Canning Meatloaf for Meals in a Jar

Mama Bear
By Mama Bear May 15, 2020 07:30

Canning Meatloaf for Meals in a Jar

I love having meals in a jar on my storage shelves.  It is so nice to spend a few minutes warming up a good hearty meal, instead of spending hours preparing one.

I have been searching for a recipe for canning meatloaf. I found several on the web but I was not comfortable with making the mix, putting it raw in a pint jar and then processing it in a pressure canner.

If you are like me when you make a meatloaf in a loaf pan for dinner, it is usually swimming in fat when you take it from the oven. I did not want to look at jars of fat accumulation and I believe a high fat content will make processed food go rancid faster than not, so I decided to come up with my own recipe.

Here’s what I did: I made my own mixture (recipe follows). Since I found a great deal on ground beef this week, I decided to use 10 pounds of meat and see how many meatloaf meals in a jar I could make. But in case any of you would like to do smaller portions, here is the recipe broken down for every 2 pounds of meat.  You’ll have to guess at the tomato juice, if you don’t make a bunch like I did.

First of all, for this recipe you will need ground beef. Mine was the cheap ground beef. For every 2 pounds of ground beef  you will need to add:

  • Canning Meatloaf for Meals in a Jar1 egg;
  • 1/2 cup of onion, chopped;
  • 1/4 cup of bell pepper, chopped;
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon of salt;
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder;
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper;
  • 1/2 cup of oatmeal (uncooked).

In addition to the above items, you will need tomato juice to cover your meat in the jars.  I used 10 pounds of ground beef, so I ended up needing 3 cans that were 1 quart 14 ounces each.  I used the Great Value brand from Walmart not only because it was cheaper, but because it was 100% juice and I could pronounce all the ingredients: tomatoes, salt and ascorbic acid.

I began by cracking my eggs in a very large mixing bowl and lightly whisking them with the garlic powder, salt, and black pepper.  I then added the onions, bell peppers and oatmeal and stirred this mixture.  Then I began working the 10 pounds of meat into this mixture using my hands.

I actually ended up using two large mixing bowls until I got everything mixed together and looking uniform.  I then made meatloaf patties.  Yes, patties like you would make hamburgers for the grill.  Speaking of grill, just wait until I tell you later what else I did with my cheap ground beef.

Since you will be canning in wide mouth canning jars, take a wide mouth lid and a band and stuff your meat mixture into it.  Don’t over-stuff it like I did in this picture, or you will only get four large patties in your canning jar, instead of the more uniform five. Just make it even with the band.Canning Meatloaf for Meals in a Jar

Then all you have to do is push the lid back through the band and remove the lid from the meatCanning Meatloaf for Meals in a Jar

and there you go! You have an exact size portion of meat, that after cooking and shrinking just a bit, will fit perfect in your wide-mouth jar.Canning Meatloaf for Meals in a Jar

After forming my meatloaf patties, I put them on my broiling pan to bake. This way most of the fat drains as it cooks. My pan held 12 patties at a time.Canning Meatloaf for Meals in a Jar

I baked these in a 375 degree, preheated oven for 30 minutes. I sacrificed one to see if it was done enough.  The onions were just a little crunchy, but the processing would take care of that.Canning Meatloaf for Meals in a Jar

As each pan was done, I put the patties on a platter, covered them with tin foil and placed them in the refrigerator until I had enough to do a canner load.  My canner will do 7 quarts.

I had already washed my jars in the dishwasher so they were still hot.  I had my lids and bands simmering. I  had my tomato juice just at a simmer on medium heat, making sure I stirred often to prevent scorching.Canning Meatloaf for Meals in a Jar

I had my pressure canner ready with simmering water.  Since it took me a couple of hours to bake all of the meatloaf patties, some were now just barely luke warm. Five patties will fit into a quart jar just under the 1 inch mark.Canning Meatloaf for Meals in a Jar

To warm them back up, I placed the jar with meat into the microwave and microwaved on high for a minute or so. I then ladled my hot tomato juice over the meat patties, covering the patties. I used a wooden skewer to run down the edges of the jar to release any air bubbles.Canning Meatloaf for Meals in a Jar

If you are canning anything with meat or oil, use a paper towel soaked in white vinegar to wipe your rims.  This cleans any oil you may have missed, which may prevent a good seal on your jar.Canning Meatloaf for Meals in a Jar

I removed the lids and bands from the simmering water and hand tightened each jar, before adding them all to the canner.Canning Meatloaf for Meals in a Jar

After loading the canner and getting my pressure up to 11 (I have a dial gauge),  I processed my quarts for 90 minutes. If you try this recipe and use pint jars, you will need to process only for 75 minutes.

