Freezer Burn on Your Game Meat? Tips & Tricks for Managing Your Meat

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Hunting season is underway, and you find yourself peering into your freezer, wondering how exactly you’re going to fit another deer in there.

(Photo from Petersen's Hunting)

After careful examination of the freezer’s contents, you realize that some of the meat just isn’t up to par; it’s covered in freezer burn. Do you chuck it?

According to the USDA, freezer burn does not make food unsafe, but it will cause some dehydration of the meat in certain spots. Those grayish-brown spots are typically covered in frost, and may appear leathery.

In the end, this affects the taste of your meat, so the USDA advises cutting away those frosted portions. And if the majority of the meat is heavily burned, it’s usually best to toss it in the trash, says the USDA.

A good hunter knows it’s important to avoid waste, and with a few helpful tips and tricks, you’ll be on your way to managing your game meat better.

Prevent Freezer Burn

One of the best ways to reduce waste is to ensure minimal damage to your meat stores. Preventing freezer burn is as easy as recognizing how long the frozen food will remain good quality, and proper storage.

How long can the meat last?

Because freezing can keep food safe almost indefinitely, recommended storage times can help determine how long the quality will remain.

When stored in a freezer for an extended amount of time, food becomes susceptible to freezer burn, which affects the quality of your meat.

The USDA recommends a guideline of 8 to 12 months for storing wild game in your freezer.

How should I store my meat?

Freezer burn is caused by air coming into contact with the surface of your meat. You can help prevent that by removing as much air as possible from the storage package. A vacuum sealer is typically a great option, as the air-tight environment keeps air out, and the juices in.

Freezer temperature also matters. Your freezer should always maintain a temperature of 0 degrees or below for proper storage.

But, says the USDA, your freezer’s ability to maintain that temperature can be easily affected if the door is opened frequently – it’s best to use it for short-term food storage, in that case.

One recommendation the USDA provides is to use a free-standing freezer (one that isn’t opened often, and is able to maintain a constant temperature of 0 degrees), or keep an appliance thermometer in the freezing compartment of your refrigerator to allow for constant temperature monitoring.

Here are some other helpful resources for better management of your meat:

How to Prevent – and Recover from – Freezer Failure

Freezing Tips to Keep Your Venison Fresh

An Easy Guide to Freezing, Drying and Cooking Venison

How to Grind Venison and Wild Game

Proper Care and Handling of Venison from Field to Table

7 Golden Rules of Wild Game Care, from Field to Freezer

Resources for Home Preserving Venison

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