Canning Venison was on my mind for many years.... but I put it off. I
canned vegetables, fruit and jam. I never considered the possibility of
canning our meat as well. It just didn't occur to me.
It seemed as if it must be much harder than canning other produce.
Why, did I feel this way? I don't really know. It is just the
preconceived notion that I had.
Boy was I wrong. We are a family of active hunters, my husband and
sons provide a freezer full of meat. This enables us to keep our grocery
budget low. Whatever they bring home is cut up or ground. Before I
started canning meat most of it went right into the freezer, and we
often made jerky and sausage.
process our own wild game from the field to the freezer or jar. Part of
having tasty wild game is proper preparation of the meat.
When we expanded our garden, I started really focusing on not taking up too much freezer space. I did some research on canning meat and what I found surprised me. It
seemed too easy. Could it really be that simple? I tried it, and guess
what?? It is.
We usually have a good supply of both venison (mule deer) and elk.
Elk is our favorite by far so; I decided to start with canning venison.
That way if it did not turn out well I did not use our favorites.
That first year I started with 14 quarts (that's 2 canner loads) of cubed venison.
My boys, including my husband, declared that they like the canned
venison over frozen. I agree! It is much more tender, and it is MUCH
I encourage you try it. When dinner time comes open a jar of meat and
start preparing right away. No defrosting. You might be as pleasantly
surprised as I was.
answer a question, please? I canned some pork in a pressure
canner--first attempt at canning meat. Don't know what I did wrong but
only about 1/4 of the cans sealed. And because of that I don't trust the
ones that did. If, when I open them, there's no bad smell, is it still
possible for the meat to be unsafe?
If you are certain you followed the correct processing method
(pressure canner) and the correct pressure and time, then the jars that
sealed should be good. It is possible the ones that did not seal you
may have had some grease or something interfere with the lids.
Not having a bad smell does not necessarily mean that there is no
spoilage. Botulism is something that you can't see smell or taste. You
really need to rely on your processing methods.
Hope that helps!
Question from Janice:
Hi, love your site, very informative. My question is - does pressure canning broths lose any nutrients? I make beef bone broth and how I put the jars upside down after filling them on the counter for 12 hours. They do seal, but I feel that I need to pressure can them. What are your thoughts on this? Thank you
Hi Janice, so glad you asked this question. Absolutely, if you want to store your broth on a shelf, you do need to pressure can it. It is a low acid food and botulism is a risk. Even if the jars seal that does not mean the contents inside the jar are sterilized.
Even a waterbath is not enough, when you are canning meat or any vegetable you must process in a pressure canner. Here are some articles on home canning safety that might be of help.
I do think that pressure canning will affect the nutrients in your broth somewhat. The pressure canner reaches a high level of heat. I have not done research to know just how much you will lose. I have to say that home made bone broth is still going to be much more nutritious than any commercially canned products, so I do still make and preserve my own. You don't lose all nutrition, just some. I'll have to look into this more and see if I can find any research that gives more nutrition information.
Freezing is another great option as well. I'm sure that the nutrient loss is even less than the processing.
What meats can be canned?
Just about any fresh meat can be canned. Bear, Beef, Lamb, Pork, Sausage, Veal, Venison, Chicken, Turkey, Rabbit, Fish, Tuna, Clams and Oysters.
However there is no accepted testing that has been done on cured, brined or corned meat. So unfortunately no ham, no bacon, no corned beef, hotdogs... or any other variety that I may have missed. It has to do with the nitrates.
If you'd like to learn more about canning meats, there are canning meat recipes for members of Simply Canning School.
How do you use canned meat?
Good question! This meat is precooked. So it is not going to be like taking out the ground beef and making a hamburger. Nor will it be like cooking up a steak. It is perfect however for casseroles, chili, tacos, stew. One way we like is to just heat a jar of cubed beef or venison add a white sauce and seasonings like onion, garlic. I like to use cream cheese! Then serve this over mashed potatoes with a side veggie. It is a super fast meal.