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Freeze or can wild game

Eight steps to freeze wild game meat

  1. Trim fat to reduce strong flavor changes that may occur during freezer storage.
  2. Divide the meat into meal-size quantities.
  3. To prevent freezer burn, use moisture/vapor-proof wrap, such as heavily waxed freezer wrap, laminated freezer wrap, heavy-duty aluminum foil or plastic freezer storage bags. DO NOT use garbage bags.
  4. Press out all of the air before sealing.
  5. Label packages with contents and date.
  6. Avoid overloading the freezer. Freeze only the amount that will become solidly frozen within 24 hours.
  7. Place packages in freezer to allow air to circulate for quick cooling and freezing.
  8. Recommended storage times for wild game held at zero degrees F:
    • Ground game meat - 2 to 3 months
    • Roasts and steaks - 6 to 9 months
    • Stew meat - 2 to 3 months

Canning wild game: safety first

  • Don't can wild game unless you use a pressure canner.
  • Can fresh meat within two days, or freeze it to can it later.
  • To can frozen meat, thaw in the refrigerator until most of the ice crystals have disappeared.
  • Low acid foods (such as meat, poultry, fish and vegetables) should never be canned using the water-bath method.
  • Pressure and adequate time are necessary to produce safe canned meat.
  • Process at the correct pressure according to altitude. In Minnesota follow processing directions for 1001-2000 feet.
  • Use current, researched-based food preservation resources (1994 or later).

How to can meat: strips, cubes or chunks (bear, beef, lamb, pork, veal, deer or elk)


  1. Choose quality, chilled meat.
  2. Remove excess fat.
  3. Soak strong-flavored game for 1 hour in brine water containing 1 tablespoon of salt per quart of water then rinse with tap water.
  4. Remove large bones.
  5. Cut into 1 inch wide strips, cubes or chunks.

Hot pack

  1. Precook meat until rare by roasting, stewing or browning in a small amount of fat.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of salt per quart to the jar, if desired.
  3. Loosely pack jars with pieces.
  4. Add boiling broth, meat drippings, water or tomato juice (especially with wild game) leaving 1 inch headspace.
  5. Pressure can.

Raw pack

  1. Add 1 teaspoon of salt per quart to the jar, if desired.
  2. Loosely pack jars with raw meat pieces, leaving 1 inch headspace.
  3. Do not add liquid.
  4. Adjust lids and process.

USDA pressure canning process methods for Minnesota

Dial-gauge pressure canner:

  • Pints - 75 minutes at 11 PSI.
  • Quarts - 90 minutes at 11 PSI.

Weighted-gauge pressure canner:

  • Pints - 75 minutes at 15 PSI.
  • Quarts - 90 minutes at 15 PSI.

Suzanne Driessen, Extension educator

Reviewed in 2021

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