A friend of ours recently gave us some ground venison and about three pounds of cubed venison. Made Salsbury steaks out of the ground meat (with gravy, duh) and although I was tempted to slow cook the chunks into a thick chili, I've been meaning to try canning meat. Since I still had the pressure canner out for making chicken stock (I'll put it away one day), I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to practice.
There was enough cubed meat to fill three pint jars. Not enough to make it really worth firing up the pressure canner, but this was going to be a learning experience. And if it somehow turned out yucky tasting, I would have only ruined three pints of meat.
I washed the cubed venison and soaked it in water until most of the blood had left the meat, drained it and put it into a pot and just covered the meat with water and a teaspoon of salt. I quickly brought the pot o' meat up to a boil, then took it off the burner. Since I was going to do use the Hot Pack method, I just wanted to cook the meat to a rare stage as it will continue cooking in the pressure canner.
I took the chunks of meat out then strained the broth through a seive lined with cheesecloth to get some of the funky looking stuff out. Packed the hot meat into the clean and hot pint jars, stuck a clove of garlic in each and poured the broth over it up to an inch from the top.
Wiped the rims off, tightened the lids down with the bands and put them into the pressure canner:
|My three little jars.
I'm going to let them sit for a week before I open one and give it a taste test. If they are yummy, I'll do the same thing when we get venison again, but hopefully there will be enough to pack them into several quart jars (90 minutes at 11 lbs. though).
I've also got a big package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts that I bought and froze earlier this year (yes, from the store...oh, the horror) and they are defrosting in the fridge right now. A few years ago I bought some canned chicken breasts from the store to put into our pantry for "emergency" use. Since they were going on two years old, I opened them and made some chicken & dumplings. They were very, very salty. I'm going to raw pack the defrosted chicken breasts and omit salt in the jars. I figure if it needs salt, we'll just grab the salt shaker once it's on our dinner plate. If I'm going to store canned meat in our pantry, I may as well do it myself. Probably tastier, and hopefully cheaper than the store-bought stuff.
I'm hoping that my first meat-canning foray will lead to more "convenience" type meals during the winter. Open a can of chicken, make a quick batch of dumplings or noodles, turn it into chicken pot pie or just dump it in with my homemade chicken stock for a hearty soup.