I had, perhaps inappropriately, posted this in reply to a request I received in J. Klingel's 'FYI: Eating Grizzly Meat' thread in the 'Alaska Hunting' forum, up above..

I managed to leave out at least one primary piece of instruction in the original (Vince corrected it), and it's marked with an asterix below, with dotted lines above and below it, referencing the additional information.

So, especially when discussing the preparation of meat or other items that, if spoiled, could make you seriously ill, or worse, check around to confirm that the information is complete and correct. It's been many years since I 'jarred up' a bear, but I've done several this way.


I tend to use two pressure canners (one for loose meat and one for jars), as it expedites the process exponentially. I have usually done the canning outside in the warmer seasons, do to the steam and heat put off by two large pressure canners going strong in a confined kitchen. Camp stoves or portable stoves work well, too. Two stoves accomodates the large size of most bigger canners, but you can hook a T-fitting up to a propane tank and power both stoves that way.

Some may think that my method over-cooks the meat and the meat does, indeed, come out of the jars in a fibrous, well-cooked-stew-meat sort of texture. But it's highly edible, parasite-free, and I've been told that it tastes just like the commodity canned pork that the govvy gave out decades ago. Whether that's good or bad, I don't know.

I ate LOTS of bear, potatoe, carrot, & onion hash, employing the 'canned' bear meat, and I'll share that method in the end of this post.

I cut the cleaned and deboned meat into stew-sized chunks. I'd guess (in my mind's eye of memory) about 1" or slightly less. I fill the first 22-26 qt. pressure canner a little less than half-full. Meat's wet and heavy. Figure about 20-25 lbs worth.

I then add just enough water so as to not worry about the meat burning to the bottom (perhaps a qt., plus or minus.. It's been a long time). You can also throw in a half cup or so of canola oil on the bottom of the pressure cooker, before adding the water or the meat, to keep stuff from sticking, especially before the meat has released its grease.

My observation is that bear meat, even when appearing nice and red, with limited visible fat, often, in fact, contains a LOT of grease.

Vince reminded me of this:

** Make sure that you let the canner build up steam, until you're getting a steady stream of steam from the vent where the weight normally sits before you place the weight there...**

Thanks Vince...

Cook the chunks loose at 12-15 lbs. pressure for roughly 45 minutes. (I've always used 15 lbs. of pressure, but some folks get nervous about high pressure levels, as they should; exploding pressure cookers are possibly the closest thing to a grenade you're likely to ever have in your kitchen...) Over time you could experiment with lesser or greater cooking time, but I've always used that time frame.

Let the canner relieve itself of pressure slowly, allowing it to cool on its own time for the most part.

Drain the liquid from the meat and keep the broth in a suitable pot until it's cool enough to work with. Once cool enough to handle, you can taste the broth to see if you want to dilute it at all. Then pour into a pitcher. I've used a ratio of about 50:50 or 60:40 (broth to water) in the past, but that's me. If the broth is lacking in the flavor dept., you can use beef boulion cubes to make it stronger. Again, with a nice clean-tasting bear, you might choose to use straight undiluted broth.

Assuming that you've cleaned/sterilized your jars and lids in boiling water in advance, take the chunks of meat from the pot, and fill the jars (without cramming or packing too tightly), to within about an inch of the top.

Mix evenly in a bowl what ever spices you wish to use, garlic, pepper, salt, crushed hot pepper, etc., and sprinkle the mix in appropriate amounts onto the top of the meat in each jar.

I used pints because a qt. was too much meat back then (for a single guy, or a couple, for that matter). I'd still use pints, 'cause if you need more meat, you can always open another jar, but bear meat, like pork, crab, etc. once opened and in the fridge, doesn't always last a long time before spoiling.

Take your broth and pour the liquid carefully into the center of each jar, thus distributing the spices through the meat and jar as you pour the broth. Fill the jars up to about 3/4" from the top of the jar, or how ever full your canning guide tells you is safe.

Have a clean cloth handy that was boiled in other water, and once the jars are filled, make sure that there's no spillage, meat fragments, etc., on the lips of the jars that you've loaded with meat and broth.

Place the lids on each jar, then (the part that's more art than science), place the jars onto a towell (it provides more friction than a counter top), and turn the bands with one hand, without holding the jar, until the jar rotates with the turning of the band, and the band is more or less threaded down onto the jar and lid.

The purpose for this is to avoid getting the lids too tight. When they're hot, in the pressure canner,you want them to expell air/pressure, but on cooling, you want them to seal and not take any air back in, thus forming the vacuum.

Place the perforated heat shield (that should've come with your pressure canner) into the bottom of the pressure canner, with sufficient water to cover the metal shield, according to the canning guide that accompanied your canner.. Steam plays an active role in canning this way. I recall filling my canner up to just above the heat shield by an inch (+/-), but don't bank on that; check for yourself. The heat shield keeps the glass jar's bottom from sitting directly on the bottom of the canner, which is sitting directly on the burner.

