Canning Bear Meat Question

Canning Bear Meat

Canning beat meat photo disclaimer: No, this photo is not of bear meat, but I bet it looks the same! (Elk can't possibly look that different than bear, can it!?) I've never personally canned bear meat, so I don't have any photos. But the directions are just the same as other red meats like beef, venison, and elk. More directions are found here.  

Canning Bear Meat: A Question from SimplyCanning Facebook 

Question: Canning Bear Meat: I canned 7 quarts of bear meat last night; I added one beef bouillon cube and a tablespoon of soy sauce to each jar. The meat was raw and cold loose in the jar.  I put on the lids and loosely put on the rings finger tight.

It seemed to take an extra-long time to get up to pressure. I let it cook for 80 minutes. I took it off the stove and removed the pressure weight and put the cooker under cool water, when I opened the canner the meat juice has somehow gotten into the cooking water.

The jars only have about 1 inch of juice in bottom of jars.  The tops did seal.

Got any idea how all the meat juice got out of the jars???

Answer:

Congratulations on getting a bear! I’m assuming you were the one to hunt. That is pretty cool. 

Here are links to pages teaching how to can meat. This is labeled for venison, but it is the same process for bear: Canning Ground Meat, Canning Cubed Meat. 

You don’t say if your meat was ground or just cut up into cubes. And you don’t mention what pressure you processed at, or what your elevation is. So I’m limited in what my advice to you can be. But I do see a couple of problems.

Processing time for quarts ground would be 90 minutes. And that would be a hot pack with liquid. The meat should be lightly cooked.  Processing time for quarts cubed would also be 90 minutes. This could be either raw or lightly cooked first. 

Problem #1 - You have under processed the bear meat. You say you processed for 80 minutes, and that is 10 minutes short of the suggested 90 minutes. 

Problem #2 – Cooling the canner too quickly. You should allow the canner to cool and reduce pressure back to zero all by itself without hurrying it. Sometimes it takes quite a while. When you cool it quickly, what happens is the pressure reduces in the canner quicker than in the jars. So if there is pressure higher in the jars, it swells and pushes out the liquids. Thus your low levels of liquid in the jars. 

I hate to the bearer of bad news. IF the only issue was a minor loss of liquid, I’d say just remember next time and carefully watch the seals on those jars and use them up first. But the liquid loss is not minor in this can and  you also under processed.   I would not trust that they are safe. If it were me, I’d not trust it. 

The problem is you need that heat level of the complete processing time to be sure you stopped botulism. And botulism can’t be smelled tasted or seen. So you don’t know it is there until you get sick. 

Now, the good news about your canning bear meat question. If it has been less than 24 hours, you can reprocess the meat. Or just choose to open the jars and freeze it. Then try again with a different batch. That is probably what I would do. The meat will be very cooked if you process it again. 

hope this helps as you're canning bear meat!

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Page last updated: 12/4/2019.

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