Are your deer stands ready?
Do you have your camo on and your deer corn out?
More importantly, do you have your butcher station set up, your knives ready, and all of your food prep equipment ready also?
Well, ready or not, deer season is upon us. Not only does this mean lots of activity in the woods, but it also means lots of activity in the kitchen. If this is your first season hunting, here is a great resource on how to butcher a deer.
But you also need to know what to do with that deer meat once it is butchered.
So I’m going to share with you the 5 ways we preserve our deer every year. Our family relies heavily on venison so we have to make it work for a lot of different dishes.
Ways to Preserve Venison
Here is what we do:
1. Jerky, Jerky, Jerky
Jerky is a huge snack around our house. My boys absolutely love it! Like, to the point I have to tell them they can only have so many pieces a day because otherwise it would all be gone in a week.
So if you like beef jerky, then you’ll probably like deer jerky as well. I love it because it is pretty hands off. You just make your marinade, soak it for a day, and then pop it in your oven or dehydrator.
However, you will need to be able to slice your meat thin. It is recommended that you either have a really good, sharp knife and confident knife skills, or you should invest in a meat slicer.
Truthfully, my husband slices the meat by hand. I could just see my finger ending up in the jerky so I prefer to use a meat slicer.
But the choice is yours to make.
So if you would like to turn your hunting season into a delicious round of snacks for the year, then you should really consider making your own jerky. Here is our tutorial for making delicious deer jerky.
2. Canned Deer Tips
As you all know I’m an avid canner. I love canning my own food because I know exactly what is going into it, it saves me a lot of money, I don’t have to fear losing food if the power goes out, and it also cuts my cooking time down when I go to prepare a meal.
So it should come as no surprise that I also can some of our deer harvest each year as well. I actually prefer this method because it is so easy. There are no marinating steps or any other steps that prolong the process.
Basically, after the deer has sat for about a week to drain all of the blood out of the meat, I bring it in the house, chop it into small cubes, and pack them in jars. There is no need to add any additional liquid because the meat does that itself. Here is a great tutorial to help you along the way with canning venison.
However, I must tell you, this is not just my favorite way to preserve our venison because of the simplicity factor.
Actually, I think it tastes the best. I love to serve the deer tips over rice with a brown gravy. I’m actually writing this while enjoying a cup of vegetable ‘beef' soup.
But the beef was substituted for venison, and it is so delicious.
So save yourself a little work, and try preserving your deer with this method this year.
3. Put It on Ice
A lot of people freeze deer meat, I’m sure. It is pretty easy to do as you just prepare the cut of meat the way you like it, and then decide which method to use. The first method is with butcher paper. You just prep the meat, wrap it in butcher paper, place it in a freezer bag, and freeze until you are ready to use.
But my preferred method is what we turn to now. We prepare the meat, place the meat in a vacuum seal bag, and then we vacuum seal it. I have found that the meat lasts a little better with this method so I prefer it.
However, you can use whichever method you prefer in order to freeze the venison.
But don’t forget that you can prep this meat in many different ways. My husband’s uncle is an avid hunter. He never really thought much of the meat besides bringing it home, turning it into sausage, and a few roasts.
Yet, when we told him all of the different ways we fixed the meat for so many different meals, he couldn’t believe it.
So in case you’ve never thought past a roast or sausage, keep in mind that you can buy a cuber (also known as a tenderizer) and turn your deer into cube steak. I will bread the cube steak, fry it, and then cover it in country gravy. It is probably my husband’s favorite meal.
Next, you can still go with the traditional deer roast or make your own deer sausage as well. Remember, you can also turn venison into nice, lean steaks as well.
As you can see, there are many different ways to cut and prep the meat to make many different meals. Then you just freeze until you are ready to create those dishes.
4. Canned Deer Sausage
I had frozen a ton of deer sausage last year. I realized that deer season was fast approaching, and I still had a ton of sausage left. I wasn’t using it because truthfully, I had forgotten about it.
So I pulled it all out, thawed it out, and browned it up. From there, I put it in a jar, added a little lard to the top (because deer sausage is leaner), and then I canned it.
Now, it is on my shelf and being used pretty regularly throughout the week. I’ve made up my mind I’m going to make and can more deer sausage this year because of its convenience.
Keep in mind, you can actually patty out the sausage and can it, but I preferred it to be ground up because it has been so easy to use outside of just breakfast.
For instance, I will make egg frittatas and toss some of the canned deer sausages in it. Yet, I can also make pasta dishes and substitute deer sausage in the place of beef, and it is already cooked and ready to go.
So I highly recommend browning and canning some of your venison sausages just because it is so handy and so delicious.
5. Tacos Anyone?
So I’ll admit it. My family and I have a slight Tex-Mex addiction. We have a small Mexican restaurant near us, and they know our family by name. They know what we will order, and they know my love for guacamole.
I’m just trying to be honest here guys. I love Mexican food. I try to be good and not eat out very much because we grow most of our own food, and I don’t want it to go to waste.
But when I get the craving for Mexican food, I’m either cooking it or heading to that restaurant. I actually canned almost 50 quarts of pickled jalapenos this year just so I could prepare as much Mexican food as I wanted.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that one way I preserve our deer harvest is by turning some of the deer into burgers. It is pretty simple. You just run it through a meat grinder.
Now, you can stop there and freeze it. You can even brown it up and can it from there.
But I like to take it one step further. Since I know most of my burger will most likely be used for a Mexican dish, I go ahead and brown it up, season it with taco seasoning, and then can it. It is so good and saves me a lot of time when cooking.
Not to mention, I can convince myself to behave and eat at home when I get a craving for Mexican cuisine since it is canned, and the meal can be ready in the time it takes me to get to the restaurant I love so much.
How to Use Your Deer Meat
A lot of my friends are actually really shocked that I eat deer meat. They’ve always heard it has such a gamey flavor that they don’t like it.
Then they come to my house, I fix them some (usually without telling them), and they are shocked because they thought they were just eating a really lean beef.
So I wanted to say upfront, eating deer (if you don’t like the gamey flavor) is all about draining the blood out of the meat. Let it sit for about 5 days in a cooler on ice and just drain. Be sure to keep ice on it so the meat doesn’t turn.
Then try some of the recipes listed below to get you started. Remember, any recipe that calls for beef can usually use deer as a substitute with no issue.
Here are the recipes:
1. Sweet Bacon Wrapped Venison Tenderloin
The tenderloin is probably the best part of the deer, if you ask most people. I’m not that particular so I’ll eat anything that is wrapped in bacon.
But if you are looking for a quality cut of meat, or if you just love bacon (like myself), then you’ll want to give this recipe a try.
2. Stuffed Venison Backstrap
This is another delicious recipe and one that I can’t wait to try because I had seriously never considered stuffing a backstrap before.
But after seeing that it is stuffed with delicious cheese and vegetables, I’m definitely on board!
3. Venison Meat Loaf
I make a recipe similar to this all of the time. My family loves typical American dishes, and a meatloaf is about as typical as you can get.
But I hate to buy beef when I have all of this venison just sitting in the freezer that cost me basically nothing. So I just use it. This recipe shows you how you can turn venison into some really delicious dishes.
Well, you now know all of the methods I use to preserve our deer that we get each year. Hopefully, I’ve inspired you to try a few new techniques when preserving your hunt this year as well.
But I’d love to hear from you. How do you preserve your deer? What is your favorite thing to do with venison?
We love hearing from you so please share your thoughts with us!