Originally Posted by mxracer4life
Clay, me and my wife do a lot of canning sauces and veggies, what has to be done differently to can chilli etc? Can you can meat? Do you add spices or no?
First I'll recommend you pick up a copy of the Ball canning book.
It's an excellent reference for canning many many things.
You can also read the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning
Guide 5 covers meats.
Nothing really different is done to can soup, chili, or meats. All must be pressure canned. And yes, you can can meat by itself.
The actual preparation process differs depending on what you are producing.
When I can chili I prepare it normally as if I were going to eat it then, I just make a large run which will fill at least 7 quarts. Just prepare your preferred chili recipe as you normally do, and fill your hot jars leaving head space like you do with your sauces.
The official standards of canning states that anything containing red meat needs to be canned under pressure for 90 minutes (quarts).
This will slightly alter the flavor of the chili, it will still be good but will lose some of the robust flavors of the seasonings.
Because of this, and considering the chili is fully cooked before canning, I can it for 70-75 minutes at 15lbs of pressure. It's a higher pressure than is required for my altitude.
This is only my preference, and I'm not suggesting you violate the official USDA standards.
I also can chicken using the raw pack method. Cut up boneless/skinless breasts or breast tenders work best.
After processing they can be used for any recipe that needs cooked chicken, casseroles, chicken and dumplings, enchiladas, etc.
I can ground beef in pints as well and use it for anything you need browned ground beef for.
I brown the beef first, with a little seasoning in case I want to use it for topping on baked potatos. I drain it well and fill the pint jars. One jar will hold just under a pound of ground beef (raw weight).
No matter how well you drain it, some of the fat will remain and will rise to the top forming a cake of grease on top of the meat. When I open the jars, I heat them in the microwave to melt this and then pour it off before using.
Canning meats has a couple of very good advantages. It requires no energy to maintain after it's processed, unlike frozen meats.
It's also fully cooked, so requires a minimum of energy to prepare for consumption. In the case of chili, just heating it up is all that's needed. A simple gas burner and a pot and you have a good meal.
For other recipes, having the meat pre cooked reduces the time to prepare the meals and provides an option for eating better meals during times like extended power outages. I'd much rather be eating a plate of homemade spaghetti by candle light than opening up a can of Chef Boyardee.