Grocery shortages in the early weeks of Covid-19 alarmed them about food security while I was sorting my inventory of bear, moose, elk, deer, grouse, pheasants, rabbits, pike, walleye, and other frozen proteins. They were astounded by my Instagram feed featuring all manner of game presented in delicious ways. Meanwhile, there was no chicken in the grocery coolers to be found and one of the largest beef processing plants in our area was shut down because of an outbreak. It got me thinking about how lucky we hunters are.
Then I remembered the time my freezer got unplugged. If you’ve ever lost a freezer full of meat, I understand your anguish. Early in my independent life, somehow the freezer became unplugged. A week passed and with it a whole year’s worth of steak, ground and roasts. It was rough. It was a lesson that has stuck with me.
I got to thinking maybe it was time to tear a page from grandma’s culinary playbook and fill my pantry with canned (bear) meat. Today’s pressure canners are safe, precision appliances that will save you time and money over a few years and free up high demand freezer space. Properly canned meat won’t go bad. Because of the slow moist heat, the process is perfect for tougher cuts and all the flavor is locked in the jar. If I would’ve canned some of that meat back then, we would have been further ahead. My hunting buddy told me about bottled moose and rabbits from when he hunted in Newfoundland. More than half of his hunting meals on that trip were based around meat that was home canned. He reported it delicious. I was skeptical. Recently I canned a batch of meat because my freezer is full to the gunnels, and I have un-punched moose, whitetail, and elk tags, with a high percentage of being successful.
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