Preserving Venison


Your animal is down, now what?  Proper field care and aging are of utmost importance so be sure you’re doing everything right before putting that meat on the table to butcher.  There’s a lot of great information out there including Scott’s new DVD, on Skinning & Caping Big Game.

To preserve that meat, canning and smoking, are at the top of our list.

By Halloween, we had been butchering, wrapping, freezing and smoking much of the seasons catch, the freezers were full so it was time to bring out the new pressure cooker from Cabela’s.  This All-American brand pressure cooker and canner can pressure cook huge portions of food and pressure-can up to 19 pints at a time.  It can also be used as a hot-water canner for things like jams and salsa.  For meat and many other foods, pressure-canning is the only safe way to go.  The result is well worth the effort as the meat can be eaten right out of the jar.  By the time it is pressure-canned, it is fully cooked and shelf-stable (no refrigeration or freezing necessary).  Added right from the jar to warm pasta, rice, gravy or BBQ sauce, lunch or dinner only takes minutes.  My boys love it because it’s a great protein source that is ready to eat, even they can put a dinner together without much prep.

When pressure canning anything, refer to the instructions on your pressure canner or an approved canning cookbook or home extension website.  DO NOT just make up your own recipes and can them, this is dangerous territory for experimentation.


The guidelines I followed here were from All-American.  For raw-pack meat, remove all fat and sinew and cube meat into 1”-2” cubes.  Fill sterilized jars with meat, leaving 1” headspace.  Add 1/2 teaspoon salt to the jar.  Wipe jar rim clean and place lids on jars.  Fill pressure canner with 1 1/2” to 2” water.  Add jars to canner and cover.  Heat canner until steam begins to escape from pressure vent.  Allow steam to escape for 7 minutes before adding 10# weight to pressure vent.  When canner reaches 10# of pressure, set timer for 75 minutes.  Adjust heat as needed to keep canner at 10# of pressure for the entire canning time.  After 75 minutes, turn off heat and allow pressure to drop to zero.  Once pressure has dropped to zero, remove jars and allow to cool at room temperature.  Check for seal.  If jars do not seal, eat meat immediately or store in refrigerator (eat within 3 days).


Camp Chef Smoke Vault with Peterson’s Alder pucks

Jerky is a favorite in our family, not only because it is incredibly tasty but because it is the easiest on-the-go protein source around.

It also cuts way down on freezer space – I actually did the math and found that 50 pounds of venison smoked down to about 13.5 pounds of jerky.  (It may have been a little more as the smoker thieves kept sneaking warm jerky right out of the smoker… I know who you are!)

Although we have developed countless recipes for jerky and love experimenting with new and exciting flavors, when we have a lot of jerky to make, we stick to the family favorite.  It’s a recipe Scott came up with when he was in high school and it works great on any type of venison, turkey and waterfowl.  Morton Tenderquick is a great curing salt but if you don’t have it, Morton Sugar Cure or Canning & Pickling Salt will work just fine.

Easy Venison Jerky

  • 2-3 pounds venison, 1/3″ thickness
  • 1 quart water
  • 1/4 cup Morton Tenderquick or Pickling & Canning Salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (up to 3/4 if you want a sweeter jerky)
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke (optional)

When slicing meat for jerky, the traditional cut is in strips that go with the grain.  For an easy to chew cut, meat can be sliced across the grain. 

In a large ceramic or glass bowl, mix all brine ingredients with a wire whisk until salt and sugar are dissolved. 

Add meat, mix thoroughly, and put a plate on top to be sure all meat remains submerged. 

Soak 8-10 hours, stirring occasionally. 

Drain brine and remove meat. 

Do not rinse meat. 

Pat dry or place on racks and let air dry for up to 1 hour. 

Follow smoking directions on your smoker. 

Cooking times vary greatly and depend on make and model of smoker and outside weather conditions. 

Try to keep the temperature of the smoker between 150º and 200º. 

Check for doneness after 3 hours. 

Larger cuts of jerky can be finished on a baking sheet in the oven at 165º, check every 15 minutes. 

When jerky is done, place in a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap until cool. 

Keep refrigerated or freeze (vacuum seal) if storing for an extended period of time.

Cabela's Vacuum Sealer

Another great jerky method is using ground game in a jerky gun.  Go to for step-by-step directions.

I would love to hear from you!  Please contact me through this website with any comments or questions.  You can also find me on Facebook and Twitter.  Enjoy!

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