Canning Ham

UPDATE: After many years of using this recipe, I learned that canning ham is not considered safe. This is because cured meats have not been tested for canning safety. (The issue is the density of cured meat; it may not get heated through in order to kill all harmful microorganisms.) Therefore, this recipe is included for informational purposes only.

Canned ham is a yummy treat, perfect for hashes, omelets, scrambles, casseroles - and really any other dish where you'd normally use fresh ham. And if you purchase the ham on sale (usually around a holiday like Easter or Christmas), it's frugal, too.

Before you begin, you may wish to read the general information on pressure canning.

What You Need:

Bone-in ham (not pressed ham)

Cutting board
Large Pot
Slotted spoon
Pressure canner
Canning jars
Canning lids and screw bands
Jar lifter
Plastic or wooden handled utensil
Paper towels or clean cotton flour sack cloth
Cooling rack or bath towel

How to Do It:

1. If the ham is not yet baked, roast it in the oven until it's cooked through. Allow it to cool; retain the pan juices.

2. Once the ham is completely cool, chop it up into pieces of approximately the same size, discarding all fat. It really doesn't matter how big the pieces are, as long as they fit in a canning jar while still leaving 1 inch headspace. If the pieces are diced very small, they will fall apart during canning. But aside from these two important notes, cut the ham into pieces that make sense for the dishes you're likely to use it for.

3. The ham will have the best flavor if it's canned with the drippings from the pan, or from a stock made from the bone (or both). If using drippings, first let them cool in the refrigerator; when fat accumulates on top of them, spoon it off. Strain and pour the remaining liquid into a pot. Add water and heat through. If using the bone, dump it into a pot and cover with water. Cook for at least 1 hour. Strain; cool in the refrigerator. When fat accumulates on top, spoon it off. Reheat. You may also use plain water for canning ham.

4. Reheat the ham by placing the chopped pieces in a pot and covering with water. Reheat the stock, if using, or boil some water in a separate pan. Prepare jars, lids, and pressure canner.

5. Using a slotted spoon to remove the water from the ham, pack the meat into jars, leaving 1 inch headspace. Ladle in stock or hot water, retaining 1 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles with the handle of a wooden or plastic utensil. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean paper towel. Place lids and screwbands on jar and place in the pressure canner.

6. Process pint jars for 75 minutes, quart jars for 90 minutes, at 10 lbs. pressure.

Using the "Scraps"
If you have left over stock, refrigerate or freeze it and use it in place of water when making soup - especially split pea soup. In fact, after you make stock from the ham bone, you will probably find there is meat on it that wasn't exposed before. Remove as much of the remaining fat on the bone as possible, and toss the bone and the meat scraps into the pot along with the split peas. Remove the bone before serving.

* NOTE: If you live at a high altitude, read this important information about adjusting canning times.


  1. Can you tell me the reason for boiling out the fat/lard? I've read several different blogs and half remove it, half don't. Is it more of a personal preferrence? Thanks in advance.

  2. According to the Clemson University Extension, excess fat is removed because "any fat that gets on the rim of the canning jar can prevent an airtight seal. Excess fat in jars makes it easier for the fat to climb the sides of the jar and contaminate the seal."

  3. Can you can hardwood smoked ham?

  4. As I mention in the post, there are no tested safe canning recipes for canning processed meat, including ham. But if you're asking if smoked ham would taste too smokey after canning...I can't say for sure, but I would think canning would intensify the smokey flavor.