Freeze or Can Wild Game to Preserve for Later Use
Eight Steps to Freeze Wild Game Meat
- Trim fat to reduce strong flavor changes that may occur during freezer storage.
- Divide the meat into meal-size quantities.
- To prevent freezer burn, use moisture/vapor-proof wrap, such as heavily waxed freezer wrap, laminated freezer wrap, heavy-duty aluminum foil or plastic freezer storage bags. DO NOT use garbage bags.
- Press out all of the air before sealing.
- Label packages with contents and date.
- Avoid overloading the freezer. Freeze only the amount that will become solidly frozen within 24 hours.
- Place packages in freezer to allow air to circulate for quick cooling and freezing.
- Recommended storage times for wild game held at zero degrees F:
- Ground game meat — 2 to 3 months
- Roasts and Steaks — 8 to 12 months
- Stew Meat — 2 to 3 months
Canning Wild Game: Safety First
- Do not can wild game unless you use a pressure canner.
- Can fresh meat within 2 days, or freeze it to can it later.
- To can frozen meat, thaw in the refrigerator until most of the ice crystals have disappeared.
- Low acid foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, should never be canned using the water-bath method.
- Pressure and adequate time are necessary to produce safe canned meat.
- Process at the correct pressure according to altitude. In Minnesota follow processing directions for 1001-2000 feet.
- Use current, researched based food preservation resources (1994 or later).
How to Can Meat, Strips, Cubes, or Chunks (bear, beef, lamb, pork, veal, deer, elk)
Choose quality-chilled meat. Remove excess fat. Soak strong-flavored game for 1 hour in brine water containing 1 tablespoon of salt per quart and rinse. Remove large bones. Cut into 1-inch wide strips, cubes, or chunks.
Precook meat until rare by roasting, stewing, or browning in a small amount of fat. Add 1 teaspoon of salt per quart to the jar, if desired. Loosely pack jars with pieces and add boiling broth, meat drippings, water; or tomato juices (especially with wild game) leaving 1-inch headspace, then pressure can.
Add 1 teaspoon of salt per quart to the jar, if desired. Loosely pack jars with raw meat pieces, leaving 1-inch headspace. Do not add liquid. Adjust lids and process.
Recommended process times for Minnesota
- Dial-gauge pressure canner
Pints — 75 minutes @ 11 PSI
Quarts — 90 minutes @ 11 PSI
- Weighted-gauge pressure canner
Pints — 75 minutes @ 15 PSI
Quarts — 90 minutes @ 15 PSI
- Schafer, W., Canning basics series, University of Minnesota Extension, 2011.
- Cutter. C. Proper Processing of Wild Game & Fish, Penn State, 2002.
- Gamey Flavor and Cooking Venison
- Cooking Big Game Venison Meat Safely
- Parasites and Wild Game Venison
- Pressure Canning Process video — National Center for Home Food Preservation
Reviewed by Suzanne Driessen 2012