How to Can Ground Beef


When extra lean ground beef is on sale, wouldn't it be nice to preserve some for cooking a hot dish or tacos quickly? You can, by cooking it up as loose hamburger and canning it. Ground beef is one of the easiest meats to can, and it tastes great in recipes that call for crumbled ground beef, like soups, chili, tacos, sloppy joes and countless other recipes.

Things You'll Need

  • Pressure canner
  • Jar lifter
  • Lean ground beef
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Canning jars, lids and rings

The Basics

  • Buy lean ground beef. Use ground beef that is 90 percent lean or better. Fatty meats do not can well, because the fat can interfere with the seal of the jar, which is all-important. You will need a little more than a pound per pint jar. Most pressure canners can fit only eight pint jars inside, so buying about 10 lb. of extra-lean ground beef will give you a full cooker.

  • Wash your jars, rings, and lids in the dishwasher or in hot sudsy water. Since the temperature inside the pressure cooker gets very hot, there is no need to sterilize the jars. They have to be completely clean, however. Make sure there are no nicks, cracks or chips on the jars. If there are any imperfections in the glass, it's possible that the jars won't seal or they will break during canning.

  • Divide the ground beef into batches that will fit into your frying pan. Your meat must be precooked before you can it. Have another pot behind the frying pan on low heat, adding a cup of water, so that as you finish frying the meat, you can put it into a pan where you will keep it warm. Keep frying until you have fried up all 10 lb. Do not use any oil in the pan. Home canned meat has to be lean.

  • Put the pressure canner on the stove and add 2 quarts of water to it. Turn the heat on to medium. Make sure the rack is placed on the bottom of the canner. You cannot have the glass jars sitting on the bottom of the pressure cooker because they might crack or break.

  • Fill a saucepan with about 6 cups of water, and heat to boiling.

  • Once you have browned all the beef, add it to the jars, and put 1/2 tsp. salt on top. You can substitute a beef bullion cube for the salt if you want to intensify the flavor of the meat. You can also add chopped onions, celery and peppers to each jar of ground beef.

  • Use the natural juices that the ground beef releases to add liquid to the jars. Divide the juices evenly among the jars. Take the boiling water from the saucepan and fill each jar to the 1-inch head mark. Do not add too much liquid.

  • Take a spoon handle or knife, and make sure all the extra air inside the jar is gone. Poke inside the jar to release the air bubbles. Ground beef holds air especially well. It collects around the meat particles, so make sure you get as many of these bubbles out as possible. If necessary, add more water to bring the liquid up to 1 inch from the top.

  • Wipe the tops of the jars clean with a wet paper towel, and put the lids on first, then the rings. Do not screw the lids on too tightly.

Canning the Beef

  • Put the jars in the canner, and make sure that none of them are touching each other. If you are using wide-mouth jars, this can be tricky.

  • Put the lid on the pressure canner, and once it is venting steam, let it vent for 10 minutes or so, longer if you live in a high elevation. Keep a close eye on the pressure canner.

  • After venting, put the weight on the vent, and bring the pressure up to 10 lb. if you live between sea level and 1,000 feet. If you live over 1,000 feet, add 1 lb. for every 2,000 feet of elevation. For example, if you live at 5,000 feet, you would can your meat at 13 lb. If you are using a weighted-gauge type of cooker, instead of a dial gauge, you must cook your food at 15 lb. if you live at an elevation higher than 1,000 feet.

  • Once your cooker is up to the required pressure, cut back on the heat so that it maintains the necessary poundage. You will have to closely monitor the pressure so that it stays stable.

  • Maintain the pressure for 75 minutes. At the end of the cooking time, turn off the heat, and let the canner lose pressure naturally. Do not attempt to quick- release the pressure. This could crack the jars.

  • When the pressure is at 0, use the jar lifter to take the jars out, and when they are cool, wipe down with a clean, damp kitchen towel. Store in a cool, dark place.

Tips & Warnings

  • A pressure cooker costs between $75 and $150 online. If you think you would enjoy pressure cooking and canning, you can save a lot of money on energy costs and preserve food as it goes on sale. The investment will pay for itself over and over.
  • Use within 6 months of canning.
  • After canning, always boil the ground meat for 10 minutes before tasting it.
  • Use fresh, lean ground meat. Ground beef that looks old, smells funny or is sticky is NOT something you want to can.
  • Stick by the pressure cooker until the pressure is stable. Drafts in the kitchen can make the pressure drop, so you must pay close attention to what it is doing. Read a book, knit a scarf or clean the kitchen while it is stabilizing. You must pay close attention to the pressure during the whole canning process.

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