Preserving your own food by canning is economical and results in a product that has a long shelf life and tastes good when used. Most people do not consider canning meats but this is a good method to use to avoid taking up freezer space. Venison is an excellent choice for canning since the deer is a manageable sized animal to process and can be handled within a day's time. Care must be taken in handling the meat and throughout the canning process.
You need to have a lot of room while canning.
The meat that results from the canning process is good to use in soups and stew or shredded and cooked in barbecue sauce for hot sandwiches.
Be sure to read and thoroughly understand the directions for your steam pressure canner. Be clean. Keep all surfaces and equipment clean while processing the meat. Wash your hands frequently to make sure you do not inadvertently introduce any contamination to the meat.
Hunt and kill a deer--this is known as venison on the hoof. Gut the deer immediately. Drag the deer out of the woods, register and bring to your home. Hang the deer for a few days to tenderize, if you wish, making sure the temperature where you are storing the deer does not exceed 40 degrees F. Skin the deer and remove the legs and head. You will have five pieces of deer to work with: four legs and the torso.
Butcher the large pieces of meat as you wish, setting aside smaller portions of the meat, i.e. trimmings, for canning. Keep the pieces to be canned separate in a large bowl and keep cool. Be sure to wash the meat before packaging. It is important to maintain a high level of cleanliness to prevent botulism.
Take the meat from the bowl and clean all the tallow from it that you can find. This is the white substance that is a deer's version of fat. One of the benefits of canning the meat is that any missed tallow will float to the top of the canning jar and is easily removed when the jar is opened for use. Cut the meat into small pieces about one inch cubed.
Wash and sterilize your jars, lids and rings. You may use pint or quart jars. Make sure there are no flaws in the jars you will be using, such as chips or cracks. Keep the rings and lids in a pot of boiled water until use. Fill the sterilized jars with the venison chunks to within one inch of the top of the jar. Add 1 tsp. of salt to each jar and add boiling water to within one inch of top. Make sure there are no trapped air bubbles in the jars around the meat. Wipe the mouths of the jars with a clean cloth and place the lids and rings on each jar. Tighten the rings.
Load the pressure canner with the filled jars and add two quarts of water to the canner or the amount recommended by your apparatus. Lock the lid in place and put the weight on top at 10 lbs. of pressure. Start the stove burner and adjust the heat to nearly full. Once the weight begins to jiggle, begin timing. Process for 1 hour and 15 minutes for pints and 1 hour and 30 minutes for quarts. Turn the burner off when the time has expired and let the canner cool down on its own. Do not remove the lid until the canner has cooled and lost its pressure. This may take overnight. Remove the jars check to see that they are sealed, the center should be slightly depressed and have no give when pushed. Remove the rings and wash the jars. Date and place in storage out of direct light. Use within a year.
- Ball Blue Book: The guide to home canning and freezing
- Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images