Although I was at the inch mark on my jars, I still had some spill over from my jars. The water in the canner had a light shading of red from the tomato juice and my tomato juice had went down in the jars. However this did not prevent my jars from sealing, so they are OK.

After processing I still see a bit of fat that collected at the top, but not so much that I can’t live with it.  I have 3 more jars to process and I think I will cut back on the tomato juice and see if the processing needed more room to create juices in the jar.

Related: Canning Pasta Sauce for Long Term Preservation

I used my own onions and bell peppers grown this year in the garden and already had the spices and oatmeal on hand, so I don’t know the exact cost of these meals. The meat and the tomato juice this week cost around $20.00 and I will get 10 quart jars, so for me this breaks down to around $2.00 a meal.  Can’t beat that.

Each jar would feed a family of  3 to 4 easily, unless you have really big eaters. I think this would be good served with mashed potatoes, or it would probably be great over some rice.  Some people like a sweet glaze over their meatloaf and for those that do, after opening a jar for warming,  you could add a little brown sugar to the tomato juice and serve over the patties.

PS: I processed the remaining jars the next day using a little less tomato juice. I still had liquid that run over during processing. I am thinking that maybe there is a lot of trapped air when I put all the patties in at once and then pour the tomato juice over everything.

For my next batch, I will make sure to add one patty at a time and pour the juice over each patty individually. There has got to be a reason this is not working as planned.  In spite of juice and some the fat content spilling over, all of the jars have a good seal.

Note:  I know the food police does not recommend canning anything with eggs or oatmeal, but the Amish have been doing this for years and sometimes not even with a pressure canner. I never heard reports of them dropping dead with food poison on a daily basis.  Just remember to do what you are comfortable with.

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Mama Bear
By Mama Bear May 15, 2020 07:30
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  1. Pete May 15, 14:12

    How long will the canned meatloaf stay shelf stable?

    Reply to this comment
    • Jean May 15, 16:55

      Can you do this in a water bath or must you use a pressure canner?

      Reply to this comment
      • REB May 15, 19:55

        Jean, I was told that canning any form of meat requires a pressure canner.

        Reply to this comment
        • Jeff July 7, 08:20

          Actually I’ve read an article concerning canning cooked breakfast sausage that works. Cook the sausage, put in your jar. Put liquid sausage grease in the jar. Put the top on tight and turn it upside down. Store it in this position. I did this and came back 6 months later and ate the sausage. It was just fine.

          Reply to this comment
      • Sue May 18, 07:02

        Pressure can or Freeze dry. Pressure canner: 90 minutes at 10-12lbs depending on altitude and the canner will cook it. Store a few years…always rotate

        Freeze dry it cooked, mylar with an oxygen absorber and it should last many years

        Reply to this comment
  2. REB May 15, 14:33

    I love this! I will be making this with elk and/or deer this year, and will definitely try one patty at a time then sauce, etc. Thank you!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Neicey9591 May 15, 15:15

    Thank you…awesome idea…

    Reply to this comment
  4. Suzan May 15, 15:22

    Sounds great! Thank You for the recipe and instructions. I have never done any canning but, always wanted to learn.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Nancy May 15, 15:44

    Great idea! Can’t wait to try it. I’ve also canned bacon.

    Reply to this comment
    • S Hood May 15, 16:46

      Question. Because I am allergic to tomatoes, I make my meatloaf with mushroom soup. So my question is, would canning meatloaf work with a gravy rather than the tomato sauce?

      Reply to this comment
      • Sparky May 15, 21:03

        It should so long as it’s not full on condense that hasn’t been watered down. I’ve made my own cream of mushroom soup and it can just fine so I don’t see why you can’t submit for the tomato sauce

        Reply to this comment
  6. LB May 15, 16:25

    Yes, How long will the canned meatloaf stay shelf stable?

    Reply to this comment
  7. Cyndi May 15, 16:35

    did you water bath can or pressure can? If you water bathed I’m assuming the tomatoe juice gave it the acid needed… I’ll be really interested to find out how this turns out but seems great! Do you think if I used my own recipe (but added the tomato sauce) that it would be okay?

