Canning Sloppy Joe | Pressure Canning Tutorial

Pressure canning sloppy joes is one of our favorite ways to get shelf-stable meals in a jar on the shelf! Each jar is flavorful with a combination of ground beef, tomato sauce, green bell pepper, onions, and just the right seasonings. Perfect for busy weeknights, having shelf-stable sloppy joes on hand ensures a delicious meal is always within reach. 

We love to eat it on toasted buns, or over a baked potato!

Jar of Pressure canned sloppy joes, with bell peppers, garlic, and more jars in the background

Why You’ll Love These Pressure Canned Sloppy Joes

  • Convenience: This sloppy joe mixture is perfect for quick, easy meals! Simply heat it up and serve!
  • Save Money: Always have a quick meal handy and avoid eating out!
  • Emergency Preparedness: Pressure-canned sloppy joes are shelf-stable, fully cooked, and ready to eat right out of the jar, making it easy to put together quick meals in an emergency!
  • Ingredient Control: Canning your own sloppy joes allows you to choose exactly what goes into each jar. There are no added preservatives or unnecessary hard-to-pronounce ingredients!

​What will I need to complete this recipe?

You will need the following ingredients:

  • Lean ground beef
  • Tomato sauce
  • Beef broth
  • Green bell peppers
  • Yellow onions
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Light brown sugar
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Garlic powder
  • Canning Salt (I use Redmond sea salt. Redmond isn’t considered canning salt, but because it doesn’t have iodine or caking agents, it’s ok to use)
  • Black Pepper

YOU WILL NEED THE FOLLOWING SUPPLIES:

  • Pressure canner: I use a 23-quart induction-compatible pressure canner. This is a great canner for beginners who need a more affordable option. It’s also lighter and safer to use on smooth top glass stoves. It can also double as a water bath canner for high-acid foods. I have never had any issues using a Presto canner for 20 years on a smooth glass stop. Note: Please read your instruction manual and decide for yourself if you’re comfortable using your pressure canner on your smooth glass-top stove. The All-American pressure canner is also a fantastic option, and most well-seasoned canners lean in this direction.
  • Canning rack: your pressure canner should come with a canning rack for the bottom of your canner. You never want to put your jars straight on the bottom of the canner. I like to have two racks, one for the bottom, and one for stacking jars.
  • Canning kit: It should include a jar grabber, canning funnel, lid magnet, and bubble popper/headspace measurer. 
  • Clean kitchen towel or bath towel for cooling hot processed jars.
  • Canning jars: I love using wide-mouth or regular mouth will both work great for this recipe.
  • Canning lids and rings: If you buy new jars they will come with lids and rings. If you are using used jars, make sure you have enough lids and rings on hand. Save your rings; you can reuse them if they are in good condition (no dents, major rust, etc.). However, you need a new lid each time you preserve something new. You can, however, reuse old lids for vacuum-sealing jars or everyday use if they are free of dents. 

What are the two primary canning techniques?

Water Bath Canning: Water bath canning is suitable for high-acid food like fruits and pickled vegetables. This method uses boiling water to create a vacuum seal.

Pressure Canning: Necessary for low-acid foods like meats and vegetables. Pressure canning is required to reach between 240ºF and 250ºF in order to kill off any bacteria.

What is pressure canning?

According to the NCHFP (Nation Center for Home Food Preservation:)

“Canning is an important, safe method of food preservation if practiced properly. The canning process involves placing foods in jars or cans and heating them to a temperature that destroys microorganisms that could be a health hazard or cause the food to spoil. Canning also inactivates enzymes that could cause the food to spoil. Air is driven from the jar or can during heating and as it cools a vacuum seal is formed as it cools. This vacuum seal prevents air from getting back into the product, bringing with it microorganisms to recontaminate the food.”

Importance of Safe Canning Practices

  • You don’t want to get sick. Unsafe canning methods can result in spoiled food and botulism. A spoiled jar of home-canned food is generally easy to spot, but a jar that has grown botulism is not and can result in getting really sick. (This is rare; don’t let it freak you out!)
  • Don’t waste your precious time. It’s normal to have a jar here and there that you find the seal has failed, but losing mass amounts of jars isn’t normal when using proper canning techniques. Canning is a lot of work upfront, and you don’t want to waste your time.

