The Simple Guide to Canning Wild Turkey

In my opinion there is not a better way to keep wild turkey for up to a year than canning it. Canned turkey can be used in noodles, pot pie, soups, kabobs on the grill and more.

There are two ways to can turkey, either by hot packing or cold packing. Hot packing requires the meat to be cooked before caning. Cold packing is canning the meat without first cooking it.

The preferred method by many is using the hot packed method. It is great for soups, stews, casseroles and more that require the meat to be cooked first before finishing the recipe. Cold packed is best for meat you plan on grilling so that it can absorb all the flavors associated with this style of cooking.

Hot-pack canning helps remove the air from the food you’re about to can. Many foods when fresh can have 10% to 30% more air. Hot packing removes air, shrinks the food and keeps the food floating in the canning jars. This all improves shelf life and the amount of food you can pack into a single can[. If you choose the cold-pack method, the meat will begin to show signs of discoloration after 2 or 3 months.

To prevent bacterial contamination, cleanliness is a must throughout the entire process. Even though a pressure canner heats food to 240 degrees, there still is the risk of bacteria getting into the food. Wash the jars, lids and rings in soapy water and rinse thoroughly to remove all soap. It is important to keep the jars warm until you are ready to use them. This is easily done by placing them in enough simmering water to cover them in a large saucepan. Do the same with the lids and rings in a separate saucepan.

To prevent bacteria contamination, make sure everything is properly cleaned.

If you decide to hot pack the meat, you first need to cut off all the fat. Cut the meat into 1-inch cubes. Brown the meat in a frying pan with a small amount of butter or oil just until the meat is cooked to medium doneness. Spoon the meat into canning jars. Evenly add juices from the meat to jars till it is 1-inch from the top of the jar. If you do not have enough juice from the meat, add tomato juice. Add one teaspoon of salt per quart jar. Remove any bubbles by pushing against the side of the jar with a spatula. Wipe any spills off the jars. After filling, place the lids on top of the jars. Put the metal rings on and tighten. 

The turkey needs to be cut into bite-size pieces.

To cold pack the meat, follow the procedure for removing the fat and cubing the meat as you would for hot packing. Spoon the meat into the jars leaving one inch of headspace. Add two teaspoons of salt. Cold packing meat is faster than hot packing, but the meat is likely to turn dark during its shelf life. Wipe away any spills on the jars, put on the lids and tighten the metal rings.

A pressure cooker is a must to safely can meat, whether you hot or cold pack it. Fill the pressure cooker with about 3-inches of water, and then place the rack containing the filled jars inside. Vent the pressure cooker for 10 minutes before starting the cooking process to remove air. Open the vent pipe and place the pressure cooker on the stove. Heat the water to boiling; when steam comes out of the vent pipe, set your timer for 10 minutes. At the end of ten minutes, place the weighted gauge or counterweight over the vent pipe, and set your timer for the needed time to fully process the meat.

*I recommend you reading the instructions for your individual canner. What I have described is for my canner.*

Be sure to read the instructions for your canner.

For weighted pressure gauge canners, set the pressure at 10 pounds. For dial gauge canners, set it at 11 pounds. If you live in higher attitudes( more than 1,000 feet), refer to your instruction booklet for canner for the correct settings. Pint jars must be pressured cooked for 75 minutes and 90 minutes for quart jars to kill all bacteria.

Once canning time has elapsed, turn off heat and remove the canner from the heat. Remove jars from the canner once the pressure drops to zero, and leave at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. Check the lids for a tight seal and remove the metal bands. Place the jars in a dark, dry area with temperatures between 50 and 70 degrees. Always store below 95 degrees to prevent bacterial growth. Date your jars with either a “use by” date or a canning date. Use canned turkey within one year after canning.

Canning is a great way to preserve foods.

Canning turkey does take a bit of time, but it is easy to do and well worth the effort. Canned turkey is a great way to preserve your turkey meat, especially if you do not have a lot of freezer room. Plus, it makes for a delicious, quick meal, for the nights that you are pressed for time in cooking dinner.

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