, stews, casseroles and more anytime you need a quick meal. While the process requires some specific equipment and techniques, canning beef is very achievable for the home cook.

This step-by-step guide will walk you through everything you need to know to safely can your own beef at home using the raw pack method. With the proper steps, you’ll end up with tender, flavorful canned beef that tastes like it came straight from the oven.

Benefits of Canning Your Own Beef

Here are some of the top reasons to add beef canning to your home preservation repertoire:

  • Long shelf life – Properly canned beef lasts 2 to 5 years stored in a cool, dark place.

  • Space saving – Canned beef takes up much less room than frozen.

  • Nutritious meals – Canned beef allows you to assemble healthy meals fast.

  • Preparedness – Canned protein is essential for emergency food stocks.

  • Control ingredients – You choose the quality of beef when canning your own.

  • Save money – Buy bulk beef on sale and preserve excess for later.

Equipment Needed

You’ll need the following equipment on hand before getting started:

  • Pressure canner
  • Canning rack
  • Quart or pint jars with new lids and rings
  • Canning funnel
  • Bubble remover or other nonmetallic utensil
  • Clean towels or dishcloths


For each quart or pint jar you’ll need:

  • Cubed beef (amount varies by jar size)
  • 1 tsp salt (for flavor, optional)
  • Fresh boiling water

The beef should be fresh or thoroughly thawed if frozen. Remove any large bones, excess fat, gristle, and silver skin. Cut beef into 1-inch cubes.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Follow these steps for safely canned beef every time:

  1. Sterilize jars and lids. Wash jars and lids in hot, soapy water. Rinse well. Simmer lids in a small pan of hot water. Place jars in boiling water for 10 minutes.

  2. Fill jars. Using a canning funnel, tightly pack raw beef cubes into hot jars leaving 1-inch headspace. Add 1 tsp salt to each jar if desired.

  3. Add boiling water. Pour fresh boiling water over beef pieces to fill each jar, leaving 1-inch headspace.

  4. Remove air bubbles. Slide a bubble remover or rubber spatula down the interior sides of the jar to release trapped air. Refill with boiling water if needed to maintain proper headspace.

  5. Wipe rims. Dip a clean towel in boiling water and wipe rim and threads of each jar. Check for nicks, food, or grease that could prevent sealing.

  6. Apply lids. Center lids on jar rims and screw bands on fingertip tight. Do not overtighten.

  7. Process jars. Place jars in canner on a rack to prevent rattling. Once jars are loaded and canner is filled with recommended amount of water, close and lock the lid.

  8. Vent steam. Heat canner on high until steam vents steadily from vent pipe. Let vent for 10 minutes before closing vent to pressurize.

  9. Attain/maintain pressure. Raise temperature to attain required pressure for your altitude. Start timing when desired pressure is reached. Regulate heat to maintain consistent pressure. Process pints 75 minutes, quarts 90 minutes.

  10. De-pressurize safely. Turn off heat and allow canner to sit undisturbed until pressure drops to zero. Wait an additional 10 minutes before carefully opening lid away from you.

  11. Cool and test seals. Remove jars from canner and let cool undisturbed 24 hours. Check seals, remove rings, wash jars, and store. If seals fail, refrigerate meat immediately and consume within days.

Raw Pack vs. Hot Pack Methods

You’ll notice this recipe uses the raw pack method, meaning jars are filled with raw, uncooked beef cubes. The alternative is the hot pack method where beef is partially cooked before canning.

The benefits of raw pack include simplicity and better retention of texture. Many canners prefer it for beef. However, the hot pack method allows meat to release juices and fat for added flavor. Both methods produce safe, edible results when procedures are followed properly.

Helpful Canning Tips

  • Use a bubble remover or plastic knife to release trapped air from filled jars. Metal utensils can chip glass.

  • Make sure your pressure canner is in good working order before starting. Test the gauges annually for accuracy.

  • Always use new lids each time you can. Reuse rings as long as they have no rust or damage.

  • Let pressure drop naturally rather than force cooling. Don’t rush depressurizing or you risk siphoning liquid from jars.

  • Wait the full recommended depressurization time before carefully opening your canner lid away from you.

  • If any seal fails, refrigerate the jar immediately and consume within days. Reprocessing unsealed jars is not recommended.

Storing Your Canned Beef

Once cooled and sealed, wipe down jar exteriors with a clean, damp cloth. Label jars with contents and canning date. Store in a cool, dark place between 50°F to 70°F.

For best quality, use home-canned beef within 2 years. Over time, color, texture, and flavor may deteriorate but canned beef remains safe indefinitely as long as seals stay intact.

Check seals before opening. When ready to use, simmer contents for added safety and to restore juiciness before eating or incorporating into recipes.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Floating meat – Use a bubble remover to dislodge trapped air if meat floats after adding boiling water. Press meat down gently. Add more boiling water if needed to maintain headspace.

Not sealing – Ensure rims are clean before applying lids. Discard any jars with defects around sealing surfaces. Make sure pressure canner maintains consistent psi throughout entire processing time.

Discoloration – Minor color changes are normal but if meat has an unpleasant appearance or odor upon opening, discard contents.

Off flavors – Rinse meat with clean water after opening to refresh taste. Overprocessing can cause loss of flavor. Make sure timing is accurate.

Soft texture – Avoid overpacking jars which can damage meat texture. Use a rack in canner so jars don’t rest on bottom.

Spoilage – If any bubbling, sliminess, bad smell or other signs of spoilage are detected, dispose contents safely. Never taste foods that show signs of spoilage.

Enjoying Your Canned Beef

The possibilities are endless when it comes to using your home-canned beef. Try these delicious options:

  • Beef tacos or burritos
  • Beef enchiladas
  • Beef chili
  • Beef stew or pot pie
  • Beef soup or chowder
  • Sloppy joes
  • Pasta Bolognese

Canned beef can be used in any recipe calling for cooked ground beef or beef cubes. For added tenderness, simmer jars 5-10 minutes before opening.

With the detailed instructions above, you’ll be ready to start enjoying the convenience of home-canned beef. Always follow proper technique and processing times to ensure safely preserved meat that will provide nutritious quick meals for years to come.

How to can meat / Canning meat


Do you have to cook beef before canning?

Meat can be packed either raw or cooked. Pack meat loosely into clean canning jars. Keep precooked meat hot while packing and cover with boiling liquid. Salt adds flavor, but it is not necessary for preservation.

What is the best cut of beef for home canning?

Beef sirloin tip naturally makes the list of best cuts of meat for pressure canning due to its lean but still very tasty nature. This versatile cut is from the rump and hind legs, or the round, and is frequently made into ground burger.

How long does canned beef last?

High acid foods such as tomatoes and other fruit will keep their best quality up to 18 months; low acid foods such as meat and vegetables, 2 to 5 years. While extremely rare, a toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum is the worst danger in canned goods.

How do you can raw beef?

Raw pack – Add 1 teaspoon per pint or 2 teaspoons of salt per quart to the jar, if desired. Fill jars with raw meat pieces, leaving 1-inch headspace. Do not add liquid. Wipe jar rims, adjust lids and process in pressure canner.

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