Thursday, November 12, 2015

CANNING ELK MEAT with the "NEIGHBORS"


Last 
week our friends from down the road, hence "neighbors", asked for our help in canning up some elk meat. Of course we were all over that! An opportunity to hone our preserving skills?!

Let us at it!!!

Little did we know, we would be learning a lot more that night. 

In my mind I had imagined a nice elk roast we could simply portion out to can. Show my friend Stacy a thing or to that I have leaned about canning. Bing bang boom, easy as pie right?

Wrong. 

To our surprise as much as our friends, we had before us a full shoulder of elk... Fore leg, rib cage, a little fur still left.... Hmm this job was proving to be a little more complicated.  


Much to my gratitude we ended up with a team of 7 people all working toward a mutual goal. Team work is imminent. At this point there was myself and Spencer. His cousin KC and his girlfriend Sarah. Stacey and her fiancĂ© Nick provided this meat abundance and Nicks brother Wes came to assist as well. 

Just setting the scene peeps. It was a long night. Here's the short version...

Before too long KC had all the knives sharpened as the rest of us stared with perilous eyes as Spencer and Nick debated where to make the first cut. 
 
Being that this was the first time any of us had performed this sort of task, it is safe to say we were flying blind!

We decided to seperate the shoulder from the rib cage first. Once that was done we had to remove some outer meat and rinse it off a bit, it had been sitting on ice in the back of truck for 24 hours. 

As the boys began carving the shoulder, and handing us what seemed like 15 pound giant slabs, us girls began rinsing it and removing varying visceral tissues, cartilage, blood, and tendon/ligament parts. 

As a side note. The above a pieces which I ever to as 'the unusables' is cleaned again of any blood and vessel tissue and frozen for dog food. Even though we won't eat it there's still a great deal of usable protein. For piece of mind I make sure my dogs aren't eating raw bloody meat. We just thaw a little every few days, boil till fully cooked, cool, and serve. It helps to supplement the cost of dog food when we mix the two. 

I digress. 

So we finally have the meat cleaned in long beautiful deep red cuts. So we...
1. cubed quite a bit. 
2. Threw it into sterilized pint jars. Finger tightened the rings (just to where the ring stops)
3. Placed them into our pressure cooker.
4. Once the steam from the pitchcock was constant 10 minutes the counterweight was added. 
5. We then maintained 10 pounds of pressure for 75 minutes. 
6. Turning off the burner we let everything cool naturally. 
7. During this time you may or may not hear the lids popping. If they haven't popped by the time they cool to room temperature DO NOT USE. 
For more in depth canning instructions see some of my other canning posts. 

During the canning process Spencer cooked up a strip, I'll admit it was a little weird to eat it after being elbow deep in that quartercarcas. But still it was quite tasty and very tender. 

We didn't get done until after midnight. But we learned a lot! Such as:

1. Be more prepared. 
2. Start earlier. 
3. Prepare more. 
4. Clean the kitchen first!
5. Uh, get prepared?
6. Make a preservation GAME PLAN!

Ok you get the point. I always kick myself for jumping in head first but heck it all gets done eh? What can I say I'm a act now and think later gal when a fun new task comes rolling my way. 

Our family here at the High Desert Homestead would like to give a special thanks to our friends Nick and Stacey! Thanks guys for thinking of and including us in that elk-xperience, it was a memory for the books.