Guidelines for canning meat

Published: Sep. 23, 2023 at 11:51 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Hunting season is upon us and subsistence on moose and caribou meat is an important lifestyle for many Alaskans. The Cooperative Extension Service offers guidelines on how to safely can wild game meat for long-term storage.

Since meat is both a low-acid product and very dense, it requires a pressure canner in order to safely can meat for long-term storage. The meat should first be cleaned thoroughly and cut into smaller pieces such as strips or chunks. If you are canning ground meat, be sure to brown it first.

Glass jars are most commonly used for canning and these can be reused as long as they are in good condition. Each jar, especially the rims, should be thoroughly checked for cleanliness and cracks. If the rims are compromised in any way the lids will not seal properly.

Though the screw-on jar lid rings can be reused, the flat lids can only be used for canning one time. The silicone rubber seal around the inside rim becomes permanently indented after the first time, which prevents it from sealing correctly a second time.

Pint jars of meat should be processed for 75 minutes and quart jars for 90 minutes to reach the necessary internal temperature of 240 degrees Fahrenheit. Always be sure to follow the guidelines for your specific canner, which can be found on Cooperative Extension’s website.

After removing jars from the canner let them sit for 12 to 24 hours to cool. The flat lid should indent in the center during that time, indicating a successful seal. If a jar did not seal the first time it can be refrigerated or reprocessed using a new lid.

Canned meat should be stored in a clean, dry, dark place between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Use within 18 months for optimal quality, though it can be stored safely for up to five years.

For more information on canning meat can be found on the Cooperative Extension Service’s website.