Place the jars into the pressure canner so that all are standing upright in a stable manner on the heat shield, lid side up..

You can add a second layer of jars on top of your first layer if your canner is (set up/big enough) for that. Again, see your canner's manual. If you set up a second layer of jars, make -sure- that the second layer of jars straddles the jars below. In other words, if I'm placing a second layer inside the canner, each jar straddles the space between the two jars beneath it, sitting on the edges of both jars below it, so that no one jar sits directly on top of another jar.

Remember; it's important that these jars expell air/pressure, and not to be kept from that, which setting jars directly on top of each other, centered, could potentially inhibit..

Again, for the second cooking phase, Vince reminded me of this:

** Make sure that you let the canner build up steam, until you're getting a steady stream of steam from the vent where the weight normally sits before you place the weight there. Also, Vince added that the newer pressure canners have a line etched in the inside to indicate where the water should be filled to..**

Thanks Vince...

With the perforated heat shield in the bottom of the canner, the jars in place, and the lid properly secured, start the heat under the canner, maintaining it until there's a steady stream of steam coming from the vent where the weight will sit. Once you have a steady stream of steam coming from the vent, place your weight atop the vent, and bring the canner up to 15 lbs. pressure, and repeat a similar time for cooking as the first sequence; roughly 45 minutes.

In each case, whether cooking loose or cooking in the jars, the meat should more or less be allowed to depressurize and cool on its own time, without letting out gobs of pressure all at once.

(One risk of releasing pressure rapidly when cooking loose chunks is that the meat fiber can get blown out, or stuck in, the pressure vent that the weight rocks on. At a minimum, this could lead to a cleaning hassle. At worse, if it was sufficient to clog the steam's release, you might have more trouble than you bargained for.)

When the jars are cooled sufficiently, check each lid to see if the lid is tight. You can tap them and see if any of them make a loose 'tinny' sound. If any of them are not properly tightly sucked down and sealed, indicating a stout vacuum is in place, you can either eat them immediately, or discard them.

You can get seriously sick, or even die from eating improperly canned, contaminated, or spoiled meats, etc.

Also, you've likely heard horror stories about pressure canner explosions. Some of these stories are true, so use caution, watch your pressure/temperatures/burners, etc.

Keep the rubber seals for your canner(s) oiled and clean. If they get 'checks' in them, replace them. Most canner companies will ship them to you, or they can likely direct you to a place that sells them.

Some canners automatically cook at a set pressure. I have a British-made canner that's only a one-galllon size, and which cooks automaticaly at 15 lbs. pressure. It can be used on a campfire, so it's ideal for small roasts, rice, beans etc., in terms of food preparation for immediate consumption. While the manufacturer did include a heat shield for the bottom, it's too small of a canner to use for most large-scale canning jobs, so it's used more often for cooking items that would normally take hours, and instead, literally cooks them on a fire in minutes.

My larger canners are those with gauges and weights sitting atop the main vent. There is also, on -ALL- of these canners, an emergency vent that looks like a rubber grommet. In theory, this grommet will 'pop out' before the canner reaches a point of critical mass. To that I say, "Remember the space shuttle and the o-ring?" 'Nuff said.

Watch your temperatures and your pressures, keep your food/meat, canners, and jars clean, and make sure -all- jars are properly sealed, and you'll do just fine..

For bear hash, I brown half-cooked spuds cut into home-fry sized slices/chunks in VERY HOT oil in a cast iron skillet (I'm a stickler for tradition when it comes to some forms of cooking).. When the spuds are nearly browned to crispy perfection, add sliced or grated carrots, chopped onion, chopped sweet and/or hot peppers, a bit of ground black or crushed hot pepper, salt, salsa or sage (one or the other, but not both, in my opinion), until the veggies are cooked to just tender.

When the thing's almost finished enough to eat, take a pint of drained bear meat, and dump what ever portion of the jar that suits your needs into the skillet mix, and turn it into the mess, continuing cooking until well heated.

Add ketchup, salsa, etc. What ever you like. Eat up..
You can also take the drained meat, layer loosely on toast with mayo, a touch of horseradish (or what ever other condiments you desire), place cheese over the meat, put under a broiler or into a dutch oven, camp oven, wood cook stove, etc., open-faced until the cheese on both halves has just started to turn brown, then add onion, lettuce, or what-have-you...

Obviously, on the trail, fresh tomatoes, lettuce, etc., may not be available, but if you're eating from jars at home, you can likely add what ever you please.

'Jarred' or canned food requires no power to preserve, should simply be left above freezing temperatures, can be left in a root cellar or kitchen pantry, etc., and, after consuming the contents, you can re-use the container to drink from or to 'can' more grub. In those regards, jarring or canning is an ideal way to prepare and preserve food almost anywhere.

There ya' are..