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Cooking and Preserving Rabbit Meat

Last month we wrote about raising rabbits as food storage. We noted that you’ll quickly have a lot of rabbits on your hands. Do you have plans for those rabbits? Here’s a post about canning rabbit (and chicken) meat. You’ll definitely have enough meat to eat fresh and to store.

For ideas on how to prepare rabbit, check out Food.com's rabbit recipes. Livestrong.com also recommends rabbit as a tasty, lean meat. Click here for recipes on how to bake, barbeque, or stew rabbit meat.

For putting up your own rabbit meat, you might consider salt curing, brining, smoking, or pickling the meat. Or you can try one of these more common techniques:

Can it

Granny Miller has a lot of information on how to can rabbit and other small game. Step-by-step instructions give you background, and then walk you through the process. She also gives you some good tips like this about what to do with giblets,

"can the livers in their own jar because the liver taste will transfer to the other giblets. I always save the livers, kidneys, hearts and other bits when processing harvested animals. Even if I don’t eat those parts, my dogs and cats will."

Make jerky.

Backwoodsbound.com has a brief post on turning rabbit meat into jerky. You’ll need a food dehydrator, or a reliable oven that will maintain a temperature of 150-200° F for about 8 hours.

Freeze it.

You should probably use frozen meat within a few months; it might last longer if you vacuum pack it. Here are some guidelines on "shelf life" of frozen meats, from eHow.com.

"Label and date each package with a permanent marker. Then practice FIFO - first in, first out - which reduces the risk of freezer burn and spoilage. Plus you'll know what's in the package. Even when properly packaged, frozen meats have only several months of shelf life. For quick reference: chops, 6 - 12 months; ground meat, 2 to 3; roast, 6 to 12; steaks, 6 to 9; and stew meat, 2 to 3. A whole bird will keep up to 12 months; pieces up to 9 months."

We’re interested in hearing about your experiences preserving meat. What kinds of meat do you preserve, and what method do you like best? Let us know in the comments.

 

10 thoughts on “Cooking and Preserving Rabbit Meat”

  • Dorothy Sandaker
    Dorothy Sandaker March 25, 2014 at 10:57 am

    We have been raising rabbits for years and I have some in both the freezer(vacuum sealed) and also canned. We use the canned rabbit for vegitable soups(veggies from our own garden) noodle soups but also for taco's and burritoes. We don't buy a lot of red meat any more . My husband and I are both almost 80 and like the feeling of being pretty much self sustaining as far as food suppley goes.

    Reply
  • Brent

    I took an educated look at the state of the economy a couple years ago, I decided to sell everything I had in fla. and bought a piece of land in n ga. Since I've planted about 75 fruit trees, 70 blueberries, about 50 grapevines and am raising chickens. I recently got some rabbits and this past Saturday I cleaned the first batch of young ones. It was a little tough as I watched them from birth, but wasn't too bad. I netted about two lbs of meat from each eleven week old rabbit, so have 15 lbs in the freezer for a start. There was a start up time with the breeders I got were young, then they had to learn to be moms, usually loosing their first litter. Now that I have adult breeders I should be fine with fresh meat from now on with three females and 1 male. I'll let you know how my first batch of fried or roasted rabbit turns out soon.

    Reply
    • Patricia Patton-LoGiudice

      Hey Brent. Good for you to have such a good start into preparation for whatever is ahead! However, in my thinking, I am accepting the fact that if we get a severe blow, we are not going to HAVE freezers "working" What will happen to all your frozen food???????

