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Wild game harvest meat preservation series

By CATIEJO BLACK

Hyde County Cooperative Extension Service

Do you hunt? Are you confident in your safety practices in the field to ensure quality meat for consumption and processing? Do you understand how to operate processing equipment? Is your harvest sent off for processing elsewhere and interested to learn more about in-home processing and preservation?

This new series of classes and workshops will each address a different topic related to wild game preservation and processing. Topics include basic safety practices (food and equipment safety – starting in the field), prepping, cleaning, and preserving your harvests as well as common ways to process your harvest instead of sending off to be processed elsewhere.

Class topics include:

  • How to properly clean, cut, and store fresh harvests;
  • Creating spice mixtures for sausage, jerky and other value-added meat products;
  • Making various forms of sausage patties and links;
  • Smoking (link sausage);
  • Dehydrating (jerky & snack sticks);
  • Freezing and vacuum sealing;
  • Canning;
  • And proper cleaning and sanitizing of equipment and workstations throughout all classes.

Once participants have completed the intro class and subsequent related classes, they will be able to reserve a date/time to use the equipment on-site, while the family and consumer sciences agent is also on-site. This will allow community members to gain knowledge and experience in using the tools to properly prepare and preserve your harvests, improve your food security as it relates to meats, decrease the cost of processing harvests elsewhere and increase your self-confidence to later purchase similar equipment to preserve harvests in your own home. In the long-run, purchasing specific items will become more economical over sending harvests out for processing or deciding to not keep all meat due to not knowing how to process it, and then purchasing other meat in grocery stores throughout the year.

You must have completed the associated class to reserve specific equipment on-site. Cooperative Extension staff will fully clean and sanitize equipment between uses to ensure they are properly cleaned. However, the person who has used it will also be expected to clean the equipment before leaving, in order to practice more before setting out on their own at home.

With current CDC guidelines, classes will either be virtual and/or kept small in order to maintain proper distance and other requirements. Family and consumer sciences agents from Tyrrell, Dare and Washington counties will be assisting Hyde County with this program in different aspects as well.

Our goal is to implement strategies to help interested and qualified participants (who have shown improvement and/or understanding of food safety, equipment knowledge and other related information) gain the tools necessary to begin his or her own wild game processing business within the county. This would include working to help make connections with the proper organization or contacts to set up the business legally, create a business plan, learn what field-specific requirements may be required (i.e.: a health inspection and Safe Plates certification) and other related new-business information.

We are so excited to offer this new program this year! While we do plan to focus primarily on venison processing and preservation this year, we hope to expand to bear and waterfowl in the coming years. Anyone interested is welcome to email or call me at catiejo_black@ncsu.edu or 252-944-5354.

CatieJo Black is the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent at the Hyde County Cooperative Extension Service.