Home Canned Beef Stew

This is our absolutely favorite recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens Home Canning Cookbook from 1973.  I purchased it the first year it was published, and my book is VERY well used.    The original recipe called for flour to thicken the gravy, and I canned it that way for many years, but now I can it without thickening and add it when I heat to serve, as that is the USDA approved method.    
I usually can this in pint jars, I use several for company.  This is a favorite for drop-in guests – a few minutes to heat it up and you have a dish that everyone enjoys that tastes like you cooked for hours.  I add frozen peas when I heat it up; I don’t like canned peas.  I try to never drop below 4 pints of this delicious stew in my inventory, and usually can 2 batches every time.
Old Fashioned Beef Stew
  2 ½     pounds  Rump Roast, Trimmed -- 1 1/2" cubes
  1         pound  Potato -- 1'" cubes
  1         pound  Carrots -- 1/2' slice
  6         ounces  Celery -- 1/2" slice
  8         ounces  Onion -- coarsely chopped
  2        teaspoons minced garlic     
 1         quart  Water
  4         teaspoons  Catsup -- 1/2 tsp per jar
  4         teaspoons  Worcestershire Sauce -- 1/2 tsp per jar
  4         teaspoons  Beef Base -- 1/2 tsp per jar 
             Additional Boiling Water as Needed -- (from pot for sterilizing jars)
  • Brown meat on half sheet pans in 400° oven for 15 minutes, turn and brown additional 10-15 minutes. keep warm.
  • Prepare carrots, celery and onion, peel and dice potatoes last.  Add vegetables to 6-8 quart pot, cover with water; bring to a boil.  Remove from heat.  VEGETABLES DO NOT HAVE TO COOK.  Turn off heat.
  • Wash jars, keep warm until filling.  Prepare lids according to manufacturers instructions.
  • Add seasonings per jar.  Divide beef among jars.  Divide veggies among jars.  Pour hot meat juices, then hot water into hot jars, leaving 1-inch head space.  Remove bubbles with plastic knife and wipe jar rim carefully with hot wipe before sealing.  Cover and seal, place in pressure canner (with 3 quarts simmering water), exhaust steam 10 minutes, process in pints 1 hour and 15 minutes at 10# up to 1000’ elevation.  Let pressure drop of own accord (about 30 minutes), open canner, remove jars to clean towel and let cool and seal, setting apart to allow air to circulate.  Remove rings and wash jars carefully.
  • About 8 pint jars
  • Quarts need to be processed 1 hour 30 minutes at 10# pressure up to 1000' elevation.
EQUIPMENT:  Half sheet pan, stock pot or Dutch oven, chopping board, pressure canner, 13 x 9" pan with paper towel for jar filling, jars, lids and rings, funnel, lid magnet, jar lifter, plastic knife, 4 quart measure for water, clean towels.
ABOUT:  3 medium potatoes, 8 small carrots and 3-4 stalks celery and 1 large onion.  Keep chunks of meat and veggies fairly large to prevent overcooking (for 8 pint jars)
TO SERVE:  For each pint, drain liquid into measure, add enough broth to make 1 cup.  Pour into saucepan, leaving 1/4 cup in measure.  Add 1 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch to remaining liquid, stir well.  Heat remaining contents of jar with liquid, add other vegetables if desired, heat through, 5-10 minutes. Add thickening to stew, cook an additional 2-3 minutes.  Makes 2 small servings.   1/2 cup other veggies, for example, frozen green peas or green beans, thawed and drained, can be added to broth and heated with mixture.
Cost in 2011:  $1.10 or $8.77 per 8 pint recipe if rump roast is $2.79 a pound, carrots $1.29/2#, potatoes 2.49/5#, onion 39¢/#, celery 77¢ bunch.   This is a 33% increase in price from 2009! 


  1. That's a big increase. This looks delicious.

  2. Sue, I am close to a decision about buying a pressure canner and hope you might answer a few questions for me, as I would like to start canning meats as you have done.

    Would you recommend buying a used canner or a new one? (I would only purchase one used as long as the apporpriate owners manual came with it.) Is there a price range you would consider reasonable for a used canner?

    I have discovered re-usable plastic canning lid inserts; have you used them? What are your thoughts on them? (They are used with rubber seals which are replaced with each use.) This is where I found them:


    What is the best advice you can offer to a newbie to pressure canning?

