Bottling Venison

Have you ever worried about what would happen to your food storage if your power went out for a long time? A lot of our food would be ok, but what about all of your meat in the freezer?

While I do freeze a bulk of my stored meat, I also like to bottle meat. While meat can be purchased canned, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as being able to store and eat your own grown or harvested meat.

Any kind of meat can be stored this way, from chicken to beef, rabbit to fish. In this case: venison!

Both my husband and I grew up in hunting families and this year we each happened to draw deer tags. We generally process our harvested animals start to finish on our own so its easy to decide what cuts of meat will be processed into steaks, ground, bottled or made into jerky.

Generally we like to use any scrap meat, small pieces, neck and lower leg meat on a deer for bottling. Even the pieces that might seem too tough for grinding are perfect for bottling because after being pressure cooked they fall apart and are so delicious.

To bottle any kind of meat you need to be using a pressure canner. Mine happens to be a 22 quart pressure canner that is probably as old as me. I inherited it a few years ago from my mom. She no longer bottles so it is now mine! Water bath canning and steam canning work great on high acidic foods, but meat is not one of those.

Canning is fairly simple, but needs to be done correctly to be sure foods are safe. Be sure to read the manual that comes with your pressure canner as each might be a bit different. Here’s how I bottle meat in my pressure canner.

Step 1: Cut up all the meat that you wish to bottle into small chunks, approximately 1 inch cubes.

Step 2. Pack the meat into clean sterilized mason jars.

Step 3. Add kosher non-iodized salt to each jar, 1tbsp for pints and 2tbsp per quart.

Step 4. Wipe down the rim of each jar and sterilized, warm lids and rings onto each jar. Tighten down the rings.

Step 5. Add water to the bottom of your canner. For my specific canner, as stated in its manual, I add 2 quarts of water.

Step 6. Put jars of meat into the bottom of the canner and close the lid of the canner. Using the weight that comes with your canner choose the appropriate weight for your region. I use 15lbs of pressure because we live at a high altitude (5000 feet elevation). If below 2000 feet, I would use 10lbs of pressure.

Step 7. Turn on heat! I start my canner off on high heat on my electric stove and leave it until I hear the first jiggle of the canner. I then turn my heat down to medium/high and try to have my canner jiggling at least 2/3 times per minute. More is fine and normal, I just don’t like it to be a constant hiss of steam and no jiggling. If its a constant hiss then my heat is too high.

Weight set at 15lbs of pressure

Step 8. Once you hear the first jiggle of the canner, process for 90 minutes. Once 90 minutes is up, turn off the heat and let the canner cool. Do NOT try to take the weight off the top of the canner to let the steam out. Do NOT attempt to take the lid off! It’s still pressurized until it cools down.

Step 9. Allow the steam to escape naturally as the canner cools down. I usually wait until the canner is cool enough to touch before attempting to take the weight or lid off. Once you can safely remove the lid, place your bottles on a clean kitchen towel and allow to cool completely. Check that each lid has sealed before storing. If any have not sealed refrigerate and use within the week.

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