Many consider canning beef to be a great storage alternative to freezing. It generally takes about 75 minutes to an hour and a half to properly preserve beef by canning, depending on the size of the jars used. Canning beef at home is usually best done with a pressure canner. The meat may be partially cooked before the canning process begins, or it may be canned raw. Various seasonings can be added before canning begins, which can influence the flavor of the finished beef product.
Most people who preserve foods via canning use pint-sized (0.47 liters) or quart-sized (0.95 liters) bottles for the purpose. The amount of time required for canning beef typically depends on the size of the bottles used. Pint (0.47 liter) bottles generally require a pressurized cooking time of about 75 minutes, while quart (0.95 liter) bottles generally require a pressurized cooking time of about 90 minutes. Most home canning enthusiasts recommend canning beef at a pressure of about 11 pounds (4.98 kilos) per square inch. Canning bottles or jars of beef under pressure helps to cook the meat, while creating an airtight, bacteria-free environment inside the jars so that their contents can remain consumable for months or years.
Beef for canning should usually be cut into pieces roughly 2 inches (5.08 centimeters) square. Raw beef, with or without spices, may be canned. Some people like to roast or marinate beef before canning, since this can help to create a broth, or enhance the canned beef's flavor. Beef should generally be firmly packed into glass canning jars, leaving about 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) of space at the top of the jar.
Spices may be added to the meat at this point. The jars of beef for canning should then usually be filled with hot water, again leaving about 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) of room at the top of the jar. A kitchen knife, passed around the interior of the jar between the meat and the glass, can help to remove any unwanted air deposits from inside the jar. Vinegar can be used to clean fatty oils from the rims of the jars, insuring a proper seal during the canning process.
When canning beef, it is considered very important to fill the pressure canner with cold water. This is said to give the beef adequate time to cook thoroughly. The pressure canner should generally remain supervised during food canning, since variations in pressure can occur and lead to accidents if left uncorrected. Once the appropriate cooking time has passed, it is generally considered safest to let the pressure canner cool naturally, in its own good time, since attempting to speed the process could prove dangerous.