***DISCLAIMER*** Let me start by saying – No book will tell you to can sausage this way, but an 80 yr old Grandma in Southern VA will gladly show you “how her Mama done it”…. And if you post a picture on social media (in certain groups) be prepared for the backlash of – you can’t do that!!! All I can say, is my family has done this for generations and no one has gotten sick or anything else from canning sausage. I’m well aware of the health cautions/concerns and that this may not be a USDA approved method….but….This is how we do it, it works, if done as instructed it’s safe and if I had one ounce of doubt, I wouldn’t dare do it….
There is no secret – but there is a key – you MUST cook your sausage completely done before canning.
Turn the oven on 200 degrees and place the jars in the oven for heating.
Roll out the raw sausage into patties and “do the math”. Ask yourself – How many patties will my crowd eat at one sitting? That’s how many you want to put in one jar. And that’s the number you want to use while cooking to make sure you cook enough each time to evenly fill your jars. At my house, the magic number is 5 and 5 fits nicely in a pint jar. I prefer pints, I don’t see any reason why you can’t use quarts. You’ll notice in the picture below we have 15 patties cooking which means I have a minimum of 3 jars in the oven and 3 lids boiling. I boil my lids as I go since all of the patties don’t get done at the same time.
One pound of sausage will average 1-2 pint jars, depending on how many patties you add per jar and how big you make the patties, etc.
Fry the sausage thoroughly like you’re going to eat it – right then. Pack your magic number (serving size) into a HOT, wide-mouth, pint jar and pour the grease over the sausage. Usually an inch or so of grease will do, there’s no magic measurement, we just use the grease from the pan and it always seems to be enough.
Wipe the rim of the jars really good! Place a hot lid and ring on top, tighten down the lid and carefully flip it over. Be sure to use an oven mitt, because these babies are hot!
Now – cover with a towel and let them sit. This is known as “Upside Down Sealing” and is often used with cured meats, jams and jellies. The grease from the sausage will harden and help the jar seal. The below picture is the morning after. I store mine upside down, rings on them just like pictured. When I’m ready to heat and serve, I pop the seal, toss the lid and heat the glass jar in the microwave for 1 minute to dissolve the grease. Then we heat the sausage up in a cast iron pan for just a few minutes. This makes breakfast a snap! Add the hubby’s homemade biscuits and I think I’ve taken a trip down memory lane! YUM!
Many have asked what’s the shelf life for sausage – good question. We try to can enough sausage for one year. I have growing boys so this takes 50-60 lbs and we average running out right before “hog season”. My grandma kept it a couple of years. This is where you need to use your own judgment. Enjoy and happy canning!