While some folks only can during — or shortly after — harvest season, I can year around. I still have some frozen venison from the buck our son Bill shot, so two days ago I set it out to thaw, joined by some bulk medium fat ground beef. Yesterday I cut up the nicest parts of the hind quarter into stewing-sized dices and tossed the rest of the cuts into the “scrap” bowl to grind. I’ve found that if I grind the totally lean ground venison with about 1/3 hamburger, it results in both a better tasting and juicy mix which I can, mostly in pints. I use this crumbled ground burger for everything from tacos to adding to soups, enchiladas, lasagna, and much more. It’s so handy to have this pre-cooked, crumbled burger available. The same with the stewing meat. I can put together a pot of stew in little more than 20 minutes instead of an hour or two. When you’re as busy as we are, that time saving is huge!

I had to laugh as when I was cutting up that quarter, I had spectators; Mittens, our cat, Spencer, our black Lab, and Hondo, the Catahoula, all sitting in a semi-circle around me, waiting patiently for a tossed scrap or two. (They don’t care if it’s a bit fatty or gristly. Gulp and it’s down! I do have to watch Mittens, though. I’ve caught her a time or two, helping herself … luckily to the leg end of the bone. Bad cat! The dogs just give her a dirty look as they continue sitting. They won’t steal! Good dogs!

When I get finished with the blog today I’m off to help Will split more firewood. He’s been cutting up a big pile of poles and is now into some bigger stuff. As the weather’s been relatively warm, in the twenties, and dry, we want to get as much cut and split dry, as possible before winter comes to call again. It’s such a good feeling to have more wood than we would ever need, right at hand! We gave a trailer load to Alisha, as she’s moved to her new homestead, right next to our friend, Dara’s, and we wanted to make sure she had plenty of good, dry, seasoned wood to keep warm in her new cabin. — Jackie


  1. Jackie, glad to hear that David is doing fine. So many folks here in Alberta got laid off due to the pandemic shutdown. I was sad to hear that happened to David as he seemed to enjoy his job and all those crates he was getting were sure helpful. You mention he has a new job. What is he doing now? You did a great job raising him into a fine man and seeing David grow throughout your blog makes him seem like “family” to us blog readers.

    • David loved his job with Ziegler Cat and hopefully he can get back on after the pandemic. Meanwhile, he took a welding and skidder driving job on a pipeline. It wasn’t a first-choice job but the pay is excellent. I’m real proud of my kids! I really thing being raised on a homestead helps make responsible adults.

  2. Jackie,
    Supper tonight was 2 pints of Chile I had canned in 2012 that i paired with 2 cups of rice in a casserole dish per your recipe for Chile Cheese Bake. Topped it with cheese & a few stuffed jalapeno peppers. Yum! Thank you for the recipe.

  3. Winter canning makes good sense because the extra heat is welcome. Just did some chicken legs & thighs a couple weeks ago. Learned this from my mom who used to can fruit quickly during harvest and then use it to make jams and jellies during cold weather.

    • I often can up fruit juice during season, then do my jellies later on in the winter when I have more time. Or the year after if I still have plenty of that kind. Having the juice canned up lets me make jelly even if the late spring frost got our wild fruit and we didn’t!

  4. Jackie – I’m SURE you all have tried this but I’ve found that when I cook my venison roasts, I use (LOTS of) garlic, green peppers & onions from our garden, other seasonings of my choice BUT the MAIN ingredient is about 1/2 a pot of brewed coffee – to get rid of the wild deer taste. I’ve had people claim – “THIS has to be a beef roast!” I then cut the venison roasts into smaller chunks for meaty stews & soups. The coffee makes the BEST broth for my stews & soups. We then can this mixture.

    • I haven’t as I absolutely can’t stand the minutest taste of coffee! Believe that or not. Everyone thinks I’m nuts but to fit in I tried and tried to like it and no dice. Even a tiny taste in toffee candy sends me packing. My hide the wild venison taste, I add a tsp of powdered beef stock to the pints or a Tbsp sprinkled over the browning burger. Even venison “haters” scarf down my meat.
      But I’m sure other readers will love your suggestion!

