Preserving Michigan venison
Recommendations to safely preserve your venison this hunting season.
As we move into November, hunters around the state are anxiously awaiting opening day for deer hunting season. Michigan State University Extension provides recommendations for safely home preserving your venison to enjoy all year long.
Freezing is the easiest way to preserve venison. To prepare venison for freezing, trim away connective tissue and fat, the source of strong “gamey” flavor. Protect the meat by wrapping it in moisture vapor-resistant packaging materials. Package in quantities your family will eat in one meal. Label each package with the date and cut of meat. Freeze quickly at 0 degree or below. For best eating results, use frozen ground venison within three months. Frozen venison steaks or roasts should be used within eight to 12 months.
Canning venison is also a popular method to preserve the meat. When canning venison, you must use a pressure canner to process since venison and other meats are low acid foods. Low acid foods must be processed in a pressure canner to assure their safety. The National Center for Home Food Preservation recommends canning venison according to directions for canning beef, veal, pork, lamb and mutton.
Choose high-quality, chilled meat strips, cubes or chunks. Remove excess fat. Strong-flavored wild meats should be soaked for one hour in brine made from one tablespoon of salt per quart of water. Rinse meat. Cut into one-inch-wide strips, cubes or chunks.
Hot pack: Precook meat to the rare stage by roasting, stewing or browning in a small amount of fat. Pack hot meat loosely into hot jars, leaving one-inch of headspace. Add 1/2 one-half teaspoon salt to pints; one teaspoon to quarts, if desired (salt is not critical to the processing and can be omitted). Fill the jar, leaving one-inch of headspace, with boiling broth, water or tomato juice. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rims. Adjust lids and process as directed below.
Raw pack: Add one-half teaspoon salt to each pint jar; one teaspoon to quarts, if desired (salt is not critical to the processing and can be omitted). Pack raw meat loosely in hot jars, leaving one-inch of headspace. Do not add liquid. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rims. Adjust lids and process as directed below.
Process both hot and raw pack meat in a dial-gauge pressure canner at 11 pounds pressure or in a weighted gauge pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure (pounds of pressure required vary according to altitude). Pints should be processed for 75 minutes; quarts should be processed for 90 minutes. Remember that timing does not begin until the canner has vented for 10 minutes and comes up to pressure. If your pressure goes below the correct number of pounds, timing must be started over. Correct processing must be followed precisely to ensure a safe product.
Using safe, research based practices to preserve your venison will allow you to enjoy the meat all year long.