Why Pressure Canning is Vital for Sloppy Joes:

Pressure-canning sloppy joes is necessary because meat and most vegetables are low-acid foods. Low-acid foods require a higher temperature achieved with a pressure canner to make your food shelf-stable and safe to eat.

Before you start:

If you’re new to canning, familiarize yourself with your specific canner’s instruction guide for proper operating techniques.

GATHER ALL YOUR SUPPLIES

Nothing is worse than getting halfway into the process and realizing you’re missing something crucial. Go over everything you’ll need and make sure you have it.

Give yourself plenty of time! You don’t want to find yourself needing to leave to pick up kids from school, but still have 30 minutes left to go on your pressure canner!  A mistake I’ve made plenty of times. 

CLEAN YOUR SPACE

  • Clean your Space: Keeping your workspaces, tools, and hands clean during canning is important. We want to maintain the quality of food by not introducing any harmful bacteria to it or the jars. You don’t have to go crazy and bleach the whole house. Just maintain cleanliness, clean your work surfaces, wash your hands, make sure your jars and tools are clean. Wipe down your workspace and clean up your workspace. Again, you don’t have to go crazy with bleach. Your favorite multi-purpose cleaner will do.

PREPARE YOUR JARS

  • Clean jars: Even if they are new! You don’t need to sterilize your jars. The NCHFP (National Center for Home Food Preservation) if jars are processed for 10 minutes or longer don’t need to be sterilized prior to canning. A hot cycle in the dishwasher or washing and rinsing in hot, soapy water will do. Once jars are clean, I keep them in a clean sink of hot water, take them out, and fill them with contents as I go. You don’t want to add hot contents to a cold jar, it could result in a cracked jar.
  • Check jars for nicks, or cracks: While washing your jars, or taking them out of the dishwasher, check the rims by running your finger over the rims checking for any chips or cracks. Don’t use jars with chips or cracks anywhere, as this will result in a failed seal or cracked jar, with a side of wasted time and a mess to clean up.

WASH LIDS AND RINGS

Wash lids and rings in warm, soapy water.

Check the box your canning lids came in. Some canning lid manufacturers require you to pre-warm the lids in simmering water before putting them on jars. 

PREPARE YOUR CANNER

  • Clean the canner after every use and ensure it’s clean before using it again. Refer to your canner’s manual for full maintenance and care instructions.
  • Ensure the vent pipe in the lid is clear, as this is where the air escapes. Hold it up to a light to see through it. If you see an obstruction or can’t see light through it, try blowing into it to clear it.
  • Prepare the Canner: Place the canner on the stove burner and add the canning rack to the bottom. Pour in three quarts of hot tap water and turn the heat on low. If you’re adding hot-packed jars, heat the water to 180ºF. For the raw pack method with this chicken, hot tap water on low heat is sufficient. You need three quarts of water regardless of how many jars you are canning. (Water amount may vary, please refer to your canning guide for correct water amount)
Jar of Pressure canned sloppy joes, with bell peppers, garlic, and more jars in the background

How to Pressure Can Sloppy Joes

Step One: 

Brown the ground meat in a large skillet, leaving it slightly pink. This will help it maintain its shape when canning and prevent overcooking. Drain any excess fat. If you’re using a higher fat ground beef, I’d recommend cooking it all the way through and draining off the grease. If there is too much grease in the jar it can bubble up the sides of the jar onto the rims and prevent lids from sealing.

Step Two:

Add in tomato sauce, beef broth, green peppers, onions, apple cider vinegar, mustard, brown sugar, Worcestershire, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir until everything is well combined.

Step Three:

Let simmer for 5 minutes until everything is heated through.

Step Four:

Ladle into hot jars, leaving 1-inch headspace, 1-2 jars at a time. Debubble jars to release any air bubbles. Check for correct headspace again, and add or remove sloppy joe filling to maintain a 1-inch headspace.

Step Five:

Wipe jar rims clean with a clean, damp paper towel. Add lids and rings, and tighten the rings finger-tight.

PROCESS JARS

On medium-high heat, begin the process of venting the canner, this just means getting all the air pushed out so the pressure canner can reach the proper temperature. When there is a steady stream of steam coming out of the vent pipe, time for 10 minutes. When 10 minutes is up, add your weight.

