How Do I Choose the Best Potted Meat?

Cindy Quarters

Potted meat refers to varieties of meat that is preserved in a can or jar. In practice, though, the term "potted meat" typically refers specifically to meat that has been processed, strained or otherwise made into a smooth, spreadable product. Varying types of meats are usually used, as well as different parts of the animals. Reading the label will often tell you which types of meat are included in the can and what additives are in it. In most cases you can choose the best potted meat by reviewing the label and choosing those products that do not contain a large amount of additives or other undesirable products.

Man with a backpack
Man with a backpack

One important consideration when choosing potted meat is which types of meats it contains. Generally it will contain beef, chicken, and pork. Since there are many people that do not eat pork, there are some brands that are made without pork. If this is a concern for you, reading the label will let you know which meats are in the mix.

As a rule, potted meat is made with meat by-products and mechanically separated meats. Meat by-products include bits of muscle that were not otherwise used. The term also covers such organ meats as tripe and hearts, connective tissue, and fat. If you object to such ingredients, this type of meat may not be a good choice for you, since most brands include them.

Mechanically separated meats are produced by forcing smashed bones through a sieve, pushing the meat through but removing the bone. This is commonly done with chicken, but may be done with other meats as well. The result is a paste that may look quite different from traditional meat, but is typically safe to eat.

By using meat by-products and mechanically separated meats, it is possible to produce this food for a relatively low cost. Not all people object to the ingredients, and many find the taste very pleasant. Potted meat is a good source of affordable protein in many places. If you prefer one type of ingredient over another, check the order in which they are listed on the can. The most-used item is the first listed, with each subsequent item appearing in diminishing quantity in the can.

The potting, or canning, process is a means of preserving the meat. Frequently a large amount of salt is added to aid in the preservation. Other additives are often used to enhance flavor and texture. When choosing the best potted meat, look for a minimum of additives, especially salt and sugar. You may also wish to check the label for the fat content, since some brands are much higher in fat than others.

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