Letter Re: Do-It-Yourself Meat Canning

Dear Jim,
Here is some info that other like-minded survivalists might find useful.

There was a recent article on television about beef and chicken being priced very reasonable due to the fact that the market is being flooded by farmers trying to unload their product before it costs them more to feed and ship than they can sell it for. I checked it out and yep they were right. Sam’s Club has boneless, skinless chicken breast and beef tip roast for less than 3 dollars a pound. I paid that same price for it a year ago.
Anyway, considering this, one might think, yes great deal, but other than freezing it, what do I do with it? What if the power goes out, then I have lost all my precious food.

I grew up in the mid-west where home canning was as common as corn and bean fields. Anyway, many people don’t realize that you can also home can meat using a pressure canner. Yep, just like you do corn and beans, in Mason jars, with rings and lids. (The lids are commonly called “flats” in some parts of the country.)

Now if you are unfamiliar with this method, don’t let it scare you off. In the beginning you will have to invest some money for a pressure canner, and also for jars, which come with rings and lids. You can find these at Wal-Mart, or your nearby hardware store. A canner will cost between 60 and 80 dollars, jars are from 7 to 10 dollars a dozen, including the rings and lids…and if you are real lucky and hit an estate sale or auction sale, you might come across jars really cheap..then you just have to purchase rings and lids. I prefer the Presto canner, which comes with a handy little book that tells you exactly how to can with it. Just follow the directions explicitly and Presto! One warning…do not use the advice out of an older canning method book. Many of the methods used years ago are no longer considered safe. But, if you follow the instructions with the canner, I personally feel that the food is actually safer than buying it in the store already canned. Consider that you know what you put in the jar, you know that it was done clean and sanitary. Remember to date your jars and rotate [your inventory] just like you would any other canned food. And as far as price: Have you priced a can of Spam lately?

Once you have invested in the initial jars and rings, you can reuse them, if you stock up a nice stock of lids. When you are living at your retreat and bring home a nice deer, rabbit, fish, quail…etc, etc, you can do the same with it. It is really very simple. Virtually you wash and cut up the meat in small pieces, put it in clean jars, adjust the lids and follow the simple instructions that are in the little canner booklet. It sure beats Spam and Vienna sausages. Take it from a Hurricane Katrina-surviving granny, no more Spam for me. Also, you do not necessarily have to have the best cuts of meat because pressure cooking is a natural tenderizer, this would be great with wild game that might not be the most tender. Even though it is prudent to stock up salt, it is not necessary to add salt as a preservative when you can meat in this method.

The canned meat comes in very handy in everyday life. When you come in tired and need a quick meal, you can do most anything with it. Just heat it and turn it into fajitas, chicken or beef with noodles or rice, chili, manhattan sandwiches. The uses are endless.

Also, this is not just a girl thing…my husband enjoys helping can as much as I do. It is the finished product that is so impressive. To me the initial cost is well worth it considering the need to preserve meat and veggies etc. WTSHTF. Just be sure to stock up on lids. I also hear there are some reusable lids and am currently checking into them online.

Hope this helps someone to prepare. – Survival Nanna

JWR Replies: Thanks for that suggestion. BTW, don’t overlook canning fish. Canned fish typically has a shelf life that is longer than other meats. It is noteworthy that there will be no legal salmon fishing on the California and Oregon coast this year. This production shortfall is likely to increase the price of canned salmon from Alaska. For now, canned salmon can still be found for as little as $1.69 per standard 14.75 ounce tapered can. Stock up. In a year, you will be glad that you did!