Following are tips to preserve venison from the University of Minnesota Extension Service.
If you plan to use fresh meat, store it in the refrigerator and cook within one to two days. After a couple days, you will find that wild game fat tends to become rancid quickly and this contributes to the "gamey" flavor.
If you freeze the meat, wrap it in moisture-proof freezer wrap, such as heavily waxed or laminated freezer wrap, heavy-duty aluminum foil or plastic freezer storage bags to prevent freezer burn. Wrap the meat tightly and remove all air from the bag before sealing.
For best quality, use the ground meat and stew meat within two to three months, and use roasts and steaks within eight to 12 months.
It's important to thaw frozen deer meat completely in the refrigerator. Game meat often contains large numbers of bacteria that grow quickly at room temperature. This is especially true of ground venison. Use ground venison immediately after thawing. To avoid quality deterioration and safety problems, do not refreeze thawed products.
Canned venison is a great convenience food and tastes good. Do NOT can meat unless you have a pressure canner. Can fresh meat within two days, or freeze it and can it later.
To can frozen meat, thaw in the refrigerator until most of the ice crystals have disappeared. When canning, remove excess fat. Soak strong-flavored game for one hour in a brine-water solution (one tablespoon salt per quart of water) and rinse. Remove large bones and cut into one-inch strips, cubes or chunks. You can use either a hot-pack method or raw-pack method to can your venison.
To hot pack: Brown or roast the meat; pack it loosely in jars; add one teaspoon of salt if you want, boiling broth, water or tomato juice; and leave one-inch headspace.
To raw pack: Add one teaspoon salt (if you want) to each quart jar; loosely pack jars with raw meat pieces (do NOT add liquid) leaving one-inch headspace. Process pints in a dial-gauge pressure canner for 75 minutes at 11 pounds or in a weighted-gauge pressure canner for 75 minutes at 10 pounds; quarts in a dial-gauge pressure canner for 90 minutes at 11 pounds or in a weighted-gauge pressure canner for 90 minutes at 15 pounds.
Always cook game meats to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce risk of foodborne illness. Don't forget to trim away the game fat because that gives it a "gamey" flavor.
Venison may be drier and less tender so you may need to add other fats when frying or roasting. Some tips include: Rub a roast with butter or margarine, bacon fat or vegetable oil to add moisture and flavor; baste lean cuts with additional fat to improve the flavor; place strips of bacon on a roast or other cuts to add flavor; or add additional pork or beef fat to ground meat.
Moist heat methods, such as braising (simmering in a small amount of liquid in a covered pot), may result in a better product. Chops and steaks may be pan-fried or broiled.
For a less "gamey" flavor, cover meat with vinegar water (two tablespoons vinegar to a quart of water) and place in the refrigerator for an hour before cooking. Serve game meat very hot or very cold.
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