Canning Venison

By Charlotte King

Many people enjoy hunting and spending time in the woods during hunting season, but utilizing all the venison you bring home can be hard. Canning venison is a good way to preserve it for later use when fresh meat is unavailable due to limited availability or freezer space.

Most people are surprised by how simple it is to can venison. When canning venison, you can use the hot pack or the raw pack method. Once you have the venison prepped, fill it in your jars, top off the jars with your canning liquid and process your jars in the pressure canner after sealing them. And voila! Your canned venison is ready!

Selection of Venison

Before starting to can venison, it is good to pick out only the best cuts of meat. Canning imperfect pieces or damaged venison can result in dry, tough meat. Likewise, canning venison that has bad freezer burn is not a good choice, as it will most likely be dry and stringy.

It is also essential to consider the level of fat on your venison. Canning too much fat can result in rotten tasting meat, so we recommend that you trim any visible areas of fat before starting to can venison.

Supplies for Canning

Canning Venison

Venison: You can choose to can your venison chopped or grounded depending on how you want to use it in the future. You will need about 2 pounds of meat for a quart of canned venison. If you are cubing up the venison for canning, you need to cut it into 1-inch thickness cubes.

Canning Liquid: Usually, the meat releases its juices that act as the canning liquid when you are canning it. However, in today’s lean meats, the fats and juices are not enough to cover the meat completely when you plan to use the hot pack method. That’s why you need an additional canning liquid. You can use your favorite broth as the canning liquid or even water itself for the canning liquid. Whichever you use, make sure it is hot when pouring into the canning jars.

Canning Jars: Depending on the quantity of canning meat, you will need to vary the number of canning jars. Make sure you use thick glass canning jars to withstand the canning process. Get the canning jars ready by washing them with hot and soapy water, and once cleaned, keep them in the oven or dishwasher to keep them warm until you are ready to fill them. Prepare the canning jar rings using the same process as well. You can prepare the canning lids by soaking them in a bowl of hot water until you are ready to use them.

Hot Pack vs. Raw Pack

You can use either method for canning your venison. A hot pack means that you are pre-cooking your meat before canning it. For the hot pack, cook the meat until rare by using your preferred method in a small amount of fat.

For the cold pack, no cooking is required. You need to add the meat pieces to the canning jars and can them. You can choose whichever method you prefer for canning.

Pressure Canning or Water Bath Canning

Since venison is a low acid food, you will have to use the pressure canning method. The science behind it is straightforward. Because venison is low acid, it cannot be safely canned using the water bath technique as the water bath canner cannot reach the temperatures that a pressure canner can.

Food high in acidity, such as citrus fruits, can be canned using the water bath method. The acid in the food and the temperature reached during the water bath canning helps preserve the food.

Since our venison is low-acid, we will stick to the pressure canning technique.

Pressure Canning Venison

  • Before we start canning venison, check your canning jars to make sure there aren’t any imperfections, especially on the rim of the jars. Any dents or knicks can prevent the jars from sealing.
  • Remove the warm canning jars from the oven when your venison is ready to be canned. Pack in the venison tightly in each jar, leaving about 1 inch of headspace. If desired, add about 1 teaspoon of canning salt if you use quarts and ½ teaspoon if you use pints.
  • Next, add the canning liquid for your hot pack only, maintaining that 1-inch headspace again. Remember that you’re only going to use the canning liquid if your canning process is based on the hot pack method. The venison will release enough juices to safely can it in the raw pack.
  • If you used the hot pack technique, use a debubbler to remove any air pocket that may have formed, and if needed, top off the jars to maintain that 1-inch headspace.
  • Wipe off the rims of the jars with a damp paper towel to get rid of any traces of meat juices or canning liquid, which will help get a good seal on the canning jars.
  • You are now ready to seal the jars. Start by using a magnetic lid lifter to place the canning lids on the jars and then twisting on the canning jar rings so that they are screwed on just finger-tip tight.
  • Get your pressure canner ready by adding a little water to the bottom and placing the trivet so that the canning jars don’t come in direct contact with the base of the canner. Next, load your canning jars into the canner, making sure they don’t touch each other in the canner.
  • Secure the lid to your canner, and depending on the type of canner you are using, process it at 11 PSI for 75 minutes if using a dial gauge pressure canner and at 10 PSI for 75 minutes if using a weighted -gauge canner.

You will need to adjust the pressure according to your elevation. Following is the recommendation from  National Center for Home Food Preservation.

  • When the processing time for your venison is up, let the pressure inside the pressure canner come down naturally before you open the lid.
  • After opening the lid, carefully lift out the canning jars onto a wire rack using jar-tongs  in a quiet corner of your kitchen where they can cool down undisturbed. Leave the jars unattended for 24 hours so that they can cool completely. As the jars cool, you will hear the signature “pop” sound that indicates them sealing shut.
  • As the final step, remove the rings from the jars and give them a good wipe down using a damp cloth or paper towel. Check on the seals to ensure all the jars are secure and that there are not any air or pressure leaks and then label and date them with the canning date.

Your canned venison is now ready and can be stored in your pantry! The venison will easily last you for up to 2 years in the pantry. However, once opened, use the contents of the jar within 3 – 4 days and keep it refrigerated until used completely.

Frequently Asked Questions


Can I can venison in the oven?

No, canning meat in the oven is that we don’t recommend and is not generally safe. Canning requires your food to reach a specific temperature and pressure, which is difficult to achieve in the oven. Not only meat but canning any sort of food in the oven is not a good choice.

Can I can venison in the pressure cooker?

Recently, some pressure cookers with the ability to can food have newly come into the market. If you are using one of these pressure cookers for food canning, you can go ahead and follow the instructions specific for your pressure cooker to can the venison. However, a traditional pressure cooker does not have the ability to can any food and should not be used to can the food either.

How to tell if the canned venison has gone bad?

Properly canned and stored venison will usually not go bad. However, if you notice mold or an off-smell from the canned venison jars, it is best to discard them. Also, if any seal on any jar has come off in storage, discard the jar entirely as you don’t know how long the venison has been unsealed.


Canning venison is an easy and convenient way to preserve your extra haul of meat. You can now use your venison in various dishes and can come in handy for quick dinners. Give this canning guide a try, and we are sure you will be coming back to it again and again! If you have enjoyed this canning guide, you might also enjoy some of our other canning guides that you can find here.

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