Once you learn how to can, or bottle, fresh meats, you’ll be so glad you started preserving meat this way. I was intimidated by this for so many years in spite of having all the equipment here at home (pressure canner, jars, rings, etc.) and hearing my friends rave about easy dinner prep by opening a jar of meat already cooked and ready to go.
The truth is, though, canning meat has so many advantages that it’s worth getting past the hurdle of intimidation and jumping in. Here are my top 10 reasons to start canning fresh meat today!
#1 – Save freezer space
For most people, freezer space is at a premium and often, it’s frozen meat that takes up most of the space. That’s especially true if you’re buying beef in bulk. If we can get those meats out of that precious space and into a canning jar on a shelf, then that space can be much better utilized for things like ice cream and otter pops. You know, the important stuff.
Just as important is avoiding the expense of ruined meat in a power outage. Once that freezer temperature rises to the unsafe level of 41 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours or more, meat is no longer safe to eat. If you’ve stocked your freezer with chicken, pork chops, brisket, and ground beef, it will all have to be tossed. Can some of that meat now, store it at room temperature, and you won’t have to worry so much about power outages.
#2 – Buy in bulk
When we see a great ‘do-not-pass-up’ deal on meats, we’re able to take advantage of it by home-canning the meat. Buying a variety of meats on sale and then canning it means you and your family won’t have to eat the same meats again and again just to use it up before it gets freezer burn. Canning jars are also reusable, which makes them more cost-effective in the long term than vacuum sealing.
#3 – Use fuel you have now
In our everyday, non-emergency lives, we have fuel. We cook, heat, and cool with it all the time and don’t think much about it. Many people have an emergency plan for power outages and figure they’ll just pull out the camp stove, propane, and then either cook or home can all the meat in the freezer at that point. Well, to paraphrase Mike Tyson, everybody has a plan until they get punched in the gut by a power outage!
I’m here to tell you that when things go crazy in a long-term emergency, there will be much more to worry about than canning your thawing meats. Why not take care of it now when you have the time, readily available fuel, and energy to get it done?
#4 – You know what goes in the bottle
When you home can meat there are no hidden ingredients. You know exactly what goes in is what comes out. Need to cut down on sodium? Then don’t add any salt or seasonings high in sodium. Are there food allergies in the family? When you can meat, you can ensure those ingredients aren’t added.
#5 – Painless power outage meal prep
Cooking during a power outage is so simple with home-canned meats. They are already completely and safely cooked so we just add them to whatever recipe we are throwing together and heat it up. No extended cooking times, which use up precious alternative fuels. Another option is to drain the meat and then use it in something like chicken salad, a family favorite. Get through the next power outage with flying colors with my free power outage survival ebook! I’ve included a list of quick meals and snacks that don’t require any cooking.
# 6 – Save money (really this reason alone should convince you)
Canned meats from the grocery store can be expensive. Where I live a small tuna-sized can of chicken, 10 ounces, is about $3. With my large family, a meal gets pretty pricey buying canned meats, but I can bottle a whole quart (2 lbs) of chicken for about $3.00. I buy my chicken in bulk for less than $2 per pound, sometimes way less. Then I’m always eating sale-price chicken. If you buy it in bulk from Savory Butcher, then you have the advantage of very high-quality meat and buying it in bulk so you can stock up all at once.
#7 – Save time
With the meats thoroughly cooked by home canning, we’ve eliminated a lot of the time involved with meal prep. It does take time initially to can the meats but that’s a concentrated and efficient amount of time scheduled for another day. At dinner time I can pop open a can of cooked chicken or ground beef, and that makes recipe prep SO much easier and quicker.
While we’re on the topic of canning and saving time, canning meat is one of the easiest foods to can. In most cases, you’ll just put the raw meat into a canning jar, you can add some broth or water depending on the meat, and then process the jars in a pressure canner. Really, this couldn’t be easier. Here are specific instructions for canning chicken.
#8 – Save brain cells
I’m not much into advance planning when it comes to daily meal times, but I’m working on that with this simple menu plan. With all our meat kept in the freezer, I have to think at least 8-10 hours ahead — know what I’m making ahead of time and making sure the meat or chicken is thawed out in time. Often, I get busy and right around 5 p.m. start panicking because nothing is thawed out. At times like this, I can open a can of canned meats and have a meal on the table in about 20 minutes because all I have to do is assemble and heat it through.
#9 – Save the planet
Okay, we’re not really saving the planet, but canning jars are reusable so at least we’re not contributing to the landfill by using cans. When you first begin home canning food, there is a little bit of an investment to get started if you buy new jars and lids, but they can also be found at yard sales, thrift stores, or just ask around your neighborhood. You might find an elderly neighbor who is happy to pass along their jars to someone who will put them to good use.
#10 – Less waste
Canning jars come in all sizes. Use the size that your family will eat in one meal. At my house, we use both quarts and pints for chicken and beef because sometimes the meal will be for all of us and sometimes the kids are off doing kid stuff and it’s just mom dad and the littles at home.
BONUS #11 – Satisfaction
In a world where we can hire almost everything out, there is something to be said for the satisfaction of doing it ourselves. Self-reliance increases each time you add a new skill to your skillset. Even better, you can now pass along that skill and knowledge to the next generation. Providing for our families is our number one job and doing it well is a wonderful thing.