While most of the wild game meat that we harvest gets packaged up and put into the freezer, I love to put up a bit into the pantry for quick meals, whether at home or camping.
Now, obviously meat is not shelf stable without preparing it, and that’s where the pressure canner comes into use. I will say it here, and then probably say it again a few more times: you must use a pressure canner to can meat, a water bath canner is insufficient. This is because meat is a low-acid food, which needs to be pressure canned to be safely consumed.
There are two methods for pressure canning – the hot pack method (in which food is preheated or partly cooked beforehand) and the raw pack method (where food is placed into the jar raw). When canning wild game, which tends to be leaner than domestic meat, I prefer to use the hot pack method, topping the jar off with hot water prior to canning. This leaves you with a final product that not only melts in your mouth, but the liquid can be poured off and used as a base for gravy.
Pressure canners come in two different styles: the weighted gauge and the dial gauge. While both will pressure can food, there are slight differences in how each canner operates. With that in mind, this is a brief overview of how to prepare the jars and meat for canning; refer to the user manual of your pressure canner for operational directions and follow instructions for beef in the manual.
A Brief Overview On How To Can Moose Meat Using The Hot Pack Method
Start with clean jars and new lids (you can reuse the rings if they are in good condition). Jars that are going to be pressure canned do not need to be sterilized before use, but I am in the habit of doing so anyway. Approximately one pound of stewing meat will fit into one quart, so plan accordingly. Keep lids in hot water until they are needed.
Brown the stewing meat. Use 1 tsp of salt for every quart jar. Pack the meat into the jar and top off with hot water. Leave one inch of headspace. Run a plastic knife or utensil down the inside of the jars to remove any air bubbles. Wipe the rims of the jars clean, place lids and hand tighten rings. Process according to your pressure canner’s user manual.
After processing, remove from the pressure canner (you must wait until the pressure is fully down) and leave jars for a day before moving the jars or removing rings. Check that the jars have sealed (the lid is curved down and doesn’t move when tapped on). Wipe jars clean and store upright in a cool, dry place.
Please note: For detailed information on pressure canning, it is highly recommended to follow the manufacturer’s instructions – for moose meat, follow the directions for canning beef.
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