If you’ve just bagged yourself a deer, the next step is to figure out how to store it. Deer meat can last in the freezer for quite some time if it’s stored properly, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind. In this blog post, we’ll discuss safe deer meat storage practices and give you tips on how to make your deer meat last as long as possible.
The best answer to How Long Does Deer Meat Last In The Freezer is…
According to the USDA, uncooked frozen venison meat should be consumed within 12 months for best results.
However, if you store your deer meat properly, it can still be good after the 12-month mark. When checking your deer meat for quality, look for any signs of freezer burn or excessive ice crystals. If the meat is starting to turn brown or has an off odor, it’s best to throw it out. With proper care and storage, your deer meat will stay fresh and delicious for months to come.
It’s important to know how to store deer meat, and how to tell if it has gone bad. So, let’s dive into how to keep and store your deer meat to ensure its freshness.
After the Deer Kill and Before the Freezer
For a delicious and tender deer meat dinner, you need to take care of your deer properly after the harvest. After shooting, it should be recovered within 45 minutes and then gutted immediately afterward for optimal results!
Field dressing and hanging deer meat is something we’re really excited to discuss more in-depth with you! Click the link here for some helpful information.
Hanging your deer meats is the best way to age it. Depending on how warm or cold it is where you live, let your deer meat hang for about 7 days. This helps to release the gaminess out of the deer meat.
If you’re really hands-on and you wish to process your own deer meat, then it’s important to remove as much of the fat while you’re cutting it up. Deer meat has a different type of grease than beef and pork, so it will taste better if there is little to no excess present!
From Field to Freezer: How to Properly Store Deer Meat
Now that your meat is butchered the way you like it, it’s time to freeze. The first thing needed is freezer bags! For the best results, you should vacuum seal your deer meat and then freeze it. However, most folks are good with just using Ziploc freezer bags instead!
The one thing we should all remember when properly storing our deer meat is that it’s important you get as much air out of their bag!
The process of removing the air in the bag helps to keep the quality of deer meat optimal. When there is no extra air in the bag it minimizes the chances of freezer burn from occuring. Freezer burn happens because air is trapped within the bags of packaged meat, which causes it to dry out and make food less appetizing – It’s still safe for consumption. Just not as good!
The process we use here at Hunter’s Wholesale is to use the quart-size freezer bags with a vacuum sealer. You don’t want too much deer meat in one bag, and you want the meat to be laid flat. Make sure to package your deer meat in meal-size servings. This way when you pull out a frozen bag of deer meat to fix a family-friendly meal you do not have to refreeze.
According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP), you want to freeze your deer meat at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, as quickly as possible. Your ground deer meat will remain fresh and tasty if consumed within 3 months for the best quality. It’s recommended that deer roasts and deer steaks be stored for up to 6 to 9 months at the same temperature.
What Is the Max Freezer Life for Frozen Deer Meat?
For the highest quality and freshest taste, you’ll want to consume your deer meat within 3 months of freezing. That being said, the USDA offers a recommendation of the maximum time to keep your deer meat frozen is 12 months.
Frozen deer meat is obviously good beyond the 12 months. It just will not have the freshness and quality of flavor it would have if you were to eat it within 3 months’ time. Here at Hunter’s Wholesale we know that not everyone access to deer meat, and we understand how important it can be to those who are going hungry to have fresh healthy meat choices.
So, if you have leftover deer meat from a past hunting season already in your freezer you could opt for donating your leftover deer meat and then replacing it with your freshly processed deer kill. We encourage folks to consider making a generous donation of wild game meat to your local food shelf or food bank. This is good for those in need because it helps them through any food shortages they might be experiencing! Head over to Feed America for more details about donating your leftover wild game meats.
What Are the Signs My Frozen Deer Meat is Bad or Spoiled?
Freezing your deer meat doesn’t always mean that it will last for years. Even with proper storage conditions, there are many things that can happen to cause deer meat to spoil and make it go bad before you ever notice!
The following list includes some possibilities of how to tell if your deer meat is spoiled. So, make sure to read them and take notes so be on top and aware of them.
– Deer meat is slimy
– There are green or black spots on the deer meat
– The deer meat has a changed color
– The deer meat is sticky
– There is mold on the deer meat
What Should You Do if You Accidentally Ate Spoiled Deer Meat?
I can’t even imagine eating spoiled meat. The thought makes my stomach turn! But it could happen if you are not paying attention. The rule of thumb is: When in doubt, throw it out! If you are not sure if your deer meat is good, then just throw it away. In other words – DO NOT EAT SPOILED DEER MEAT! And trying to cook deer meat that you think might be questionable is not a good idea, either. By the time you think the deer meat might be spoiled, the damage has already been done and there’s nothing you can do to fix it.
So, if you are looking for a way to store your deer meat for an extended period of time, vacuum-sealing freezer bags are the best option. But you can substitute Ziploc-style freezer bags. Just make sure to remove as much of the air out of the bags, as you can. Also, be certain to cook and use your deer meat before it gets too old. And always remember to check the color, smell, and texture before cooking any deer meat. What tips do you have for storing deer meat? Please share in the comments below!
To learn more about the Best Hunting Game Bags, we have that too!