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Canning Wild Game and Other Meats

BY KIM HUGHES – khughes@uaex.edu

When the hunter in your family comes home with wild game – be it deer, rabbit, squirrel, or even an elk – what are you going to do with all that meat?  Most people have it processed and frozen, and your freezer can fill up pretty quickly if they are successful hunters.  And, what will happen if the electricity goes off and you don’t have a back-up plan?  Have you ever considered canning wild game?

The Extension Service will have a food preservation class on canning wild game and other meats on Wednesday, January 13, 2016 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.  The fee for this class is $10 and you will learn everything you need to know about preparing and canning meat.  The process will be demonstrated, followed by a hands-on lesson in which you can participate.  Hopefully, this will dispel your fears of using a pressure canner.  Using a modern presser canner and following the correct procedures insures you can safely can meat.

Meats, poultry and seafood are low acid foods (ph above 4.6) that provide a good environment for the growth of Clostridium botulinum, the bacterial cause of botulism.  These foods must be pressure canned for safety, if not frozen.

Wild game provides wholesome, nourishing food, but should be preserved carefully, to retain quality.  Wild meat is highly perishable, so care is needed to maintain its quality.  In the kitchen, raw meat and cooked meat should be kept separate to prevent cross-contamination.  Knife, hands, and cutting board should be washed often with warm, soapy water.  Fat and inedible parts should be trimmed from the carcass.

There are several recommended sources for canning meat, fruit and vegetables.  These include the University of Arkansas Extension Service at www.uaex.edu; the University of Georgia Extension Service has lots of publications you can print – http://extension.uga.edu/food/preservation/;

USDA Food Preservation manual – pages can be printed free online –   http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html; and the Ball Blue Book – just make sure you have a current edition – not over 4 or 5 years old.

If you are interested in taking this meat canning course, please pre-register by 5:00 on Monday, January 11.  Call us at 479-394-6018 or come by the Extension Service Office at 211 DeQueen Street in Mena.

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