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Home Canned Meatballs

Myrna and I have been canning meatballs from this recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens Home Canning Cook Book since the book came out in 1973.  It is always successful, and I personally have no qualms about continuing to can it despite any controversy about canning a mixture like this.  You may have to decide whether this recipe is for you, but this recipe is from 1973, not the ‘20s or ‘30’s.  Obviously, it must only be canned in a pressure canner, and they should be packed loosely as directed.  Don’t get your meatballs too big, so they get heated through, and pack loosely for the same reason.  
If you are new to canning, check out our canning basics.  
I have canned it in water or broth or in tomato or V-8 juice, depending on the end use.  I often heat the broth or water in a 2 quart measuring cup in the microwave; easy to ladle or pour from.  I use a size 60 scoop to make meatballs with minimum work.   I usually use wide-mouth pint jars to facilitate getting the meatballs out of the jar easily.
I tried another meatball recipe that is made with oatmeal instead of the bread “panade”, and it was not successful for canning– the meatballs fell apart.  
To use these, I often add 1 ½ tablespoons of flour to ¼ cup of cold water or sour cream and add it to the meatballs and broth; season appropriately, heat 10 minutes and serve over rice or noodles.    If canned in tomato liquid, thicken with tomato paste before heating and serving.              
                             Basic Meatballs
  6     Large  Eggs
6         Cups  Soft Bread Crumbs -- (about 9 ounces)
1½   Cups  Water
1       Cup  Onion -- finely chopped
1       Tablespoon  Salt
¼    Teaspoon  Pepper
 6     Pounds  Ground Beef
        Parsley, minced (optional)
 2     quarts Broth or Boiling water   (approximate)

In large bowl, combine first 6 ingredients and parsley if desired.  (Let mixture soak up water.)  Add beef; mix well.  (Do not overhandle).  Shape into 12 dozen 1 inch meatballs. (I use a size 60 scoop).
Place on shallow baking pan.  Bake at 425° for 15 minutes.
Pack loosely into hot jars, leaving 1 inch headspace.  Add boiling water or meat juice, leaving 1" headspace. Adjust lids.
Process in pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure for 75 minutes (for up to 1000‘ altitude).
  "8 Pint Jars"

52 comments:

  1. How do you figure out what size your scoop is? You mentioned you used a #60.

    Thanks!

    -Juli

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  2. I share an interest in Juli's question concerning scoop size, Sue, plus my own question regarding where the scoops may be bought.

    Thanks!

    (Keep cool!)

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  3. The scoop size is usually marked on the scoops, in the case of mine, on the little bar inside the scoop that cleans it out. When you purchase them, they should be marked there or on the handle.
    I purchased mine from a food service vendor when I worked as a dietitian; however, they are sold online and at kitchenware shops. The links below shows what I am using. I have seen them at the kitchen shops at Williamsburg, Ia Discount Mall.
    http://www.vollrathco.com/catalog_product.jsp?id=4551&cid=203
    http://www.kitchenconservatory.com/Dishers-and-Scoops-C461.aspx
    King Arthur Flour and other online shops like Amazon carry them.
    I have a size 60 for meatballs and tablespoon size cookies, a size 100 for teaspoon size cookies, and a size 24 for muffins and cupcakes.
    King Arthur uses a size 40 for tablespoon size cookies and a size 16 for muffins. Mine are a little smaller.

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  4. I should add, buy a good quality scoop. I have had my size 60 for 30 years - a good investment for something I use several times a week. Use it for anything you are portioning with spoons - one-handed makes it easy.
    See mine on this page.

    http://iowasue.blogspot.com/2010/11/cookie-baking-equipment-and-gadgets.html

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  5. If you click on the picture, they enlarge and you can see the scoops better. I have them also and use them quite a lot.

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  6. Thanks so much, especially for the links to various places that offer them. I want to buy some good quality scoops, because the cheap ones I've had in the past (plastic handles)just don't hold up.

    Great post!

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  7. I've been looking at various pressure canners, with an eye to purchasing one. I have a glass-top stove, but this one says it will work on a smooth-top:
    http://www.amazon.com/Presto-23-Quart-Aluminum-Pressure-Cooker/dp/B0000BYCFU/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

    What do you think?

