Canning Beef Stew The Old-Fashioned Way – My Guide For Water Bath Canning Without A Pressure Cooker

Hey y’all! Are you looking for a way to can rich, hearty beef stew, but don’t have a fancy pressure canner? I’ve got you covered. I come from a long line of country folks who have been water bath canning stew the old-fashioned way for generations.

Nowadays people always insist that pressure canning is the only safe method for low-acid foods like meat and veggies. But with just a big pot, rack, jars and some common sense, you absolutely can safely can beef stew without a pressure cooker using the boiling water bath technique. Let me walk you through how it’s done.

Why Can Beef Stew?

First, let’s talk about why homemade canned stew is so wonderful:

  • Makes efficient use of cheap stew cuts of meat

  • Lets you stock up while ingredients are in season/on sale

  • Provides a quick and hearty meal anytime – just heat and eat!

  • Saves money compared to canned soup or stew

  • Makes a great gift for neighbors, family and friends

Tips For Making Canning Stew:

Here are some pointers to keep in mind when making beef stew intended for canning:

  • Go easy on thickeners – they can interfere with heat penetration

  • Cut meat and veggies into uniform small pieces for even cooking

  • Add tomatoes for more acidity

  • Season simply – herbs and salt only

  • Use hot packing method (see below)

What You’ll Need:

  • Stew meat, potatoes, carrots, onions, etc.

  • Water or broth

  • Quart or pint wide-mouth canning jars with new lids & rings

  • Large stock pot with rack

  • Jar lifter

  • Bubble removal tool

  • Clean kitchen towels

Step 1 – Make the Stew

Make your hearty beef stew however you normally would, following the tips above. You want smaller chunks of meat and veggies cooked until very tender but not mushy.

Step 2 – Fill the Jars

Use a wide-mouth funnel to carefully pack the hot stew into your sterilized jars. Leave 1-inch headspace at the top. The meat and veggies should be completely submerged in the liquid.

Wipe any splatters from the rim with a clean, damp cloth or paper towel.

Step 3 – Remove Air Bubbles

Before putting on lids, use a bubble removal tool or plastic knife to remove any trapped air bubbles.

Slide the tool down along the inside of the glass to release bubbles. This is important!

Step 4 – Seal the Jars

Place the sterilized lids on each jar and screw on rings just until fingertip tight – do not overtighten.

Step 5 – Process in a Water Bath

Place jar rack in the bottom of a large stock pot. Fill halfway with hot water. Bring to a boil over high heat.

Carefully place filled jars in the pot using jar lifters. Make sure they are fully submerged by at least 1-2 inches.

Once the water comes back to a full rolling boil, start timing. Process pint jars for 90 minutes, quart jars for 105 minutes.

Step 6 – Cool & Test the Seals

When time is up, use jar lifters to carefully remove the jars. Place them on a towel without touching.

Leave them to cool undisturbed for 12-24 hours. The lids should “ping” down, indicating a proper seal.

Check that the lids are concave and do not flex up and down when pressed. Any jars that did not seal properly must be refrigerated for short term use or reprocessed.

Step 7 – Date & Store

Once cooled and sealed, wipe down the jars and label with the recipe name and date. Store in a cool, dark place for up to a year.

Over time, the stew may darken and ingredients soften but it remains safe if seals are intact. Always inspect jars before opening.

Now you’ve got delicious home-canned beef stew ready anytime! Just open, heat and serve. Way better than canned soup from the store.

(Canning Country Cook)

Canning Meat WITHOUT A PRESSURE CANNER!!! The Method We Have Used For 3 Generations


Can you can stew without a pressure cooker?

Can I Water Bath Can Stew? No. Water bath canning simply does not get the food hot enough, long enough to safely cook the meat for storage. Because meat is a low acid food, it needs the high heat and pressure of a pressure cooker.

What can I use if I don’t have a pressure canner?

Simply fill your mason jars as directed by whatever repine you’re using, put the lids and rings on, and place the jars into the stock pot. Fill the pot with enough water to cover your jars by at least 2 inches. As long as your stock pot is deep enough for that, you are ready to can.

Is it safe to can meat in a water bath?

Canning low-acid foods, such as meats, in boiling-water or steam canners is absolutely unsafe because the botulinum bacteria can survive this process.

Leave a Comment