Deer jerky, also known as venison jerky, is a delicious and nutritious snack enjoyed by many.
One common question that arises is whether or not it is possible to freeze deer jerky to ensure its freshness and longevity.
I am here to confidently confirm that yes, you can indeed freeze deer jerky.
Freezing venison jerky can be an effective method for preserving the tasty treat for up to 12 months.
This is mainly due to the low moisture content found in jerky, which makes it difficult for bacteria to grow.
However, it’s worth noting that freezing jerky might slightly affect its flavour and texture.
When freezing, it is recommended to portion the jerky into smaller servings and use airtight freezer bags for optimal storage.
To enjoy your frozen deer jerky at its best, simply thaw the required portion in the refrigerator before consumption.
By following these storage techniques, your deer jerky will stay flavourful and enjoyable for an extended period.
Preparing Deer Jerky for Freezing
Before freezing deer jerky, it’s essential to prepare and marinate the venison properly.
Using a sharp knife, start by slicing the meat thinly and with the grain.
Cutting with the grain ensures the jerky has a pleasant, chewy texture.
Slicing the meat thinly allows it to absorb the marinade better and makes the cooking process more efficient, tenderizing the meat as well.
When it comes to selecting the right cut of venison, I prefer to use either top round or bottom round.
These cuts have a good balance of tenderness and flavour, with minimal connective tissue and silver skin which can lead to a tough and chewy jerky.
Before marinating, make sure to trim all visible fat and any silver skin, as this can spoil the taste and texture of the jerky.
To marinate the meat, I mix the following ingredients:
- 1 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
Feel free to adjust and make your marinade to your taste.
Once the marinade is ready, place the venison slices into a zip-top bag, pour in the marinade, and ensure all the pieces are evenly coated.
I then let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours, up to 48 hours.
The longer you marinate the meat, the more flavourful the jerky will be.
After marinating, it’s time to cook the jerky.
I recommend arranging sliced venison on oven-safe racks, placing a sheet pan beneath to catch any drippings.
Preheat your oven to the lowest possible temperature, approximately 170°F (75°C).
Cook the venison jerky for 4-6 hours, checking periodically after the 4 hour mark.
When the jerky is cooked, allow it to cool completely before preparing it for freezing.
To store the jerky properly, remove it from the racks and place it into clean, airtight containers or vacuum-sealed bags.
Properly preparing and storing the deer jerky will ensure it maintains the best flavour and texture when it is later thawed and consumed.
Freezing and Storing Process
Selecting Containers for Freezing
When freezing deer jerky, it’s essential to choose the proper storage containers.
I recommend using airtight containers, such as vacuum-sealed bags, glass jars, or mason jars, to preserve the jerky’s flavour and prolong its shelf life.
A proper seal will help prevent freezer burn, oxygen exposure, and moisture buildup, which could lead to bacterial growth and spoilage.
The Freezing Procedure
After marinating and dehydrating the meat, it’s time to prepare it for long-term storage.
Be sure that your freezer’s temperature is set to 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius).
To keep your jerky organised, consider dividing it into portions and placing each portion in a separate vacuum-sealed bag or airtight container.
Label each container with the date it was made and the type of marinade used, if applicable, for later reference.
Then, lay the sealed containers flat in the freezer, making sure they don’t stack on top of each other.
This will aid in maintaining the jerky’s texture and allow for even freezing.
Thawing and Rehydrating Frozen Jerky
When you’re ready to eat your frozen deer jerky, it’s vital to thaw and rehydrate it properly.
I find it best to remove the jerky from the freezer and place it in the fridge overnight to thaw slowly and safely.
Thawing at room temperature is not recommended, as it can lead to fluctuations in texture and an increased risk of foodborne illness, such as E. coli.
After thawing, you may notice that the texture of the jerky has changed slightly due to moisture loss during the freezing process.
To rehydrate the jerky and enhance its flavour, try dipping it in warm water for a few seconds before consuming.
Tips for Maximising Shelf Life
To ensure your deer jerky stays fresh and delicious, here are a few tips I’ve found helpful:
- Store your jerky in a cool, dark place away from light, heat, and moisture.
- Use a food dehydrator rather than oven drying for a more consistent, safe drying process.
- Add natural preservatives to your marinade, such as brown sugar, ground black pepper, or garlic powder, to enhance the longevity of your homemade jerky.
- Check containers for damage or potential air leaks before freezing.
- To avoid cross-contamination or spoilage, always wash your hands before handling your deer jerky and keep surfaces clean.
By following these guidelines, you can safely store and enjoy your protein-packed deer jerky for up to 12 months while maintaining its flavour, texture, and food safety.
Frequently Asked Questions
How should homemade deer jerky be stored to maximise its shelf life?
To maximise the shelf life of homemade deer jerky, choose lean cuts, marinate carefully, and store in an airtight container or vacuum-sealed bag.
Keep the jerky in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight or heat sources.
For extended storage, consider refrigerating or freezing the jerky.
What is the recommended duration for keeping deer jerky in the refrigerator?
When stored in a refrigerator, deer jerky can last for up to three weeks.
Ensure the jerky is in a well-sealed container or vacuum-sealed bag to prevent moisture from entering.
Can vacuum-sealing extend the longevity of deer jerky when stored?
Yes, vacuum-sealing can significantly extend the longevity of deer jerky when stored.
By removing the air from the packaging and sealing it tightly, vacuum-sealing helps prevent the growth of bacteria and mould, thus prolonging the jerky’s shelf life.
What are the implications of not refrigerating homemade deer jerky?
Not refrigerating homemade deer jerky could lead to a shorter shelf life, and the jerky might become susceptible to bacterial growth or mould, causing spoilage.
If you’re not planning to consume the jerky quickly, it’s better to refrigerate or freeze it to maintain its quality and safety.
How long can deer jerky remain edible when stored in a freezer?
Deer jerky can last up to six months in a freezer when stored in a well-sealed container or vacuum-sealed bag.
The low temperature helps to deactivate bacteria and other microorganisms, thus preserving the quality of the jerky over an extended period.
What is the proper procedure for defrosting frozen deer jerky?
To defrost frozen deer jerky, move the package to the refrigerator and let it thaw slowly for several hours or overnight.
This gradual thawing prevents the jerky from becoming too moist and helps maintain its texture and flavour.
Once thawed, consume the jerky within a few days and avoid refreezing it.
Whilst you’re here, why not also take a look at our amazing venison chilli recipe here
This one’s a real winner.