    That beef stew will be one of my first projects when I'm ready to start!

    Thanks for any help you may offer!

  3. Marge,
    I purchased a Presto 16 quart size canner at Walmart last year and it works very well. It costs around $65, a good buy. I see they are out on-line, but they still have some at our local store. I also have a very expensive All-American - it is very nice, but they both do the job, and I probably wouldn't spend the money on another All-American. I have also used Mirro canners with success.
    I don't know about used canners - it would depend entirely on the condition and availability of parts.
    Newbie advice - get a current Ball Blue Book, can something easy like carrots or green beans the first time or two, don't try to do too much at a time, and remember head space, head space, head space. Getting out the bubbles and getting the right head space improve your chances for sealed jars.
    When my kitchen is hot from canning, I let my jars cool in another room - that seems to help sealing success too. Take your time so you don't make mistakes.

  4. Marge,
    I haven't tried Tattler lids - I think they are quite expensive; I have good luck with the bulk lids from the Amish stores.

    1. I bought the Tattler lids when they were on sale, I was a little nervous not hearing the ping but have gotten used to them and love them, well worth the money....

  5. Thank you so much, Sue. I've been reading about bulk lids and think that's the way to go.

    I grew up in a family where canning tomato juice and green beans was as predictable as the changing of the seasons. The deterioration of the economy, a tight budget, and the simple desire for food which has ingredients I trust are the main reasons for my decision to return to canning; my hope is to venture into other foods besides tomatoes and green beans. I feel a little more impowered by the information you've shared.

    Again, my thanks to you.

    8 )

  6. You have mentioned Amish stores in the past; please, would you mention a name or two and where they are located?

    Thank you so much!

  7. The ones we go to closest to us are:

    Stringtown Grocery
    2266 540th Street, Kalona, Iowa
    Hours of Operation
    Closed Sunday and Tuesday.
    Mon, Wed, Thu, Fri – 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    SAT – 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM.
    4.5 miles north of Kalona on Highway 1, turn East at Cheese factory, about ¼ to ½ mile east on the north side of the road.
    The Dutchman’s
    Cantrill, Iowa
    On highway 2 east of Bloomfield and South of Fairfield. You must turn off 2 and drive into town. It takes up a whole block on the main drag – you can’t miss it.
    See this page for a copy of their flyer with map and address, etc. click on the flyers to enlarge them.
    There is a newer store west of Bloomfield too. For others, you may want to search for "amish stores in Iowa."

  8. Thank you for the information about the Amish stores, Sue. I see a road trip with my honey in the near future; he'll enjoy visiting those stores as much as I will!

  9. How long would you process quarts? I don't think pints would be big enough for my family. I can't wait to try this!

    1. Brooke,
      You need to process quarts for 90 minutes. We enjoyed a jar of this for lunch today...just plain good!

  10. Chris S, Sue I begin my first pressure canning experience this week the big question I have is How long does the stew last for storage and prepping purposes. Do you store them in the freezer or can they store in a cool dry place. Are they good after a month? Thank you for you wisdom and sharing it.


    1. If your jars are processed and seal properly, they can be stored in a cool dry place, preferably without too much light. The stew will keep indefinitely, but quality is reduced somewhat after the first year or two. It is still perfectly acceptable to eat. We eat canned products that are two years old without any noticeable loss of taste or quality.
      That said, we try to turn over our canned inventory regularly, oldest is used first. It's too good to waste.

  11. I was wondering if you could at some clear jel like you use in pie filling to thicken it prior to canning?

    1. Yes you can. The original recipe called for 1/4 cup of flour, so the equivalent in cook-type clear jel would probably be appropriate. I have not experimented with it; as we are happy with the result we get with this recipe.

  12. I will give it a try! Thank you!

  13. Sue, I have stew in canner right now. Can't wait to try it. Potatoes, carrots and onions are from my garden also threw in a handfull of green beans. They are just getting big enough to eat, will be canning those next week. Busy time for southern gardeners. Thanks for the recipe

    1. Hi, Jean...
      I hope you love your stew...we sure do!
      It's a great busy-day meal.

  14. Update on the stew....we loved it and I have already put up 14 more guarts. I did cut the beef base in half because of amount of salt also used venison instead of beef. This is a real winner. Thank again for sharing.

