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Canning Venison with the Hot Pack or Raw Pack Method

image of canned venison

Neither my husband nor I grew up in a hunting family, fishing yes, hunting no. However, when we moved to this area we met many people who hunt and over the years we have become a family who eats wild game. Each fall you’ll find me canning venison as it’s my favorite way to preserve venison (and beef).

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with venison since the first time I ate it at a friend’s house. There have been times I had it and it was wonderful and at times hardly edible. There are a lot of variables such as the age of the deer and how it was butchered that will determine how “gamey” the meat is. We (as in I) do not like the “gamey” taste although I know many people who do.

Canning venison seems to remove the gamey flavor and once you add onions and garlic it really makes for a nice quick main dish.

In full disclosure I have to say that I was a bit worried about eating canned venison the first time. The finished product doesn’t look very appealing (in the jar). However, when I opened the jar my daughter said “That smells good!” and you know what? It did.

Most canned meat (including commercially canned stew) smells like dog food to me but this didn’t. I put it in a skillet, simmered it for 15 minutes and added some flour to make a gravy. The meat was very tender and tasty.

Contrary to what some sites say, you do have to have a pressure canner to can meat. It is unsafe to try to can it in a water bath.

Also, you cannot put the flour in the jar to make the gravy ahead of time – the flour can coat the jar and mess up the process.

Here are some tips for using a pressure canner. It’s super easy, just follow the directions that came with your canner. This is the pressure canner I have and I really like it. I like that it doesn’t have a gasket I have to worry about and that I can can 7 quarts or 18-19 pints in one batch.

I also like to use Tattle reusable lids for our canned venison. I  try to use them for any canning that I do for our family as it really cuts down on the cost of canning.

Canning venison is just like canning any other meat and you can use these same directions for canning wild game, such as elk or moose, and beef or chicken. The process is the same.

Each quart jar will hold about 1 1/2 pounds of cubed venison or beef. That should help you figure out how many jars you need.

I like to keep track of all my home preserved food with these worksheets. You can get a copy emailed to you by filling out the form below.

Raw pack vs hot pack for canned venison

There are two ways to can venison (or beef) and both result in super tender meat. You can either raw pack or hot pack the venison.

Sometimes I choose to raw pack the meat simply because it’s faster, but I do think I get a better end product for storing when I hot pack the venison. Sometimes when I raw pack venison there isn’t enough natural juices to cover the meat. You don’t add water or broth when you raw pack venison as the meat will make it’s own juice in the jar but super lean meat like venison doesn’t always make enough juice to cover the meat.

Canning venison with the hot pack method means that you precook the meat in a little bit of oil before you put in the jars. Then you pour the drippings, broth, or hot water over the meat. This helps you know that there will be enough liquid to cover the meat in the finished product but it takes a little longer.

When you serve the meat you need to heat it up, some resources recommend boiling home canned meat and vegetables for 10 minutes before serving but that is no longer the recommendation. But it’s probably not very tasty straight out of the can, so go ahead and heat it up.

image of canned venison and cooked canned venison on mashed potatoes

How to can venison with the raw pack method

  1. Wash each jar and lid in hot soapy water.
  2. Put the pressure canner on the stove and add water according to the manufacturer directions.
  3. Fill each jar with the raw cubed venison and leave a 1″ head space. You’ll want to firmly pack the meat down.
  4. Add onion and garlic to each jar if desired, if you add onion and garlic you might need to remove some meat so you still have a 1″ head space.
  5. Add 1/2 tsp salt per pint and 1 tsp salt per quart if desired.
  6. Use a spatula to get air bubbles out of the jar by sliding the spatula (or a wooden spoon handle) between the jar and the meat and gently pressing the meat towards the opposite side of the jar. You won’t get all the air bubbles out, but it’s good to try to get some out.
  7. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean damp cloth.
  8. Top jars with lids and bands. I really like to use canning reusable lids on these because I don’t normally give these as gifts.
  9. Place hot jars into water in pressure canner (prepared per manufacturer guidelines).
  10. Lock the lid
  11. Turn up the heat to medium-high
  12. Once it’s boiling and you hear steam coming from the vent,  let the steam vent from canner for 7 minutes, then put weight on vent
  13. Continue heating until you reach 10 pounds pressure (adjusting for altitude if necessary)
  14. Process pint jars for 75 minute, and quart jars for 90 minutes
  15. After processing time is finished, turn off heat and let pressure go all the way to zero psi
  16. Once the canner is completely depressurized, remove lid.
  17. Let the jars cool for about 10 minutes. 
  18. Remove jars and let them cool completely.
  19. Once they’re cool, remove bands, wipe jars, and store properly.

