Preserving Michigan venison
Enjoy safe venison all year by safely preserving it this hunting season.
As we move through the last month of 2018, Michigan hunters all around the state continue to try for a successful hunt. Michigan State University Extension provides the following 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 and freeze quickly at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below. For best eating results, use frozen ground venison within three months and frozen venison steaks or roasts 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 it safely since venison and other meats are low acid foods. The National Center for Home Food Preservation recommends canning venison according to directions for canning beef, veal, pork, lamb and mutton.
To can venison, choose high-quality, chilled meat strips, cubes or chunks and remove excess fat. Strong-flavored wild meats should be soaked for one hour in a brine made from one tablespoon of salt per quart of water. Rinse the meat and cut it into one-inch-wide strips, cubes or chunks.
There are two methods to canning venison, hot packing and cold packing. For hot packing, precook the meat to the rare stage by roasting, stewing or browning it in a small amount of fat. Pack hot meat loosely into hot jars, leaving one-inch of headspace. Add one-half teaspoon salt to pints and 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 and wipe jar rims. Adjust lids and process as directed below.
To raw pack venison, add one-half teaspoon salt to each pint jar and 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 and wipe jar rims. Adjust lids and process as directed below.
To process both hot and raw pack meat, use 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 and 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.
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