In my opinion, there’s no better way to keep venison for up to a year than canning it. There are two ways to can venison, either by hot packing or cold packing. Hot packing requires the meat to be cooked before canning. Cold packing is canning the meat without first cooking it. Whichever method you choose, it will take a pressure canner to get the job done.
To prevent bacterial contamination, cleanliness is a must throughout the entire process. Even though a pressure canner heats food to 240 degrees, there’s still the risk of bacteria getting into the food. Wash the jars, lids, and rings in soapy water and rinse thoroughly to remove all soap. It’s important to keep the jars warm until you’re ready to use them. This is easily done by placing them in enough simmering water to cover them in a large saucepan. Do the same with the lids and rings in a separate saucepan.
If you decide to hot pack the meat, you first need to cut off all the fat and silver membrane. Cut the meat into one-inch cubes. Brown the meat in a frying pan with a small amount of butter or oil, just until the meat is rare. Spoon the meat into canning jars. Evenly add juices from the meat to jars till it is one inch from the top of the jar. If you don’t have enough juice from the meat, add tomato juice. Add one teaspoon of salt per quart jar. Remove any bubbles by pushing against the side of the jar with a spatula. Wipe any spills off the jars. After filling, place the lids on top of the jars. Put the metal rings on and tighten.
To cold pack the meat, follow the procedure for removing the fat and cubing the meat as you would for hot packing. Spoon the meat into the jars, leaving one inch of headspace. Add two teaspoons of salt. Cold packing meat is faster than hot packing, but the meat is likely to turn dark during its shelf life. Wipe away any spills on the jars, put on the lids, and tighten the metal rings.
A pressure cooker is a must to safely can meat, whether you hot or cold pack it. Fill the pressure cooker with about three inches of water, and then place the rack containing the filled jars inside. Vent the pressure cooker for ten minutes before starting the cooking process to remove air. Open the vent pipe and place the pressure cooker on the stove. Heat the water to boiling; when steam comes out of the vent pipe, set your timer for ten minutes. At the end of ten minutes, place the weighted gauge or counterweight over the vent pipe and set your timer for the needed time to fully process the meat. (I recommend you reading the instructions for your individual canner. What I have described works perfectly for my canner.)
For weighted pressure-gauge canners, set the pressure at ten pounds. For dial-gauge canners, set it at 11 pounds. If you live in higher attitudes (more than 1,000 feet), refer to your instruction booklet for canner for the correct settings. Pint jars must be pressured cooked for 75 minutes and 90 minutes for quart jars to all bacteria.
Remove the canner from the heat. Remove jars from the canner once the pressure drops to zero and leave at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. Check the lids for a tight seal and remove the metal bands. Place the jars in a dark, dry area with temperatures between 50 and 70 degrees. Always store below 95 degrees to prevent bacterial growth. Date your jar to help keep when to use the meat by; use canned venison within one year after canning.
Canning venison does take a bit of time, but it is easy to do and well worth the effort. Canned venison is a great way to preserve your deer meat, especially if you don’t have a lot of freezer room. Plus it makes for a delicious, quick meal, for the nights that you are pressed for time when cooking dinner.
1 quart canned venison
Salt and pepper to taste
Garlic powder to taste
1 onion, chopped
2 (10.75 oz.) cans condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 (16 oz.) package uncooked egg noodles
1 (8 oz.) container sour cream
Season venison with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. Sauté onion in a large skillet; add venison and warm. When venison is warm, drain and add soup. Reduce heat to low and simmer. Meanwhile, bring a large pot with lightly salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, drain. When noodles are almost done cooking stir sour cream into meat mixture. Pour meat mixture over hot cooked noodles and serve.
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