Canned meat adds variety to the diet in the winter-time and makes a pleasant change from the cured and smoked meats. You put meat into jars in the raw state and extend the sterilizing period or you can cook the meat partially or completely and then sterilize for a shorter period of time. Of course a reliable method of canning meat must be used, such as the cold-pack process, where the sterilizing is done in the tin or jar in either boiling water or steam under pressure. We usually recommend the partial cooking, roasting or boiling of the meat before canning especially for beginners. If you are a beginner in the business of cold-pack canning then by all means cook the meat before putting it in cans. If you have canned peas, beans and corn successfully for years then you are ready for all kinds of raw meat canning.
To save criticism of the cold-pack method of canning meat and to guard against any danger from eating poorly prepared and improperly sterilized meat we do not urge beginners to experiment with meat, although the meat can be safely canned by any one whether new at the canning game or a veteran in it if directions are carefully followed. But it is the big "If" that we have to watch.
Many farmers and farmerettes are canning meats of all kinds all over the country and there is never a can lost. We need more meat canning done at home and you can do it if you will practice cleanliness in all your work and follow directions.
The fear of getting botulinus bacteria from eating canned meat is just a "bug-a-boo." It should be clearly understood that botulism is one of the very rare maladies. The chances for getting it by eating canned goods, say the experts, is rather less than the chances from dying of lockjaw every time you scratch your finger. To regard every can as a source of botulism is worse than regarding every dog as a source of hydrophobia. Moreover, for the very timid, there is the comforting certainty that the exceedingly slight danger is completely eliminated by re-cooking the canned food for a short time before eating it.
There are always a few cases of illness traceable to bad food, not only to canned food but to spoiled meats, fish, bad milk, oysters and a number of things. There are also cases of injury and death by street accidents, but we do not for that reason stop using the streets. If you put good meat into the can and do your canning right then you will have good results. Never put into a can meat that is about ready to spoil, thinking thereby to "save it."
If you want to be absolutely sure, even if the jar of meat seems perfectly fresh when it is opened, you can re-cook the meat, thus insuring yourself against any possibility of botulinus poisoning. So you see, there is nothing at all alarming about that frightful sounding word "botulinus." Using fresh products, doing the canning properly and reheating before serving eliminates all danger.
For canning meat, tin cans are in most respects superior to glass, as they eliminate all danger of breakage, preserve the meat just as well as glass, and by excluding the light prevent any change of color. If you use glass jars be sure to get the best brand of jar rubbers on the market. This is very important.
If, as I have said, you are a beginner—cook the meat first by frying, roasting, broiling, baking or stewing—just as you would prepare it for immediate use. The meat is usually seasoned according to taste and is cooked until thoroughly heated through, before putting in the cans. Do not cook until tender as that will be too long with the additional sterilizing. If too tender it will fall apart and be unappetizing although perfectly good. See that nothing is wasted in the canning. If you are canning a young steer or a calf you would go about it as follows:
Select the meat that you would ordinarily want. Slice the meat wanted for steak. What is not suited for either of these can be used for stews, or be put through the meat grinder and made into sausage meat, formed into little cakes, fried and canned. What meat is left clinging to all bones will be utilized when the bones are boiled for soup stock. The sinews, the head and the feet, after being cleaned may be used for soup stock also.
The liver should be soaked in water, the coarse veins cut out and the liver skinned and prepared any way that is desired before canning it or it may be made into liver sausage. The heart can be used for goulash. The kidneys should be soaked in salt water, split open and the little sack removed; then they can be either stewed or fried and then canned. The sweetbreads may be prepared in various ways and then canned.
The brain is soaked in water to remove the blood, and the membrane enclosing it is removed. It can be fried or prepared in any favorite way and then canned. The ox tail is used for soup. The tongue is soaked in water, scrubbed, cleaned, salted, boiled, skinned and packed in cans with some soup stock added.
If you do not care to use the head for soup stock and if it comes from a young animal, split it open and soak in cold water. Use a brush and scrub thoroughly. Remove the eyes and mucous membrane of the nostrils and then boil it. After it is boiled, remove all meat and make a mock turtle stew or ragout. Prepare the tripe as for table use and then can.
After the soup stock is made and the bones are cracked for a second cooking, the bones need not be thrown away. You can dry them, run them through a bone crusher and either feed them to the chickens or use them for fertilizer. In this way not a particle of the dressed animal is wasted.