If you’re a fan of hunting and cooking your own venison, you know that it’s important to properly store and handle the meat to ensure its freshness and safety.
But with so many different cuts and types of venison, it can be hard to keep track of how long each one can last in the fridge.
In this article, we’ll focus on ground venison – a versatile and delicious option for burgers, chili, and more.
We’ll explore the best ways to store ground venison in the fridge, how long it can last, and what to look for to determine if it’s still safe to eat.
So if you’re ready to up your venison game and avoid any potential food safety issues, read on!
How Long Can Ground Venison Stay In The Fridge?
Ground venison, like any other type of meat, has a limited shelf life in the fridge. The exact amount of time it can stay fresh depends on a few factors, including how it was stored and the temperature of your fridge.
According to the USDA, ground venison should be stored in the refrigerator at 40°F or below and used within 1-2 days. This is because ground meat has a larger surface area than whole cuts of meat, which makes it more susceptible to bacterial growth.
If you’re not planning on using your ground venison within a day or two, it’s best to freeze it. Properly wrapped or packaged ground venison can be stored in the freezer for up to 3-4 months.
It’s important to note that once you’ve thawed ground venison, you should never refreeze it. Always thaw it properly in the refrigerator or in the microwave for immediate use. Thawed ground venison can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days before cooking and consuming.
Why Proper Storage Is Important For Ground Venison
Proper storage is crucial for ground venison to ensure its safety and quality. Ground meat has a larger surface area, which makes it more susceptible to bacterial growth than whole cuts of meat. Bacteria can grow rapidly at temperatures between 40°F and 140°F, which is known as the “danger zone.” Therefore, it’s essential to keep ground venison at a temperature below 40°F to slow down the growth of bacteria and prevent spoilage.
If ground venison is not stored properly, it can lead to foodborne illnesses such as salmonella, E. coli, and listeria. These bacteria can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. In severe cases, they can even lead to hospitalization or death.
To ensure the safety of ground venison, it’s important to store it in an airtight container or freezer bag in the refrigerator. You should also place it on the bottom shelf of the fridge to avoid any cross-contamination with other foods. If you’re not planning on using it within 1-2 days, it’s best to freeze it immediately.
Signs That Ground Venison Has Gone Bad
It’s crucial to know the signs that ground venison has gone bad, as consuming spoiled meat can lead to foodborne illnesses. Here are a few things to look out for:
1. Color: Fresh ground venison should be a deep red color. If you notice any brown spots or discoloration, it’s a sign that the meat has started to spoil.
2. Texture: When you touch fresh ground venison, it should have a smooth and firm texture. If it feels slimy or sticky, it’s a sign that bacteria has started to grow on it.
3. Smell: Fresh ground venison has a distinct gamey smell. However, if you notice a sour or putrid odor coming from the meat, it’s a sign that it has gone bad.
4. Mold: If you notice any mold growing on the surface of the ground venison, it’s a clear indication that the meat is no longer safe for consumption.
5. Metallic Sheen: While deer meat naturally has a certain shine to it due to its tendons and muscle structure, if you notice a metallic sheen on your ground venison, it’s a sign that it has gone bad.
If you notice any of these signs in your ground venison, it’s best to discard it immediately and not take any chances with your health. Always follow proper storage and cooking guidelines to ensure that your meat stays fresh and safe for consumption.
Tips For Storing Ground Venison In The Fridge
If you’re planning on storing ground venison in the fridge for a short period of time, there are a few tips you can follow to ensure it stays fresh and safe to eat:
1. Store it at the right temperature: Make sure your fridge is set to 40°F or below. This will help slow down bacterial growth and keep your ground venison fresh for longer.
2. Use airtight containers: Store your ground venison in an airtight container or a plastic bag with all the air squeezed out. This will help prevent any bacteria or odors from getting in and keep your meat fresher for longer.
3. Keep it separate: Store your ground venison away from other foods, especially ready-to-eat foods like fruits and vegetables. This will help prevent any cross-contamination and keep your meat safe to eat.
4. Label and date: If you’re storing your ground venison for more than a day, make sure to label it with the date you stored it. This will help you keep track of how long it’s been in the fridge and when it’s time to use it or freeze it.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your ground venison stays fresh and safe to eat for as long as possible. Remember, when in doubt, always err on the side of caution and throw out any meat that looks or smells off.
Can You Freeze Ground Venison?
Yes, you can freeze ground venison, and it’s a great way to extend its shelf life. However, it’s important to freeze it properly to maintain its quality and flavor.
The best way to freeze ground venison is to use a vacuum sealer or butcher paper. Vacuum sealing removes all the air around the meat, which helps prevent freezer burn and bacterial growth. If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, you can wrap the meat tightly in butcher paper to remove as much air as possible.
If you’re using plastic freezer bags, be aware that they’re not the best option for long-term storage. They don’t remove all the air around the meat, which can lead to freezer burn and a loss of quality. If you choose to use plastic bags, try to remove as much air as possible before sealing them.
When freezing ground venison, it’s important to label the package with the date and type of meat. This will help you keep track of how long it’s been in the freezer and avoid any confusion.
Properly frozen ground venison can last up to 3-4 months in the freezer. However, it’s best to use it within 1-2 months for optimal quality and flavor. When thawing frozen ground venison, always thaw it in the refrigerator or microwave before cooking and consuming. Never refreeze thawed ground venison.
How To Cook Ground Venison Safely
When cooking ground venison, it’s important to take precautions to ensure that it is safe to eat. The USDA recommends cooking ground venison to a minimum internal temperature of 160°F to kill any harmful bacteria that may be present. Here are some tips for cooking ground venison safely:
1. Thaw the ground venison properly: If you’re using frozen ground venison, make sure to thaw it properly in the refrigerator or in the microwave for immediate use. Never thaw ground venison at room temperature, as this can promote bacterial growth.
2. Use a meat thermometer: To ensure that your ground venison has reached a safe internal temperature, use a meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat and make sure it reads at least 160°F.
3. Avoid cross-contamination: When handling raw ground venison, make sure to keep it separate from other ready-to-eat foods or ingredients to avoid cross-contamination. Store raw meat on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator so juices don’t drip onto other foods.
4. Cook ground venison thoroughly: When cooking ground venison, make sure to cook it thoroughly all the way through. Avoid cooking it on low heat or for too short a time, as this can result in undercooked meat that may still contain harmful bacteria.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your ground venison is cooked safely and is delicious to eat.