  15. Can I can leftover beef stew? My veggies and meat are already soft.

    1. Yes, you can. But the quality may not be as good as following this recipe because some foods can get too soft when totally cooked then canned, which in effect “cooks” them again, and the vegetables in your stew may get mushy. The veggies in this recipe are simply heated, not cooked, before canning.
      You pressure can it for exactly the same time as if it were freshly made. It doesn't matter that it has already been cooked, because it's possible that bacteria got into the food between cooking and canning.
      If you do can it, let us know how it came out.

  16. Hello
    Thank you for posting this helpful information it looks so good and i am anxious to try it out.
    Have you been having any problems with your jars sealing in the last few years ? My brother and i both can a lot of green beans and have noticed a higher failure rate recently. I canned up 35 quarts in my all american 921 yesterday with Ball lids and 5 did not seal. I am reusing inspected (by me) jars. my brother bought 48 new ball jars with lids and lost 3 out of 48. Just wondering if you had noticed any change?

    1. Yes to your question about lids sealing. I buy bulk lids at the Amish stores near us; they are now all I use when I pressure can. I use the thinner newer Ball lids for water bath canning only, as I was getting most of my seal failures when I pressure canned. I wondered if the thinner lids flex more under pressure and release more liquid, etc. that may get under the sealant.
      The bulk lids are thicker and have a wider band of sealant. They told me they are intended for small commercial canners who can specialty items in jars.
      The Dutchman’s Store in Cantril, Iowa is one source of bulk lids.

  17. Sue
    thanks so much for getting back with me so quick. I am in Kansas so i am not close enough to benefit from the awesome link that you sent me. I will have to check around locally i suppose. Your theory about the thinner lids makes sense to me. I am planning to put your beef stew recipe to good use next week along with the bountiful green bean harvest this year tossed in ! I am tempted to add a tomato or 2 but cant decide on the safety of that since the tomato needs to be acidic enough to preserve correctly so i think i should probably skip the tomato.

    1. Rebecca,
      You only have to worry about the acidity of your tomatoes if you are water-bath canning them. It doesn't matter when you pressure can them in a mixture like this for this long a time.
      Check on the internet for Amish stores in Kansas...one may be near you and they will almost certainly have the canning lids in the tubes at this time of year. They weigh the lids when they pack them, there are over 300 to a tube, depending on the size.
      You can also call the phone number on the Dutchman's site and they will mail lids, according to others who aren't close enough.

  18. I certainly agree about the All American canner. I had the Presto, but bought the All American because it said it could hold 14 quart jars. Well, it really only holds 7 in most circumstances, and I can do six with the Presto I already have. So I spent $300 when I already had a $65 canner that could do the same job. Live and learn! Because I was learning my new canner, I was a little slow turning off the heat and the potatoes cooked more than I wanted them to. They are large chunks, so I'm hoping they don't get too soft. Have you ever had that happen to you, Sue?

    1. I haven't had the potatoes cook too much yet. I do use pretty large chunks for that reason.
      This stew recipe is also pretty good with just beef and carrots...Then I make mashed potatoes to go with it.

  19. I added an All American 14 quart canner to the other 4 canners i have, I LOVE IT! NO GASKETS and holds a bunch more
    Here is the trick with getting 7 quarts in the bottom row of the canner. Ball Brand Jars are a smaller diameter than most of the other jars. Ie, Golden Harvest and other brands. I will give you a few minutes to measure the diameter, the Ball are smaller in diameter !
    Here's the trick, put 2 Ball brand jars in the bottom row with the other jars and everything will fit fine, you might have to wiggle them a bit to settle them in but they fit fine.
    Problem cured.
    The top stack has plenty of room.
    Try putting 12 off brand jars in a case for Ball jars, they will not fit! .

    I am anonymous because i cant figure out how to post under my name.

    Bob Ellsion

    1. I agree on jar sizes, Bob. I have found that my old Kerr jars are the smallest. I also mix them with the Golden Harvest so I can get a canner full of jars, and not waste space.
      I have a small All American now and I like it very well, but I also like my 16 quart Presto from Walmart that isn't that new anymore. The price is right for new canners, until they are sure they will can enough to justify one as expensive as the All American. Sometimes their enthusiasm at first is more than their actual want-to becomes. Seems like life gets in the way of the hard work of gardening and canning.
      Like you, I have more than one canner so I can keep things going when canning gets busy, and also pick the right-sized one for a single batch.