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  8. I guess I don't want to recommend a pressure canner on a glass stovetop. Partly because of your stove warranty.
    If you can meats, for instance, you have a heavy canner on the stovetop for more than an hour.
    I have a Presto 16 quart canner from Walmart that I like just as well as my expensive All-American, and it only costs about $65.
    I think if I was going to use a pressure canner on a glass top, I would opt for the 16 quart Presto - it holds as many quarts as the 23-quart canner, you just can't double stack pints - which I think you wouldn't want to risk on a glass top. Also, it's hard to get enough jars ready quickly enough to double-stack efficiently.
    I like the Walmart Presto because it has a rocker gauge instead of a dial, which I much prefer. Our altitude in Iowa makes a rocker gauge work well. (Close to the top of the pressure range - 1000')
    Many folks who buy the 23 quart Presto then spend money converting it to a 3-pressure rocker gauge so they can listen to their canners instead of fret over watching a gauge.

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  9. Thanks for the advice! When I bought the stove, it never occured to me that canning would be difficult. I wish I had known. :(

    The recommendation for the smaller canner is much appreciated. I don't want to double-stack. And I definitely hadn't thought about having to babysit a dial as opposed to the rocker gauge.

    -Juli

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  10. what if i wanted to use quart jars? do i cook it 10lbs. for 90 minutes?

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  11. Yes. Pints for 75 minutes; quarts for 90 minutes at 10# pressure.
    You'll like these!
    Sue

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  12. Thank you for this recipe. I found it on Pinterest and will definitely make it this summer.
    Blessings,
    Linda

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  13. I am hoping to make these this weekend. I am wondering how well they hold up. A friend said that hers sometimes fall apart (different recipe) does that typically happen?

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    Replies
    1. Amber,
      This recipe works better than most for canning. If you are worried about them falling apart, you can bake them a little longer, perhaps 20-25 minutes, before canning. A lot depends on your oven too - how hot it actually is.
      Do let the bread soak up the liquid. I would suggest trying a small batch first to make sure you like them - this recipe isn't hard to cut in half.
      Your friend may have been a "gauge-watcher" who moves her heat up and down - that won't help. However, I have never had this particular recipe fall apart. I tried to can my freezer meatball recipe with oatmeal once and falling apart is exactly what happened. It was a disaster!

      Delete
  14. I am new to canning. I would like to can Norweigen meatballs. My recipe uses 2 lbs. meat to 1/4 cup cream and 2 T. cornstarch plus 1 egg, and other spices. I've heard that I can't can anything with dairy, cornstarch or eggs. Does this just apply to the liquid or does it also apply to the meatball mixture itself? Thanks in advance for any advice.

    BTW, I know I have to pressure can meat.

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    Replies
    1. I would leave out the cream...why not try the tested recipe above and just change the spices to the ones in your recipe. After all, it's the spices that make the meatball. One other caution though - some spices like sage get quite a bit stronger in canning and storage.
      Perhaps you might try this recipe (cook a few first to try them for flavor); and add you spices to the gravy when you heat your meatballs?
      To reduce the recipe to just make uncanned meatballs to try for flavor, try 1 large egg, 1 cup soft bread crumbs, 1/4 cup water, 2 tablespoons onion, 1/8 tsp. salt and a dash of pepper to 1 pound ground beef, mix as above and fry or bake until done.

      Delete
  15. If you wanted to put a tomatoe sauce in instead of the boiling water, could you just use a commercial pre made sauce? and Does it change anything? Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. I don't see why not. Make sure it's not too thick, however. It should run easily; if not, thin it with a little water or tomato juice. In fact, tomato juice or V-8 juice works well.
      I don't do that just because I want the versatility of making whatever kind of sauce I want when I use it; in other words, multipurpose meatballs. If I want them in spaghetti sauce, I just drain the broth (and save it for soup or gravy), and heat them in homemade or commercial spaghetti sauce before use.
      You can dilute canned mushroom soup and use this for your canning liquid too.

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  16. Hi my recipe for meatballs is basically the same but can I add parmesan cheese and garlic to this recipe then process?? Thanks :)

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    1. I would have reservations about the parmesan cheese...I think the garlic would be fine.
      Dairy tends to curdle during canning in a pressure canner. I think you would like these meatballs just fine the way they are...add some garlic and Parmesan to your sauce when using them.

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  17. Do you think these would be more likely to fall apart if they are made with part ground turkey? I like the softer texture of it mixed with the ground beef. But obviously I don't want a jar of meat mush ;-) Thank you!

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    Replies
    1. I honestly don't know. You might try just a few jars to experiment. Let us know if you do!

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  18. I noticed you use "soft bread crumbs". I thought bread like oatmeal was a NO NO???
    I am new to pressure canning and I am afraid if I use bread or oatmeal or milk that it will be bad.
    I guess I am confused, a lot of people do use bread, crackers, mild, oatmeal and I really don't know what to do in regards to pressure canning meatloaf or meatballs. I read somewhere that there was a recipe approved by the USDA for meat balls but I can not find it.
    If bread, crackers or oatmeal is not recommended, why do you use bread crumbs? Are you not concern that you might get sick???

