I recently canned meatballs in homemade sauce as an experiment, but wasn’t sure what to expect. I canned in quarts, which means 90 minutes in the canner, so I was afraid they would be very soft and fall apart. I waited a week before opening – I almost held my breath as I waited for the moment of truth. I poured the jar into the bowl – it looked great. But what about texture?
I cut into a meatball, and it was firm, — an even better texture than my slow cooker version. I can’t describe my joy, because now if I want homemade meatballs and sauce for subs or over pasta, I can just pop open a jar. I know, you can buy frozen meatballs and use a jar of pre-made sauce, but it doesn’t taste the same as homemade, and is healthier. The trick is, with homemade it’s a bit of work, I won’t lie. But this recipe is 5 quarts quarts, which can be 5 dinners depending on the size of your family. (For our family of four including two teenagers, we would eat 1 1/2 quarts for dinner and have leftovers). I also canned pasta sauce with meat, which is the same processing time, giving me 5 quarts of meatballs and sauce, and 2 quarts of meat sauce. I’m excited to try different varieties of sauces, and not sure why I didn’t think of this before.
Ok, disclaimer, not everyone agrees on the safety of adding breadcrumbs or eggs to anything for canning. After consulting with other experienced canners who have been doing this for years and doing my own research, I decided it’s safe. However, you must make that decision for yourself. Now, let’s can meatballs.
I’m using a 6 pound, 6 oz industrial can of crushed tomatoes. I get mine at Costco for $2.99, but you can also get them at restaurant supply shops, or just buy a bunch of smaller cans. With the meatballs in the jars, this large can makes enough for 5 quarts. Canning with a full load of 7 quarts is ideal, so you can either do the five quarts of meatballs and sauce and place two quarts of water with used lids, or put something else in the canner. I like to experiment with different flavored beans for instance, so I might put two quarts of experiments in there. Just make sure the jars also have a 90 minute canning time.
Home Canned Meatballs and Sauce
6 pounds ground beef
3/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
2 beaten eggs
6 fresh minced garlic cloves
1/3 cup fresh TBSP minced onion
3 tsp salt
pepper to taste
2 TBSP dried oregano (or to taste)
2 TBSP dried basil (or to taste)
Preheat oven to 400. Combine all ingredients.
Mix, then roll meatballs and bake until just browned and you see grease expelling.
Do not cook all the way through. Add meatballs to jars, and a sprig of basil if desired.
6 pound, 6 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
2 small cans of tomato paste
1 medium, whole minced onion
1 minced bulb of garlic (not a clove, an entire bulb)
2 TBSP dried oregano
2 TBSP dried basil
1 TBSP sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
2 TBSP olive oil
1 fresh basil leave per jar, if desired
In a large pot, add olive oil and warm. Add onions and garlic to pot, and saute just until softened. Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir and warm until the tomato paste is incorporated. Ladle sauce over meatballs in jars leaving 1 inch headspace.
Warm lids and rings in hot water. Clean the rims of the jars, and screw on the lids. Pressure can for 90 minutes at 10 pounds if canning 1,000 feet beneath sea level. If you live above 1,000 feet above sea level, please consult government guidelines for canning quarts of meat. Please follow your canner’s instructions for adding water to canner, and vent steaming.