Easy Canned Venison Recipe – The Rustic Elk
Absolutely nothing beats the deer. It is our goal to harvest our deer limit each season to fill the freezer to feed our family, as we cannot raise many animals for meat (other than poultry) on our one-acre farm. This gives us a sustainable, healthy and economical source of meat to feed us during the year. It also takes up a ton of freezer space. Therefore, we can usually increase some of it. Canned venison is great for use in fast food on busy days or simply as a shortcut to something healthy and delicious.
After butchering a deer, we usually age it and then pack it in vacuum-sealed bags to fill our freezer with a lot of delicious red meat. And I don’t see that we won’t do that soon. Absolutely nothing beats a delicious waist steak on the grill. But, space in the freezer is tight and if the power is cut off, it can result in a lot of wasted meat.
We strive to waste as little as possible and believe in using the meat we hunt and raise. As such, I have become increasingly interested in preserving meat without refrigeration with some outdated methods. But canning meat is something I feel confident doing and it’s an incredibly simple way to preserve that’s been done for decades.
Residential cooling has only been available since 1913 and was not common until the mid-1940s. I remember an older woman I met when I was younger who was born in 1913 telling me a story about them receiving electricity for the first time when she was 6 years old. Incredible. They definitely didn’t have a refrigerator, let alone a big deep freezer.
Canned meat became very popular during World War I and became a popular method of meat preservation until the mid-1940s, when refrigeration was more readily available and accepted.
How Can Venison
Canning deer is surprisingly easy. I wouldn’t even walk away from a newbie trying my luck at it. This method can also be used for other wild animals such as elk or bear and can even be used for beef or pork.
A Note on
First of all, you should use a snap-in canner to safely canning any meat, including venison. Putting it in a water bath isn’t safe and things you can’t smell or see could be in that jar of meat.
I know that some people are very afraid to use a pressure packer. Which makes things like canning broth and meat impossible. But, using a pressure canning machine isn’t really that difficult. I’ve been using pressure canners and pots in some way for my entire adult life. My mother used a pressure cooker several times a year throughout my life. Nothing bad ever happened. And using a snap-in canning machine allows you to canne a lot more food… safely.
Canning food safely is just one of those things I won’t back down. Not worth the risk for me or my family and friends. So, make sure you can do this properly by using a snap-in canner. They are worth their weight in gold, they really are.
Raw Pack or Hot Pack?
There are two ways to canned venison. One is the raw package, which is how it sounds. You pack raw meat in a hot, sterilized jar. The other is browning the meat before packing, called a hot compress.
Both result in safe and delicious canned venison. However, many people say that taking a step further to brown meat results in a tastier product. Does it? Maybe. But, I have 3 kids, my husband works off the farm 60 hours a week and I have other things to do. To me, it’s just not worth the extra step and mess it makes. So, I package raw.
If you choose to pack hot, simply put some olive oil in a pan and brown the meat as if you were making a stew that needed to simmer all day. Once you’ve finished browning, but haven’t finished making your way through all the meat, you need to keep it warm. A slow cooker is a great way to do this. If you don’t have one or don’t want to take one out, a 5-quart skillet with a little broth on the bottom (so the meat doesn’t stick) simmered on the stove will do the trick. See? Extra dishes. But, if you want and have time, do it.
Do I need
to add anything to the jar?
You don’t have to add anything to the jar at all. Not even water. This is usually a surprise to people, but the meat actually creates enough liquid of its own that you don’t need to add any extras.
I always add salt to tasty canning recipes. Some people swear by adding a bucket of pork fat, I think that’s silly and takes away the flavor. Just like when we make burgers, I never add ground pork or lard to the burger. They taste less like venison and more like beef to me.
I choose to add some onion to the jars. It’s not necessary, it just brings out a little flavor, and in most recipes, I use canned venison in the use of onions anyway. Another quick and easy addition is a clove of garlic. Some people choose to add herbs and/or pepper, all of those things are fine. None of them will affect the time you need to canne the meat.
It’s really up to you whether or not you add something beyond meat to jars. Try a few different things if you want. Add some herbs to one, maybe a bay leaf or some thyme. Add a clove of garlic to one. Be creative and think about how you like your seasoned venison when you prepare it fresh (or from the freezer). I suggest salt, as it highlights some of the flavors, but you don’t have to.
Use high-quality venison to canning
This is important. Like all foods, the final product is only as good as what you put in it. We hunt and process our own deer for this very reason. We can see the deer in the field before we take the photo and we can see the meat in the bones after it is harvested to make sure it is healthy.
I know not everyone has room to process deer in their home. We certainly don’t have room to hang it, but I have a trick to aging the meat that I’ll share with you and keeping the amount manageable so that almost anyone can process theirs.
We used to take our deer to a butcher, but we were not happy with the results and I like to acquire the skills to butcher and process ours. Anyway, make sure the meat is healthy.
You’ll want to remove any fat, bruised pieces, cartilage, and silvery skin. Most deer, of course, don’t have a ton of fat and cartilage, but all these things give the final product an unpleasant taste and it’s not very appetizing. A bit difficult to chew. So, cut all that (that you can). You can give it to your chickens or dogs for a tasty treat or leave it if you’re feeling brave.
Can I use previously frozen meat?
Yes. If your freezer goes out and you have too much meat to try to consume in a short period of time, you can. You’ll just want to make sure it doesn’t burn by freezing and thaws before you start.
Meat diced or sliced and packing
jars Whether you cut your meat into thin strips or the vat is entirely up to you. Depending on what you are going to use it for, it can help determine what you do with it. In fact, if I wanted to, I could cut some (these go great in sandwiches) and cubes (which is great for stewing) and process them together.
You just need to make sure the meat fits and that you pack your jars as tightly as possible. You don’t have to be super picky about it, just try to pack them tightly and tight.
How to store and use canned venison Canned venison will
keep for a long time when stored properly. Just make sure you keep it in a cool, dark place and you’ll be able to enjoy it for months to come. You will want to remove the rings after you have checked a proper seal and label with the contents and date. We have a pantry cabinet in which we store all our canned food.
It also makes it very easy to put a meal on the table. It’s great about mashed potatoes or a bed of rice. You can use it in stews, for tacos or fajitas, to make a quick sandwich, or even just heated as is.
You have to try, it makes all that canning stuff look incredibly easy once you do. You don’t have to cook it or do any actual prep work other than cutting the meat, which makes the whole process a little less daunting. I hope you try it and enjoy it!
Other Wild Game posts you’ll love:
Marinated venison fillet
- Venison jerky homemade
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