After doing a full review of what I thought of Zaycon's newest product, their sausage links, in yesterday's article I thought that I'd better give you step by step instructions on how to CAN said links. However, as noted in yesterday's article, I discovered that I could easily can the links raw as well as the innards raw. As a result, since I have dreams of rows and rows of canned ground sausage that I can use in my sauces, calzones, pizza's and even meatballs--yes you can still make meatballs if you're using canned sausage--you just have to have more binders in it than normal--I decided to can the sausage two ways. Raw links and raw crumbles (aka ground sausage).
EZ PZ Instructions for Canning Sausage
Regardless of which way you want to can your sausage, you'll always want to make sure you have enough clean jars. I prefer the wide mouth pint jars whenever I'm canning meats. After my experimentation I decided to do my sausage two ways--in raw links and as ground sausage.
The links were WAY easy. All I had to do was put the raw sausage links in clean pint jars (wide mouth recommended).
The ground sausage required a little bit more work. I laid out a bunch of the links, sliced through the casing, and then squeezed out the meat into my Cuisinart which crumbled it all up a bit better. I did this because I wasn't crazy about the aesthetic look when I experimented just throwing in the sausage out of the casing. I then lightly packed the ground sausage into the pint jars (I used regular mouth for this since I didn't care if it came out of the jar in pieces and I had regular mouth pint jars that needed to be used up.) And then I continued with the rest of the canning directions as outlined below:
- Wipe off the tops/edges of your jars with a clean, warm cloth.
- Top with NEW clean lids. (Unless you use the fabulous reusable lids made by Tattler)
- Put the rings on, fingertip tight, then put them in your pressure canner (with a rack between the bottom of the canner and the jars)
- Fill up the pressure canner with water until it reaches about 2/3rds of the way up the sides of the jars on your lowest level in your canner.
- Secure the lid of the pressure canner; (on the All-American, I lift up the screw-downs diagonally from each other, and secure them just enough to stay up; then when all of them are up I go back around and tighten them to fingertip tight.)
- Allow the pressure to build up so that the steam vents from the top for 5 to 7 minutes--set your timer for this because the last thing you want is to expel TOO MUCH water.
- Once you've expelled steam for a sufficient length of time, put the appropriate pressure weight on so that the appropriate pressure weight is achieved.
- Once it is, start your timer for the appropriate cooking time depending on where you live, maintain the pressure throughout the pressure canning process (you should end up continuing to bring the heat down until you’re able to maintain the pressure you want)
- Keep an eye out on your pressure indicator throughout the canning process. You want to make sure that the pressure is maintained.
- If your weight on top of the vent is making a lot of noise it's allowing too much steam to come out. You want to keep it "simmered down"--yes, that's where that saying comes from. To do that you'll just keep reducing the heat source until you're able to manage and maintain your pressure weight. Once you're at a well maintained pressure, you'll only hear a little rattling about every 3 to 5 minutes.
- Once you've reached your targeted pressure, start your timer for the full duration of your processing time. (In this case, I went 90 minutes)
- Once your time is up, remove the canner from the heat source,
- Use the quick release method to release the pressure--making sure to protect your hand though with a hot pad as the weight is HOT-- (unless you have all the time in the world to wait for your pressure to come down naturally or unless you have an inferior brand of pressure canner which doesn’t recommend quick release.)
- Carefully remove the hot jars out of the pan using jar lifters. (see picture below)
- Place the jars on towels or dishpads. (I love the ones I got from Costco. I use them now instead of a dish drainer)
- When cooled sufficiently, remove the rings from the jars and wash them in hot, soapy water and allow to completely dry. If they are wet they can rust or corrode, thus spreading such corrosion to your lids.
- When the jars are completely cooled, check that they’ve sealed properly simply by pushing in on the middle of the lid. If there is any give, it’s not sealed. If you discover an unsealed jar, you can put it in the refrigerator and use it within a couple of days. If you discover it within a couple of hours of your pressure canning, you can reprocess it right away but it won’t be as tasty as those you processed just once.
