This delicious, homemade, hearty chili is a USDA recipe for home pressure canning.
We’ve added some spicing.
Jars of this chili make great take-to-work lunches any time of the year, but particularly in the winters .
With this chili on hand, you can whip up a batch of chili fries in no time flat!
This is great recipe, and hats off to whomever it was that developed it for the USDA.
- 1 The recipe
- 2 Reference information
- 3 Recipe notes
- 4 Recipe source
- 5 Home-canned chili without beans
- 6 Other chili recipes for home canning
- 7 Nutrition information
- 8 Cooking with canning
- 9 History of this recipe
Jar size choices: Half-litre (1 US pint / 16 oz)
Processing method: Pressure canning only
Yield: 9 x half-litre (US pint) jars
Headspace: 3 cm (1 inch)
Processing pressure: 10 lbs (69 kPa) weighted gauge, 11 lbs (76 kpa) dial gauge (adjust pressure for your altitude when over 300 metres / 1000 feet.)
Processing time: Half-litres (pints) 75 minutes
If you are watching your sodium intake, instead of salt, you can use a salt substitute to reduce added sodium levels by 90%, from 1697 mg per pint (half-litre) [for many of us, the USDA recommends no more than 1500 mg sodium daily] down to 145 mg. (We used Herbamare, as it has no bitter taste and does not cloud.)
Yield: 9 x half-litre jars (US pint jars)
Serving size: ½ litre (US pint)
- 500 g dried kidney beans (3 cups dried / 17 oz)
- 1.5 kg extra lean ground beef (3 lbs)
- 200 g chopped onion (Measured after chopping. 7 oz / 1-1/2 cups)
- 150 g seeded and chopped pepper of your choice, sweet or hot or combo (1 cup / 1 large)
- 2 litres of no salt-added crushed tomatoes in juice, or canned whole tomatoes in juice ( 2 US quarts / 64 oz)
- 1 tablespoon chili powder (original calls for 3 to 6 tbsp -- your call)
- We added the following seasonings to boost depth of flavour; treat these as optional:
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons salt or salt sub
- 2 tablespoons regular unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
- Wash dried beans. Place in large pot, cover with about 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 inches) of water, let stand overnight or 12 to 18 hours.
- Drain, discard soaking water.
- Put in large pot, cover with fresh water (optional: add a few bay leaves), bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer covered for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine ground beef, onion and pepper, and fry until beef is browned. Drain in a mesh strainer, colander or on paper towel to get excess grease off.
- Drain beans (tip: you can freeze the bean stock as a base for delicious soups).
- Return beans to their large pot, and add the beef mixture, the tomatoes, and all the flavourings. Stir, bring to a boil, then lower to simmer for 5 minutes to ensure all is heated through evenly.
- Pack into jars: either ¼ litre or ½ litre (1/2 US pint or 1 US pint), leaving 3 cm (1 inch) headspace.
- Debubble; adjust headspace.
- Wipe jar rims.
- Put lids on.
- Processing pressure: 10 lbs (69 kPa) weighted gauge, 11 lbs (76 kpa) dial gauge (adjust pressure for your altitude when over 300 metres / 1000 feet.)
- Processing time: Process either size of jar for 75 minutes .
See also: Dial-gauge pressures, if applicable for your canner.
To double the batch, you’ll want a pot to do the initial cooking in about the size of a 16 quart Presto. To triple, a cooking pot about the size of a 23 quart Presto. If you are quadrupling the batch, you’ll want 2 very large pots, about the size of 16 quart Prestos or larger.
How to pressure can.
When pressure canning, you must adjust the pressure for your altitude.
For salt substitute, Herbamare Sodium-Free was used.
More information about Salt-Free Canning in general.
Click through if you’re interested in the debate about what constitutes chili con carne from a culinary, non-canning point of view : note that extreme purists insist the dish should have neither tomato nor bean in it.
- Instead of dried kidney beans, you can use dried pinto beans, or a mixture of both. Or, instead of dried beans altogether, the University of Minnesota Extension says you can use 4 (15 oz / 450 ml) cans (drained) of already cooked beans.1
- Instead of extra-lean ground beef, you can use any kind of ground beef. Nutritional values will change.
