Venison adds variety and flavor to the fall and winter table. When handled properly it can make an excellent meat. It can be frozen as meat cuts or sausage. It can also be preserved by canning, curing, or drying.
Aging the carcass will help dissipate the game taste and permit naturally occurring enzymes to tenderize the tissues. Proper aging also firms the meat, giving it better cutting quality. Aging the carcass should be conducted at 40° F or less for up to 5 days. Never age at room temperature or in uncontrolled conditions. If using the venison for sausage, aging is not required.
Trim fat and clean cuts so they are ready for end use. Fat will go rancid quicker and often has a very “gamey” undesirable flavor. Use packaging made for the freezer. For best quality, wrap the meat tightly in waxed paper, plastic freezer wrap, or heavy-duty aluminum foil. For added protection, seal wrapped meat in a plastic freezer bag or container. Push out as much air as possible. Seal, label and date each package. Home vacuum sealers will also work for packing venison for freezing. Follow manufacturer directions for vacuum sealing. Freeze quickly at 0°F or below.
Freeze no more than 4 pounds per cubic foot of freezer space within a 24-hour period. If space in the home freezer does not permit spreading the packages out, take the wrapped meat to a processing plant or meat locker for quick freezing. For best quality, store ground venison in a freezer at 0°F or colder for up to 3 months. Venison roasts and steaks can be stored 6 to 9 months. Meat quality and flavor will deteriorate in the freezer over time.
Venison Cooking Tips
The key to cooking venison and making it tender, moist and delicious is understanding that it has very little fat or fat cover. Add butter or cheese, or baste with other fats for improved flavor. Without much fat cover, the meat tends to dry out. Cook venison slowly using moist heat and baste often with a marinade sauce or oil. Don’t overcook. A roast may also be wrapped in aluminum foil after browning or covered in a roasting pan. Strips of bacon may be placed on a roast for self-basting. For these foods to be safe, internal temperatures must be high enough to kill any harmful microorganisms. Cook ground meats, chops, steaks and roasts to 160°F. Venison can be substituted for meat in many recipes and makes an excellent variation to your menu.
Documents and Resources:
- Canning Meat, Wild Game, Poultry & Fish Safely a UW Extension Learning Store Publication (PDF)
- 2016 Deer Donation Information – Locations (PDF)
- Pierce County Locations:
- Pierce County Meats (460 E Wall St., East Ellsworth; 715-273-4741)
- Ptacek’s IGA (1449 Orrin Rd, Prescott; 715-262-5636)
- Pierce County Locations:
- Donate a Deer program flyer for Pierce and St. Croix Counties (PDF)
- Oh Deer! PDF on Preserving the Fall Harvest
- For additional UW Extension Learning Store resources, visit https://learningstore.uwex.edu
For more information or resources, contact Katie Feuerhelm, Family Living Educator, at the UW-Extension Pierce County Office, 412 West Kinne Street, Ellsworth, WI. 715-273-6781
~Have a safe hunting season!~