If you found yourself with an excess of leftover deer meat, you probably opted to freeze it. Now that you want to cook it, you’ll need to thaw the venison first. There are a few tips to ensure that your meat is thawed properly and will taste as fresh as possible.
When it comes to thawing venison, you have a few options. The best method is to allow it to defrost in the fridge overnight. However, you can also choose the cool water method or use the microwave to thaw your venison.
If your venison has been properly stored in the freezer, you shouldn’t have to worry about it for at least a year. This gives you plenty of time to thaw it and use it in your next recipe.
How to Thaw Venison in the Fridge
This is undoubtedly the best way to thaw venison and meat in general. However, it does take the longest length of time and takes a bit of planning. The fridge allows the venison to defrost evenly and slowly, ensuring the quality of the meat stays high.
- Remove your venison from the freezer and place it into the fridge.
- Allow the meat to sit in the fridge for 24-72 hours, depending on the size.
- Remove the venison and check the center to make sure it’s been thawed completely.
Once your meat has thawed, it’s best to use it fairly soon after. If it sits for an extended period in the fridge, it may become unsafe to eat.
How to Thaw Venison in Cool Water
If you want to thaw your venison a bit quicker than the fridge allows, this is the method for you. It is significantly faster than allowing the meat to sit for hours in the fridge. However, you’ll need to take a few more steps to make sure the meat thaws safely.
- Remove your venison portion from the freezer and place it into a large bowl.
- Fill the bowl with cool or cold water. You don’t want to use warm or hot water, as this could begin cooking the meat instead of simply thawing it out.
- Change the water every 30 or so minutes, to make sure it stays at the correct temperature.
- Once the venison has thawed down to the center, it’s ready to cook.
It’s important to remember you have venison thawing when you use this method. If you forget about it, the meat is essentially sitting out in the water that eventually becomes room temperature. Set a timer for yourself to ensure you remember to change out the water.
How to Thaw Venison in the Microwave
This is not the most ideal way to defrost any meat, including venison. However, if you’ve found yourself in a last-minute rush, you can use the microwave. This method is technically safe but it can be hard to do properly.
- Remove your venison from the freezer and take off any plastic or foil.
- Place the frozen meat onto a microwave-safe plate or dish.
- Heat the frozen meat on the defrost setting in the microwave.
- Check the meat every few minutes to watch the progress of the thawing process.
- Once the center seems properly thawed, remove the meat and cook immediately.
You may find that the microwave affects the texture of the meat the most. This tends to be because the edges of the venison will thaw first and then become tougher. Using the microwave to thaw smaller sections of meat is easier than a large portion.
Should You Thaw Meat on the Counter?
While this may seem like a fairly straightforward method, it shouldn’t be done. Food safety experts suggest never defrosting any kind of meat on the countertop. Within an hour or two, the meat can become unsafe to eat.
There is a much higher risk of bacteria growth on your meat when it is defrosting in this manner. The outside of the meat thaws before the center has a chance to. Thus, the outside of the meat will come to room temperature sooner and become unsafe for consumption.
How to Store Venison in the Freezer
If you find yourself freezing large portions of venison every year, it may be a good idea to invest in a vacuum sealer. This makes the freezing process quicker and easier while ensuring the meat stays safe from freezer burn.
You can freeze the venison in individual portions. This way, you can simply remove what you want for dinner and not worry about defrosting too much at once.
If the venison is properly sealed, it can last for up to a year in the freezer. It’s also a good idea to date the meat before you freeze it. This way, you won’t forget when you originally placed it into the freezer.
How Long Will Thawed Venison Last in the Fridge?
Once you have your venison thawed, you’ll want to use it within 2-3 days. Even in the fridge, the venison won’t stay good past this length of time. You can also store your raw meat in a separate section of the fridge to avoid the risk of cross-contamination.
If you opt to refreeze your meat after it has been thawed, be aware that this will be detrimental to the quality. The texture may be a bit tougher when you do eventually cook the piece of meat.
There are several ways to properly and safely thaw venison. If it has been stored in a tightly wrapped container in the freezer, it should last for many months. Venison can be a great source of protein for any number of dinner recipes.
While the microwave isn’t the most ideal method, it can be done carefully. The downside is that your meat may come out tougher around the edges. The fridge method or the cool water method are better choices if you have a bit more time.