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Canning Beef Stew for Convenience and Emergencies

image of bowl of home canned soup

Every summer I find myself spending a few days making canned beef stew, I make other canned soups and stews also but canned beef stew is our favorite. Even though it’s hot, I like canning beef stew during the summer because I can use the produce right out of our garden.

My beef stew “recipe” is really more of a process than a set recipe but I’ll give some quantities. You can make substitutions based on what your family likes but don’t ever add any kind of thickening agent, such as flour, cornstarch, or arrowroot, to our canned beef stew (or any home canned products for that matter.)

I use these worksheets to plan and keep track of my home preserved food. You can get the worksheets emailed to you by filling out the form below.

In order to can stew safely, you need a pressure canner.  I KNOW there are people who say they just boil it for 4 hours and they are still alive. But this is one area that I’m going to go ahead and trust that the USDA has our best interest in mind and is telling the truth. You can do what you want, but for our family the risk is just too great.

This is the pressure canner I have and I love it. I can put 7 quarts or 19 pints in it.

If I start early in the morning I can get three batches canned in one day. So, I usually use my large restaurant quality stock pot or my roaster oven to make the stew. If I start later I’ll make a smaller batch and use my large cast iron skillet for the pot. I use the hot pack method but I don’t actually precook the beef stew. I’ve never had the stew turn mushy while canning which some people like to raw pack canned stew.

image of beef stew for canning

Preparing to make canned beef stew

The first thing I who when I can anything is  put my tea kettle (which holds almost a gallon of water) on to boil. I also prepare the jars and lids. Since the canned beef stew will be processed for more than 10 minutes, the jars and lids don’t need to be sanitized, just wash them in hot soapy water and rinse them.

If’ I’ve planned well, I would have set out some frozen tomatoes to thaw the night before. If not, I pull out some tomatoes from the freezer and thaw them in the microwave. I always freeze our tomato harvest first so the skins will come off without blanching. We like a lot of tomatoes in our beef stew so I use about two gallon size bags of frozen tomatoes.

I put a little oil in the stock pot and sear about 6 pounds of beef – I’ve used stew meat, roast, and even a trimmed brisket, whatever is the best price is what I use. (I’ve also made canned venison stew using the same process.) I don’t cook it all the way, just lightly brown it. When the meat is done, I take it off the heat and add 2 heaping tablespoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of thyme, about 2 teaspoons of black pepper, and 3-4 bay leaves. I know some people like to use beef bullion in their beef stew but we really like the fresh flavor of a tomato based beef stew. But if your family likes a more beefy beef stew, then feel free to use bullion.

Then I put the tomatoes and other vegetables in the pot. I usually put 3 heads of garlic that has been peeled and chopped, 4-5 chopped onions, 3-4 lbs chopped carrots, 8-10 pounds diced potatoes, 6-8 cups of corn, and 2-3 pounds of okra. I really love adding okra to our canned stews because mucilage in the okra adds a bit of thickening to the  stew in a safe way.

I mix up all the ingredients and add some water or tomato broth (or chicken broth) to it if the liquid doesn’t cover the meat and vegetables. 

I keep the heat under the pot or on the roaster oven on the lowest setting to keep the stew warm.

image of home canned venison stew in jars

How to Can Beef Stew

The canning part is really easy, you just have to take your time and enjoy the  process.

  1. If you didn’t do it earlier, wash each jar and lid in warm soapy water.
  2. Put the pressure canner on the stove and add water according to the manufacturer directions.
  3. Fill each jar with the beef stew mixture and leave a 1″ head space.
  4. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean damp cloth.
  5. Top jars with lids and bands. I really like to use canning reusable lids on these because I don’t normally give these as gifts.
  6. Place hot jars into water in pressure canner (prepared per manufacturer guidelines).
  7. Lock the lid
  8. Turn up the heat to medium-high
  9. Once it’s boiling and you hear steam coming from the vent,  let the steam vent from canner for 7 minutes, then put weight on vent
  10. Continue heating until you reach 10 pounds pressure (adjusting for altitude if necessary)
  11. Process pint jars for 75 minute, and quart jars for 90 minutes
  12. After processing time is finished, turn off heat and let pressure go all the way to zero psi
  13. Once the canner is completely depressureized, remove lid.
  14. Remove jars and let them cool
  15. Once they’re cool, remove bands, wipe jars, and store properly.

Having home canned stews is so convenient for during the school year, I really have no excuse for not having from scratch meals each evening. If time is really short, I can serve the stew with fruit and crackers. If I have a bit more time I can make biscuits, and if I’ve planned ahead I can make homemade bread.

