Before electricity, drying and canning were the only ways to preserve meat, but I’ll bet it didn’t take long to get tired of eating dried meat.?With freezers in every home, canning meat has become very uncommon – which is a shame because it is easy, tasty, and it really tenderizes tough meat. It’s also another way to serve some of your 300-pound share of wood bison.

Any wild meat including bear, can be canned as follows:

In a large bowl, mix about 15 pounds of meat cut in small chunks with 4 tablespoons of President’s Choice 4 Peppercorn steak spice, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon black pepper. Sterilize 7 to 8 quart jars, caps, and new lids by boiling. Check and discard any jars with chipped or rough tops, which would prevent sealing.

Pack spiced meat into jars, leaving about ¾ inch of free space above the meat. Install rings and lids tightly and place jars into the pressure canner, so that water in the canner is about half way up the sides of the jars. Follow the instructions for the pressure canner; basically, you place and turn to lock the canner lid and boil for 15-20 minutes with the vent open to exhaust the air from the canner and the jars. Then seal the vent valve and maintain a minimum of 10 pounds of pressure for 100 minutes.

After 100 minutes, turn off the heat and leave the pressure canner to cool down and lose pressure on it’s own (at least 35 to 40 minutes). Don’t hurry this process, and don’t remove the lid until all pressure has been bled off. At this point, remove the lid and use tongs to lift each very hot jar out of the canner and place them on a towel to complete the cooling process.

The jar contents will still be bubbling, and as they cool the vacuum inside each jar will cause the lid to “ping” as it seals.

When they are completely cool, the lids may be screwed a little tighter. After all the jars have cooled, check to see if any did not seal. Sealing causes the lid to depress in the centre, but the best test is to tap the centre of the sealer lid with the tip of a knife. Ones that are sealed will give a sharp, “ping,” sound while those not sealed will give a dull, “pong” sound. The difference will be obvious.

Any jars that didn’t seal should be refrigerated and used within days. The sealed jars do not need refrigeration. Since they are vacuum-sealed, they are not bothered by freezing or thawing and will keep for many years.

Meat, thus canned, is ready for use in simple meals and sandwiches, either right out of the jar, or mixed with your favourite dressing.