      Reply
      • Matt

        Patricia,
        I think you need to look into salt curing. This is how people kept meat before freezers and refrigerators were invented. You should buy and stock as much pickling salt as possible, it lasts forever (assuming its kept dry and in a good storage environment).
        You basically rub the salt all over the meat, and making sure you pay special attention to where ANY cuts were made (ie when you cut the head off, legs etc) Those places must have salt forcefully shoved in there and rubbed around.
        Remember, the basic rule of thumb is 1 oz of salt is necessary per 1 pound of meat. This ratio is probably more than enough. Make sure to rub the salt in very thoroughly. Keep rubbing and spreading. Rub over everything, inside, outside and every nook. You need to "rub it in" as you would on your skin, but longer.
        This needs to be done in iterations.
        Take 1/3 of the necessary salt specified above for the first application. After one week, take the next 1/3 of the necessary salt specified above. One week later, take the last 1/3 of the salt specified above.
        Make sure to hang the meat in the coolest place possible or shade, with moving air if possible. Maybe a cool shed, or basement w/ windows open. Put something over the meat such as cheese cloth, or anything to keep flies and other bugs off. Putting plenty of pepper over the meat also helps keeps flies and bugs away. You can also add sugar to the salt to make the meat taste sweeter. Make sure you only add about 1/2 the amount of sugar as there is salt.
        In other words, if you're using 3 oz of salt to cure a 3 pound rabbit, you can only use about 1 1/2 oz of sugar.
        About a month after your first application of salt, your meat is perfectly preserved and will last a very long time (years). Just make sure to preserve it in a safe place away from bugs and vermin and out of the sun.

        Reply
        • Hilary

          THANK YOU Matt! This is exactly what I've been looking for!

          Reply
          • Jerry Dukes

            Matt, the only problem I see with salt preservation is the ablity to obtain salt. Seems to me that the very same reasons that apply to other essentials, ie: electricity, gas, fuel, and other foods, also pertain to salt. Wouldn't
            it be better to dehydrate, naturally, or to can it. One observation with the salt idea is to purchase multiple bags of water conditioning salt. It is cheaper than rock salt.

            Reply
            • Matt

              You're absolutely right! There is no reason whatsoever to depend on one and only one method when you're planning on being prepared. In my opinion, you should plan on being able to dry meat for a very long period of time and also being able to salt it.
              Currently pickling salt is very cheap and I'd stock up on as much of it as possible. Basically, in order to cure an entire pig or a mature deer, you'd need about 5 pounds of pickling salt. You can currently buy this much for less than $5.00 at Walmart.
              Some problems with canning is that you need
              A LOT of cans and new lids. The lids are the same problem as with salt, you'd have to buy new ones. Even if you buy the "reusable" ones, their gaskets can fail and there's then more of possibility of getting food poisoning.
              Salting is much easier than dehydrating. Obviously for dehydrating, you'd need a non-electric method of doing it such as a smoke-house.
              I'd say if you know how to dehydrate your meat naturally, know how to cure meat with salt, and have several hundred pounds of salt stored away, then you're in very good shape for preserving meat.

              Reply
          • Matt

            You're absolutely right! There is no reason whatsoever to depend on one and only one method when you're planning on being prepared. In my opinion, you should plan on being able to dry meat for a very long period of time and also being able to salt it.
            Currently pickling salt is very cheap and I'd stock up on as much of it as possible. Basically, in order to cure an entire pig or a mature deer, you'd need about 5 pounds of pickling salt. You can currently buy this much for less than $5.00 at Walmart.
            Some problems with canning is that you need
            A LOT of cans and new lids. The lids are the same problem as with salt, you'd have to buy new ones. Even if you buy the "reusable" ones, their gaskets can fail and there's then more of possibility of getting food poisoning.
            Salting is much easier than dehydrating. Obviously for dehydrating, you'd need a non-electric method of doing it such as a smoke-house.
            I'd say if you know how to dehydrate your meat naturally, know how to cure meat with salt, and have several hundred pounds of salt stored away, then you're in very good shape for preserving meat.

            Reply
  • Erin Oxbury

    I've been raising and eating rabbits for over 10 years. At 3 months I put the meat in my pressure cooker and then freeze the boneless meat. So easy to throw it into soup, stir fry, burritos, or rice. I don't buy chicken anymore. Only chicks!

    Reply
  • John in MT

    Cut up rabbit (or any other small critters) can be frozen for loooong periods if you keep the air away. I found that a cardboard juice carton is great. Rinse it out well, open the top all the way, put your rabbit (quail, dove, chicken) in the carton, fill with water to completely cover the meat, and freeze! I've had good results storing over a year with no freezer burn. The square cartons are easy to fit in the chest freezer and even keep things frozen when the power goes out for a few days.

    Reply
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