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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Canning Ground Beef and Beef Chunks

We picked up our beef on the hoof purchase the last week of April.  The total weight was 339 lb meaning I have plenty to can up a few jars.  The first question that some may ask is 'Why would you want to can beef that is already frozen?'  followed by 'Why would you want to can beef at all?'.  The answer is two fold.  Home canned beef is a delicious, ready to heat and serve convenience product for your pantry shelves.  Take a walk down the canned food aisle of the grocery store where you will find several products containing beef (eg. soups, stews, corned beef).  You can home can these yourself for a fraction of the cost but you can add homemade convenience like seasoned ground beef, taco beef, shredded bbq beef, meatballs, meatloaf, beef chunks and so much more by home canning.  The second reason for home canning beef and beef products is unlike freezing, storage is not dependent on electricity.  If your hydro is out for an extended period of time, you could lose the entire contents in your freezer but that is not the case with home canned foods.  So even if you rely heavily on your freezer for food storage, a portion of your food should also be home canned or dehydrated.  Two lesser reasons but equally valid for home canning beef is to take advantage of a great sale or to save a bit on freezer space.

Some of my canning friends can large amounts of beef, as much as 50 to 100 lbs at a time in one product, often much more than that and multiple meat products amounting to 300 lbs or more of home canned beef products in addition to other meat products they can.  While I do can beef and other meats, I don't can in that quantity.  I usually can the following beef products in 500 ml (pint) jars, 6 jars per product: beef stew, meatloaf, seasoned ground beef, taco beef, meatballs in sauce, spaghetti sauce with meat, chili, and beef chunks.  That works out to 48 - 500 ml jars or about 55 lb of beef products total.  In general, you need 1 lb of ground beef or 1¼ lb whole cut (eg, steak, roast) per 500 ml jar.  More whole cut meat is needed because some trimming will be necessary.

Here is a video of the process for home canning ground and chunk beef.  My comments follow the video.

The ground beef and steaks canned in this video were to take advantage of a good sale on beef.  She used ground round which is 90% beef, 10% fat which is comparable to Canadian extra lean ground beef.  At $2.25/lb it is a little cheaper than our beef on the hoof but if I were shopping sales specifically for canning purposes I would hold out for a lower price per pound as she mentions.

Her work space is very restricted.  I would highly recommend the toaster oven be removed from the counter when canning to give a larger work area.  She is using the assembly line method for prepared the jars of ground beef and beef chunks.  This method can be problematic.  I preparing one jar completely (eg. filling, lids, into canner) at a time to reduce the chance of errors.  This is especially important when putting the lids and rings on the jars.

Ground beef is browned then packed into the jars.   This is called hot pack.  She uses beef bouillon but I don't recommend using the dried cubed bouillon that is very high in salt.  Use Better Than Bouillon or if avoiding corn syrup which is an ingredient in Better Than Bouillon use homemade, defatted beef stock.  Beef chucks are not cooked but rather raw packed.  Although she did not use any liquid in the jars, Bernardin and the Ball Blue Book recommend using hot broth.  Salt is not necessary if you want a low sodium product.  The hot pepper flakes are optional and you can basically season as desired as long as you don't add oil.  Pay attention to the correct headspace as 1 - inch is recommended.  More or less headspace can cause seal failures.

I am not familiar with her brand of pressure canner although I think it may be a Presto.  I use 3 quarts of water in my pressure canners.  The vinegar will prevent water deposits on the outside of the jars.  The 10 minute vent is recommended for all pressure canners to remove any extra air from the canner that may hinder the canning process.  Once the 10 minute vent is finished put the regulator (jiggler or rocker) on and begin the processing time once the rocker jiggles at a steady pace about 2 to 3 times a minute.  Process 500 ml (pint) jars for 75 minutes, 1 L (quart) for 90 minutes.

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