The process of canning deer meat begins by cutting the raw meat into 1-inch cubes. Venison may be cold packed into canning jars, or browned and placed into hot jars with canning liquid. Process pints or quart jars in a pressure canner for 75-90 minutes.
What is the Best Way to Can Deer Meat?
The best way to can deer meat safely is using a pressure canner. All meats, including wild game meat such as venison, are low-acid foods. Per the USDA, low-acid foods require a temperature range of 240°F to 250°F to eliminate botulism spores.
A water bath canner cannot eliminate heat-resistant pathogens since the temperature of boiling water only reaches 212°F.
How to Prepare Deer Meat for Canning
Preparing deer meat properly is important to the canning process. Spending extra time during preparation allows for a shorter cook time.
- Whether slaughtering your own or buying at a grocery store, aim for high-quality, fresh meat.
- Trim off excess fat, silver skin, cartilage, and ligaments.
- Remove bruised or damaged meat and bones.
- Cut the meat into even chunks, slices, or cubes, around 1 inch in size.
- If using the raw pack method, add the raw chunks to prepared canning jars immediately.
- If using the hot pack method, add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to a skillet and brown the meat on both sides. Cook the meat until it is 2/3rds done. Place the precooked meat in a covered pot or casserole bowl to keep it hot before adding it to canning jars.
Guide for Pressure Canning Deer Meat
- Wash canning jars and bands in hot soapy water. Rinse thoroughly to remove soap and set aside.
- Sanitize canning jars by placing them in boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove the jars and place them upside down on a clean towel until ready to fill.
- Cold-pack instructions: Pack raw deer meat tightly into the sanitized jars, leaving 1-inch headspace. Do not add liquids because the meat will cook in its own juice. Add 2 teaspoons of salt per quart jar or 1 teaspoon for pints, if desired.
- Hot-pack instructions: Pack precooked meat loosely into hot sterilized canning jars. Add 1-2 teaspoons of salt per jar. Fill hot packed jars with boiling stock or broth, water, meat drippings, or tomato juice. Leave 1 inch of headspace.
- Remove excess air bubbles from packed jars using a bubble remover tool.
- Wipe grease off the jar rims using a clean, damp cloth or paper towel dipped in vinegar.
- Center new canning lids over the jars and apply the lids and screw bands, screwing until fingertip tight.
- Fill the pressure canner with 2-3 inches of water, per the manufacturer’s instructions, and fit it with the canning rack. Place it on the stove and turn on the heat.
- Place the filled jars into your canner using a jar lifter. Put the lid on the canner and bring the water inside the canner to a boil.
- Allow the canner to vent steam for 10 minutes.
- Let the pressure increase in the canner per the recommended pressure based on elevation and canner type:
Processing time and pressure for deer meat in dial-gauge pressure canners:
|Altitude (ft)||0 – 2,000||2,001 – 4,000||4,001 – 6,000||6,001 – 8,000|
|Pints (75 mins)||11 lbs||12 lbs||13 lbs||14 lbs|
|Quarts (75 mins)||11 lbs||12 lbs||13 lbs||14 lbs|
Processing time and pressure for deer meat in weighted-gauge pressure canners:
|Altitude (ft)||0 – 1,000||1,001 +|
|Pints (75 mins)||10 lbs||15 lbs|
|Quarts (75 mins)||10 lbs||15 lbs|
- Using a kitchen timer, set a processing time of 75 minutes for pints or 90 minutes for quarts.
- Once the jars are fully-processed, turn the heat off. Wait until the canner’s gauge reaches 0 PSI before opening the lid.
- Using a jar lifter, remove the jars from the hot water. Place them on a towel-lined counter or any draft-free surface for 12-24 hours. Ensure there is 1 inch of space between jars for air circulation during cooling.
- Remove the screw bands. Check the seals by pressing the lids with a finger. If the lids are stationary and don’t flex up and down, they are sealed.
- Refrigerate and use any unsealed jars within 4 days.
- Label sealed jars with the date of processing and the contents and store them in a clean, cool, dry place.
Do You Have to Cook Deer Meat Before Canning It?
No. Precooking meat is only necessary when using the hot-pack method. The hot pack method is required for ground venison. Raw packing requires no cooking and no canning liquid as the raw meat cooks in its own juices while in the canner.
Do You Have to Hot Pack or Raw Pack Venison When Canning?
You can hot pack or raw pack venison. Raw packing is faster and easier but is likely to leave air pockets which may cause food darkening. Hot packing has a longer prep time, as you have to cook the venison first, but this method results in better quality.
What Spices Do You Add to Deer Meat Before Canning?
Many people don’t add seasoning other than salt when canning meat and prefer to season it after cooking. If you know you’re going to use deer meat in specific recipes, such as tacos or stroganoff, you may wish to add certain spices that enhance the flavor of those venison recipes.
Some of the spices that go well with deer meat include:
- Bay leaf
- Beef bouillon cubes
- Ground black pepper
Do You Need to Can Deer Meat in Glass Canning Jars?
The National Center for Home Food Preservation recommends using regular and wide-mouth Mason-type, threaded, home-canning jars. Metallic cans are expensive and can only be used once. They can also give your canned meat an undesirable, metallic aftertaste.
What is the Difference between Canning Deer Meat and Canning Beef?
Clemson University describes the same canning process for beef and venison. However, if you wish to reduce the gamey flavor of venison, you may soak the deer meat in a salt brine for one hour before canning it.
How Long Will Canned Deer Meat Last?
Canned deer meat has a shelf life of 2-5 years. However, it is best to use shelf-stable foods within 2 years for the best quality.
Keep unopened jars of canned venison in a moisture-free environment away from direct sunlight. Avoid storing home-canned food near heated spaces, including garages and furnaces, as the high temperature may cause the meat to turn rancid quickly.