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Every Thanksgiving, I always buy a few turkeys on sale AFTER the holiday to cook throughout the year. But what to do with all that meat?? We’re only a family of four – we couldn’t possibly finished an entire turkey ourselves. That’s where canning comes in! This Thanksgiving, why not can your leftover turkey meat for the months to come?
To be honest, there aren’t a lot of leftovers in my family. Between the boys, the chickens and the compost pile (in that order), very little food goes to waste. But when you’re cooking a HUGE turkey…well…there are only so many turkey sandwiches, soups and egg scrambles one person can take. That why I like canning the extra. Plus, it’s just as easy to cook two turkeys as it is to cook one (assuming you have a big enough oven).
If you’re new to canning, check out my post on Everything You Need to Know About Home Canning Safety. But if you’re not new to canning, check out my FREE canning printables.
How to Hot Pack Turkey Meat
“Hot packing” simply means putting hot meat and hot broth into the jar. You’ll sterilize your canning jars by either boiling them in water, running them through your dishwasher, or (my personal favorite) putting them open-end down in your pressure cooker with a couple inches of water and bringing it to a boil. The rims get boiled while the inside of the jar is steam cleaned.
Pick the meat off of your turkey carcass (save for making broth!), and pack as much of it as you can in your jars, leaving 1 1/4 inch headspace (or space between the meat and rim). Bring some water or turkey or chicken broth to a boil and gently pour over the meat, again – leaving headspace. Done! Your jars are hot packed!
How to Pressure Can Turkey Meat
If you’re a beginner canner, please do not be nervous about pressure canning. Of course we’ve all heard the horror stories, but by following some simple rules, you’ll be perfectly safe.
Because turkey meat is a low-acid food, simply processing them in a boiling water bath is not enough. I’ve read in some forums that you can hot water bath low acid foods for a VERY long time to accomplish the same thing, but all of the guides that I’ve read don’t recommend this.
Wipe your rims with a clean cloth or paper towel, and secure the lids. Ball® has come out recently and said their lids don’t need to be warmed up at all before securing them to your jars. I’m old-fashioned, though, and will still dip my lids in the same boiling water that I sterilized my jars in – if only to sterilize them as well.
Place your jars in your pressure canner and fill with 3-4 inches of water. You don’t need a lot – just enough to boil, create steam, and increase the pressure in your canner. Secure your lid and turn your stovetop burner to high. If you’re using a weighted gauge, it should be at 10 lbs – 11 lbs if you’re using a dial gauge. Once your canner reaches the appropriate pressure (for my canner, it’s when the weighted gauge jiggles just right) begin the timer. You’ll process pint jars for 65 minutes, and quart jars for 75 minutes.
How to Use Your Canned Turkey Meat
My favorite way use our canned turkey meat is in pot pies. Simply cook your carrots, potatoes, celery – whatever else your family likes in a pot pie – add some broth and flour, and then mix the meat in before you pop it in the oven.
Or it’s a great addition protein to scrambled eggs, thrown into a rice or pasta casserole, turkey salad sandwiches, turkey fried rice, enchiladas, etc.