Sunday, January 8, 2012

Savoury Sunday, Canned Beef

     Probably not the Savoury Sunday you were expecting to start off 2012, canned beef. Sound a little unappealing? I couldn't disagree more.

     In honour of this being family month here in the Kitchen, this is a family tradition. My grandmother did it, as did my mom and now me. I have changed it a very little, only to make it safer.

     I love this stuff. I loathe even the smell of Corned Beef in a can or Spam. I've heard people compare this to them, not so. This is a way to preserve lesser cuts of meat without taking up valuable freezer space. It also has the advantage of being a quick meal if you are pressed for time or just plain don't feel like cooking. It's open, heat and serve, no defrosting, no additional preparation, no added colour, preservatives or flavours. You can eat it as is or use it as a soup or stew base. Always handy to have a few jars in the pantry.

     The only change I have made to this recipe is to cook it in a pressure canner. Both my mother and grandmother made this in a boiling water canner. That. Isn't. Safe. You're dealing with meat so there is a risk of botulism, pressure canning is the way to go. It gave me a chance to take Perry, my pressure canner, out for a spin. Yes, I name inanimate objects. That way I know who I'm swearing at.

 Perry, steaming away on the stove
No swearing, this time

Canned Beef

Beef, venison, moose or elk
Salt, table or sea

Prepare jars as per manufacturers instructions. My canner holds 7 quarts/litres, check your capacity
Cut meat into approximately 1 inch/2.5 cm cubes
Pack tightly into jars OR brown then pack in jars leaving 1 inch/2.5 cm of head space
Add 1/4 to 2 teaspoons of salt per jar - I use 1/4 for 500ml jars
Top with a 1 inch/2.5 cm cube of suet
Place lids and bands on jars, tighten bands to finger tip tightness
Place in pressure canner and process according to instructions for type and elevation.
Mine were 90 minutes at 10 lbs pressure
Let cool, remove from canner and check seals.
Wipe jars to clean. Trust me, they'll need it
Refrigerate any unsealed jars and use within 7 days
Properly sealed jars will keep for 1 year in a cool dark place.

I make this in 500 ml batches, that is the size that works best for me.
I've made this browned and raw. Raw is easier, browning looks better and has a slightly different taste.
Salt according to your personal taste.
You don't need the suet, but the cuts of beef used are normally very lean. The suet adds richness to the flavour.
Although you can add spices, it tastes better if you add them when you use rather then when you can this.
Always check with the manufacturer or Extension office for safe pressure canning guidelines.
I don't sterilize my jars for this. If you are processing for longer than 10 minutes you don't have to. Check with your local extension office if you don't believe me.
My jars go into the canner at room temperature. I've never had a problem with cracking or siphoning. Maybe just lucky?
If you have concerns about safety, bring this to a boil and simmer for at least 20 minutes before serving. It will eliminate the toxins botulism can create.

All ready to process

     This is pure comfort food for me. Pressed for time, thicken the juice into a gravy and serve over mashed potatoes. I've even been known to eat it right out of the jar. Quick, easy and delicious. It is simple to make, uses cuts that are sometimes a little harder to cook and have come out melt in your mouth tender and best of all leaves space in the freezer for things like my sour cherries for pie. I'd rather have room for pie than stewing beef any day. Enjoy.


  1. I've never heard of canning your own meat. I mean, I've heard of Spam, but it never occurred to me that you could make a far superior product in your own home! And, I'm embarrassed to say, I've never heard of a pressure canner. This is so exciting!

  2. Hey Movita, I only ever found out about a pressure canner while looking into salsa recipes. I'm a bit of a freak about food safety so always check latest canning safety guides. Nothing says lovin' like poisoning your dinner guests. I grew up on this stuff and there are times I crave it-not because I'm lazy and don't feel like cooking-I swear. The greatest advantage is storage. If deer or moose season went especially well... That's us hunters and gatherers


Thanks for your comment, I hope you enjoyed your time in the "Kitchen".