But it’s not just for convenience, it’s also for emergencies. We’ve had storms come through that has knocked our power out for a few days. We’re totally fine because we have a variety of canned stews available.

image of home canned beef stew in jars
Yield: 12 quarts

Canned Beef Stew

Canned Beef Stew

Canning beef stew in the summer is a fantastic way to preserve the summer vegetables and have shelf stable meals available year round. This is a tomato based beef stew that makes for a wonderful canned stew. You can pretty much use whatever vegetables you like in beef stew to suit your family's taste preferences.

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 6 lbs stew meat (or cut roast, brisket, or venison)
  • 10 -12 lbs tomatoes
  • 4-5 chopped onons
  • 3-4 lbs chopped carrots
  • 8-10 lbs chopped potatoes
  • 2-3 lbs chopped okra
  • 6-8 cups corn
  • 3 heads of garlic - peeled and chopped
  • 2 heaping tablespoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of thyme
  • about 2 teaspoons of black pepper
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • beef bullion (optional)

Instructions

Prepare the beef stew for canning

  • Put a little oil in the stock pot and sear the meat. Don't cook it all the way, just lightly brown it.
    1. When the meat is done, take it off the heat and add spices.
    2. Add the vegetables to the pot. 
    3. Mix up all the ingredients and add some water or tomato broth to it if the liquid doesn't cover the meat and vegetables.
    4. Keep the heat under the pot or on the roaster oven on the lowest setting to keep the stew warm.

    Canning Beef Stew

    1. If you didn't do it earlier, wash each jar and lid in warm soapy water.
    2. Put the pressure canner on the stove and add water according to the manufacturer directions.
    3. Fill each jar with the beef stew mixture and leave a 1" head space.
    4. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean damp cloth.
    5. Top jars with lids and bands. I really like to use canning reusable lids on these because I don't normally give these as gifts.
    6. Place hot jars into water in pressure canner (prepared per manufacturer guidelines).
    7. Lock the lid
    8. Turn up the heat to medium-high
    9. Once it's boiling and you hear steam coming from the vent,  let the steam vent from canner for 7 minutes, then put weight on vent
    10. Continue heating until you reach 10 pounds pressure (adjusting for altitude if necessary)
    11. Process pint jars for 75 minute, and quart jars for 90 minutes
    12. After processing time is finished, turn off heat and let pressure go all the way to zero psi
    13. Once the canner is completely depressureized, remove lid.
    14. Remove jars and let them cool
    15. Once they're cool, remove bands, wipe jars, and store properly.

    Did you make this recipe?

    Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

    What kind of meals in jars do you can?

    Thanks for sharing with your friends!

    Diane

    Sunday 15th of August 2021

    Does it change the time to can/process if I do not add the okra?

    Angi Schneider

    Saturday 21st of August 2021

    No - the time is based on the meat which takes the longest of all the ingredients.

    Lauri W Callison

    Friday 19th of March 2021

    Great recipe! This is very similar to my vegetable beef soup, but I would love to add barley. Is that possible? (I’m new to canning) Thank you!

    Angi Schneider

    Saturday 20th of March 2021

    Hi Lauri, great question. You cannot add any grains or pasta to home canned foods while canning them. They will need to be added when serving.

    Debra Lynette Guedry

    Thursday 8th of October 2020

    What is the shelf life for this stew?

    Angi Schneider

    Saturday 10th of October 2020

    The USDA recommends that home canned food be used within a year - for quality reasons. As long as the jar remains sealed, the food is safe to eat but it will start to soft over time.

    Heather

    Saturday 26th of September 2020

    why don't you have to add citric acid or lemon juice to this when using tomato products in stew? I ask this because I made stew and put tomato paste in it, and am currently pressure canning it. I looked up canning tomato products and found out that you have to have an acid to can tomatoes.

    Angi Schneider

    Sunday 27th of September 2020

    Because of the long processing time in the pressure canner. When you're canning tomato products such as crushed tomatoes, whole or halved tomatoes, all the processing times have been developed with an acid being added to the tomatoes. So even if you pressure can tomatoes they need to have acid added to them. However, if you are doing a mix of tomatoes and vegetables or a soup the USDA says to use the processing time for item with the longest processing time when it's pressure canned individually. For beef stew, this would be the processing time for meat which is 90 minutes per quart. Here's an article that goes over the "rules" for canning your own soup recipe. By the way, thanks for asking this question, it's a good one. I'm glad you want to know the reasons behind the rules.

    Vickie

    Tuesday 4th of August 2020

    Can you add cabbage to the stew?

    Angi Schneider

    Thursday 6th of August 2020

    While I know there are some people who can cabbage soup, there are no safe guidelines for pressure canning cabbage. In order to pressure can soups safely, there needs to be recommendations on how to can each ingredient - there isn't one for cabbage. So I would not add cabbage to the soup. You can read more here.

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