“Canned deer meet tastes completely different —it comes out more like roast beef, and there is no gamey taste to it,” says Smith, who also pressure cooks squirrel and rabbit and processes feral hog meat into sausage.

While he’s become an old hand at preserving game meat by pressure canning, Smith cautions that this process requires some advanced preparation and time, though he perceives it is as worth the effort.

“I use the canned meat in a variety of ways — in open-faced sandwiches, in stews, with rice and gravy, with chili, with taco fajitas, and even with stroganoff,” Smith says. “It adds some diversity to my diet and there’s also a great deal of self-satisfaction and independence that comes with this.”

“I stay pretty busy each hunting season canning deer meat for my friends and family,” he adds.

Pressure canning is even less practical for hunters who are accustomed to processors butchering their deer rather than undertaking this task on their own, according to Smith, who dresses his own animals.

Safety is a critical concern with all aspects of pressure cooking and canning, but especially with canning. An inadequately sealed jar of meat can provide a haven for potentially deadly bacteria and toxins — a lesson driven home earlier this year to a Washington state attorney who used an old family recipe to can elk meat and almost lost his life after exposure to botulism.

“Anyone involved in pressure cooking and canning should follow all the recommendations prescribed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” says Jean Weese, an Alabama Extension food safety specialist and Auburn University professor of poultry science who heads the Alabama Extension food safety team.”

Weese says no home-canned meat product should be held for more than a year. 

“Pressure-canned meats, compared with their commercial counterparts, are more prone to losing their vacuum over time, and for this reason, we tell home canners that they should consider 12 months the limit for carrying over canned meat products,” Weese says.

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