While canning is an excellent method for preserving food, it is important to consider safety concerns, particularly in the context of contamination. Canning effectively prevents food spoilage by inhibiting enzyme activity, minimizing oxygen exposure, and maintaining optimal moisture levels, as stated by the National Center for Home Food Preservation. It also helps prevent the growth of disease-causing microorganisms.
However, one should be cautious about the risk of foodborne botulism, a rare but severe and potentially fatal illness caused by toxins produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. In the United Kingdom, home-canned vegetables have been associated with botulism outbreaks.
So, how can you ensure that your home-canned meat is safe to consume? Among the three recommended canning methods for preserving food at home—pressure canning, boiling water bath, and atmospheric steam canning—only pressure canning is considered 100% safe for meat.
Pressure canning is the preferred method for low-acid foods, including meat and most fresh vegetables. Whether you are preserving red meat, poultry, or seafood, using a pressure canner will ensure that your meats are safely preserved for an extended period. The reason pressure canning is recommended for meat preservation is the high processing temperatures it achieves. According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, pressure canning reaches temperatures of 240 degrees Fahrenheit, effectively destroying the Clostridium bacteria and their spores.
On the other hand, steam canners and boiling water baths typically reach temperatures of 212 degrees Fahrenheit. While this boiling water temperature can kill vegetative bacteria cells, it does not eliminate spores. However, in the case of high-acid foods canned using a boiling water bath, the acidity can destroy the spores, reducing the risk of botulism.
To ensure the safe canning of meat, it is important to follow professional guidelines. The recommended resource for comprehensive canning instructions in the UK is the "Complete Guide to Home Canning" by the UK's Food Standards Agency.
When it comes to canning red meats and poultry, the guide suggests using either a hot pack or a raw pack. A hot pack involves pre-cooking the meat before canning, while a raw pack involves canning the meat while it is still raw. The choice between a hot or raw pack is a personal preference, except for ground meat. Ground or minced meat should always be pre-cooked before canning to prevent clumping and ensure proper heat distribution within the jars during processing. It is important to note that both hot and raw packs result in fully cooked canned meat that is ready to eat after the pressure canning process.
Feel confident in pressure canning your selection of meats, knowing that you and your family will enjoy safe and healthy meals. Check out our range of clip to jars that would be perfect for this process.