Thursday, December 29, 2011

Canning Meat

I have often wondered how Amish preserve meat since they obviously don't have freezers and yet do a lot of butchering.

Ah yes, the work involved in canning meat. Thanks for bringing back those memories of a week spent every winter in canning a year's supply of meat for the family.

We didn't do the actual butchering ourselves. After sending a fattened steer to the local butcher shop we used to come home with hundreds of pounds of ground beef and steak that needed to be taken care of as soon as possible.

For every 80 lbs of ground beef we would mix up:

40 Tbsp salt
20 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp black pepper
2 Tbsp garlic powder
1½ Tbsp ginger
1½ Tbsp paprika
1½ Tbsp ground sage

After making sure it was mixed well we would sprinkle it over the top of 80 lbs of ground beef and then mix it thoroughly with our hands until we were sure everything was seasoned evenly. Next it was packed into wide mouth quart jars and placed into a canner filled with cold water. Once the water started boiling we timed it for three hours and then removed the jars and let them seal before washing them off and placing them on shelves in the basement to be used when we were ready.

To use this we would slice it out of the jars and heat it often adding water and bringing to a boil and then making a gravy with it. It also made excellent sloppy joe if you chopped it up and added a few more ingredients. It was great to use to make sandwiches or if you were hungry between meals a cold slice hit the spot!

For "steak" we used to request very thinly sliced choice boneless cuts of meat from the butcher.

We would make a brine by boiling together:

1 gallon water
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup salt

After letting it cool completely we put one cup of the brine into a quart jar and then dropped 2"x2" pieces of steak into the jar making sure not to pack it since we wanted brine to be able to be between each slice. It was then placed into a canner and boiled for two hours.

To eat it we would drain the brine and then fry the steak in butter and flour.

Corned beef was the most gross thing we made. It was very simple but something I never did after we got married.  We used to take a big crock and pour a thick layer of salt in the bottom and place a layer of steak on top of it and then cover it with another layer of salt continuing this way until the crock was filled to the top. We would set in in a cold dark place usually in the basement for at least two weeks. In that time the salt would melt and the meat would turn pink. To serve we used to fish out several slices of meat wash it in clean cold water and then boil it for a few minutes. It used to be extremely tender but also salty. Not a big fan!

To can poultry we used to fill the jars with meat and sprinkle a teaspoon of salt on top before boiling for 3 hours.

Those were the main meats we canned although we usually made bologna, liverwurst, and a few other things.


  1. I had never heard of canning meat until I met my husband, who grew up on a farm in Ohio. They weren't Amish, and they froze meat, also - but they canned a good bit.

  2. Husband has canned smelt a few times. Tasted good mixed with a bit of pickle, mayo and onion them mixed good and spread on crackers.

    We did raise chickens one year and I canned a lot of them but never could eat them. Got to attached to them as pets and it about killed me to cook them up to eat.And my girls would not eat them after seeing them butchered. After that one try at it we kept hens for eggs and that was it.


  3. Canning seems to be catching on with my own readers because its a subject that comes up at times, and some have really taken to it. It just makes so much sense maybe more now than ever. Richard

  4. When I met my husband, we both lived in Columbus, Ohio, and I soon found out he was reluctant to buy meat in grocery stores - he preferred getting it from his father, who still farmed. When I asked him why, he said, "I don't want to eat something unless I knew its name." At first I thought that was kind of odd, but later I figured out that he really meant he knew for sure how it was raised.

  5. If you are comfortable with the idea, please tell us more about the time leading up to your baby's birth; i am wondering how it all went and if you had him at home.

  6. I adore liverwurst and would love to see your recipe sometime!

  7. The Amish I know have freezers - gas or kerosene.

  8. Thank you for that enlightening entry. I think I'm going to buy 5 lbs of ground meat & have a go at it myself. I love to know stuff like that!

  9. Everyone I know,except my brother Shawn {who drives the Amish folk he knows wherever they need to go} have told me that a pressure canner is need to can foods such as meat that are acidic. Not long ago he told me that an Amish lady he knows has always done it in a regular canner and she has never had a spoiled can of meat. Now Shawns says he will be doing it the same way because there is always the possibility of running out of fuel or electricity so if he needed to for survival purposes he could can on a grill or wood stove. So I am thinking that since he is a smart man and the Amish have been doing it this way for what seems like forever then why not give it a try. The Amish lady told Shawn that the only 2 things he must remember is that everything has to be clean and to make sure to keep track of the canning time so he doesn't under process.

  10. I am learning a ton here about canning meat without a Pressure Canner. I have been wondering about doing it and if it has to be PC'd like all the good canners say, how did they can meat before PC'rs? So you have answered many questions about canning.


Thank you so much for taking time to comment. I love hearing your thoughts.