How to Can Chili | Full Process (By a 50 Year Canner)


I have been canning all types of foods for over 50 years. In my opinion, I find that most people don’t can enough full “meals” like chili. Having a nutritious easy option is worth its weight in gold.

Chili is so versatile that it should be a significant part of any stockpile of food. So, that is why anyone interested in canning and preserving their own food should consider grabbing their favorite chili recipe and canning a batch to be pulled out of the pantry and served for the family’s enjoyment at busy times when there just isn’t time for a home-cooked meal, and as comfort food for that cold, wintery day.

In the following paragraphs, I will discuss the ingredients, equipment, and supplies needed to can a batch of chili, along with a detailed description of the canning process itself.

Equipment Needed to Can Chili

  • Dutch oven for browning meat and vegetables
  • Large stock pot for making the chili
  • Pressure canner for processing jars of chili
  • Pot for heating lids

Supplies and Utensils Needed to Can Chili

  • Canning jars and rings with new lids
  • Knives for chopping vegetables
  • Chopping board for preparing vegetables
  • Large spoons for making the chili
  • Wide mouth funnel or funnels
  • Canning tongs
  • Lid lifter
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons

Ingredients Needed to Can Chili

Canned Beef and Bean Chili Ingredients
Here are the ingredients in my last batch of canned chili

Every cook has his or her own favorite chili recipe, and most of those recipes are a little different than everyone else’s. But, we can all agree that those recipes share many of the same ingredients. So, here are the basic ingredients needed to make chili for canning.

  • Ground beef, chicken, turkey, or wild game
  • Tomatoes, canned or fresh
  • Onions
  • Bell peppers
  • Celery
  • Canned beans, kidney, red, chili, black, pinto
  • Water or broth
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Spices: oregano, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, chili powder 

There are many different chili recipes available online, and many people have their own favorite recipe, but here are a couple that I have used and are good.

Chili Recipes

In case you don’t have your own, here are two really good recipes.

Recipe 1

This first recipe is from the United States Department of Agriculture website https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_05/chili_con_carne.html and makes 9 pints of chili:

Ingredients

  • 3 cups dried pinto or red kidney beans
  • 5-1/2 cups water
  • 5 tsp salt (separated)
  • 3 lbs ground beef
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 3 to 6 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 qts crushed or whole tomatoes

Directions:

  1. Wash the beans thoroughly and place them in a 2-qt saucepan. 
  2. Add cold water to a level of 2 to 3 inches above the beans and soak them overnight. Drain and discard water. 
  3. Combine beans with cold water to cover. Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain and discard water. 
  5. Brown ground beef, chopped onions, and peppers, if desired, in a skillet. Drain off fat.
  6. Add salt, pepper, chili powder, tomatoes, and drained cooked beans.
  7. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  8. Follow directions for the canning process.

Recipe 2

This recipe makes 22 pints. Please note that this particular recipe has a lot of beans in it. As a matter of fact, it has twice the amount of beans as recipe number one calls for.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds dried kidney, red, chili, black, or pinto beans, (whichever you prefer or a combination) soaked overnight then drained and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 3 pounds lean ground beef, chicken, turkey, or wild game
  • 3 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 1-½ bell peppers, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 6 (14.5 ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 3 cups broth or water
  • 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ teaspoons garlic powder

Directions

  1. Add cold water to a level of 2 to 3 inches above the beans and soak them overnight. Drain and discard water. 
  2. Combine beans with cold water to cover. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain and discard water. 
  4. Brown ground beef, chopped onions, bell peppers, celery, and garlic, in a skillet. Drain off fat.
  5. Add salt, pepper, sugar, spices, tomatoes, tomato sauce, broth or water, and drained cooked beans.
  6. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Canning Process

Here is the full process in detail. It is a long list and may seem a bit daunting at first, but if you just follow it step by step it is actually fairly straightforward.

Important: Before starting the canning process, check the pressure canner you will be using to be sure the seal is not damaged and is in the correct position. Also, check the canning jars to be sure they are not damaged in any way, and wash them in hot, soapy water.

