Canned Stew Meat: Venison, Beef and Bear

It’s the first weekend of rifle deer hunting season here in North Carolina; so it’s only fitting that I share our processing secrets for venison, beef and bear.

Stew meat, creamed potatoes, homemade biscuits…..gravy….it’s hard to beat!!!  My crowd loves stew meat so when my boys took up the hobby of hunting I had to figure out a way to preserve the harvest.  There’s so many different ways this can be done.  The two most important things to remember – 1 tsp of salt per quart and pressure can for 90 minutes.

As soon as the boys harvest a deer they place the hams, shoulders and tenderloin in a cooler with 1/2 cup of non-iodized salt and ice.  If it’s a big buck we add 1 cup of vinegar.  The type of deer, determines how long we soak the meat; a doe or young buck will soak 24-48+ hours.  If it’s a big buck, we have soaked the meat as long as 72-96 hrs, draining the water and refilling the ice every 24 hours – but don’t add any more salt!  This draws out the “gamey” taste.  Wash the meat GOOD and cut it into stew meat chunks.


I chuckle as I say from the 1st of November until the 1st of January “we interrupt this marriage for Deer Season”…..true story……

With hunting season comes venison and preserving the harvest.  We freeze most of our burger and can most of our stew meat.  We’ve done this a couple of different ways I wouldn’t turn around for the difference – expect the appearance.  Parboiling the meat first, makes for a cleaner jar.

Parboil and scrap off the scum.  Pack hot meat in hot Wide Mouth jars. (Or you can skip the parboil and pack cold meat in cold jars).  We prefer the wide mouth jars for our meats, the proteins can make it hard to clean the jars.  **Note – if you parboil the meat, the jars will be much cleaner.  The “scum” isn’t trapped inside the jar.

Take crushed beef bouillon cubes or beef paste and make a broth.  Or you can put 1 bouillon cube in each quart jar and fill the jars with hot water.


Pour 1/2 cup broth to each quart, add 1 teaspoon of canning salt and fill with boiling water.  Be sure to leave at least 1 inch head space as the meat will create it’s own juice as it cooks.  Too much water and the juices will boil out.


Remove any and all air bubbles.


Wipe the rims with a sterile cloth, place lids and rings, tighten to finger tip tight and place in a pressure canner.  Remember if the jars are hot, the canner needs to be hot and if the jars are cold, the canner needs to be cold.  Let the canner steam for 10 minutes before placing the weight.  Once the weight begins jiggling, pressure can quarts for 90 minutes and pints for 75 minutes on 10 lbs of pressure.


There’s several different ways to can this type of meat.  I have one sister that simply puts cold meat in cold jars, adds 1 tsp of canning salt, places in a cold pressure canner and cans for 90 minutes.  I have friends that add jalapeno peppers, friends that add onions; there is no right or wrong way to do this.  The most important things to remember is to add 1 tsp of canning salt and can for 90 minutes.



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