Whether you are going to freeze deer meat for future use or to eat it yourself, there are a few things you should know about how long you can keep it frozen. Some of these factors include the type of freezer you use, the temperature at which it is stored, the amount of deer meat you plan to freeze, and how you store it.
When you process a deer, you should know a few things about freezing the meat. Not only do you need to freeze the meat, but you also need to package it so it doesn’t get freezer burned. You also need to label the meat to identify the parts properly.
What is Deer Meat?
With the expansion of commercial ranching, the term “venison,” which often refers to the meat from deer, became more popular among American diners. Because it lacks the “gaminess” frequently associated with deer that have been hunted, venison from pastures has become more popular on restaurant menus all around the country. Deer meat maintains its firmness but is somewhat tender, with a silky texture, thanks to its short, thin muscle fibers.
How Long can you Freeze Deer Meat?
Numerous factors will affect how long your meat will keep in a freezer. Making the above basic guidelines is challenging since they depend on various other elements, like how the meat was handled before freezing, whether it was adequately frozen within 24 hours, how much air may get to the meat during storage, and the caliber of the wrapping itself.
We wouldn’t advise keeping meat in the freezer for nearly as long as meat that was kept at ideal temperatures from the fields to the freezer, frozen hard within 24 hours, and always stored below 0° Fahrenheit in a vacuum-sealed container, for instance, if the meat was stored in small pieces of ground chunks that had previously been cured.
The National Center for Home Food Preservation advises: “For optimal quality, store ground venison in a freezer for three months at 0°F or colder. At this temperature, venison roasts and steaks can be kept for six to nine months. In the freezer, meat loses flavor and quality over time.
How to Freeze Deer Meat?
Your best option is to freeze the deer meat until you are ready to eat it if you want to preserve your venison safe for ingestion for extended periods. Try to adhere to the guidelines below for properly freezing venison to guarantee you do it correctly and get the best results.
Kill the Deer
The deer must be butchered into the desired meat portions after field dressing. Although numerous how-to websites can help you through the process, if you have never butchered a deer before, you may want to ask a professional to handle it.
Remove the Meat’s Fat
Removing all the fat from the deer meat before freezing is crucial. Although it can be a tedious procedure, it is ultimately quite worthwhile. Most of the “gamey” flavor that deters some people from eating venison and other game is also found in fat. We mention this because the fat will get rancid much quicker than meat. The flesh to which that rancid fat is linked could therefore be irreparably ruined.
Wrap the Various Meat Slices in Plastic Wrap
Use freezer wrap or another packaging in the freezer when wrapping the various slices of meat you have prepared.
Simply said, the venison will be preserved better, the packing. The meat should first be firmly wrapped in plastic for the best results. The most air will be kept out by doing this. Plastic freezer wrap will do if you don’t have a vacuum sealer or the necessary vacuum-packed bags. However, these would be excellent for this technique.
The individual beef cuts should be wrapped in butcher paper. The next step is to cover the venison in butcher paper after it has been wrapped in plastic or vacuum-sealed in bags.
After the venison has been wrapped snugly in butcher paper and plastic, you should mark and date each box. Date the meat on the label. Labeling the packages allows you to select the precise deer meat slices you need without having to open each one and take a peek inside. Naturally, dating the packages will enable you to track how long each has been in the freezer.
Frozen deer meat should be placed there. After finishing all freezer preparation processes, you must act swiftly to place the venison packets in the freezer. Frozen deer meat needs to be kept at or below 0 degrees. Take special care to limit the amount of meat you freeze per cubic foot of freezer space to no more than four cubic pounds per day. You should transfer the wrapped meat to a processing facility or meat locker for quick freezing if your home freezer does not have enough room to allow you to freeze the venison in this way—to spread out the packages.
How to Cook Deer Meat?
Due to its high leanness, deer meat should not be overcooked, or you risk having dried-out meat. Due to the strong heat, the grill is ideal for quickly cooking venison steaks. Since venison has a low-fat content, you should lightly oil the steaks before placing them on the hot cooking grate to prevent sticking.
Although venison steaks can be marinated in advance, they don’t require much flavor. However, a mild marinade made of oil adds moisture before cooking. The ideal temperature for venison steaks is medium-rare or no higher than 145 degrees F. As in this venison steak, you might also cook food in the slow cooker.
Roasts made from venison are ideal for low and slow cooking, but you must make up for the lack of fat. A roast is given flavor and a moisture barrier wrapped in bacon. Roasts of venison also create excellent jerky.