How to can venison with the hot pack method

  1. Wash each jar and lid in hot soapy water. The jars will need to stay hot while you prepare the meat.
  2. Brown meat in a small amount of oil. No need to cook it all the way through, just until it’s rare and it releasing it’s juices.
  3. Put the pressure canner on the stove and add water according to the manufacturer directions.
  4. Add onion and garlic to each jar if desired.
  5. Add 1/2 tsp salt per pint and 1 tsp salt per quart if desired.
  6. Fill each jar with the hot venison and leave a 1″ head space.
  7. Pour the drippings over the meat leaving a 1″ head space.
  8. Use a spatula to get air bubbles out of the jar by sliding the spatula (or a wooden spoon handle) between the jar and the meat and gently pressing the meat towards the opposite side of the jar. You won’t get all the air bubbles out, but it’s good to try to get some out.
  9. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean damp cloth.
  10. Top jars with lids and bands. I really like to use canning reusable lids on these because I don’t normally give these as gifts.
  11. Place hot jars into water in pressure canner (prepared per manufacturer guidelines).
  12. Lock the lid
  13. Turn up the heat to medium-high
  14. Once it’s boiling and you hear steam coming from the vent,  let the steam vent from canner for 7 minutes, then put weight on vent
  15. Continue heating until you reach 10 pounds pressure (adjusting for altitude if necessary)
  16. Process pint jars for 75 minute, and quart jars for 90 minutes
  17. After processing time is finished, turn off heat and let pressure go all the way to zero psi
  18. Once the canner is completely depressurized, remove lid.
  19. Let the jars cool for about 10 minutes. 
  20. Remove jars and let them cool completely.
  21. Once they’re cool, remove bands, wipe jars, and store properly.

Canning Venison with the Hot Pack Method

Canning Venison with the Hot Pack  Method

Ingredients

  • Venison
  • Oil
  • Onions (optional)
  • Garlic (optional)
  • Salt (optional)

Instructions

  1. Wash each jar and lid in hot soapy water. The jars will need to stay hot while you prepare the meat.
  2. Brown meat in a small amount of oil. No need to cook it all the way through, just until it's rare and it starts releasing it's juices.
  3. Put the pressure canner on the stove and add water according to the manufacturer directions.
  4. Add onion and garlic to each jar if desired.
  5. Add 1/2 tsp salt per pint and 1 tsp salt per quart if desired.
  6. Fill each jar with the hot venison and leave a 1″ head space.
  7. Pour the drippings over the meat leaving a 1" head space.
  8. Use a spatula to get air bubbles out of the jar by sliding the spatula (or a wooden spoon handle) between the jar and the meat and gently pressing the meat towards the opposite side of the jar. You won't get all the air bubbles out, but it's good to try to get some out.
  9. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean damp cloth.
  10. Top jars with lids and bands. I really like to use canning reusable lids on these because I don’t normally give these as gifts.
  11. Place hot jars into water in pressure canner (prepared per manufacturer guidelines).
  12. Lock the lid
  13. Turn up the heat to medium-high
  14. Once it’s boiling and you hear steam coming from the vent, let the steam vent from canner for 7 minutes, then put weight on vent
  15. Continue heating until you reach 10 pounds pressure (adjusting for altitude if necessary)
  16. Process pint jars for 75 minute, and quart jars for 90 minutes
  17. After processing time is finished, turn off heat and let pressure go all the way to zero psi
  18. Once the canner is completely depressurized, remove lid.
  19. Let the jars cool for about 10 minutes. 
  20. Remove jars and let them cool completely.
  21. Once they’re cool, remove bands, wipe jars, and store properly.