  20. hello just finished last night 14 quarts of beef stew. I have noticed, the next morning after the cooldown everything has sealed. This is the first time pressure cooking for us. And I have noticed, the fluid down on some of the jars and some of the stew was sticking out of the fluid. Most jars there are 1 inch head space. Some are more and I am just wondering if this is safe. Is this because maybe there was still air bubbles in their? We've followed the guidelines of one hour and 30 minutes and actually gave it five more minutes, because it took a while to regulate the pressure. Our first batch. We finally got it at 10 pounds pressure. The second batch we got the pressure around 11 pounds to 11 1/2 pounds and stayed pretty well along their. Is more time in the canner pressure cooking, going to hurt the process? And because there are vegetables and stuff sticking out at the top of the fluid will it still be safe? All the jars seal pretty well within one hour. Another thing I noticed the water that was in the pressure canner smelled and looked a little bit murky smell like beef stew. It must've came out of the jars, while pressure canning. Can you give me some input on may we may have done wrong and how we can correct this the next time.I also am posting this under anonymous as I am not sure how to do it any other way. Thank you for your time

    1. I wouldn't worry about your jars of stew, if they are sealed. You could get a little discoloration if you have potatoes out of the liquid, but the jars of stew will be safe and taste good too.
      Your jars siphoned a little liquid, probably if you tried to turn your burner up and down to get the right pressure. I make it a practice to turn my burner down gradually so I don't go too low; it's best not to have to turn it down and then back up - that seems to cause more siphoning. Even experienced canners, including me, get some siphoning once in awhile - it doesn't really hurt your product's safety if the jar sealed.
      Hope you enjoy the good taste of your stew!
      Don't forget the time to exhaust your canner before you put on the rocker - it's important to help get the canner up to the right temperature.
      That's why I like canners with just a weighted gauge - you don't feel so inclined to try to keep the pressure even by turning your burner up and down. Some folks fit their Prestos that only have a gauge with a weighted rocker too...the Presto from Walmart only has the weighted rocker, and I think they are much easier to control.

    2. thank you for the advice, I forgot to tell you, I noticed on the top of the jars at the liquid line there is a there is a bit of grease floating on the water line. Will this affect the beef stew? Also, my husband loves beans to and your recipe sounds great. I think that will be next weekend's chores. Thank you once again, I'm sure it will be writing again

    3. This will make your stew taste better! As long as you don't have too much that it keeps your jars from sealing a little fat adds some flavor.

  21. Well, now I don't feel so bad. I purchased an All American in the Spring and have turned into a canning madwoman putting up everything from chili, sphagetti sauce; preserves, ham/potato/carrot soup; hamburger soup, etc. but I've had a failure rate about the same as the folks posting before me. I lost an entire batch of beef broth vegetable soup which really ticked me off given my time/money spent at the farmers market and prepping? Purchased a ton of Ball lids/rings and want to can beef stew and am hesitant after reading your post with the thicker lids. I'm in PA, 30 mins. from Lancaster Amish country. Will give Lancaster Fine Foods a call and see if they will sell lids in bulk! Thank you for all the wonderful info! ---Joanne or anonymous cause I can't see where to change it either!

    1. Good luck. Glad to see more home canners out there. Not too many hobbies taste as delicious.

  22. I am fairly new to canning. I've canned mandarin oranges and chicken stock but now I want to try this beef stew and other recipes since my intimidation level has eased a bit. My question concerns the inclusion of spices. I've heard that some give off flavors when canning. I ask because I'm fond of bay leaves in stock and stews. In your experience do you know if the inclusion of a small piece of bay leaf per pint give any off flavoring when canned and stored?

    1. I use a bay leaf in 4 pints of beef stock...I don't know that I'd use much more, for fear of getting it too strong. And, I remove the bay leaf before canning the stock.
      I don't think I would include the actual leaf in your canned jar.
      Good luck and good canning.

  23. This recipe turned out wonderful. I would suggest to anyone that no modification is necessary with this recipe. I think the bay flavor will go into the chicken stock for the barley that gets served with this.