    Reply to this comment
    • jim May 15, 18:37

      she said 11 pounds prressure

      Reply to this comment
    • Ester May 15, 19:52

      All meats have to be pressure cooker canner. Not water bath. Can it 90 minutes for quarts at 11 pounds pressure. I have been canning for 47 years. I make my own dog food and my latest is chicken and veggies also BBQ. Great for camping.

      Reply to this comment
    • mbl May 16, 19:31

      The NCHFP has lots of info on canning.

      They tell you low-acid foods (meat for example) must be pressure canned at a poundage based on your altitude. Sea level is 10 lbs and every 2000 feet you add another pound until you max out at 15 lbs. this is if you have a canner with a dial gauge. If you have one that uses just weights, then sea level is 10 lbs and everything 2000 feet and higher 15 lbs.

      They have a complete guide to home canning, last revised in 2015

      That said, there are countries where pressure canners are not common, and they will waterbath everything. That still goes on in North America, too. But the processing time is longer and the temperature inside the waterbath cannot get as high as it does within a pressure canner. So even if you have tomatoes with your meat, you’d still need to process for meat times. If you waterbath, that would be 3 hours at a rolling boil. Using a pressure canner, it would be 75 minutes for pints, 90 minutes for quarts at the pounds needed for your altitude.

      At the NCHFP site, they will tell you some things are not tested. This does not necessarily mean they are not safe, but what it means is that they have not done testing where they’ll recommend something. Many will equate that to saying it’s not safe. Personally, i think they just don’t want to spend the money to run tests for some of the things. On others, like pureéd pumpkin, they’ll say they could not get consistent results so recommend against. And yet I’ve known people who canned pureéd pumpkin at home for years without incident.

      The site is helpful in presenting how to can safely and gives information on many different fruit, veg, meats, and seafoods.

      Reply to this comment
      • Cyndi May 16, 21:15

        Excellent – thank you!!

        Reply to this comment
      • Tomk July 8, 20:22

        I got a Ball Blue Book at the extension office a few years ago. Very good resource. Somewhere along the line, I also learned that tomatoes are now being bred with less acid, so it’s best to use lemon juice or vinegar in them. You can get yourself killed if you’re not careful. Best to ask a lot of question of knowledgeable people.

        Reply to this comment
  8. Rhonda May 15, 16:55

    I may try mixing the tomato juice with some barbeque sauce, or try some added chili powder and spices in the juice (like spicy V8)… Somehow plain tomato juice doesn’t sound like our usual “flavor.” Otherwise–definitely going to try! Thanks!

    Reply to this comment
  9. Johnny P May 15, 17:09

    Does the liquid need to be tomato of any kind, or can it be broth instead. You see, I do not eat tomatoes.

    Reply to this comment
    • KCK May 15, 20:02

      Broth would be great! When I worked at a little diner, the cook would fry up all the beef patties for hamburgers right after breakfast then place them in a pot of beef broth to stay warm. They were the BEST burgers around!

      Reply to this comment
    • mbl May 15, 22:35

      Johnny P, you can use broth instead. If the meat is cooked before you can it, canning books will tell you you need to have some kind of liquid with it. Boiling water or broth to pour over.

      If you raw pack meat, adding liquid is not required, but some will add liquid.

      she talked a bit about siphoning (when some of the tomato juice escaped) and that usually means you had either too much in the jar or too much air in the jar. You can debubble by taking a chop stick or debubbling tool and work it around the inside of the jar after you have the meat in there. You can wait until you have the meat and tomato juice or broth in there. When you get out more of the air doing that, the liquid will drop down a bit, taking up the space the air bubbles did, so you may need to add a bit more broth (or tomato juice) to maintain the 1-inch head space.

      Reply to this comment
  10. ABCDEMOM May 15, 17:44

    I have never canned before. I am very interested especially if I can get some bulk meals done. What type of canner on the affordable end do you recommend?Right now I just have a hot bath canner.

    Reply to this comment
  11. Oddduck May 15, 18:38

    It is my understanding that the National Center for Home Food Preservation does not recommend canning meatloaf. There are no safe tested recipes.

    Reply to this comment
    • Annie May 16, 10:56

      As well, ALL meat MUST be pressure canned , no exceptions.

