If you’re a hunter, you know the importance of a good hunting season. Many hunters use the fall season to hunt as much as possible so they can fill the freezer with good meat for the long winter months.
While it’s every hunter’s dream to have enough meat to fill a freezer or two, you need to know the proper precautions for storing meat so that all your hard-earned hunting skills do not go to waste.
If you already have meat in the freezer, you might be wondering how long it will last and if it’s still good. This guide will cover how long you can keep deer meat in the freezer and possible spoilage signs.
How Long Does Deer Meat Last in the Fridge?
Fresh deer meat will last about fourteen days in the fridge. If you have freshly butchered meat and stick it in the fridge, it should last about two weeks as long as the fridge is at the right temperature and your power does not go out.
If you cook the deer meat, it will last about three weeks in the fridge. So, if you want the meat to last a little longer, you might want to consider cooking it as soon as you buy it rather than storing it raw.
If you want the meat to last for longer, you can also vacuum seal it in a bag. Many people do this when they buy meat in bulk and want to keep it fresh for longer.
How Long Can Deer Meat Be Frozen?
If you want to keep your meat in the freezer, it will last longer than versus if you stick it in the fridge. Deer meat should last in the freezer for about three to nine months. If the cuts are smaller, they will only last about 3 months while the larger cuts can last up to 9 months.
This time frame is when the meat will still be the best quality and still have an amazing flavour. Deer meat can safely be stored in the freezer for up to two years though. After about 12 months though, the flavour and quality of the meat will not be as good, but it will still be safe to eat.
Whether you are storing it in the freezer or fridge, always make sure to check for signs of spoilage before cooking it even if you have kept it in a cold environment for the appropriate amount of time.
How to Properly Store Deer Meat in the Freezer
If you have some deer meat that you’re ready to put in the freezer, make sure you are storing it correctly. If you do not follow the proper precautions, the meat can go bad sooner and you might not even know until you remove it from the freezer to cook it.
Once the deer has been killed, make sure you recover it within 45 minutes and then gut it as soon as possible for the best-tasting meat. Many people choose to remove the fat during the butchering process since it does not taste good. Freezing it with the rest of the meat can cause it to have a bitter taste.
Once the meat is butchered the way you like it, you can start the procedures for storing it.
The best way to freeze deer meat is to put it in a vacuum seal bag. You can also use regular Ziploc freezer bags. The key is to remove all the air from whichever bag you are using. When there is no extra air in the bag, the meat has less of a chance of getting freezer burnt.
Quart-size bags works best as it ensures you have a good size of meat in each bag. You want to make sure you do not put too much meat in one bag and you always lay the meat flat.
The best way to package it is to also freeze it in meal portion sizes. This way you never waste any of the meat by unfreezing it too early. Refreezing deer meat is not a good idea, so family meal sizes in each freezer bag are the way to go.
Put the date on all your bags so you know for sure when you stored them. This is one of the best ways to keep track of your meat and how long you’ve had it.
How Can You Tell if Frozen Deer Meat Is Bad?
Have some deer meat in your freezer and think it might have gone bad? Here are some signs to look out for before eating it.
If It Has a Grey Colour
Spots of grey usually mean there is some freezer burn within the meat. If the meat is completely grey, it has gone bad and should not be consumed.
Frozen Liquids in the Bag
Frozen liquid is usually an indication that the meat has defrosted and then refrozen which makes it unsafe for consumption. If you have had a power outage, this might have happened without you knowing it.
If the meat is a normal colour, it might be okay to eat but make sure you check before consuming.
It Has a Slimy Film
Once you defrost the meat, check for a slimy feel. This means the meat has for sure gone bad and you should not eat it.
Sewage smell usually means bacteria are growing in the meat. Any sewage smell or other distinct odour is a bad sign.
As long as you store deer meat properly, it will taste good from the freezer for about nine months but will be safe to eat for over 12 months and even up to 2 years. If you want the best quality meat though, consume it within 3 months.
Make sure to vacuum seal it or get all the air out of the bag before storing it to minimize freezer burns. You should always double-check the meat before cooking it.