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Preserving Your Fall Harvest

Hunting season is upon us and it’s an exciting time of the year. If you’re lucky enough to have notched your tag already, congratulations! It’s always a great feeling to have the freezer full of lean meat for the year to come. But if your freezer is already full, no worries, there are other ways to preserve your meat to enjoy year-round. Pressure canning your harvest is a great option if you want a shelf-stable product that doesn’t require power to keep it safe. If in the case of an emergency, you can also pressure can your meat once thawed to preserve for later use.


Pressure canning preserves your meat so that it doesn’t require freezer space, or power once canned. Pressure canning meat produces a tender product that can be conveniently added to stews, soups, casseroles, and more! There is no defrosting necessary with canned meats, which can make meal prep faster! You can naturally choose your serving portion whether pint or quart for what your family will need, or what the recipe uses. You can control what goes into your food, as you are preparing it! And finally, it’s very rewarding to have a full pantry and knowledge of how to safely preserve your food.


Pressure canning meat does require long processing times, in order to kill harmful bacteria, so it does require proper planning and time management to ensure you’re not cutting any corners.

Other Options

If your freezer is full, and you’re not interested in pressure canning your harvest, the Wyoming Hunger Initiative offers the opportunity to donate your game meat to local food pantries in need. This is a great program to provide food to families in need, so no food goes to waste.

Pressure Canning Tips

If you have a dial gauge pressure canner, be sure to get it checked for accuracy annually at your local University of Wyoming Extension office at no charge. The flavor and texture of home-canned meat are dependent upon the quality of the starting product, so be particular as you’re selecting and trimming your harvest. When preparing meat, cut across the grain, making uniform 1-inch-thick slices, then cut with the grain into jar-size pieces. Trim away gristle, bruised spots, and fat. Excess fat from fattier cuts may cause the meat to develop a strong flavor and can cause seal failure. If you have a strong-flavored game you can soak the meat in a salt-water brine for 1 hour before canning, but don’t let it stand for longer. To make a salt-water brine add 1 tbsp. salt for every 4 cups of water and stir until dissolved. If you do brine the meat, do not add salt to each jar during preparation.

Written by University of Wyoming Extension- Cent$ible Nutrition Program Educator Shelley Balls, MDA, RD, LD



Pressure Canned Wild Game

Course: Main Course
Author: Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving


  • Boneless, lean good-quality wild game meat
  • Salt optional
  • Hot broth


  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Prepare pressure canner, jars, and lids.
  • Cut meat into 1/2- to 1-inch-thickstrips just long enough to fit in jars. In a large roasting pan, spread meat strips out in a single layer. Sear in preheated oven just until browned but still rare inside (cooking time will vary depending on the type of meat and the size of strips).
  • Pack hot meat into hot jars to within a generous 1 inch of the top of the jar. If using salt, add ½ tsp. to each pint jar or 1 tsp. to each quart jar. Ladle hot broth into the jar to cover the meat, leaving 1-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot broth. Wipe the rim with a paper towel moistened with vinegar. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight.
  • Place jars in the pressure canner. Adjust water level, lock lid, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Vent steam for 10 minutes, then close vent. Continue heating to achieve 14 pounds of pressure for a dial gauge and 15 pounds of pressure for a weighted gauge if living in Lincoln County (elevation 6,001-8,000 feet). Process pint jars for 75minutes and quart jars for 90 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat. Let pressure return to zero naturally. Wait 2 minutes longer, then open the vent. Remove canner lid. Wait 10 minutes, then remove jars and place on a towel, cool for 12hours, check seals, and store.
elk standing in the forest

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University of Wyoming Extension

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Issued in furtherance of extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Kelly Crane, Director, University of Wyoming Extension, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Wyoming Extension, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming 82071.

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