I want to start this post with a little… “OH MY GOODNESS, HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED” blast from the past. This is an excerpt out of canning pamphlet that was my Great Grandma’s. I’m not sure who printed it as the cover and first few pages are missing. But it gave me a chuckle so I figured I’d share it!
Back to the time at hand…
My Dad is a great hunter! I’ve had tags off and on throughout my life but never really got into trying to get an animal every year. One of the main reasons is because my Mom doesn’t eat game so there is always plenty of meat to go around from my dad and brother. A week ago my Dad got a nice, small bull elk on opening morning and we were all excited for the great meat until we thought it through and said, “Oh man, our freezers are full!” So I put the word out to friends looking for freezer space and contemplated canning it to store outside of the freezer. I have never pressure canned meat and the last time I pressure canned anything was helping my Mom can green beans when I was little. So while the elk cured for a week we thought about our options.
It ended up my brother took half of it so between my parent’s freezer and my mini chest freezer we were able to squeeze in the rest (sorry to the friends that had room and were looking forward to some elk meat). But I still wanted to try canning some. Not only is it a super easy process but it will give my pantry a new dimension that will help me out when I don’t feel like cooking dinner. I borrowed my aunt’s pressure canner and after my Dad and I cut up a quarter into roasts, steaks and hamburger meat we canned the chunks.
We cut up the nice pieces of elk that didn’t have any fat, tendons or silver skin. The cubes were approximately 1 inch square and we overfilled a 5 quart bowl with pieces. A teaspoon of sea salt was added to each quart to season the meat.
The raw meat was packed into the sterile, warm jars leaving an inch space at the top. No liquid is added to raw packed meat, it makes it’s own liquid once canned.
The rims of the jars were wiped clean and lids that had been soaking in hot water were placed on top. The rings were tightened onto each jar and then they were placed into the pressure canner. The insert on the bottom of the canner was already in place and about an inch of hot water was in the bottom.
The water was heated to a boil with the lid on and once the steam was steady out of the pitcock for 10 minutes the counterweight was placed onto it. As the pressure increased the safety fuse closed itself and then the pressure started rising. The canner was held at 12.5 pounds of pressure (for 5′k elevation) for 90 minutes. Then the heat was turned off and the canner was allowed to cool until the pressure was gone, the lid was removed and the jars were allowed to cool. I removed the rings once cold to make sure the lids sealed and now I have 7 quarts of elk meat in my pantry to enjoy this winter! After seeing how much the meat settled we realized we could have packed more in but we would have had to take out some of the roasts we already wrapped up and put in the freezer, so next time I’ll be sure to pack the meat in tighter. :)
For more information on pressure canning please visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation: Using Pressure Canners.