Beef and pork are the most popular and consumed meat in America, but it is not the only meat you can enjoy. In fact, venison, or deer meat, is an underrated meat with remarkable flavor and amazing texture that you can use as a beef alternative in your daily meals.
As tasty and nutritious as it can be, deer meat can easily go bad fast if you don’t know how to store it properly. So, how can you tell if deer meat is spoiled? Let’s find out below!
What Does Deer Meat Look Like?
Wild deer meat has a deep red color with a juicy and smooth texture that can remind you of a beefsteak. To be more specific, deer meat is edible game meat with a high mineral and vitamin content. It is also low in fat, making it a tasty, healthy, chewy, and firm meat that you can enjoy when you’re fed up with pork meat or beef meat in your daily meal.
However, compared with beef and pork, deer meat is chewier with less juiciness and consistency like many wild animal meats. People with a venison diet find this red meat similar to cattle meat in terms of flavor. Nevertheless, there are also woody hints, strong and sweet notes in ground venison that distinguish from another type of meat.
The texture and taste of the meat also depend on the deer’s diet. If the deer eats a lot of corn and nuts, people can also taste a corny taste.
When people harvest deer meat, they tend to hang the meat for the aging process. This will help to break down the connective tissues and tough consistency, resulting in softer and richer meat.
How To Tell If Deer Meat Is Spoiled?
How to tell if deer meat is bad? Some common signs allow you to spot bad deer meat; these include the meat’s color, texture, and smell.
When hunting wild deer meat, it can be difficult to know how to tell if venison is bad. This is due to many factors like the environmental temperature, meat temperature, dead deer condition, moisture, and weather. The spoilage of deer meat is caused by rapid pathogen growth like mold, fungi, and bacteria.
Although they have always lived inside the living animals, as soon as there is a wounded animal, these organism populations will blow up, leading to spoiled deer meat. Sometimes, you might find the rotting process faster than usual due to the deer’s health condition. If you caught infected animals, likely, the deterioration process has already happened.
Deer Meat Color
Fresh meat should have a dark and brownish-red color. When it is poorly stored and processed, the bad meat surface can turn into a metallic hue with dark tint, green, brown, or even black. Obviously, you should avoid eating green deer meat to protect your health.
Deer Meat Texture
Another way you can detect a spoiled deer is the loose texture. A good piece of deer meat should have a firm, chewy and tough consistency. When it is loosened or broken apart, bacterial growth has broken the enzyme structure of bacteria. At this point, you should discard the rotten meat to ensure food consumption safety.
Deer Meat Smell
As many deer hunters have learned, deer meat should never be left under the sun for too long as the excessive deterioration starts as soon as the deer is down. Thus, you need to wrap and store the meat right away after harvesting the deer meat.
This failure will result in the brown meat starting to exude a strong foul odor. If you spot a rotten smell, off-putting, and distinct odor, there is a high chance that the bad deer meat is far from being edible.
Many people tend to underestimate and overlook the systemic spoilage of this tasty ground meat and continue to process them into main courses. Yet, there are many unfortunate accidents that happen related to ingesting spoiled meat.
Consuming bad or rotten meat can lead to many health problems from vomiting, diarrhea, nausea to fever, affecting the immune systems, degenerative brain disease like bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or Mad Cow disease.
How To Tell If Frozen Deer Meat Is Bad?
If you have frozen deer meat at home for too long, it is time to check whether it has gone bad or not. For frozen venison, you can look for these two signs: Freezer burn and color change.
When taking out the freezer package, you might find some snowflakes and ice crystals covering the bag. Specifically, this is due to the water content from the meat escaping the bag and freezing on top of the freezer. This sign is also known as freezer burn, which commonly appears in poorly stored deer meat. When this happens, the freezer-burned meat inside no longer tastes good after the thawing process.
Another sign you can look for is the meat’s color change. The brown-red deer meat may turn into gray, brown, or darker color when the meat is exposed to the air. This can result in dry and tough meat that can be too harsh to digest.
How Long Does Deer Meat Last?
The time depends on the meat types and how you process the meat. In particular, fresh meat has the shortest time within 2 hours, leftover meat can last from 3 to 5 days, and frozen one will last the longest with 8 to 12 months of storage.
The USDA recommends storing the freshly hunted deer meat within 2 hours rule of thumb to avoid spoiled deer meat. In detail, the deterioration starts as soon as the deer is down. The growth of bacteria, at the temperature range of 40 degrees Fahrenheit to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, increases tremendously in just 20 minutes.
According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, deer meat should be stored in the freezer at a temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit. The frozen deer meat should last for three months without any change of color, taste, and texture. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) also recommends that wild game meat still keep its taste when you store it in the freezer for 8 to 12 months.
If you have leftover cooked venison, whether it is venison steaks or roasts, you can keep them edible and tasty in the fridge for a longer time.
How To Store Deer Meat?
It is common to store deer meat after you harvest them to keep it fresh for a longer time. As we have mentioned above, raw meat should be stored in the freezer to keep its texture intact.
To store deer meat, you need to wrap the deer meat in plastic wrap. Then, put them inside a freezer bag to avoid a freezer burn that affects the quality of the venison meat.
You can leave it in the freezer for up to 12 months after that. When you need to use the meat, you can thaw the venison in the refrigerator. It can last for 2 or 3 days to soften before cooking. When keeping the meat in the refrigerator, make sure to keep it inside an airtight container to avoid cross-contamination with other fresh foods inside.