- Instead of beef, you may use venison, or a mixture of beef and venison, according to the University of Wisconsin Extension Service.2
- Instead of 1 1/2 cups (200 g / 7 oz) of fresh onion, you could use 2 tablespoons of onion powder OR 1/3 cup (6 tablespoons / 40 g / 1.5 oz) of dried minced onion fully rehydrated.
- A possible reason as to why the USDA writers have you discard the soaking water, and not use it to cook in, is because there’s a belief that using the bean soaking water makes beans more farty. It could also be providing an initial rinse to get rid of impurities.
- When you are boiling the beans, you want the beans to the point where they still have a bit of firmness in them, and you can slightly but not actually mash them against the roof of your mouth with your tongue.
- If you are starting with already cooked beans, such as ones from a tin, or ones you canned yourself, you want 1.2 kg ( 2 1/2 lbs / 6 cups) of already cooked beans.
- You don’t need to fully cook the beef in the frying pan; it will get cooked in canning. You’re just frying it enough so that it won’t clump in the jars, and, to develop some flavour.
- You are draining the excess grease off the ground beef because you don’t want it going rancid in the jar, or, interfering with your jar seal. You don’t have to get all fat off. We’re not talking about putting your cooked ground beef through the dishwasher here — just excess fat.
- Sometimes the chili can seem very dense, particularly if you used home canned crushed tomatoes that perhaps didn’t have a lot of juice on them. In those cases, you may find yourself wanting to add more crushed tomato, or tomato juice or tomato sauce — sometimes up to 1 litre (US quart / 32 oz) even. It’s fine to do that because it reduces the density.
- We only use 1 tablespoon of chili powder but the original as we noted does call for 3 to 6 tablespoons.
- Instead of or in addition to regular chili powder, you could try chipotle powder which adds smokey notes.
- If your fresh peppers include some or all hot peppers, then take the chili powder one tablespoon at a time; you may not want it all.
- The problem with relying on chili powder is that it can give your chili a flat dull “one-note taste”; that’s why we added the additional dry seasonings (yes, it’s safe to adjust the dry seasonings in canning recipes) to round out and brighten up the taste. The cocoa is a tip from a Mexican cooking class.
- It’s okay to use regular, fresh lemon or lime juice, instead of the bottled that canning recipes usually specify, because we added it and it’s just present for flavour, not safety. The purpose of the juice is that its acidity wakes up the flavour of beans.
- Don’t add any thickener; it could make the product unsafe.
- For the onion, you’ll want about 250 g (1/2 lb) before peeling, chopping, etc.
- Half-litre (1 pint) jars are the largest jars you can use. And yes, the filled jars must be always pressure canned.
- You may wish to consider canning some in smaller half-pint (1 cup / 8 oz / quarter-litre / 250 ml) jars for portion control, because by no means is this diet food. Use the same 75 minute processing time.
- Side note: the USDA guide spells this as Chile con Carne. The USDA-related book, So Easy To Preserve, and the National Center web site, correct the spelling to Chili con Carne (Chile is a pepper not a dish.) So if you see different spellings, you’re not losing your mind.
- For other recipes such as soup and baked beans, the USDA guide gives directions for an alternative quick soak of the beans. It’s not clear why they don’t here.
Chile con carne. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Complete guide to home canning. Agriculture information bulletin No. 539. 2015. Page 5-8.
- Spicing changes;
- Specified extra-lean ground beef, and no-salt added tomatoes.
Home-canned chili without beans
If you prefer to make a version of chili without beans (some chili fans will fight over whether beans should be present or not), see the Ball Blue Book (37th edition) page 105, Ball / Bernardin Complete (2015 edition) page 405, or the Bernardin Guide (2013 edition) page 97. All versions are similar, with the Bernardin Guide version calling for a bit less meat and a more complex spicing mixture of chili powder, cumin seed, oregano, coriander and crushed red pepper flakes. All versions give processing times for half-litre and litre (pint and quart) sized jars, suggesting that if you want to add beans, do so upon opening and serving.
Other chili recipes for home canning
Ball added two new chili recipes for pressure canning to its repertoire in its All New (2016) book:
- Chicken Chili Verde (page 274): Chunks of boneless chicken, white beans, and salsa verde (a green sauce based on tomatillos) with lime juice. For half-litre or litre (pint and quart) sized jars
- Beef Chipotle Chili (page 293): Chunks of stewing beef instead of ground beef, as well as beans (either kidney or black beans) and tomato. For half-litre (pint) sized jars only.
