I have been wanting to try my hand at canning for quite some time now. Follow along with my journey as I get started.
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At Thanksgiving last year, the Crafty Family was gathered at the house to enjoy a home-cooked meal, and the inevitable question came up – “What do you want for Christmas Amy?” Normally, I dread trying to come up with an answer because in all honesty I don’t need for anything. Don’t get me wrong, I have an Amazon wish list a mile long, but when it comes to naming something off the top of my head, I just tend to go blank. Well, this time when the question came up I just blurted out – “I want a pressure canner!” I didn’t think long and hard about it…. I didn’t pause…and then say it. It just came right out. I’m not sure where it even came from, because the idea of canning hadn’t been on my mind since late summer. I’m pretty sure it pleased my mom though, knowing she didn’t have to wait on me to come up with an idea, or try to figure out just what I MIGHT want. And because my mommy is so awesome, on Christmas Day I opened up my present to find that 23-quart aluminum beauty as she reflected the lights from the Christmas tree so brightly. I was so excited. Even better was that she also included the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. I couldn’t wait to get home and put it to good use. (after making a quick stop at the big W to pick up some jars and lids and one of those neat little Ball Essentials packs).
My husband is an avid deer hunter. He spends all spring and summer carefully cultivating his plans and plots so that he can spend all winter sitting quietly in a tree, contemplating his existence. I don’t mind at all because for the past several years, he has managed to keep our freezer stocked and the grocery bill lowered. So of course, one of the first things I wanted to try with the new pressure canner was venison. I read through my Ball Blue Book and did a little internet research to find out exactly what this project was going to require so that I would be ready for the next deer. Lucky for me, that came quickly. So, with my fresh venison ready to go I gathered my supplies to get started. Here is a quick rundown of what I did to can my first Venison.
- Pressure Canner
- pint or quart jars jar
- jar lids and rings
- pepper or spices (optional)
- white vinegar
- Bubble remover or headspace tool (a butter knife will also work)
- Canning funnel (helpful but not necessary)
- Paper towels or clean rag
- venison cut into cubes or pieces small enough to fit into the jars
- canning salt
(I used the raw pack method (slightly modified but safe) for my first attempt and it came out wonderful.)
10 Easy Steps to Preparing your Jars
- Prepare jars, lids and rings for canning. I ran mine through the quick cycle on my dishwasher.
- Cut the venison into cubes or strips so that they will fit in the jars. Remove any fat or gristle.
- Fill each jar about ½ way full with the meat cubes.
- Add 1-2 tsp. of canning salt per quart. (Reduce this amount if using pint jars)
- I also added some fresh ground peppercorn medley – about ¾ tsp. This step is not necessary – just a matter of taste.
- Fill the jars the rest of the way with meat. Pack it in tight leaving 1 inch of headspace in the jar.
- Add 2 tbsp. of beef stock to each jar. (Optional, but not necessary. The raw pack method will make its own juices curing the cooking process. I did it to enhance flavor. This was my slight modification in case you were wondering. 😉)
- Run the bubble remover or a butter knife around the inside of the jar to remove and air pockets.
- Clean the rim of each jar with a clean rag. This step is important so that the lids will form a proper seal.
- Add a warm lid and ring to each jar and set aside.
Setting up the Pressure Canner
Set up the pressure canner by following the manufacturer’s instructions in the manual. I have a Presto 23 qt. canner. Load the jars onto the canner rack inside the pressure canner and add 3 quarts of water. Secure the lid according to the instructions and set on stovetop. Turn the heat onto a medium-high setting and wait patiently. Once the canner starts to emit a steady flow of steam for 10 minutes, place your pressure regulator on the vent pipe and allow the canner to reach the proper pressure requirements for your elevation and canner type. Mine was 10 pound of pressure for a weighted canner.
You can find more information about pressure requirements and elevations here: http://nchfp.uga.edu
This step can take a little while so be patient. The hissing and spitting sounds are completely normal. They took me by surprise the first time I used my canner.
Adjust the heat as needed to maintain pressure and process for 75 minutes for pint jars or 90 minutes for quart jars. Once the time is up, turn off the heat on your stove and remove canner from heat source, (do so by lifting rather than sliding) and allow the canner to cool down completely. Pressure is completely reduced when the air vent/cover lock and overpressure plug have dropped. Do not use the pressure dial gauge as an indicator for when pressure is completely reduced. Remove the pressure regulator and allow the canner to cool down for an additional 10 minutes.
After The Pressure Canner has cooled down
Remove the lid from the canner and using a jar lifter, remove the jars from the canner and allow them to cool upright on a board or cloth. Once they are cooled down, test the lids to make sure they are properly sealed. A proper seal will not bounce up and down when the lid is pressed in the center. Label each jar with contents and date and store away. You can remove the rings to store them but I prefer to leave them on.
And that is it! Super easy. And the meat is scrumptious. Of course, we had to test one out for dinner the following evening just to make sure it all turned out okay. It was great just warmed in a saucepan with just a little cornstarch added in to thicken the broth and served over egg noodles for a quick and easy venison beef tips style meal. It would also be great over rice or mashed potatoes.
I am planning on trying my hand at beef and chicken next. I have quite a full freezer right now and need to clear up a little room in it and canned meat will last quite a long time on the shelf and is great to have on hand for a quick and easy meal on those nights when you just aren’t feeling it.
Have you been wanting to try your hand at pressure canning? Is there something you have been wanting to try but not sure where to start. I’d love for you to share in the comments!