How To Can Venison

November 6, 2014

Beans, Food Preservation, Food Storage

Although my husband doesn’t get much time to spend in the woods hunting, we’re blessed to have friends who are more than happy to exchange some fresh meat for the opportunity to hunt on our property. They do the killing, we help with the processing, and we split the meat. It’s a great deal for all involved. Except for the deer, maybe.

We’ve learned to be grateful for the meat that we are provided through nature, and never want to waste it. Whatever we can’t eat right away is preserved for the months ahead. Although freezing the meat is the fastest and easiest method of preservation, I prefer to can it. Once that meat is in a jar, it will stay good for years with no worry of freezer burn or spoilage. It’s also much more convenient to have on hand as it is already fully cooked and ready to be heated up and eaten in 10 minutes.

I’m still working on acquiring a taste for venison, or perhaps finding a recipe that I like, but I have found canned deer meat to be delicious in so many dishes.

All American Pressure Canner

All American 921 Pressure Canner

Any time you are canning meat, you absolutely MUST use a pressure canner. Do not try water bath canning or oven canning meat. You will be risking some serious food poisoning.

When you’re working with fresh, wild meat, you’ll want to do a little prepping of the meat before you can it to remove the gamey flavor. One quick method of doing this is to submerge the pieces of fresh meat in a bowl of fresh, cold water, soaking until all of the blood has washed out. Continue to change out the water as it dirties until it is clear. It is also recommended to chill the meat at least overnight before cooking it. There are many different methods for removing the gamey flavor from venison (I’d love to hear yours, by the way), but proper field dressing is the most crucial factor. Be sure to clean the cavity well, and remove all of the tissue, fat, and bone from the meat before cooling it.

Canned Venison

~How To Can Venison~

Here’s a recipe my whole family loves. My favorite thing about this recipe is that it uses the raw-pack method, which means you don’t have to pre-cook the meat before filling the jars. Just chop the raw venison into cubes, and it’ll be fully cooked and deliciously tender after the canning process.

I like to serve canned venison over rice, mashed potatoes or noodles; served as taco or quesadilla filling, or tossed into soups and stews. You’d never know it was deer!


  • Pressure canner (this is different from a pressure cooker)
  • wide mouth funnel
  • ladle
  • pint or quart jars
  • canning lids and rings
  • tongs or lid lifter (to safely retrieve the canning lids from the hot water)
  • jar lifter (to remove hot jars from canner)

Ingredients per pint jar (double it for quarts):

  • 1 pound cubed lean venison
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 4 slices onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced green bell pepper (optional)
  • 1 beef bouillon cube (optional)


Begin with warm, sterilized jars. You can either simmer them in near-boiling water for 10 minutes, or run them through your dishwasher. Lids also need to be sterilized in hot, simmering water for 10 min. before using, to activate the sealing compound.

Place cubed, raw venison into a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic; toss to combine.

Pack the venison into each canning jar along with the onions, bell peppers, and bouillon if desired. Shake the jars so that the food settles as you pack them; jars should be filled to within 1/2 inch from the rim of the jar. Do not add any liquids.

Use a plastic or wooden utensil to poke around in the jars to remove any air bubbles.

Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp cloth to remove any bits of food, then screw on the lids and rings, finger tight.

Place filled jars into your pressure canner and proceed as per manufacturer’s directions. Process pints for 75 min at 10 lbs pressure (or quarts for 90 min. at 10 lbs pressure).

Once the canning process is complete, allow the jars to sit in the cooled off canner for 10 minutes before taking the lid off. Carefully remove the hot jars using a jar lifter, then place them on a rack or towel to continue to cool to room temperature. Wait 24 hours before testing the lids to make sure they sealed properly. To do this, unscrew the ring and pull up on the lid. It should not come off. (A good seal requires you to pry the lid off forcefully.) If the lid does come off, place the jar in your fridge to be eaten right away; OR, you can reprocess the meat in a new, sterilized jar.

Store home canned goods in a cool place, away from direct heat or sunlight for best results. Try to eat your canned foods withing the first year when the nutrients and flavor are at their peak, though home canned goods will stay safe to enjoy for years as long as the seal is intact. If you ever find mold growing in a jar, if a lid is bulging, or if the food has a funny smell, throw it out.

Do you have a venison canning recipe to share?
What’s your favorite way to cook deer meat?


About Kendra Lynne

Kendra shares all of her homesteading adventures on her website, New Life on a Homestead. Also be sure to check out her popular Canning DVD: At Home Canning For Beginners and Beyond!

View all posts by Kendra Lynne

14 Responses to “How To Can Venison”

  1. Veronica Says:

    It is no longer necessary to sterilze the lids and rings and jars are only required to be clean. They should also be warmed if you are filling with hot food or have preheated the water in the canner.
    If the canning is done at higher altitude to pressure should be increased to 15 lbs.
    See the latest recomendations in the Ball canning Guide or contact your local co-operative extension. Deer meat as with any other meat needs to be reheated to boiling before consumption


  2. Brian C. Says:

    Good advice Kendra. We are looking for ways to stretch the ole check books these days. One thing I have learned is not to try canning ground meat wether it be deer, beef or any other choice vitals. Reason is the muscle fibers are broken down when the meat is ground, making it kinda over cook during the canning process. When reheated it turns out kinda grainy and not holding to it’s intended form. It is still fully acceptable for consumption nutritiously. Just one lesson learned for all the your readers out there.


