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The Roving Sportsman… In Praise of Canned Venison

The statewide archery deer season has been underway for weeks, and before you know it, the regular firearms deer season will begin. No doubt, both bowhunters and rifle hunters have their usual methods of hunting deer that have proven effective over the years, and hopefully, this year will be a productive one for you. Whether you do your own processing of game or you prefer to take it to a local butcher, you also probably have time-proven ways to keep the various cuts of meat for preparing healthy and tasty game meals. Vacuum packing and freezing venison is certainly the most popular way to do so, but have you ever considered canning venison?

I am always amazed when the subject comes up among hunters that very few have ever tried canning deer meat. And yet, those who have tried it love the results and always look forward each season to canning some of the meat for future use. If you are interested in giving it a try, here are a few pointers to keep in mind:
Canning venison:

Probably one of the most overlooked ways to safely store venison for months to come is to can it. It is a simple process and can be used for any venison — deer, moose, elk, or beef. While you may use either the water bath method or use a pressure canner, the safer method to ensure thorough cooking of the meat is to use a pressure canner.

Begin by trimming away any fat, gristle, or bruised meat, and then cube the meat into 1-inch pieces. Pack the meat into hot canning jars, leaving a 1-inch head space. Add canning salt if desired — I like to use 1 tsp. per quart. Do not add liquid! The meat will produce its own juice. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to get out some of the large air bubbles. You won’t get it all out but try to eliminate the large gaps and air bubbles. Wipe the rims of the jars clean — this is an important step to ensure proper sealing of the lids. Use a wet paper towel and wipe around each jar rim. Place the warmed lids on the jars and screw the bands finger tight.

Place the jars in your preheated pressure canner so they are not touching each other. Follow your pressure canner instructions, adjusting the requirements for your elevation. Process pint jars for 1 hour and 15 minutes and quart jars for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
The Many Uses of Canned Venison:

Once the meat has been properly canned, it has many uses. A jar kept in the refrigerator can provide a quick snack straight from the jar, or the meat can be used in preparing a sandwich. It is amazing just how tender the meat becomes via the canning process. It is so tender that you can spread it on the bread with a butter knife.

If you prefer heating the meat for a meal, first make a roux, then use it to create delicious gravy with the juice from the canned venison. Serve the meat and gravy over rice, pasta, or mashed potatoes. The meat and juice can be used in casseroles, soups, or stews, as well as in spaghetti sauce or chili.

Canning venison is a great way to keep venison for an extended period of time, especially if you have an older freezer or are concerned about electrical power loss for any length of time. Once you have tried canning venison, you will wonder why you hadn’t been doing it before!

Venison is one of the healthiest meats you can consume. It simply does not have all of those “government-approved chemicals!” In addition to all the usual methods of using the meat as steaks, roasts, and burger, try storing some of the meat as canned venison and enjoy some of the many ways you can use it — you will be glad you did!