Though SPAM® made canned meats famous with its oddly flavored canned ham, canned beef has also been extremely popular since the 20the century. Canned beef is either cooked or raw meat from cattle, which is usually chopped and processed into cans for long-term storage. In addition to being a quick and inexpensive choice for casual meals, canned beef is often used for camping and survival foods.
While not as tasty as fresh beef, canned beef usually has a shelf life of five to ten years. Basically like canned vegetables and fruits, canned beef does not need to be frozen or refrigerated so is often stored in fall out and disaster shelters and packed into camping gear. Though it can be eaten plain, it is often used in stews, pastas, soups, and other prepared meals.
Canned beef can be found preprocessed in grocery stores and online. Amish goods often have high quality canned beef for selection in appropriate areas. It can also be made at home with a pressure canner.
The beef used in canned beef is usually ground or cut into cubes or strips. Meat may either be cooked or may be canned raw. Before being canned, however, the cut meat is always soaked in brine, or salted water, for about an hour.
Once the meat is salted, it is placed into cans or jars and put in the pressure canner. Water, broth, or tomato juice can be added to give the beef extra flavor. Depending on the technique, no liquid is necessary, and many canned beefs are not canned with any additional liquid.
The pressure necessary to properly can beef depends on the current altitude and the type of pressure canner being used. For example, at or below 4,000 feet (1219 m) above sea level, in order to can 1 pint (473 ml) of beef in a weighted gauge pressure canner, 15 pounds (6.8 kg) of pressure is required for 75 minutes. A dial gauge pressure canner would require 12 pounds (5.44 kg) of pressure for the same amount of time.
One popular type of beef to can is corned beef. Corned beef is already heavily salted, or even pickled, when fresh, so it easily lends itself to canning. One of the most popular canned corned beef products is corned beef hash, often found as a breakfast food, particularly in the southern US. Corn beef hash is chopped or diced corned beef mixed with onions and potatoes, usually hash browns.