    • Kendra Lynne Says:

      Brian C,
      Ground beef is one of my favorite things to can. I wonder if the grainy-ness you are experiencing has to do with quality of meat, or perhaps a different variety of beef? Personally, we’re big fans of canned ground beef.


    • Keith Schultz Says:

      I have been canning venison for about 20 years, me mum before that and both Grandmas before that.
      None of us have a pressure cooker. IMO the must have pressure cooker comment is BS. Meat was canned for years before the pressure cooker came out.
      Needs to be cooked well that’s it, no magic.
      I leave it boil in an hot water bath for 3.5 hours (boil time) it can take 60 min to get boiling.
      Lately, I stock pot cook the bones for a 1/2 to full day and add broth to 2/3 full of fluid in the jar.
      Rings only finger tight, as the contents expand, if your lids puff up the rings are too tight. I snug them when removing the jars from the hot water.
      Keeps more of the meat under juice and not exposed, the exposed meat will turn brown, still ok to eat just looks less good.
      We always used 10-20 percent pork in our venison, to calm it down a bit, less wild. Buy a pork shoulder or at times a pork loin is not too expensive.
      Also I found you comment about soaking the blood out a little bit silly. I enjoy blood sausage, blood cooked and fat are what makes gravy, everything is better with gravy.
      Some tribes in Africa eat blood, blood if fresh is not bad.
      I tend to can the bloodiest meat and leave the not shot up parts for steak and roast since I think cooking the red stuff is better than freezing it.
      This year and 2 years ago I used 1/3 lamb and 2/3 venison, was very good. I am planning to can Buffalo next year.
      My mom and dad canned chicken and my aunt fish.

      My favorite recipe is:
      Brown an onion in bacon grease in a cast Iron Pan.
      When 75% browned, done add the canned meat.
      Add 1tbs of corn meal
      Add 1tbs heaped, of corn starch to 1/2 cup of milk, mix well add into the pan.
      Add 1 small can of mushrooms stems and pieces (I have used fresh but then cook them with the onions first)
      “Secret” add I can of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup.
      Spice with your favorites, I use salt , pepper, sage, garlic powder.
      Mix and stir simmer until the juice is “gravy like”
      Serve over mashed taders or noodles.

      Second best way.
      Make a pulled pork type Sloppy Joe mix with your favorite BBQ sauce and a quart of canned meat.


      • Kendra Lynne Says:

        I’m glad to hear that so far you haven’t gotten sick from canning meat w/out a pressure canner. Botulism is rare, though not BS for sure- it can be fatal. You are taking a risk every time you can meat (or anything low acid for that matter) without pressure canning it. I’m not trying to convince you, but I’d hate for somebody else to read your comment and then think it’s safe just ’cause you’ve been fortunate thus far. To me… it’s not worth the risk.


        • Leah Says:

          That’s true, you don’t have to can meat using a pressure canner. I grew up with my mom and grandmother canning meat (and all low acid foods] without a pressure canner (they survived the Depression years and WWII]. In fact, the meat was still good to eat years later, and that’s how I first learned to can. However, today I do use my pressure canners simply because it ‘is’ safer, it takes a fraction of the time, and I often have two canners on the go. The old way used to take 3 to 4 hours per batch. I love canning. I’ve canned all kinds of meat. I’ve also canned bacon, ham, cheese, butter, rendered lard and bacon fat, spaghetti sauce, chili, stew, beans with ham, beans with wieners, soup broth, etc. I’m always looking for new things to can! :-)


  3. Softballumpire Says:

    While I am not opposed to using beef bullion, I did wonder why you didn’t pressure cook the bones with herbs and spices and use that broth. Cook @ 15# for an hour or less before straining the broth. Cover it and chill it to congeal the fat. With the fat skimmed off, the broth will likely need to be reheated to return to liquid state to add atop the meat in the filled jars.

    If you have a garbage disposal, bones can be ground with small amounts of water exhaust ported into a large tub filled with dried grass clippings and covered with a sheet. The clippings catch the remainder of the water soluble nutrients to add to the compost bin while the sheet collects the ground bonemeal for drying to store until time to plant peas and other early garden crops that benefit from application of bonemeal.

    It requires a disposal rated @ 1 HP to handle beef, buffalo and elk bones. Longer cooking will soften some of the bones for use in a 3/4 HP disposal, but you might need to expend greater effort breaking the larger joint bones. The disposal works on most bones from a homestead slaughter but is useless on feathers. My kids tried it.


  4. Jim Says:

    Another method to reduce gamey flavor is to soak game meet in buttermilk overnight.

    The most important thing a person can do to limit gamey flavor is making sure the animal is taken with a quick, clean kill (heart & lung shot). When animals are wounded their adrenaline goes up and that’s a big contributor to gamey flavor.
    If you’re a new person to hunting or just not 100% sure where the vitals exactly are on an animal, I highly recommend the book “Shots on Big Game” by Craig Boddington. It has great visuals along with descriptions.

    This is a good subject Kendra, thank you for sharing!


  5. Mary Says:

    I have a great chicken soup recipe to can. Boil your chicken until it is almost done (save broth). Cut up chicken into small chunks and put about 2 inches of chicken into quart cans add an inch of green peas, an inch of carrots, throw in some onion, salt and pepper and cover with chicken broth. You can get really creative with this recipe by adding any ingredients you like. Follow canning guidelines for canning chicken.


  6. Derrell Says:

    I live up in the mountains and an elder in my town showed me that the simplest way to ensure there’s no gamey flavor in the meat after canning, is to simply place a chunk (~2″) of carrot in each jar as you’re packing the meat. It seems to absorb any gamey taste during the canning process.


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