  1. Prepare the chili using the recipe of your choice.
  2. While the chili is cooking, sterilize the canning jars. The pressure canner can be used as a boiling water bath to sterilize the canning jars.
  3. Drop the new lids into a pot of boiling water, reduce heat, and let simmer until needed.
  4. When the jars are sterilized and the chili is prepared, fill the canning jars with the chili, leaving a 1” headspace.
  5. Wipe the jar rims with a clean, wet cloth and affix the hot lids and rings.
  6. Tighten rings, but do not overtighten.
  7. Be sure the jars are sitting in at least 3-3&½ inches of water in the pressure canner. Check the directions for your particular pressure canner for exact instructions on how much water is needed.
  8. If you need to add water to the pressure canner while the jars are sterilizing or while filling the canning jars, be sure to add boiling water and not cold water. Adding cold water could damage the jars.
  9. Have the burner under the pressure canner on high and put the lid on the pressure canner without the petcock.
  10. When steam starts escaping from the steam vent, start timing and allow the canner to sit with steam escaping for 10 minutes.
  11. When the 10 minutes are up, place the petcock on the steam vent set for 10 pounds of pressure and allow the pressure to build. You will know the pressure is up when the petcock starts to rock or jiggle, depending on the type of canner you are using.
  12. Once the pressure is up in the canner, set the timer for 75 minutes for pints or 90 minutes for quarts. The heat may have to be reduced, but do not reduce it so much that the pressure goes down in the canner.
  13. If the pressure goes down during the canning process and the petcock stops rocking or jiggling, get the canner back up to 10 pounds of pressure and start the timing process all over again from the beginning. You can’t just continue the time left. There has to be 10 pounds of pressure on the food for the entire length of time straight through.
  14. Once the time is up, either turn off the heat if using gas heat, or if using electric heat, remove the pressure canner from the heat source and allow it to cool.
  15. When the canner has cooled, remove the petcock. Do not remove the petcock as long as there is steam escaping. Do not try to rush the cool-down process by running water over the canner. The cool-down process is part of the entire canning process.
  16. After the petcock has been removed, wait for 10 minutes before removing the pressure canner lid.
  17. Ten minutes after the petcock has been removed, remove the canner lid.
  18. Remove the jars from the canner and place them on a prepared area where they can sit undisturbed for 24 hours.
  19. After 24 hours, check the jar lids to be sure there is a good seal, wash and dry the jars, label, and store in a cool, dry area until needed.

How To Store Home Canned Foods

Canned Beef Chili

Home-canned foods, as well as commercially prepared canned foods, should be stored in a cool dry area away from any direct heat or light source, and away from any temperature extremes. According to the USDA, we should “never put them above the stove, under the sink, in a damp garage or basement, or any place exposed to high or low-temperature extremes.” 

How Long Do Home Canned Foods Last?

Most recommendations are that home-canned foods should be consumed within a year, But, we also hear that home-canned foods maintain their peak flavor and color for at least a year, but that if the food is stored properly and has been canned by using the USDA safe canning practices, home-canned foods will last from 2 to 5 years.

The USDA website also says, “As long as the can is in good shape, the contents should be safe to eat, although the taste, texture and nutritional value of the food can diminish over time.”

How To Tell of Home Canned Foods Have Gone Bad

Signs that canned food has gone bad:

  • Leakage from the containers
  • Cans or jar lids that bulge
  • Badly dented cans
  • Cracked jars
  • Jars with loose lids
  • Canned food with a foul odor
  • Containers that spurt liquid when opened

Never use food from cans or jars that exhibit any of these signs. The entire contents should be discarded immediately.

Final Thoughts

Everybody likes chili, and that fact alone makes it the perfect food for canning. You can eat it on hotdogs, hamburgers, nachos, a bun, a slice of bread, with crackers, French bread, or cornbread, as a side dish with just about anything, and as a main course with toppings like cheese, sour cream, and peppers. 

Whether you use one of the recipes recommended here or whether you use your favorite chili recipe that your family loves, if you follow the United States Department of Agriculture’s safe canning practices, you can have your good homemade chili at a moment’s notice whenever you need a quick meal or when you just need comfort food on a cold winter’s day, and you just don’t have the time or the ingredients to make a batch from scratch.

For more, don’t miss How to Can Gravy (You Can’t But Do This Instead).

Anne James

Hi, I'm Anne but my grandchildren call me Jelly Grandma. I have over 50 years of experience as a Southern cook and am a retired librarian. I love sharing what I have learned. You can find me on YouTube as well! Just click the link at the bottom of your page.

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