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Canning Venison with the Hot Pack or Raw Pack Method

Venison usually refers to deer meat but it can also include any wild game meat such as elk, carabao, and antelope. Canning venison is a great way to preserve the fall harvest and fill your shelves with shelf stable foods for quick meals.

It will also free up freezer space and help prepare you for power outages.

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 commercially canned meat and stews smell like dog food to me but this doesn’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. I’ve been canning venison (and lots of other meats) ever since.

Tips for canning venison

Contrary to what some sites say, you do have to use a pressure canner to can meat. It is a low-acid food which is not safe to can in a water bath canner.

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.

If you’re worried about the meat tasting strong or gamey, you can add a little tomato juice or sauce to the jars before canning. This will mellow the flavor of strong-flavored wild meats.

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.

Even though venison doesn’t have much fat, remove any excess fat and any silver skin, which is the connective tissue. It can seem tedious but it really does go quickly and will make for a better end product.

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.

It’s recommended that salt be added to the canned meat, it’s just for flavor not for safety so it can be omitted if you want to. Also, you don’t have to use canning salt, any pure salt is just fine.

You can also add any dry spices such as black pepper, garlic or onion powder to the jars without compromising the safety.

Here are some tips for using a pressure canner. Pressure canning is 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. If you’re using metal disposable lids, make sure to use new lids as they are for single use only.

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 meat juices to cover the meat.

You don’t need to add water or broth when you raw pack venison as the meat will make it’s own juice during the canning process. But super lean meat like venison doesn’t always make enough of it’s own liquid to cover the meat, so you can add a little water, broth or tomato juice without compromising safety. 

But super lean meat like venison doesn’t always make enough juice to cover the meat, so you can add a little water, broth or tomato juice without compromising safety.

Canning venison with the hot pack method means that you precook the meat in a small amount of fat 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 from the National Center for Home Food Preservation. But it’s probably not very tasty straight out of the can, so go ahead and heat it up.

How to can venison with the raw pack method

  1. Wash canning jars and lids in hot soapy water.
  2. Put the pressure canner on the stove and add water according to the manufacturer directions.
  3. Turn the heat to medium high to heat the water – you want it hot but not boiling (about 140F)
  4. Put the clean canning jars in the pressure canner to keep them hot while you prepare the venison.
  5. Cut the raw venison into cubes, remove any excess fat and muscle tissue (silver skin)
  6. One by one, remove the jars from the canner and fill each jar with the raw meat and leave a 1-inch headspace. You’ll want to firmly pack the meat down.
  7. 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-inch headspace.
  8. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt per pint and 1 teaspoon of salt per quart, if desired.
  9. Wipe jar rims with a clean damp cloth.
  10. Top the jars with lids and screw bands on. I really like to use canning reusable lids on these because I don’t normally give these as gifts.
  11. Place filled jars into the 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 the vent,
  15. Continue heating until you reach 10 pounds pressure (adjusting for altitude if necessary)
  16. Process pint jars at 10 pounds of pressure for 75 minute, and quart jars for 90 minutes (adjust pressure for higher elevations, if necessary)
  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 in the canner for about 10 minutes. 
  20. Remove jars with a jar lifter and put them on a towel on the counter to cool overnight.
  21. Once they’re cool, remove bands, wipe jars, and store in a cool, dry place.

How to can venison with the hot pack method

  1. Wash canning jars and lids in hot soapy water. The jars will need to stay hot while you prepare the meat.
  2. Turn the heat to medium high to heat the water – you want it hot but not boiling (about 140F)
  3. Put the clean jars in the pressure canner to keep them hot while you prepare the venison.
  4. Cut the raw venison into cubes, remove any excess fat and muscle tissue (silver skin)
  5. Brown raw meat in a small amount of oil. No need to cook it all the way through, just until it’s at the rare stage and releasing it’s juices.
  6. One by one, remove the hot jars from the canner and add the partially cooked venison to each jar.
  7. Add onion and garlic to each jar if desired.
  8. Add 1/2 tsp salt per pint and 1 tsp salt per quart if desired.
  9. Fill each jar with the hot venison and leave a 1-inch headspace.
  10. Pour the drippings over the meat leaving a 1-inch headspace.
  11. Use a bubble remover or silicone spatula to get air bubbles out of the jar by sliding the bubble remover between the jar and the meat and gently pressing the meat towards the opposite side of the jar.
  12. Add hot water, broth or tomato juice to the jar to cover the meat.
  13. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean damp cloth.
  14. Top jars with lids and screw the bands on. I really like to use canning reusable lids on these because I don’t normally give these as gifts.
  15. Place filled jars into water in pressure canner (prepared per manufacturer guidelines).
  16. Lock the lid
  17. Turn up the heat to medium-high
  18. 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
  19. Continue heating until you reach 10 pounds pressure (adjusting for altitude if necessary)
  20. Process pint jars for 75 minute, and quart jars for 90 minutes
  21. After processing time is finished, turn off heat and let pressure go all the way to zero psi
  22. Once the canner is completely depressurized, remove lid.
  23. Let the jars cool in the canner for about 10 minutes. 
  24. Remove jars with a jar lifter and put them on a towel on the counter to cool overnight.
  25. 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

Home-canned- venison 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.

image of canned venison and cooked canned venison on mashed potatoes

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

Thanks for sharing with your friends!

Natashia

Monday 25th of July 2022

I was told not to use flour while canning ?

Angi Schneider

Saturday 30th of July 2022

That's true, you should not put flour (or any grains or thickener) in your jars while canning. This recipe doesn't call for flour.

Branna Snow

Thursday 25th of November 2021

I just commented but I failed to say I filled each jar with one and a half pounds of cubed meat.

Branna Snow

Thursday 25th of November 2021

It was my first time canning venison. I did the raw pack method, wide mouth quart jars, 90 mins with 10 lbs pressure. All the jars sealed and came out great, but the meat is not completely covered by the juice. A couple of the jars have cubes of meat completely uncovered by the juice. Is it safe to eat after being stored in the pantry? I know the recommended time to store it is 1 year, but how long will it keep not completely covered?

Angi Schneider

Thursday 2nd of December 2021

That happens sometimes, especially with wild game as the meat is pretty lean. It's completely safe that some of the meat isn't covered, if the recommended canning process was followed, which it sounds like it was. The meat will keep as long as the jars are sealed, but the uncovered meat will discolor some (get darker). It's still safe to eat. I just use those jars first. In the future, you can add a little hot water to the jars to help with coverage, you don't need to completely fill the jars but an inch or two would be fine to do.

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.

Diane

Wednesday 3rd of November 2021

@patrick riley, Could you share your directions on water bath?

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!

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