|

Canning Pork: A Guide for Beginners

271 Shares

Meat preservation is a key skill for the every day life of any homesteader, and canning pork is no different. This is a skill that is used primarily in the winter time for us. 

canning pork: a beginner's guide

It’s pretty cool how different types of canning and preserving have their own seasons. Home canned chicken tends to be a fall job, when your flock of elderly hens is too old to overwinter and be productive the next spring, although many modern homesteaders raise chicken specifically for meat in the spring.

Different fruits and vegetables grow throughout their own seasons over the spring, summer, and fall. We end up canning green beans in the early summer, and then again in the fall. We make strawberry jam in the spring, blackberry freezer jam in the summer, process blueberries a week or two after blackberries, and the list goes on.

Back when I was a teenager, we lived in a community of homesteaders (Amish community), and the highlights of winter were work days. Processing hogs was one of those events. Usually two days long – the first day to do the initial slaughtering process up through hanging the halves overnight to nearly freeze, and the second day for breaking down carcasses into individual cuts, making sausage, and lard. 

After those two days, everyone took their share home, and began the process of curing the bacon, and canning the rest. Of course we ate some of the cuts, like ribs while they were fresh, but none of us had freezers, so we canned everything else – from roasts, to sausage. Canning pork was just the normal way of doing things.

Many hands make light work, and I  highly recommend working with friends and neighbors, but even though of us in the present day culture don’t have those opportunities to work together as a community, we can still preserve our homestead bounty.

Let’s be perfectly clear here though; you don’t have to be a homesteader to can pork. Finding a great deal on pork roast at a grocery store, and not having the freezer space to keep it is a perfectly valid reason to can. And so is just wanting to do it. We don’t gate-keep around here. 

So let’s dive into some specifics. 

What is canned pork good for?

Having grown up using primarily canned meats, I’m tempted to answer with “everything”, but I get why you’d ask that question. 

You probably won’t be frying up pork chops that came out of the can. It’s already cooked, so that limits you a little bit in terms of expecting traditional southern food. 

But it also frees you up. 

Your pork is already cooked. Ready to serve. Ready to put in whatever recipe you want to use it in. 

jars in a canner

Can it for instant pork roast (of course, you can season it in the jar before pressure canning!), can the ribs, and brown them in the oven before serving, use it to make a hearty gravy to go with mashed potatoes, or in soups.

The list is really endless. 

Growing up, we canned a lot of sausage. Usually, we’d shape them into patties or balls and brown them a bit before packing them in jars to can. This helped them keep their texture throughout the canning process, and made them easier to get out of jars. 

The patties are self explanatory – brown them in skillet before serving as you would normal sausage patties. 

The balls were usually used in recipes, or gravy. We simply shaped them into balls, as I mentioned, because it made the end product better and easier to use. 

Can you raw pack jars for canning pork? 

One hundred percent, yes! 

The hot pack method is very popular with meat, and a lot of recipes direct you to brown the meat before canning, which is fine, but if you have a lot of meat to can, you might want to speed the process up by raw packing. As you’ll see in the recipe card below, we cube the meat, put it in jars, and add some seasoning (just add salt and pepper if you don’t have a specific plan for your pork). 

the pressure canner does all the cooking for you. 

How large should the cubes of meat be? 

The short answer is small enough to fit into the jar. And don’t forget that you have to get them out too. 

With a regular lidded jar, you can squeeze raw meat in, but it might be hard to coax out once it’s cooked, so keep that in mind. 

cutting pork roast into cubes for canning

I like to keep my cubes to about one to one-and-a-half inches to make them easy to get in and out, and well seasoned. 

That brings us to: 

What cut to use for canning pork?

Easy. The one you have. 

Pork loin is probably going to be the easiest to trim and cube, but let’s not be elitist here. Remove large bones, and trim the gristle and fat out of what you have the best you can, and use that. The nice thing about those lower quality cuts is that they’re usually not as dry as a loin. 

pork shoulder roast

You can see in the videos below that I made this particular batch with a shoulder roast that was kind of gristly. If you know me at all, you know that I’m not in this canning thing to win awards for best Pinterest pantry. I’m here to preserve nutritious food in a thrifty way. 

The canning broth

Let’s talk about this for a second. 

Have you ever put a roast in the slow cooker, and not added any liquid? You likely came back a couple hours later to find that the roast had made its own broth. 

The same thing happens in jars. 

jars of pork with high quality canning lids

Yes, you understand me correctly; you don’t need to add broth to your jars. 

Is this unconventional? There are thousands of Amish people out there right now, not adding broth to their canned meat, so you tell me. 

That said, you can add broth. Not you must, but you can. If your intended use for the pork makes broth desirable, go for it. If you feel like your pork is awful dry and could use some help, do it. 

But alternatively, you can pack your meat, add some seasonings, and leave it at that. When you open your canner, you’ll find jars of meat with 3-4 inches of broth inside, and probably a layer of lard. 

canned pork

What do you do with this lard? 

Up to you? scrape it off the top and use it for something else. Use it grease the pan you’re going to brown the pork pieces in before serving. Put it on your dog’s feed. It’s up to you. 

How long do you pressure can raw pork? 

That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it. I’m not sure if I dare to tell you how long some of my Amish neighbors canned their for. It’s funny how there seemed to be a divide between the ones who canned for {insert time here}, and the ones who canned for at least 45 minutes. (I’m not going to specifically say the shorter time. I’m risking internet anger enough by giving you the second time).