When making hamburgers with ground venison, pay attention to the cooking time. Most people haven’t seen a medium-rare beef burger in decades, while overcooking venison would result in a crunchy char burger. To increase the fat level, it’s typical to include some ground pork with ground venison. Before forming the patties, add some thick-cut bacon to the mixture.
What is the Taste of Deer Meat?
People sometimes use the adjectives “rich” or “earthy” to describe the flavor and texture of venison; this meat has a festive flavor and frequently carries hints of the acorns, sage, and herbs that the deer ate throughout its lifetime. It’s also thought to be smoother and harder but less luscious and succulent than beef. In a manner that beef does not, it lends itself well to minty, spicy, and autumnal flavors.
Contrary to popular belief, venison does not taste like beef while having a comparable overall effect. The flavor of venison is sometimes seen as overpowering. Still, it has a beautiful herbaceous, almost nutty flavor that goes especially well with fruit- or wine-based sauces.
How to Recognize Bad Beer Meat?
You should inspect, smell, touch, and taste the venison using the four senses to see if it has gone rotten. It’ll appear grey. It will have a distinct, earthy aroma. A third way to tell if the meat is fresh is to touch it and check if it bounces back. The prepared venison should be tasted to determine whether it is good or terrible.
Any extra blood will hasten the meat’s deterioration. Once more, it would be beneficial not to keep it out in the open for too long because the temperature would make it rot.
Therefore, it would be ideal not to cook or freeze your venison after leaving it in the open for six hours. It will then start to spoil after that.
Due to the blood, fresh venison smells gamy and like iron. It has a scent that is a mix of earthy and mineral.
On the other side, spoiled meat smells awful. It smells foul and strong.
Even when it is spoiled, frozen venison cannot smell. On the other hand, as soon as it begins to thaw, you will smell it.
The best way to determine whether your venison is rotting is to smell it. It is spoilt if even the tiniest whiff of sewage is present.
When you touch fresh deer meat, it should feel soft but firm; if it feels otherwise, it’s likely rotten.
If your venison seems slimy and damp to the touch when you try to feel it, it is probably rotten. It should have a damp but not wet texture.
Deer meat that has completely gone bad will be quite slippery. You’ll experience the sensation of touching mucous.
Unless the meat has been frozen, you cannot miss this feeling. This is yet another justification for defrosting the meat before cooking it.
Another clear indication of if your venison is bad is its color. Fresh deer meat is bright red; as soon as something goes wrong, it turns dark brown.
The flesh has some green and purple coloring towards the end of its rotting process. You cannot miss these hues since they are so plainly visible.
However, if you’re not careful, it’s simple to misinterpret the red and brownish colors. So, if you’re unsure of the color of the meat, look for other indications to support your claim.
What are the Side Effects of Consuming Deer Meat?
Beyond the fat content, there are other issues with consuming deer meat. In certain places, deer are becoming increasingly affected by a condition known as Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). This condition is invariably fatal and is a degenerative brain disorder comparable to BSE, often known as Mad Cow Disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy).
Another spongiform encephalopathy that can be transmitted is CWD. Prions are aberrant protein molecules that survive cooking, freezing, and standard sanitation procedures. There is currently no proof that CWD can be transmitted from deer to people. Although the illness has been around for more than 20 years, and many hunters must have eaten meat from infected animals during that period, no cases of CWD in humans have yet to be discovered.
That does not preclude the possibility of transmissions. Several studies are being conducted to establish that meat from diseased deer cannot transmit CWD to humans. If you or your family go hunting in the interim, avoid killing and eating animals that seem unwell. Bring venison samples in for testing to wildlife officials if there is any doubt.
Reference: Risk assessment of the lead intake by consumption of red deer and wild boar meat in Southern Spain
A point-estimate risk assessment revealed that the estimated average lead intake for different exposure scenarios ranged from 0.1 to 6.5 and from 0.3 to 38 g kg per week for red deer and wild boar meat, respectively; from 0.3 to 35 g kg per week for people who consumed both red deer and wild boar meat; and that there was a significant difference between hunters and non-hunters in the estimated lead intake by consumption of big game meat, with the latter group having a higher intake. Additionally, the probabilistic risk assessment study’s findings confirmed that risk is higher in hunter populations, peaking in people who only consume wild boar and both types of meat, respectively, with 0.4% and 0.2% of the population exceeding the provisional cutoff.
You can freeze the meat in many ways, but you must do it in meal-size portions. The amount of time you need to freeze the meat will vary depending on the animal’s age. Young deer don’t need as long a freezing period as an older animal.
Using a vacuum sealer to freeze deer meat is the most effective way to ensure that it remains fresh for as long as possible. However, other techniques can also keep your meat tasting good for longer.