One of the biggest benefits to hunting is the fresh and delicious meat you can continue to enjoy for weeks and months after your victory. The trick though is getting your game from the field to the freezer safely, preserving as much of the quality and original flavor as possible.
After putting so much time and effort into finding and taking down your game, the last thing you want to do is cut corners when it comes to freezing and storing the meat. Especially for larger animals, like moose, you can’t just throw it into Tupperware or gallon bags, shove it in the freezer, and call it a day. Get the most out of your game meat by using our tips below for proper freezing and storage!
Begin the cooling process as soon as possible.
The more time that passes between the moment you kill your game and when you start to cool it, the greater chance the quality and flavor will be compromised. Mammals are warm-blooded, which means your animal’s body temperature is high when you kill it. If you don’t get that temperature down fast enough, bacteria will start to grow and the meat will begin to spoil.
As soon as you’ve finished field dressing your kill, and quartered it if it’s a larger animal, you should start to cool it. Pre-cooling your freezer before a hunt will help speed up this process. If possible, use an ice alternative (such as reusable ice stones) or freeze water in leak-proof containers instead of filling a cooler with loose ice. This will help reduce moisture exposure that can spoil meat faster.
Prepare meat for freezing in a clean workspace.
Again, bacteria are the number one enemy when getting your game from the field into the freezer. Not only does bacteria growth decrease the flavor of your meat, it can also make you sick when you cook and eat it later on. That’s why it’s important to handle and package meat in an area as clean and sterile as possible.
Prepare your work station by washing down all surfaces and utensils with hot, soapy water. You can also use a commercial kitchen disinfectant, or a solution of bleach and water, to disinfect the area. Just be sure to rinse it thoroughly after application. Rinse your meat before starting and use paper towels to absorb the excess moisture.
Wrap and seal meat to minimize air exposure.
Cold, dry air can quickly ruin your meat by causing freezer burn. Sealing it tightly before storing will lock in the meat’s moisture and keep excess air out, better preserving the quality and flavor for long-term storage. There are three different methods you can use to seal your meat, depending on how long you plan to keep it frozen:
- Freezer bags—made with high-quality plastic to protect meat from the cold (these are different than standard food storage bags), reduce enclosed air by squeezing and rolling bag around meat as you go, best for meat being stored 6 months or less
- Freezer paper—first wrap meat tightly in regular plastic wrap, then place meat on waxy side of freezer paper, wrap again, and tape shut, can preserve frozen meat for up to a year
- Vacuum sealer—place meat in high-quality plastic bag and use vacuum sealer machine to suck out air according to manufacturer directions, most time-consuming method but also most effective, preserves meat for 12 months or more
Once your meat is sealed, store it lying flat.
Packing and storing meat flat is the most efficient way to fill and organize your freezer. This storage method also allows meat to freeze (and eventually thaw) faster than round or bulky packages, lowering the chance of contamination. If you’re using vacuum-sealed bags, layer a piece of newspaper in between each package to prevent them from rubbing together and creating holes.
If you’re looking for an opportunity to bring home a big meat haul in one hunting trip, Lawrence Bay Lodge is the perfect place to head out on your next excursion! The moose hunting in our area of Saskatchewan is second to none, with at least 70% of our hunters in the last five years finding themselves with the chance to take down a bull moose.
Contact us today to book your next hunting adventure and a relaxing stay at our lodge!