DEER TRAILS: Hunters have many choices for storing meat

November 19, 2018

There are many ways to store ground venison.

Ground venison, like ground beef, is prepared in many mixtures, just as ground beef can be purchased at fatty or as lean as Olive, Popeye’s wife.

Venison has so little fat, that grinding it straight and not mixing anything in can turn into a very dry meat patty. Most hunters and their families are not likely to go this route.

Still some do just that to cut down on freezer space taken up by the deer meat. Others make the choice just prior to grilling or mixing it for a casserole, chili, meatloaf or sloppy Joes.

While an uncommon mixture, a few hunters have tried bacon as a way of delivering fat to the venison. If the bacon is pre-cooked, most of the fat will be left in the pan and little will be accomplished.

Another standard is found at Bavaria Sausage in Madison. Judy and Steve Cottrell took over the business 35 years ago and use a 50/25/25 mix of venison, pork and beef. While they could provide other mixes, that’s what they typically do and what most want when they bring in their boned-out venison.

Bavaria Sausage no longer cuts up and bones out deer, but many hunters still bring their leftover cuts in to be ground.

Those who home grind have all the choices in the world. Gary and Sue Howards, of Oregon, use a 90/10 mixture with 10 percent beef. They freeze the ground meat in meal-ready packages, enough to feed two people that can be made into patties or meatballs.

The Howards have found a specialty grinder who takes their meat and returns it. They usually wait until January to take the trimmings in so there is less chance of it getting mixed in with larger batches.

For those who have not tried venison hamburger, there is some advantage to experimenting by getting the meat ground and not mixing in the pork or beef until the right combination is found to suit the family’s taste.

Regardless of the method of grinding, it’s best to clean the scraps carefully before any grinding or mixing. It’s also important to use meat from deer that tested negative for chronic wasting disease, depending on where it originated in Wisconsin.

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