How Long Does Deer Meat Last In The Freezer?

Matt Johnson
Matt JohnsonPublished: March 11, 2023
How Long Does Deer Meat Last In The Freezer?

If you're a keen hunter or a lover of game meat in general, then you understand the value of freezing venison for future use. Maybe you brought down a 250 lb buck and must make that venison last throughout the year. But how long does deer meat last in the freezer?

Knowing the answer to this question is crucial, as improper storage can lead to spoilage, creating an anxious feeling, if not a little food poisoning. Don't worry; our experts have put together the answer to this age-old question and several tips and essential details on how to freeze, store, and thaw deer meat without sacrificing its quality or taste.

So, whether you're a seasoned hunter or a newbie, we'll tell you everything you need to know on how to keep your deer meat fresh and enjoyable.

Freezing fresh deer meat.

Freezing fresh deer meat is a common way of preserving that whitetail venison so that it can be enjoyed throughout the year.

However, it is essential to understand how long deer meat can last in the freezer to prevent waste and ensure its quality.

Just like beef or pork, venison is a highly perishable food item that, when kept at room temperature, can quickly become unsafe to eat due to bacterial growth. By storing it in the freezer, however, you can substantially extend its shelf life.

Generally, deer meat can last up to 6-8 months in the freezer without sacrificing quality. But, to avoid freezer burn and maintain its nutritional value, it is advisable to consume it within three months.

Of course, you can keep frozen deer meat longer than that, sometimes upwards of 9-12 months, but you'll lose some quality over time. We find that if you are going to keep frozen venison that long (or in some cases upwards of 18 months to up to two years) of it's best to have it as ground deer meat. Steaks and other cuts just don't last as long, from our experience.

Storing frozen deer meat.

Storing frozen deer meat is crucial if you want to enjoy its deliciousness for an extended period. We'll discuss exactly how to store your wild game meats and give you some essential tips on how to store deer meat correctly and how to avoid spoilage.

To ensure maximum freshness and avoid spoiled deer meat, it is essential to properly store deer meat—

  • Freshness counts. Make sure the meat is as fresh as possible when it is frozen. This can be achieved by cutting, trimming, and cleaning the meat immediately after it has been harvested.
  • Proper packaging. Wrap the meat tightly in freezer paper and then store it in a freezer-safe container or bag. It is also essential to label the packages with the date of freezing to keep track of its shelf life.
  • Freeze at the right temperature. Yes, you can store your wild game meat with your other foods in your kitchen freezer, just make sure it's at least 0°F.

By knowing how long deer meat lasts in the freezer and following the correct storage procedures, you can ensure that you have a year-round supply of quality venison to enjoy with family and friends.

It can also save you time and money on groceries, and you'll never have to wonder how safe or healthy your deer meat is.

Vacuum Sealed Venison Flanks
Properly sealed venison. Preferably you want to have as much moisture removed as possible, but a little bit like this is fine.

Tips for proper storage of venison.

Sure, that's how you generally keep frozen meat, but it's still important to know a few more specific tips regarding venison. These are a few tried and true tips our experts have put together from their decades of hunting and prepping experience.

  • Wash the meat thoroughly with cold running water before freezing, and discard any fat or gristle that is discolored.
  • When wrapping the deer meat, use two layers of freezer paper to further protect it from as much air as possible.
  • Use heavy-duty freezer bags if you plan to store the venison for a long period of time. These bags can keep air and water out of the meat, protecting its flavor and extending its shelf life.
  • Ground meat will last longer than larger cuts, so if you plan on storing the venison for over six months, it's best to have it ground.
  • Don't use anything bigger than quart-size freezer bags. Pulling out a gallon bag of venison to only use half of it and then refreezing it will diminish the meat quality.
  • Use a vacuum sealer whenever possible. Of course, you can use plastic wrap in a pinch, but if you want to prevent ice crystals from forming or losing flavor, you'll want to ensure your meat cuts are well sealed.

Those are some of the best tips and tricks our experts have found to ensure the best quality venison for extended storage. With these tips, you can easily store wild game meat and enjoy it long after the hunting season has ended.

Defrosting and thawing deer meat.

Defrosting and reheating deer meat requires specific methods to preserve the quality of the meat while ensuring it is safe to eat. While keeping the venison frozen is a way to prevent bacteria from growing, at some point, you have to thaw and cook the deer meat, and if you're not smart about it, you'll give the bacteria ample time to grow, and you'll have spoiled deer meat on your hands.

To defrost deer meat safely, it is crucial to place it in the refrigerator and allow it to thaw slowly.

Depending on the size of your meat cut, it may take anywhere from 24-48 hours to thaw fully. Avoid thawing meat in hot water or at room temperature as this can cause bacteria to grow and increase the risk of food poisoning.

Once thawed, it is essential to cook the meat immediately. Leaving the venison unfrozen and exposed is a quick way to have your deer meat go bad. If you can't cook it right away, leave the meat in the freezer until you're able to use it.

Following these guidelines will help you preserve the fresh taste of deer meat, ensuring that it is both appetizing and safe to eat. With the right preparation, your deer meat will come out of the freezer or the fridge looking, smelling, and tasting delicious!

Determining if the venison has gone bad.

Determining if deer meat has gone bad is essential to avoid consuming spoiled meat, which can cause food poisoning. Just because you've followed all of our tips and safely stored your venison doesn't mean it lasted the full time. Maybe you had a power outage, and your chest freezer turned off for a bit.

There are many reasons deer meat can go bad, even if stored properly.

The first step in determining whether your deer meat has gone bad or not is by examining its color. Fresh deer meat is bright red or pink, while spoiled meat is gray, green, or with a yellowish tint. If the meat has a slimy texture, a sour, or unpleasant odor, you're likely looking at a case of spoiled meat. In some instances, mold may grow on the surface of deer meat; this is a sure sign that it is no longer fresh and should be discarded.

If the texture and the odor of the meat are not conclusive, it's best to conduct a meat spoilage test. Cut a small piece of the meat, then close your eyes and smell it. If you detect a spoiled odor, the meat is unsafe to eat. Additionally, you can touch the meat with your fingers and check for a sticky or slimy texture. The texture is an essential indicator of spoilage as fresh meat should be firm not sticky.

Don't take chances with deer meat that's on the verge of going bad. Instead, make sure you train yourself to know when the meat is no longer palatable, and do not consume it. When in doubt, it's always best to err on the side of caution and discard suspicious meat.

So, exactly how long can deer meat last in the freezer?

There you have it. You brought down your own buck, doe, or other game, and now you want to know how long can deer meat last in frozen storage. The answer is that it depends on the quality of care and storage, but with proper handling and preparation, venison can last up to 18 months or longer. Be sure to properly cut, seal, thaw, and cook your wild game meat for optimal flavor and safety. You'll have enough fresh game to last you until next hunting season.

Be sure to use our tips for your frozen venison and vacuum seal it in freezer bags whenever possible. Remember, you want to retain the best quality meat by avoiding freezer burn and preventing as much air as possible from getting to your venison.

Matt Johnson

Matt Johnson

Master Outdoorsman

Matt is a seasoned outdoorsman with expertise in fishing, hunting, and wildlife. With a Master's degree in Wildlife Science, he combines his passion for nature with conservation efforts, sharing his knowledge through his writing for Fish and Game Report.

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