Venison is an uncommon but favored red meat. For how long can you make it safe in the fridge and freezer?
Raw venison can stay in the fridge for 3 to 5 days at 40 °F (4 °C). You can thaw venison from the freezer to the fridge and the length of thawing can depend on the size of the cuts. Aging them in a cooler or ice bath will help keep them for up to a week.
What about cooked venison, and can you refreeze thawed deer meat? Read on to find out!
How Long Will Raw Venison Last in the Fridge?
You can refrigerate raw venison or deer meat for 2 to 3 days at 40 °F (4 °C) before using or cooking. But raw venison should last up to 5 days.
The fridge is where vegetables, fruits, and other ready-to-eat foods are. If you store venison inside the fridge, make sure it’s well-stored in its own container (preferably airtight), to prevent cross-contamination (source: Minnesota Department of Agriculture). In the refrigerator, store them at the bottom part in a bowl or platter
If you have small pieces of venison from the freezer that you want to thaw in the fridge, they should defrost for around 1 to 2 days. If you have larger pieces, they will defrost at 1 day per 5 lbs. of meat weight (source: Michigan State University Extension).
If you are buying venison or deer meat, make sure to only buy from reputable stores and supermarkets.
How Long Does Cooked Venison Last in the Fridge?
Cooked venison can be safely stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days (source: Michigan State University Extension). But like raw venison, it has to be stored in its individual packaging to prevent flavor loss and possible contamination.
Can You Thaw and Refreeze Venison?
Venison is safe to thaw and refreeze when it’s been thawed in the refrigerator (source: USDA). Venison is safe to be thawed in the microwave or using cold water. However, if it has been thawed using cold water or the microwave, it’s not advisable to refreeze it (source: Healthline).
When you freeze the venison or deer meat after thawing it in the fridge, make sure that the temperature is constant at 0 °F or -18 °C.
Also, if you plan to store venison for a long time, remember that storing venison in the freezer can change its flavor or quality in the long run. To prevent this, using a vacuum sealing or airtight sealing method will help.
With this said, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture doesn’t recommend refreezing thawed venison to avoid a decline in the quality of the meat (source: Minnesota Department of Agriculture).
How Long Can Venison be “Held” on Ice or in a Cooler?
You’ll need a cooler or ice bath if you handle a newly-caught deer. Like any meat, venison needs to be stored, or as hunters call it, aged, in a cool storage area to prevent it from going bad and ultimately unusable.
The cooler should have a temperature of 34 °F (1 °C) to 38 °F (3 °C). The venison meat will keep for 5 to 7 days, as long as you drain the water, and make sure to always replace the ice when most have melted (source: IFAS Extension University of Florida).
If you only plan for temporary storage on an ice bath or a cooler, just make sure you reach the storage temperature suggested above before you get home and transfer the venison meat to the freezer.
Apart from storing, handling fresh venison meat is given much importance because the carcass is usually produced in the wild or an open environment. Field-dressing makes the meat prone to getting contaminated.
Some things that can contaminate the carcass are dirt, fecal material from gutting the deer, and other factors that could expose the carcass like the surface of a table, cutting tools, etc.
To prevent this, wearing disposable gloves can help. Always clean your knife every time you have used it and before using it again, as well as your hands. You can use alcohol or wipe if you brought them with you (source: Spectrum Health).
Storing and handling venison properly will prevent unwanted contamination so you can enjoy venison! We hope you found this article helpful!