Friday, June 26, 2015

An Old-timers Canned Elk

Hunky Hubby's family has been canning wild meat for many years.  Homesteading their family ranch in 1905, they had to make do in a very harsh Wyoming environment.  Elk and deer are plentiful in the area.  Their meat provided nourishment for many pioneer families.  It was much more economical to kill and eat wild game, as opposed to consuming beef or lamb that could be sold at market.
Many years ago, Awesome Mother in Law taught us to process wild meat for freezing and canning.  There are two methods that she used for canning.  The methods differ in the meat preparation before they go into the bottle. 
The first method is easy and does not take a lot of prep time.  It is called Raw Packing.  Simply cut the meat into bite size chunks.  Place the chunks into clean, sterilized bottles.  Add 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Do not add water.   Place clean lids on top of the bottle and secure with caps.  Make sure that neither the meat nor the water are touching the lid.  Pressure can the meat at 15 pounds for 90 minutes. 

The second method that my dear Mother in Law used is a Hot Pack method.  Into a large mixing bowl, add 2 cups of flour, 1 TBLS. Garlic Powder, 1 TBLS. Onion Powder and 1 Teas. Paprika.  Cut the meat into bite size pieces and dredge in the flour mixture.  Add two TBLS bacon grease to a large cast iron frying pan.  Heat the grease and add the meat, searing on each side.  The meat should only be seared and not cooked through.  As the searing is completed, add the meat to a clean, sterilized jar.  Add 1/2 Teas. salt to the top of each bottle.  Once all the meat has been seared and placed in the jars, add 2 cups of water to the frying pan.  Allow the water to boil while stirring and scraping the goodies from the bottom of the pan.  Allow this mixture to reduce.  This will provide a sort of rue for your broth.  In a large pan, add the rue, 4 TBLS dried minced onion and as much water needed to fill the number of jars you have.  Bring to a boil.  The broth will taste weak, but the meat and salt will flavor it more during cooking.  Pour the boiling broth over the meat in the jars.   Place clean lids on top of the bottle and secure with caps.  Make sure you leave at least 1 inch between the top of the meat and the lid.  Pressure can the meat at 15 pounds for 90 minutes. 

Make sure that you give the bottles lots of time to cool before you move them.  They are very hot, so be careful!  We write the species of meat and the year of canning on the top of the lid.  For best quality, use the meat within a year of canning.  They will keep for many years, though the quality will be diminished.
This meat can be used for stews and soups, meat and gravy dishes, or mixed with mayo and pickle relish for a yummy sandwich spread.  we have been consuming this meat for over 30 years.  We have never had a bottle go bad, using these methods.

  (Please note that we are at 6500 feet elevation.  According to Go, the pounds of pressure must be adjusted for the elevation.  The processing time will stay the same.) 

Disclaimer:  We don't profess to be home canning experts. We are simply sharing the way that we have been taught to do it.   Please research safe canning practices before you attempt home canning or pressure canning.  Here is an excellent resource for more information. Canning Wild Meat - University of Wisconsin

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