Start your timer for the required processing time once the canner has come to pressure.

Process pints for 75 minutes, and quarts for 90 minutes adjusting pounds of pressure (PSI) for elevation, see adjustments below.

(please refer to your canner’s owners manual for full instructions on how to operate it correctly)

ALTITUDE ADJUSTMENT

Pressure canning altitude adjustment chart.

POST PROCESSING

Once your processing time is up, turn off the heat and let the pressure canner come down from pressure on its own. Do not try to speed this process up! Refer to your canner’s manual for details. Once the canner is depressurized, remove weight and let the canner sit for 10 minutes, this allows jars to settle and helps prevent siphoning.

After 10 minutes, remove the canner’s lid, Be careful of the escaping steam when taking off the lid. Lift out jars with the jar grabber as the jars will be hot. Carefully set jars on a clean kitchen towel leaving space in between each jar to allow for proper cooling. Leave on the counter unbothered for 12-24 hours.

FAQs

Does pressure canning change the texture of the meat?

Yes, pressure canning can alter the texture of meat. Canned chicken from the store doesn’t have the same texture as shredded rotisserie chicken or grilled chicken breast. Similarly, canned green beans don’t have the same texture as roasted fresh ones. I always suggest canning a small batch of something you haven’t tried before committing to canning a whole year’s supply. This will save you time and avoid food waste if you don’t like it. Alternatively, you can can sloppy joe sauce and add fresh meat when you use it.

How to store jars of sloppy joes?

For optimal storage, store canned food on a shelf in a cool, dark place. Storing jars of canned food in heat or light will lower the quality and shorten the shelf life.

What does it mean to tighten the ring just finger tight?

Tighten the ring just a notch past the point when you feel resistance. You need air to escape the jar to create the vacuum seal, if the ring is too tight air can’t escape and will lead to buckled lids and a false seal. If your ring is too loose it could wiggle too loose and won’t hold the lid in place properly, also resulting in a false seal.

Can I use an instant pot instead of a pressure canner?

No, instant pots are not approved for pressure canning. Temperatures to reach 240ºF-250ºF to safely can low-acid foods, instant pots do not have a way to regulate your PSI to adjust for your altitude to make sure you are reaching the correct temperature.

How long do canned sloppy joes last?

Home-canned goods can last up to 12 months on your shelf when canned and stored properly. However, they don’t necessarily go bad after 12 months. If there are no signs of spoilage, they are still safe to consume. Be aware that the nutritional value will decrease the longer they remain on your shelf.

Jar of Pressure canned sloppy joes, with bell peppers, garlic, and more jars in the background

If you love quick and easy meals, try canning chicken! We show you in our How to Can Chicken (raw pack method) blog post! It’s incredibly simple to prepare, making putting meals together quick and easy.

Jar of Pressure canned sloppy joes, with bell peppers, garlic, and more jars in the background

Pressure Canned Sloppy Joes

Perfect for quick and easy meals!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Serving Size 10 pints

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds lean ground beef
  • 4 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 1/2 cups green bell peppers, diced
  • 2 1/2 cups yellow onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vingegar
  • 1/2 cup dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire suace
  • 3 teaspoons garlic powder, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon canning salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

Instructions

  • In a large, nonreactive metal skillet, brown the ground beef, leaving it slightly pink. This will help it maintain its shape when canning and prevent overcooking. Drain any excess grease.
  • Add in tomato sauce, beef broth, bell peppers, onions, apple cider vinegar, mustard, brown sugar, Worcestershire, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir until everything is well combined.
  • Let simmer for 5 minutes until everything is heated through.
  • Ladle into prepared jars, leaving a 1-inch headspace 1-2 jars at a time. Debubble jars to release any air bubbles, check for correct headspace again and add or remove sloppy joe filling to maintain a 1-inch headspace.
  • Wipe the rim of the jars clean with a clean damp paper towel. Add lids and rings, and tighten the rings finger-tight.
  • Process pints for 75 minutes and quarts for 90 minutes, and adjust pounds of pressure for altitude.

Notes

  • If you’re using a higher fat ground beef, I’d recommend cooking it all the way through and draining off the grease. If there is too much grease in the jar it can bubble up the sides of the jar onto the rims and prevent lids from sealing.

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