    • I don’t drink coffee and can’t stand the taste of it, or smell, but I have always wondered if some liquid would take some of the game taste away. I also can tons of ground and other meat, but the beef seems to always taste “gray” when I do it alone. SO I decided to can up beef, or other game in liquids or with seasonings I would use it for anyway— so now I have taco meat, sloppy joe meat, italian seasoned ground beef, etc. in stead of just plain beef. For those of us who don’t use coffee, this is a great way to improve the taste- I just make sure to have plenty of liquid when pressure canning. My Gram taught me to can up meat and I too do it all year ’round. Now, with Covid 19 affecting so much, I am so glad I do! (Rest in Peace and knowing you did a great job teaching me, Gram!)

      • Yep, I also can plenty of pre-seasoned ground meat to use in an instant for various recipes. How quick and handy that is!!

    • Everyone who ordered last year will automatically receive a new catalog. They should be shipped to gardeners the first of next week. Hopefully…..

  5. Jackie, You sound just like me. I usually don’t have time to do ALL my canning during harvest season or even shortly after. PLUS, here in coastal Alabama, it is usually too danged hot & humid to even THINK of canning in the summertime unless it is absolutely necessary so I do it in the cooler months. I try to utilize the times when heat is needed so I don’t have to heat the house much by doing my canning then. I have also started dehydrating a lot of my veggies and vacuum sealing them in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers because of my limited space for canned goods in jars in my 800 square ft cabin. A tip I wanted to share with you on grinding your deer meat into burger. I usually get 3-5 deer per season (we have a very long hunting season and a very liberal bag limit (2 deer per day per person, basically) and that is usually to thin the herds. Our deer are much smaller than the northern deer, too, so it would take two of our deer to make one of yours, for the most part. I will quarter my deer and put them in ice chests covered in ice with the drain plug open draining into a 5 gallon bucket. As the ice melts the water soaks the blood from the meat which takes out a lot of the wild taste (for those that don’t like the wild taste). I do this for 3-5 days. I then cut the meat off the bones and save the pure meat for stew meat and any other meat/scraps goes into my burger bowl. I purchase beef “trimmings” (which is beef fat with some meat chunks) from a local butcher or they can order it for me if they don’t have enough to spare from them making their own burger to sale. I use an 80/20 or 85/15 ratio which means 80-85% deer meat to 15-20% beef fat/trimmings. I promise you, it is the best tasting, juiciest deer burger you will ever eat. I have people begging me to make them deer burger every year (only if they provide the deer meat ready to grind and give me a little towards the cost of the beef trimmings). The 80/20% ratio is like store-bought ground chuck and the 85/15% ratio is like ground round. Cost wise, it is much cheaper to buy the beef trimmings over any ground beef at today’s prices of $4-$5 a lb. Plus it will store for YEARS as long as it is frozen so I buy it in bulk and keep a supply on hand since it is also cheaper to buy the bulk amount (usually 80 lbs in a box). When I buy the bulk box I will go ahead and cut it into approx. one inch cubes and freeze it in quart and gallon baggies to save time when I am ready to grind my deer burger. I don’t weigh out the amounts of either as I have been doing this so long I can just eyeball the amount of deer meat I have and know about how much fat I need to add. Once it is ground (I usually do a big silver bowl at a time) I will hand mix it to make sure it is all evenly distributed. It doesn’t take that long when you do smaller batches. Then I take an extra step and double wrap one pound portions with plastic wrap to keep out any air that causes freezer burn. These one pound portions are then put into quart or gallon zip lock baggies. Quart baggies hold two one-pound portions (if you just need one pound for a meal, take out one plastic-wrapped portion and reseal the remaining portion, and put back in the freezer. A gallon baggie will hold 6-8 one-pound portions…depending on the size of the individual portions your wrapped in plastic wrap. Since I don’t weigh those out either, some may be a pound (+/-) or a tad over (+/-). I also raw feed my Yorkie and Chihuahua/Pomeranian mix so the scraps I don’t want going into my burger will go into the DOG FOOD BURGER BOWL and it gets ground up for their DEER BURGER. I mix BONE DUST (from the butcher that comes off their saw blades that they normally throw away) to give them the BONE/BULK (to make their poo firm enough to expel their anal glands) plus I use the deer organ meat that they need in their diet. NOTHING goes to waste around here. Their burger ratio is 80/10/10 which is 80% meat, 10% bone dust & 10% organ meat (kidney, heart, liver, lungs, testicles, ovaries, spleen). The ribs are cut into individual pieces and frozen for their TREATS. I make the dogs bone broth using the deer thigh bones and chicken/turkey feet that I have saved from butchering. It gets frozen into mini silicone ice cube trays then popped out & stored in zip lock bags to top their raw meals a couple of times a week for their GUT health. In their bone broth, I will add some of my dehydrated fresh Rosemary and ground chia or flax seed before I freeze it. I also freeze them whole green beans, broccoli, and dehydrate sweet potatoes, turnip roots, apple/pear slices for treats. They also get dehydrated chicken & deer jerky with Rosemary, chia/flax seeds. So WE ALL eat healthy and KNOW WHAT WE ARE EATING with NO PRESERVATIVES and crazy additives that are in processed foods bought in the store. Yes, it is a lot of work and I spend many hours doing what I do but it is worth it for our health and well-being. Now, if I can just figure out a way to CLONE myself so I can have a little extra help around here to get everything done…LOL!! Love each & every one of your blog posts and have been a faithful follower of yours for YEARS…back when you wrote articles for Backwoods Home Magazine. Have all of your books (except your novels as I don’t have time to read much anymore). We lost our husbands about the same time so I can so relate to you & your life struggles AND the hard work required to run a homestead. But isn’t LIFE GOOD on a homestead? Wouldn’t have it any other way. Many blessings to you & your family and prayers for a blessed Holiday season and BETTER New Year in 2021!!

