How to safely can venison

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Venison steak
Venison steak over the stove, with onions and seasoning.

There are about a million preservation methods to ensure the quality, taste and safety of venison. Some hunters make jerky. Some freeze venison meat after it’s been processed. Others opt too can venison.

Yep, you read that last choice correctly. In fact, many people prefer to can venison because the processing breaks down the muscle tissue, which makes it very tender.

Canning venison

Like all meats and other low acid foods, venison can only safely be canned using a pressure canner. Using a boiling water bath to process canned venison will not provide enough heat to destroy bacterial spores that can cause illness — even if it’s done for an extended period of time. You can determine the proper processing time and pressure by following the recommendations for the type of canner you’re using and accounting for the altitude of your location.

Follow these steps to safely can venison with a pressure canner:

  1. Choose high-quality chilled venison.
  2. Trim away excess fat.
  3. Soak venison in a brine made from 1 tablespoon salt per quart of water for 1 hour.
  4. Drain and rinse meat.
  5. Cut venison into 1-inch wide strips, cubes or chunks.
  6. Pack venison into jars, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Meat may be packed hot or raw.

To pack raw venison,

  1. Pack the raw venison into hot jars leaving 1 inch of headspace.
  2. Be sure to remove as much air as possible by packing the venison tight.
  3. (Optional) Add a teaspoon of salt per quart.
  4. Don’t add liquid for raw-packed venison. It will form its own juice when it’s processed.

To hot pack venison,

  1. Precook venison to a rare stage by roasting, stewing or browning in a small amount of fat,
  2. Pack the precooked venison loosely, leaving 1 inch of headspace.
  3. Pour boiling meat juices, cooking broth, water or tomato juice into the jar with the venison, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Penn State Extension, recommends using tomato juice to mask the strong flavor of venison.
  4. (Optional) Add a slice of onion if desired and a teaspoon of salt per quart.
  1. Remove air bubbles.
  2. Wipe jar rims.
  3. Adjust lids.
  4. Process in a pressure canner, following recommended settings.

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Sara is Farm and Dairy’s online content producer. Raised in Portage County, Ohio, she earned a magazine journalism degree from Kent State University. She enjoys spending time with her daughter, traveling, writing, reading and outdoor recreation.

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