Tip: consider canning some in smaller 1/4 litre (250 ml / 1/2 US pint / 1 cup) jars for better portion control. Use the same processing pressure and time as required for the larger jars.
Per half-litre ( 1 US pint / 2 cups / 16 oz):
- 556 calories, 1697 mg sodium
- Weight Watchers PointsPlus®: Per 1/2 litre (1 US pint), 14 points. Per 1/4 litre, 1/2 US pint / 1 cup / 8 oz: 7 ww points.
- Weight Watchers SmartPoints®: Per 1/2 litre (1 US pint), 14 points. Per 1/4 litre, 1/2 US pint / 1 cup / 8 oz: 7 points.
Per half-litre (1 US pint / 2 cups / 16 oz):
- 556 calories, 147 mg sodium
- Weight Watchers PointsPlus®: Per 1/2 litre (1 US pint), 14 points. Per 1/4 litre, 1/2 US pint / 1 cup / 8 oz: 7 ww points.
- Weight Watchers Freestyle / Flex SmartPoints®: Per 1/2 litre (1 US pint), 14 points. Per 1/4 litre, 1/2 US pint / 1 cup / 8 oz: 5 points
* Nutrition info provided by https://caloriecount.about.com
* PointsPlus™ calculated by healthycanning.com. Not endorsed by Weight Watchers® International, Inc, which is the owner of the PointsPlus® registered trademark.
* Herbamare ® is a registered trademark of the A. Vogel Corporation.
Cooking with canning
History of this recipe
The purpose of this section is to show how the chili recipes evolved over time to reflect both changing tastes and changing understanding of safety.
Do not use any recipes in any history section on this site; they may not reflect current scientific knowledge, policies, or practices. Only use current recipes from the most recent publications, as even important small details may have changed.
This is for intellectual learning purposes only.
Evolution of the USDA chili recipe
A version of this recipe seems to have first appeared in: Home Canning of Fruits, Vegetables and Meats (Farmers’ Bulletin 1762, Sept. 1936), page 35.
This early version wouldn’t appeal to today’s tastes: it based on the chili on a flour paste, and called for 1 cup (8 oz) of pure hot fat to be added (after first calling for lean meat.) The processing times seem extreme as well: 120 minutes for pints, 150 minutes for quarts, at 15 lbs pressure.
The next publication of this recipe (that we know of at time of this writing) was in the first ever USDA Complete Guide, in 1988. It was essentially completely rewritten. Tomatoes were added. The flour and the fat were dropped, along with support for 1 quart processing times. And, the spelling of the recipe was changed to what many would argue is incorrect, “chile con carne” (“chile” being the actual pepper, “chili” being the dish prepared with chiles.)
Evolution of the Ball chili recipe
Ball’s version, first introduced in 1936, had no beans in it right from the start. (Ball Blue Book T edition, 1936, page 30.) Note that like the USDA, it too called for added fat. Note their uncertainty about how cumin ought to be spelled in English, as well as the odd measurements of fifths of a cup.
In 1941, they increased the quantity of meat to 5 lbs, and, allowed for swapping the water out and replacing it with tomato: “Tomato puree may be substituted for all or part of the water.” (Ball Blue Book U edition, 1941, page 26.)
In 1953, they allowed the addition of some bean: “1 pound pinto beans, cooked almost tender, may be added just before canning.” (Ball Blue Book 26th edition, 1953, page 30.)
In 1963, a major revision happened to Ball’s chili recipe. Water was definitively replaced with tomato in the actual ingredient list, and beans were moved to be an “add when opening and serving” suggestion, as they still are with Ball’s Blue Book version today:
The 1963 version is the version still present in the Ball Blue Book (37th edition, 2014, page 105), which is the most current version as of 2017.
Schafer, William. University of Minnesota Cooperative Extension. In: Lewis, Sarah. Canning Soups and Sauces. UAF Cooperative Extension, Juneau District Sarah Lewis, Family and Community Development Faculty. November, 2014. Page 4. ↩
Ingham, Barb, et all. Canning Meat, Wild Game, Poultry and Fish Safely. University of Wisconsin Extension Service. #B3345. 2002. Page 24. ↩