    • What a nice message Bonnie. I’m lucky to get our food all put up. Spencer, Hondo and Mittens have to make do with fresh scraps while I’m cutting. Life is SO good on the homestead! I wouldn’t do anything else, even if I suddenly became rich. Come to think of it, I am in living the life I’ve always wanted! Money’s nice; self-reliance is priceless!!

    • My meat grinder is a Weston Will bought at Menards. It sure does the job and was not expensive either. It’s similar to the one Lem’s sells.

  6. Dear Jackie and Will, you two are the hardest working people. Giving the wood to Alisha is a true neighbor and friend. If the world only had more people like you.

    • We love Alisha; she’s family to us now and we were very happy to help her out and will continue to do so, as we are able.

    • Through generous contributions of folks to his GoFundMe page, they were able to keep from being evicted from the farm. But they did have to sell it as he is still out of unemployment payments and hasn’t gotten a court date as his surgeon is still thinking maybe he can help his back. So he’s up in limbo….waiting. Alisha had a small homestead in Wisconsin before they met and was finally able to sell it (hugely restrictive building codes!!!). With the money from that, she put a very large downpayment on a homestead with a nice, off grid, cabin, barn and sauna, on the land next to our friend Dara. Pete went to stay with his sister so he can be closer to his son while this all plays out in the courts and hospitals.

  7. I m laughing about your pets. Like you the moment I start to act like I’m cooking I have the dogs and cats underfoot hoping. Crazy critters they are as happy with lettuce or carrots as with meat scraps. I also can in winter. It’s cooler. I’m currently doing up some hamburger and a whole bunch of bacon. After the January tamales I’ll be doing up the “old” beans. Best money I ever spent was on your canning book! Anxiously waiting for the seed catalog. Thanks for all you do.

    • Well Hondo wouldn’t be happy with lettuce or carrots; he’s a dedicated carnivore. But Spencer? He is banned from the garden because he eats anything out there!! He even digs up carrots and potatoes! Ah, tamales!!! Oh how I love them!! I’m so happy you’re getting good use out of my canning book. The catalog should be out next week. Yea!!!

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