  24. hmm canned beef stew eh? :)

  25. I'm still fairly new to pressure canning, myself, so I'm hoping you wouldn't care to answer a question for me. I live at just over 6,000 feet (Colorado Springs). How long would I put them in the canner for? I've always heard to add 10 minutes per 1,000 feet, but adding 50 minutes on top of the 90 minutes needed for quarts seems a little extreme to me. Can you help me out? Thanks in advance!

    (Also posting as anonymous as I can't figure out another way to post)

    1. You add time for water bath canning for higher altitudes, NOT pressure canning.
      To pressure can at higher altitudes, you need to can at a HIGHER PRESSURE than 10-11# that I use here at 1000', but for the SAME TIME.
      If you have a weighted gauge canner, can this recipe at 15# pressure for the 90 minutes for quarts or 75 minutes for pints at 6000'-8000'.
      In a dial-gauge canner, can this recipe at 14# pressure for 90 minutes for quarts or 75 minutes for pints 6000' and 15# for 8000'.

      I would suggest you purchase a new Ball Blue Book...they are usually available at libraries too...but are less than $10 at places like Walmart or stores where they sell canning jars, usually right near the jars and canning equipment. They give a current chart for canning at higher altitudes in the introductory section and include information on pressure canning that a lot of the newer canning magazines and books don't include.
      Good luck!

  26. Bryce Cupp - Yakima WAJanuary 28, 2015 at 3:40 PM

    I have a quick question about canning stews. If I cooked my usual brown beer beef stew in my dutch oven, would I need to process for 90 minutes in quarts or would a lesser time provide the same results? If I do need to pressure can for 90 minutes, would you recommend lesser cook time? I love the way the 3 hours in the dutch oven gets everything tender and the flavors meld together perfectly. I don't want to alter the flavor/texture when I can this.

    Any Ideas?


    1. No matter how long you cook your stew, you must process it 90 minutes for quarts for shelf storage safety. You'll find that this recipe gives a very tender, good product; I think cooking your stew too much before you can it would produce mush.
      Perhaps this just isn't the product you want to can? If it won't compare to your preferred recipe it may be a waste of food and time to try canning stew.

  27. Hi Sue
    First attempt at stew was the Ball recipe, and it was surprisingly good with just S&P and thyme. Next time will try with the tomato paste and Worcestershire. I do have a question related to siphoning, partly answered by your comment about big fluctuations in pressure - I'm guilty of that. Since it's not a water bath method, I'm guessing that the jars don't need to be completely covered. And the shallower the water is, the less siphoning would occur with variations in pressure. How deep does the water in the canner HAVE to be? Also, what do you mean by "exhaust your canner before you put on the rocker?" I am using a monster size guage / weighted rocker type cooker, and for this recipe I'm doing pint jars. I keep a few in my locker at work, partly because it's super convenient, and partly because if I don't stash some for myself I won't get any!

    1. Steve,
      To reduce siphoning, be sure you leave enough headspace; 1 inch between the contents of the jar and the rim. If you don't have enough space, when the mixture boils under pressure, it will boil out. You need the right space to get a vacuum, but not boil out.
      Use enough water so it is 2 to 3 inches high in the canner. Longer processes required more water. I would go with 3 inches for meat and stew.
      For Venting: Turn the heat setting to its highest position. Heat until the water boils and steam flows freely in a funnel-shape from the open vent pipe or petcock. While maintaining the high heat setting, let the steam flow (exhaust) continuously for 10 minutes.
      After this venting, or exhausting, of the canner, place the counterweight or weighted gauge on the vent pipe, or close the petcock. The canner will pressurize during the next 3 to 10 minutes.
      If you don't vent properly, your canner may not reach the proper pressure because there will be an air bubble still in it. While venting, you will often hear a "burp" or two; this is indicating you are getting all the air out.
      Glad you like the recipe; it's one of our favorites! Good luck.
      You should buy the current Ball Blue Book at Walmart and read the front information sections on using canners. It's good information, and they also have lots of current recipes to try.

  28. Delicious! the meat was lovely and tender.

    1. Rachel,
      Really glad you liked this recipe.

  29. Replies
    1. You would like it...and it sure comes in handy on busy days.


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