Extension Explores: Preserving Meats

Beef Jerky Slices

With the fall hunting season in full swing, we can now partake of those wonderful fall and winter flavors provided by wild game at our table. Many individuals also enjoy preserving these meats by canning, curing, or drying.  

It is most important to learn how to safely handle raw meats as harmful bacteria can easily multiply on moist, high protein foods and create illness among our friends and family. 

Follow these safety tips while handling raw meat, poultry and fish and preserving these items: 

  • Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw meats. 
  • Use clean equipment and utensils. 
  • Keep meat and poultry refrigerated at 40°F or below.  
  • Marinate meat in the refrigerator.  Do not save and re-use marinade. 
  • Store raw meat on a tray in the bottom of your refrigerator to avoid cross-contamination. 
  • Choose high quality chilled meat. 
  • Remove excess fat.  (fat quickly turns rancid) 
  • Soak strong-flavored wild meats for 1 hour in brine water containing 1 tablespoon of salt per quart.  Rinse. Remove large bones.  
  • Prepare meat following up-to-date preservation methods and tested recipes. 

Canning Recipes:

  • Procedures for canning cured, brined or corned meats have not been fully tested and are not supported with the procedures below for fresh meats.
  • Only use the the following recommendations and use the cuts and preparation steps included without substitutions.

Meat Products

Poultry Products

Fish and Seafood Products

Curing and Smoking Recipes:

Drying Recipes:


Frequently Asked Questions:

Salt is optional in canned meats and poultry. The pressure processing safely preserves the product and the salt is for flavoring.

King and Dungeness crab may be canned or frozen. However, for best quality, blue crabs are best frozen as canning can give the meat an acidic taste.

Glass-like crystals of magnesium ammonium phosphate sometimes form in canned salmon. There is no way for the home canner to prevent these crystals from forming, but they usually dissolve when heated and are safe to eat.

You have the option of canning poultry and rabbit with or without the bones. The processing times are different with the bones so check the recipe.

Staying Food Safe When Preserving Meats Tips
Canning Meats Tips
Freezing Meats Tips
Chili Con Carne Recipe for Canning

For more information or questions about food preservation, please contact the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent at your local county Extension office. Click here for a list of the Tennessee Extension Offices.

Trade and brand names are used only for information.  The University of Tennessee Extension and Tennessee State University Extension do not guarantee nor warrant published standards on any product mentioned; neither does the use of a trade or brand name imply approval of any product to the exclusion of others which may also be suitable.