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    Replies
    1. Linda,
      There are concerns when people make their meatballs very large, or pack them in very tightly, that they may not get hot enough all the way through. I choose to continue to make this recipe; others may not.
      If you are concerned about it, just make your meatballs with the meat and seasoning alone, leaving out the bread crumbs and water. They work very well that way. You still need to pack your meat hot, with hot broth, and process with a pressure canner.
      This is a page from the USDA that mentions meatballs

      Sue

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  19. thanks for the link, I have a recipe for Spoon Burgers( that's what we call them) instead of sloppy joes. Will you tell me if there is anything in this recipe that I CAN NOT USE if I want to pressure can it.
    Ground Beef
    Hunts Basil, garlic and Oregano tomato sauce
    Hunts Basi, garlic and Oregano Diced Tomatoe
    chopped onions
    Kikkoman Teriyaki sauce
    McCormick Steak seasoning

    It makes one mean pot of Spoon Burger

    Thanks
    Linda

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    Replies
    1. Sounds good; it should can up great! Can as for ground beef and you should be good to go.

      Delete
  20. thanks Sue for all your advice, I think I will try your meatball recipe as well.
    What kind of "Soft Bread Crumbs" do you use?
    Is the parsley fresh or can I use what is in the seasons section?
    If I didn't use water, what kind of "broth" are you using?

    Sorry for all the questions, just trying to get my ducks in a row before I begin. I hope you understand and don't get angry with me.
    You have been very helpful to this beginner
    Thanks again

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    Replies
    1. Linda, I just whirl some bread slices in my food processor - whatever I have, white or whole wheat. I weigh the slices so I don't have to measure. I use either fresh or dry parsley; about a third less if I use dry. It's not necessary; i just usually have a pot of it on hand. I usually use homemade canned beef broth, but if I have to buy it, I like condensed beef consomme in the "red and white" can. I seldom use water; but the canning book calls for it and it works. You can also add some beef base to your water for a beefier flavor.
      If you want to see if you like this recipe or not, it's easy to halve and make fewer jars.
      No question is one too many, no other way to learn - I'm not a believer in trial and error if someone can help me out a little.
      Good luck on your canning.
      By the way, these meatballs also freeze well after the pre-baking, and are much cheaper than purchased frozen meatballs.

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  21. Thanks Sue, I need your advice and I didn't know where to go to ask so I am asking here.
    I bought some corn on the cob at our local farmers market today and I can't pressure can it till tomorrow.
    DO I go ahead and shuck it and store it in the refrig in a bag or leave it in the refrig with the husk still on????
    Thanks

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    Replies
    1. Linda,
      I'd leave it in the husk so it doesn't dry out.
      You're buying corn and we're looking at cold and rain with snow in some parts of Iowa today!

      Delete
  22. Thanks, I appreciate the information. You have been a lot of help to me.
    we are suppose to have severe thunderstorms with possible hail and tornado's tonight in Georgia.

    Take Care, talk to you again soon

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  23. Hey Sue, my corn didn't turn out as expected. it turned brown and whenever I opened a couple of jars it smelled overcooked so I trashed all 16 pints. I was wondering do you have someway I can contact you in private with questions pertaining to pressure canning???

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    Replies
    1. Hi, Linda...
      We don't give our emails on the blog for security reasons.
      Brown corn is safe to eat but not very palatable. Super sweet varieties of corn may turn brown when canned or it may be overmature or canned at an excess temperature. Did you can your for 55 minutes for pints and 85 minutes for quarts?
      Pick Your Own.Org
      This is a website that have great information, with pictures, and answers to common canning questions. This link goes right to corn.

      Delete
  24. I understand, not a problem
    According to the Ball Blue Book and the usda food preservation web site, I put them in pints Quarts where a no no and I cooked them for 85 minutes. Yep I guess I over cooked them. Even my Son who pressure can's said I cooked them to long and that I can't always listen to the blue book or the government. My hubby is going to pick me up somemore next week and I am going to freeze it...just don't want to waste the money and time and have to throw it away again

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    Replies
    1. I can tell you that most folks around here freeze their sweet corn; the results are just better with the newer super-sweet varieties. Good luck!

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  25. Hi Sue, Just wanted to let you know that I canned 19 Pints of meatballs yesterday.
    They Held up Great, I used the recipe that uses Cream of Mushroom soup and Hopefully they will taste as well as they look. I did get to eat one or two before I put them into the jars and they tasted great.
    Next week I want to do another batch of meatballs but this time use tomato juice. Should I water the tomato juice down or use just as is???
    Your recipe for meatballs is fantastic. Just thought I would let you know I had great success with your recipe.

