*Disclaimer – The government provides specific standards for home canning. The University of Georgia website has a comprehensive collection of government approved canning methods. Our methods may not be government approved and according to the government may not be safe.
The cold weather has finally set in and we’ve had a busy week. We were gifted with about 15 pounds of frozen quail by a lady who was cleaning out the freezer for this years hunting harvest. We don’t hunt them ourselves as we’re concerned by the decrease in the quail population we’ve both seen here in Oklahoma over the last 30 years, but since these would have gone to waste we took them gratefully. They were vacuum sealed and of good quality. Since we live off grid and don’t have a freezer, we chose to preserve the birds by canning.
We checked 3 references.
- The Canning, Freezing, Curing & Smoking Of Meat, Fish & Game by Wilbur F. Eastman Jr.
- Stocking Up III by Carol Hupping
- My mom’s old Ball Blue Book
Each verified that small game is canned in the same manner as chicken and other poultry. Either a hot pack or cold pack can be used. In hot packing the meat is cooked medium done before packing in jars and adding water or broth. In the cold pack method the meat is packed raw in to the jars. Salt may be added but no additional water is used. The jars are heated (unsealed) in a hot water bath until the contents reach 170 degrees at which time the lids are secured and the jars processed under pressure. We chose the cold pack method.
Quail is usually hunted with a shotgun and the first step in preparing the meat is to remove any remaining shot pellets, any bone fragments and any feathers that have been driven into the flesh by the energy of the shot. Most hunters skin the quail and many only keep the breast, although the legs make tasty little fried drumsticks. Our grandson Oran loves then.
We packed 6 to 7 breasts per quart jar, and in retrospect could have easily made it 9 or 10 per jar. 1 teaspoon of salt was added to each jar. We placed the open jars in the canner, on a rack with water up to within 2 inches of the top of each jar. Heating to 170 degrees took about an hour. The rims were wiped and the lids and rings placed. Following the directions we had, we processed at 15 pounds pressure for 90 minutes. In pressure canning, 10 pounds is used at sea level and the pressure incrementally advanced up to 15 pounds with increases of altitude. We’re at about 1,000 feet here and according to recommendations we could get by with somewhere around 12 pounds pressure, but we use a weighted gauge canner that is pre-set for 15 pounds.
The finished birds settled some in the jars, but they all sealed. In the same batch of birds we also had several chukkar or maybe prairie chicken (not exactly sure which) that we preserved in the same manner. We’ll use the canned meat in dishes like quail and gravy, quail and stuffing, quail and rice or in soup with dumplings.