The United States has many mountainous and rural areas where you can find deers almost everywhere. In American culture, deer hunting is a relatively common and popular activity, so the consumption of deer meat is one of the daily dishes of the locals. One of the particularities of deer meat is that it can substitute for almost any type of meat; it is delicious meat with an earthy flavor. Now, it is time to understand how long deer meat lasts in the freezer.
Ground deer can last approximately three months at 0°F, while you can store steaks and roasts for 6 to 9 months. Although you can achieve these times if you implement proper techniques rigorously, it is essential to note that this meat will lose its quality over time.
Some experts in this type of meat go so far as to assure that you could freeze deer meat for up to 10 years without losing its good flavor. However, this is a statement that not everyone agrees with. The time or duration of the meat in the freezer also depends on several factors. Such as the size and type of cut, the storage technique, and the freezer you have. The correct storage of deer meat involves several activities we will develop in the following sections.
How Long Does Deer Meat Last?
It is almost a fact that you will not be able to eat a whole deer quickly. In that case, the next logical option is to store this meat in the freezer. Deer meat can have a pretty good shelf life if we are correctly informed about its storage techniques.
As we said at the beginning, one factor that affects the shelf life of deer meat in the freezer is the type of cut we make. According to available information, the approximate shelf life of the meat according to the kind of cut is as follows:
- Ground deer meat has two storage terms that we must consider. We have three months of freezing to consume this meat with all its quality and up to 8 months of freezing without affecting the person’s safety.
- The seasoned or cured deer meat offers us three months to taste it without diminishing its quality. This cured meat provides four months of freezing to ingest without affecting the person’s safety.
- Roasts and filets of deer provide us with nine months of freezing at full quality and a period of up to 1 year of safe consumption.
It is important to note that the type of meat cut is not the only factor affecting the optimum shelf life. Because of these factors, it is a complex task to predict accurate shelf life since other variables are involved in this process. Some of these variables are:
- Adequate care to the meat before freezing,
- The proper meat freezing process in the following 24 hours.
- The amount of air that came in contact with the meat during storage.
- The quality of the packaging or the type of freezer.
This subject turns out to be much more complex than we think since there are several expert organizations in the matter that offer varied visions concerning this subject. The National Center for Food Preservation recommends keeping ground deer meat in a freezer at 0°F or below for optimum meat quality for up to 3 months.
On the other hand, some Clemson food safety specialists recommended avoiding long storage periods. These experts indicate that a piece of fresh game should not exceed eight months of frozen storage, regardless of the type of meat cut. In many U.S. states, hunting laws require you to use the wild game meat before the next hunting season.
What Should I Do To Freeze Deer Meat Properly?
There are multiple alternatives to freezing deer meat without losing flavor and consistency after a freeze-thaw process; below; we will review some of them.
- A highly effective alternative is to vacuum seal the meat. This alternative is ideal for extending the shelf life of the meat if we have the proper equipment. The great advantage of vacuum sealing is that it eliminates residual air, and this helps the meat retain its moisture.
- Another method that offers excellent effectiveness is to use a deep chest freezer. Chest freezers are superior equipment because their design ensures a colder freezing process. The shape of the chest freezer makes it easier for the cold air to penetrate evenly into everything placed inside. In addition, these freezers limit internal temperature changes, which is a significant cause of freeze-ripening.
- All is not lost when we do not have a vacuum sealer or a chest freezer. There are other ways to freeze deer, which, although they may not be as durable, will allow us to continue enjoying this delicacy. An alternative method is to use a plastic bag that has several layers of plastic wrap could be helpful. The plastic bag should have an airtight sealing system that allows us to extract as much residual air as possible. Then we can store it in a conventional freezer.
- Another option is to use freezer paper. This paper is quite similar to wax paper, with the difference that it is a little heavier. We can adapt it more easily to the shape of the meat, which will help us to create a relatively airtight space to improve the freezing process.
How To Tell If Frozen Deer Meat Is Bad?
When we have deer meat in storage, it is always helpful to recognize if it is still in good condition. We can have a vacuum sealer or a chest freezer, yet it is always a good idea to check the stored meat before consuming it. There are some signs in the meat that will indicate whether it is still in good condition or not.
The Appearance Of The Meat
The appearance is an easy sign to determine if the meat is good or bad. The frozen meat must have an aspect of intense red color, so any tonality that goes out of this parameter is an alert that we must consider. When the meat is brown, it is almost sure that it is spoiled.
The Smell Of The Meat
Another element that will help us identify the meat’s state is its smell. If the meat is in bad condition, it will give off a powerful and nauseating odor similar to that of a sewer. Another characteristic odor of meat in bad condition is that the smell of hunting meat will intensify in the house.
The Texture Of The Meat To The Touch
Another action we should always take is to touch the meat. If we touch the meat and feel this vicious and humid to the touch, we are in the presence of decomposed meat.
Finding Frozen Liquid
When inspecting frozen deer, it is crucial to check for frozen liquid in the refrigerator or the container where the meat is stored. Frozen juices can mean that the meat was frozen, thawed, and refrozen. This process makes it not entirely safe to consume this meat; plus, the meat’s flavor will no longer be the same.
A Final Thought On The Shelf Life Of Deer In The Freezer
We all agree that nothing could be better than the fresh taste of deer, so the recommendation will always be to consume it as soon as possible. However, suppose, for some reason, this is not possible. In that case, we can preserve the meat safely and with its characteristic flavor if we store and freeze it using the proper techniques.