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    Replies
    1. Linda,
      I'm really glad you liked the meatballs. I wouldn't water down your tomato juice. Spaghetti sauces, however, are too thick for this recipe.
      I usually just can in good broth; if I want spaghetti sauce with my meatballs, I drain them, saving the broth for soup, and heat them in spaghetti sauce to serve. That way I have the flexibility to make either gravy or spaghetti sauced meatballs from the same batch.

      Delete
  26. Replies
    1. Most home canned products are at their best the first year, but they will last indefinitely with just some small loss of quality. Ours never last around here more than 2 years - that's my usual plan when I can - I don't usually can what we can't use in a year or two - however, I never turn down something free to can!
      Remember to keep your canned goods in a cooler, dark place if you can - light will change the color over time.
      I use a large closet that I have completely shelved as I don't have a basement anymore.

      Delete
  27. I was wondering if store bought bread crumbs (regular and seasoned) would work for the canning recipe. Thank you.

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    Replies
    1. I haven't tried them. On home canned items, I try to stick pretty closely to the recipe, to get good results and for food safety. I would only be guessing as to amounts of dry bread crumbs to equal the fresh ones in the recipe...and the fresh ones make a sticky meatball that stays together while canning.

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  28. We're planning on making our own spaghetti sauce from home grown tomatoes and would like to include meatballs and some browned meat in the sauce as well. If we brown the meat and cook the meatballs thoroughly in the sauce prior to pressure canning will everything be safe? We are new to pressure canning and wanted to try this method instead of freezing our sauce with meatballs. Our basic meatball recipe is very similar to yours except for using store bought bread crumbs. Also in quart size would we process at 10 pounds pressure for 90 minutes? Thanks for your help with this!

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    Replies
    1. I would brown your meatballs separately (not cook them through), pack them into your jars, then add your sauce. Otherwise your meatballs will be too cooked, and perhaps fall apart, especially if you cook your sauce down a lot. It's also easier to get an equal amount of meatballs in each jar if you pack them first, then pour in your hot sauce.
      Don't get your sauce too thick, so your mixture gets heated to the right temperature all through the mixture. Also, don't pack your meatballs too tightly.
      You are right about the time and pressure for canning at 1000' or less elevation. I don't can them in quarts myself, but Jackie Clay from Backwoods Home Magazine has the recipe in tomato sauce in her canning book; "Growing and Canning Your Own Food".
      Good luck with your endeavours.

      Delete
  29. Hello, Sue! Your directions for the canned meatballs are just what I was looking for. Thank you!

    Is it best to use lean ground beef,(I have some 93/7 in the deep-freezer), or should I use a fattier meat, like an 85/15? I can't see why, since I wouldn't want to pay for what amounts to wasted drippings, but I would like to know what has been used successfully by you and your sister. (Flavor-wise, texture, etc.) I would love your advice.

    Thank you,
    Anna Barton of Sonrise Hobby Farm, <+)))><

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    Replies
    1. I use leaner beef; for canning especially. If you want to use fattier beef I would put the meatballs on a rack in your sheet pan before baking them, just my opinion, for what it's worth. You can also fry your meatballs, but why would you? too much work for the amount to make canning worthwhile.

      Delete
  30. Thanks for the information. I have some ground venision...which I don't particularly care for 'straight'. I always mix it with other ground meat. Since I can no longer find reasonably priced meatballs in the stores I'm going to use this recipe and can them.

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  31. So glad you posted this- I am a little bit of a rebel when it comes to "the rules" and have been looking for something just like this !!!

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  32. After reading this blog about how you can meatballs and a few other recipes you gathered from Better Homes and Gardens Home Canning Cook Book 1973 I went right to Amazon and purchased a used one for $4 and free shipping. I received it today and can't wait to dig into it. Thank you for sharing.

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    Replies
    1. I like the book really well and use it more than any other I have except a couple of old Kerr books. Hope you like it as well as I do.
      You may want to be sure your methods are up-to-date; for instance, I no longer put wax on my jellies as I used to - I water-bath them - less waste.
      Compare their method of canning with a current Ball book. However, the food combinations are good, as are the ways to use your canned foods.

      Delete
  33. Canned meatballs today, only thing I did differently was added beef stock for the liquid, they are AWESOME!!!

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  34. I had to Pin the recipe. Thank you so much for sharing it.

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  35. I saw a comment about adding garlic. It can get bitter when canning at the high heat and pressures required for meat
    (Same for oregano)

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