- When the jars are cooled completely be sure to wash off any of the grease or water that built up on them during the canning process otherwise they will begin to STINK to high heaven after you’ve stored them. (You can dramatically cut down on hard water scales in your pan and on your jars by adding about a quarter cup of white vinegar to the water before you start your processing.)
- Replace the rings on your cooled jars that you've double-checked are sealed. (Some say you can leave the rings off but why would you if you don’t have to? The rings are great at protecting jar to jar contact and can even protect them if they slip out of your hands and happen to fall to the ground. (I've done this several times and am amazed at how the lid protects the jar from crashing into a big mess) If you ever have to leave in a hurry and pack up, you’ll be glad you had the rings on as added protection, so, in the name of preparedness why NOT put and keep them on your jars?)
- Leave the jars in a cool dry place checking the seals everyday for at least 2 weeks; then you can put them away in a more permanent cool, dry and dark storage area for longer term storage. So long as you keep them in ideal storage conditions these will easily last you 5 to 8 years, though old timers claim that canned meat lasts indefinitely while Mason jar manufacturers and the good ole USDA says to only trust home canned products for a year. *rolling eyes*
- When ready to eat, simply warm through for ideal texture and taste, though you can consume the ingredients directly out of the jars as they are fully cooked.
My Two Cents Worth of Tips:
I suggest you use pints instead of quarts for safety purposes. You're more certain to properly can the proteins this way. I’m in high altitude so I had to do 15 pounds of pressure at 90 minutes but most areas can do 10 pounds of pressure for 75 minutes on pints. Check your instruction manual for detailed times and pounds of pressure.
I only use the All-American Pressure Canner which obviously I can use as a water bath canner AND I can use it as a pressure COOKER too. It’s the best quality canner I can find and since I’m betting my life on its quality and the foods I entrust to it, I won’t cut corners on a pressure canner. It’s worth the peace of mind to me.
Periodically you can make sure that you're gauge is calibrated properly by taking it to your local university extension services. (that's probably the ONLY thing I would ever use them for. *sigh*)
The key to canning sausage is that you DON’T ADD ANY WATER. Some people refer to this as “dry canning.” In my world, dry canning is when I’m canning goods, typically done with a FoodSaver (though some dry can with their oven) It doesn’t need it and there’s no appetizing thing known as “pork broth” in the culinary world, so I really can’t see any reason why you’d want to add water to it. If your meat is soggy from sitting in water like that, there’s no way you can brown it, even in grease. You can see how nicely these canned raw links browned up?
You can make your ground sausage into patties and can them in wide mouth jars that way, however, I would suggest you put a layer of parchment paper between each of the patties.
Also, don’t add any sage to the sausage before you can it. I didn’t attempt that but I read of several others trying this approach in order to get the sausage to taste better after the canning process. I learned my lesson on that one long ago. Sage gets quite bitter as it sits in pressure canned jars over time. If you’re going to use these instructions on canning your own homemade sausage or some other high quality brand, but you want more flavor such as sage and fennel, go ahead and wait until you’re ready to serve it and then add the additional seasonings. That’s another reason why I don’t season any of my other meats prior to canning—so that the herbs don’t go bitter on me and so that I’m not pigeon-holed into one way of using the protein. Salt is all I ever use on any protein. If you're doing it correctly, you should never have to add anything to get your proteins to taste good when canning them.
I’d also suggest that you use wide-mouth jars when cooking proteins as the fat settles to the bottom of the jar and holds the meat in at the bottom so when you attempt to simply pull the link or ground meat out, it breaks. With a wide-mouth jar it’s easier to just slide a butter knife around the edges and simply slide the meat out that way.
Dry Pressure Canning is Ideal for Any Pork or Beef
If you're interested, I've got an instructional YouTube video that I made for canning ground beef. (Just go Here) You can also see the details on canning bacon here and canning chicken here. The fact of the matter is, you can can just about ANY meat you want using this “dry” canning method. I add water to my beef and chicken because I like the broth from the meat marinating in there for years. But I found that this “dry” canning method is excellent for sausage and steaks! So give it a try next time the occasion for canning hits you!