Canning beef

Canned beef

Left to right: Stock, hot-packed (cooked) beef, raw-packed beef

Last weekend, I found grass-fed, local chuck roast on sale and decided to pressure can it instead of freezing it as I usually do. Here are the results!

Some of the beef (the jar on the far right), I canned by the raw pack method.  Basically, you brown the roast, cut it into thick strips, pack the strips into the jar, cover with broth (1″ head space), and can at 11 pounds pressure for 75 minutes.  For the broth, I used a mix of water, salt, garlic powder, and a little molasses for color.  It cooks as it cans.  You can see that this yielded the most fat in the jar, since you can only trim so much off the roast before it goes in the can.  This was quick and easy to do and used the least energy, but it didn’t produce any broth.

The jars on the left and middle are the result of cooking the roast in the oven first and then canning.  I browned the chuck roast, a couple sections of shin bone, and three beef short ribs, then put them in my roaster.  I deglazed the browning pan with a bottle of stout and poured that on top of the roasts. (My roaster is ceramic; if you have a dutch oven, you could do this all in the same pan.) Then I topped it off with water to cover, added some salt, and braised the beef for three hours or so.  It was fall-apart tender and the beer added a wonderful flavor.

At that point, I put the roaster in the fridge for a couple days because I was out of time.  This also let me skim off the 1/4″ of fat that had floated to the top and hardened; that’s in the freezer for use when sauteeing cabbage.  I cut the meat into 2″ chunks, removed the bones, and reheated the meat and stock, packed it in jars, and canned it.  From a 2.25lb roast and another pound or two of bones, I got 3 pints of meat, 3 pints of broth, and one pint that was half-and-half.  I’m no longer tempted by $5 cans of factory-farmed beef to stock the pantry.  And we might actually be able to unplug the freezer for a couple months this summer, if the stock is all in the pantry instead of the freezer!

We usually eat stewed beef like this in soups, or as beef tips in gravy over mashed potatoes.  I’ll be curious to see the difference in flavor between the raw and hot pack versions.  The raw pack is definitely quicker and uses less energy, but holy cow – the stout stock is absolutely amazing.  Those three pints of just broth will make the base of some amazing soups, and I find I often want stock but not big pieces of meat, which you don’t get with the raw pack.

I wonder – could you put some meat, a rib bone, a little beer, and water in a quart jar for “raw-pack beef with extra stock”? If anyone knows, let me know!

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3 Comments

  1. Cynthia said,

    March 9, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    I’ve never canned beef, but was wondering about your headspace….it’s supposed to be 1 inch. Did that much come out when you processed it?

    • Emily said,

      March 10, 2011 at 10:23 am

      Yes. In fact, my headspace was probably closer to 3/4″ this time. In previous batches, the level of liquid was almost an inch lower than what you see in these jars.

      I think that might be due partly to the fact that I’m pressure canning on an electric stove (no gas out here in the sticks). It’s hard to keep the pressure steady as the element cycles on and off, so I err on the high side of pressure. That may force more liquid out than if I could keep it at 11 lb the whole time.

  2. December 7, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    you can raw pack beef…in fact, that is the preferred way.


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