My opinion is that the people who thought they were saving time by using shorter canning times, actually ended up wasting more when their food spoiled. Of course I can’t say that for sure, because I don’t know exactly how much time they saved in relation to how much more food they lost, but I definitely saw a significant loss of food, and that didn’t sit well with me. 

My Ball canning book says 90 minutes for quarts, 75 minutes for pints. 

How do you know your canned pork is safe to eat?

Food safety is important. I can’t stress that enough. Canning pork is good, being safe is better. If there’s any doubt, throw it out. Always. 

I can’t be your food safety officer, but I can offer a couple of tips: 

  • The broth should be nice and clear. Take note of the way it looks right after you canned it. It should look like that. 
  • The meat should look the same as when you canned it too. 
  • The lid is still sealed. This one is obvious. The button on top of the lid should be firmly down. You should have to pry the seal open. 
  • It should smell right. Any hint of an off smell, and that jar it out. 

How to season canned pork

As I mentioned above, you don’t actually need to add broth to pork, though you can. 

To season your pork, you can either use a seasoned broth, or (what I prefer) toss your pork cubes or strips with the seasonings before packing them in jars. 

Some really good herbs and spices to use are: 

  • Salt
  • Garlic or garlic powder
  • Black pepper
  • cumin
  • Oregano
  • onion or onion powder
  • Tomato juice

Keep in mind that you want about 1/2 a teaspoon of salt per pound of pork (same rule with other meats like venison and beef), and the other seasonings are mainly for flavor, which means the amounts are flexible. just keep in mind that less can be more, and you can always add more later, but you can’t take spices out.

Let’s get to the process!

Print

Pressure Canning Pork

  • Author: Elise New

Ingredients

Scale
  • Pork, 2 lbs per quart jar
  • Salt, 1 teaspoon per quart, or 1/2 teaspoon per pint
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper per quart (optional)
  • Spices such as oregano, paprika, onion powder, etc. (optional)

Equipment needed: 

Instructions

  1. First, you’ll want to prepare your canner by filling it with cool water according to your individual pressure canner’s instructions. You’ll also want to sterilize your jars and lids. 
  2. Once you’ve done that, trim your pork of most excess fat and gristle, and cut it into 1-1 1/2 inch chunks.
    cutting pork roast into cubes for canning
  3. Pack the cubes into the jars, leaving about 3/4 inch headspace. Quart jars hold roughly 2 lbs of meat, and pint jars, 1 lb.
  4. Top quarts with 1 tsp of salt, and pints with half a teaspoon (alternatively, you can mix meat with salt before packing jars for more even distribution. 1 teaspoon per 2 lbs of meat). 
    pork in canning jars with salt and pepper
  5. Make sure rim of the jar is free of debris, wiping with a clean, damp cloth if necessary. 
  6. Top with list and rings, screwing down firmly.
    jars of pork ready to pressure can
  7. Arrange in prepared pressure canner, and close canner lid. 
    jars in a canner
  8. Heat until a steady stream of steam starts to vent from the open pressure valve. 
  9. Set timer for ten minutes. 
  10. When timer goes off, Close pressure valve and bring to ten pounds of pressure (or 15 pounds if over 1,500 feet elevation), and process for 90 minutes for quarts, or 75 minutes for pints according to the South Dakota Ag Extension.
  11. Remove from heat and let canner depressurize. I know a lot of people remove the weighted gauge from the pressure valve to speed this process up, but I do not recommend that as it can result in cracked jars. 
  12. After pressure has returned to zero, open valve. 

At this point, you may remove lid and carefully remove jars, avoiding drafts, and set them in a safe, draft-free place. I will usually line the counter-top with a towel, and then place a towel over the jars to further insulate them. Anything to keep a jar from breaking! 

If you can though, it’s really a lot safer and easier to just let the canner cool completely before opening the lid.

Did you make this recipe?

Share a photo and tag us — we can’t wait to see what you’ve made!

Get Your Garden Cheat Sheets!

Want to know exactly when, where, and how to plant your vegetables? Sign up to get our FREE companion planting guide, and garden planting cheat sheet printable.

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit
271 Shares

Similar Posts

8 Comments

  1. I canned pork just like this in 2022. The meat above the lard is brown. Yours appears the same. Is it your experience that this is normal and ok?

    1. You know, ads are how bloggers make money. Why should she put her time and energy into this so we can all have the information for free? A one star review due to your frustration over ads seems harsh, and frankly, rude.

  2. I am a beginning canner (at age 83, no time like the present) and I really enjoyed your post about canning pork. You did a wonderful job of explaining and making everything clear. My question is sort of related and I know you must get many emails but what you described about the Amish traditional event for preserving pork and making sausage brought to mind my German farmer grandparents in Texas. I was too young to realize what I was missing but I remember when they butchered the hogs and then made sausage. I have been searching for a similar sausage recipe for years. So you by chance have a recipe your family uised for sausage that you would share? sell? post? I can only come close but I know there was sage and pepper seasoning but that is all. It would be wonderful if I could try to duplicate it.
    Thanks for taking time to read all this and if it is not possible, I understand. God Bless.

  3. Thank you for the recipe. I am about to can a pork shoulder roast tomorrow. I have watched many videos and yours is right on with directions. Thanks for sharing! I will look for more of your videos and recipes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star