      Reply to this comment
      • Jeff July 9, 01:28

        Several years ago I read something about canning breakfast sausage so I tried it. It involved cooking the sausage, placing it in jars with it’s or grease while liquid, placing the lids on tight then turning it upside down and storing. I came back 6 month later and ate it. It was fine. I did a quick search and within 30 seconds I found this. When Minnie put up sausage, she filled the jars with sausage and hot lard (a very old method of storing sausage), tightened the rings, and turned the jars upside down for processing. When the jars were cool, she turned them right side up and put them in the root cellar. Pressure canning was not a part of the process.

        Reply to this comment
  12. SoftballUmpire May 15, 21:43

    This was one of the many times that I use dried minced onion & dried minced garlic & minced dried hot peppers. Older cookbooks I have consulted mention that the use of fresh onions tend to lose their flavor & recommended the use of the dried ones. As for the hot peppers & green peppers; that is just personal taste.

    Reply to this comment
  13. Clergylady May 16, 09:48

    I’ll try this but with beef broth instead of tomato juice. The broth can go in the gravy to serve over mashed potatoes or rice at serving time. For my altitude, 6800, the pressure is 14 lb. Time the same.

    Reply to this comment
  14. Bill May 17, 13:35

    The hell with the food police, this looks GREAT.

    I’m going to try your recipe, but then I’m going to use mine as well. I always used a packet of Lipton onion soup mix, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, bread crumbs, egg, chopped onion, a little garlic salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.

    For the sauce I think I might use what two others suggested, cream of mushroom soup, and another in beef broth.

    I also think I will use my food saver vacuum pump and suck out all the air in each jar and see if that doesn’t help with the air pockets you were talking about and possible leaking the sauce into the water bath.

    On a side note here, I never really thought about it for canning, but when you have 11 to 15 psi in there, that is some VERY hot water. For every pound of pressure, you raise the boiling point 3 degrees, so a 15 pound cap now raises the boiling point 45 degrees or from 212 degrees, to 257 degrees. This is why you NEVER remove a radiator cap on a hot engine….once you release that pressure, you instantly lower the boiling point and coolant boils over VERY violently.

    Also not to mention the pressure which is approaching the lower end of nuclear bomb over pressures. I mean an EF5 tornado with a 300mph wind creates only a 2.8 psi over pressure and look at the damage it does. Happy canning. haha

    Keep up the great work.

    Reply to this comment
    • PL C May 19, 14:09

      Oops! Don’t use your vacuum pump, it will suck up the liquid and ruin your foodsaver! The author’s idea of adding the patties and liquid one at a time is best for eliminating air bubbles. Also, using patties instead of a solid pack will cut down on the density issue (possibly incomplete heat penetration). I am thinking of adapting this to little ham loaves in wide mouth pints jars.

      Reply to this comment
  15. tmm May 17, 19:48

    Not quite true. Remember that as you raise in altitude the actual temperature that water boils at is reduced. That is the reason you must increase pressure in your canner to maintain 212 degrees.

    In a water bath canner at 2000 ft altitude the boiling water is actually 208.1 degrees – at 3000 feet it boils at 206.2

    thus the need to increase the pressure inside to get the temp up to 212 degrees.

    Reply to this comment
  16. Tomk May 18, 04:27

    That looks like the hamburgers we made when I was a kid. Just make a meatball and flatten it. Haven’t had a hamburger like that for 50 years.

    Reply to this comment
  17. Stacy May 23, 20:29

    I made this recently and it tastes wonderful! I used a muffin pan to make my meat loaf patties and it worked wonderful. I just had to wait until the patties to cool some before taking them out of the muffin pan.

    Thank you for sharing I love learning to can something new!

    Reply to this comment
  18. PL C August 1, 02:47

    Thank you! I really think your method solves the problem of density preventing full pathogen annihilation. I am tempted to try canning ham loaf with your method, except the liquid incorporated is milk, with bread crumbs. I could use oatmeal instead, but wouldn’t know what to substitute for the milk. Instead of tomato juice, I’d use the sauce normally used when baking the ham loaf: vinegar, brown sugar, and mustard.

    Reply to this comment
  19. Unicorn September 25, 04:44

    Try using tomato sauce instead of tomato juice. Also I add chopped up cashews to my meatloaf mix. My family loves it. Just a tip from an ex trucker.

    Reply to this comment
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