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How to cook canned venison

Canned meat is wonderful even if it doesn’t look so tasty in the jar. There are three ways I like to use canned venison.

Our favorite way is to put it in a skillet and add flour to make a gravy. I just put a bit of water in the empty mason jar and add a heaping tablespoon of flour. I mix is up to get rid of clumps. Then slowly pour it into the hot meat and stir. If it needs to be thicker I add more flour, if it’s too thick I add a bit of water. I add salt and pepper. If I want something more like Mexican carne guisada, I add cumin and a bit of chili powder. I serve it over mashed potatoes, using canned potatoes when I’m short on time.

Sometimes, we’ll cook the meat and let the juices evaporate then add bar b que sauce for bar b que sandwiches.

Lastly, I’ll sometimes use canned venison and other home canned vegetables to make a quick stew.

Do you can venison or other meats? If so, share your ideas in the comments.

Thanks for sharing with your friends!

patrick riley

Sunday 18th of July 2021

I've been canning using a hot water bath for 35 years. Didn't know it was unsafe till the internet. We all did it that way.

Angi Schneider

Sunday 18th of July 2021

Water bath canning is safe for high acid foods...fruits, jam and jellies, pickles, etc. However, low acid foods such as meats, beans, and vegetables (that aren't pickled) need to be pressure canned. This is not a new recommendation and didn't come about because of the internet - this has been the USDA's recommendation since 1923.

Kathy Distel

Thursday 27th of August 2020

We just finished canning 14 quarts of venison vegetable soup. I prepared the venison first in the bottom of my stock pot. I then added all my vegetables, tomato juice and spices. I added two quarts of water and cooked the soup for two hours. By that time the meat was brown and beginning to be very tender. We started filling jars and according to the Kerr recipe book we processed the jars 40 minutes @ ten pounds. Unfortunately it didn’t mention making vegetable soup with venison. Having precooked the meat for two hours and the pressure canned for forty minutes, how long a shelf life will we have, if any.

Angi Schneider

Friday 28th of August 2020

Kristy, you'll need to store the jars in the refrigerator. I don't know what Kerr book you are referring to but 40 minutes is not long enough to process a meat and vegetable soup. Here's an article from the National Center for Home Food Preservation with correct times for a meat and vegetable soup. Hope that helps!

TAMMIE WHEELOCK

Sunday 19th of July 2020

Does anyone know how long to cook/can venison without using a pressure cooker?

Maxine Newberry

Sunday 1st of November 2020

My grandmother/Mother always used a hot water bath and processed the jars for 3 hours to seal. We packed the meat in raw with onions, garlic and salt. It was always delicious and an easy meal to prepare.

Angi Schneider

Sunday 19th of July 2020

You cannot safely can venison (or any meat) without a pressure canner (not a pressure cooker.) If you just want to cook the meat in a pressure cooker, like an Instant Pot, then use the same times as for beef.

RobinK

Friday 17th of July 2020

My mother taught me how to can meat. Canning this year has helped me put her wisdom to good use. She was the best cook! Our favorite ways to use canned venison is to add the quart of canned venison& several quarts of water to a large pot along with enough boullion cubes to taste. Bring to a boil, add packaged egg noodles, turn down to a simmer & cook noodles thru. The other way we use jars of canned venison is to add bbq sauce to it, stir & heat. Place on buns, add some side dishes & dinner is served. Thanks for sharing this. Fond memories of my mama!

Angi Schneider

Friday 17th of July 2020

What great memories! Thank you for sharing your favorite ways to use canned venison, they sound delicious.

Christine

Friday 16th of August 2019

How much onion and garlic do you add for a quart jar? Anxious to try this canning recipe! Thanks for sharing.

Angi Schneider

Friday 16th of August 2019

I probably put 2-4 cloves garlic and 1/4 cup of onion per jar. You can put more or less, the processing time will be the same. Enjoy!

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