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Thread: Freezing, Thawing and Refreezing Venison. Good or Bad?

  1. #1

    Freezing, Thawing and Refreezing Venison. Good or Bad?

    I am finishing cutting up a doe and have a question on what to do with the meat that is to be ground. I don't have access to a grinder right now but plan on buying one very soon.

    Is it alright to freeze the meat, thaw it enough to grind it, then refreeze it? Or, should I just freeze the meat in appropriate sized packages and grind it when I am ready to use it?



  2. #2
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    No, no meat should be frozen then thawed and refrozen......you can thaw and keep it refiged for a bit and use it asap. If anyone wants to argue about that, argue with the wife not me
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  3. #3
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    I had always heard that same thing Jerry, and for 20+ years of butchering my own deer, was careful not to do it. However, last year I asked the butcher who makes sausage for me about it and he said the meat would be safe to eat, but freezing, thawing and re-freezing allows the juices to run from the meat when thawed, and can result in the meat losing flavor. Don't know what to think now.

  4. #4
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    Not good, but not totally bad either. (Do not do that with turkey or chicken. That is bad news.)

    The problem with thawing and freezing, thawing and freezing is when you thaw you tend to have parts of the meat warm enough to grow things. Repeated thawing gives it that much more time.
    Repeated thawing and freezing may also change the texture and moisture content.

    I have friends who will toss a quarter into the freezer to work on the next weekend. But they start working on it while it is still frozen.

    If you don't agree with me go argue with Jerry's wife.

  5. #5
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    I would have to disagree...but I will NOT argue with Jerry's wife. Married to him she is more than likely dangerous. Here is what I have done in the past before I got a grinder.

    While processing my first year I didn't have a grinder so I just kept the meat refriderated then took it to a processor. Meat was good. Then the second year I bought a hand grinder (talk about work). I cut all the meat that I wanted as burger into chunks for stew then I put it in the freezer. Later when I wanted burger and had the time I grabbed all the meat that I wanted to grind and started grinding. I had a time but the partially frozen meat did a great job in the hand grinder. After the meat was ground I started putting it in food saver bags and let me tell you that it was like putting my hands in ice water. It was that cold...I don't believe that anything can grow on meat that cold. I then refroze it and later it was eaten. No adverse effects and it tasted much better than when the processor did the year before. Now this year I have a 1000 watt grinder and I don't have to wait for a grinder from my friend nor do I need to have it frozen. Just pull it from the fridge after 7 days of being in temperatures at 34 degrees and start ginding. Put it immediately into food saver bags and freeze.

    Sorry Jerry's wife...but that's what I do...err did.

    Paul
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  6. #6
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    also, I don't do that with steaks or other meat. I don't freeze then thaw and refreeze. Just did it with the meat that I ground and refroze it. I don't however thaw burger and then refreeze it...I'm not stupid. And my wife would throw it away.
    "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God" (Psalm 42:1, NIV).
    3rd BTN, 9th Marines---Semper Fi!!!
    2010 Elite Judge 70# @ 26"...415 grain arrow at 275 FPS for 69#'s of KE.
    67 1/4" Osage Self bow 51#'s @ 26"
    Paulie G. http://www.vortexoptics.com/

  7. #7

    I don't think there is anything wrong

    with that. I do it the same way most times. Freeze it until I'm ready to grind it and then re-freeze it in smaller packages.

    Afterall, most times when we hang deer during the winter months they partially freeze anyway. How is that any different?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Newhunter1
    I would have to disagree...but I will NOT argue with Jerry's wife. Married to him she is more than likely dangerous. Here is what I have done in the past before I got a grinder.

    While processing my first year I didn't have a grinder so I just kept the meat refriderated then took it to a processor. Meat was good. Then the second year I bought a hand grinder (talk about work). I cut all the meat that I wanted as burger into chunks for stew then I put it in the freezer. Later when I wanted burger and had the time I grabbed all the meat that I wanted to grind and started grinding. I had a time but the partially frozen meat did a great job in the hand grinder. After the meat was ground I started putting it in food saver bags and let me tell you that it was like putting my hands in ice water. It was that cold...I don't believe that anything can grow on meat that cold. I then refroze it and later it was eaten. No adverse effects and it tasted much better than when the processor did the year before. Now this year I have a 1000 watt grinder and I don't have to wait for a grinder from my friend nor do I need to have it frozen. Just pull it from the fridge after 7 days of being in temperatures at 34 degrees and start ginding. Put it immediately into food saver bags and freeze.

    Sorry Jerry's wife...but that's what I do...err did.

    Paul

    i do it too..have for years..I dont thaw it to like room temp or anything..just enough to cut it and grind for burger,brats,sausage whatever

  9. #9
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    I've ground meat that has frosted my grinder before.
    That's actually not a bad idea because grinding causes heat and like Newhunter1 said it grinds pretty good while frozen. But as cold as it is I don't consider it being thawed.
    Grinding frozen is the only way I've been able to grind goose for breaded goose burgers.

  10. #10
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    This is the problem with freeze, thaw, re-freeze, and re-thaw

    From my college days and microbiology........bacteria tend to go through a "bloom" when going from frozen to thawed out. The "bloom" part means that they multiply at a rate much higher than normal when at room temperature.

    So, if you freeze, thaw, re-freeze, and then re-thaw the same meat, you will end up going through 2 bacterial "blooms", which is a great way to develop food poisoning.

  11. #11
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    It can be very bad news or you can get lucky as well.

    I have been in food service management for 27 years. The safe rule of thumb is to NEVER re-freeze any meat once it has thawed.

    The key word here is thawed. The definition of thawed is when there are no longer any ice crystals at the center of the meat. If the center still has ice crystals it may be re-frozen.

    This does not apply to any ground meat. Once ground meat starts thawing, it should be used as quickly as possible. However, if you have unground meat (that is not thawed) and grind it, you should be able to re-freeze it.

    Any time you start thawing meat, bacteria starts growing in a geometric progression. Bacteria mostly only grows on the surface of meat. This is why we can get away with hanging meat partially freezing. This is also why ground meat can be so much more dangerous, it has MUCH more surface area. That is why all the high profile cases of E. Coli poisoning involves burgers or burger meat (as in chili). Remember your children, the sick and elderly have the highest risk of becoming ill or worse.

  12. #12
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    Right on Aussie

  13. #13

    Well

    at the end of all exponential growth there is the plateu and die-off. If you wait long enough is it safe to eat again?!?!

  14. #14
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    I was told by a butcher friend that keeping the meat cool for a period of time is good for venison..it helps age the meat before packaging. He also stated that freezing, thawing, and then refreezing is not good. He recommends keeping the meat cool, but not frozen, if you are going to grind it. Keeping it cool for an extended period of time is better than the freezing, thawing, and freezing again cycle. Hope this helps.
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  15. #15
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    Another question

    How long will venison keep in vaccum packed bags? I have all my deer done by a processor and they package all the meat in vaccum bags. I still have quite a bit left from last year and was wondering how long it will keep?

  16. #16
    Thanks for the reply guys. To be safe I will just freeze it in smaller portions, then grind it when I need it.

  17. #17
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    Do it every year...

    When I decide to get sausage made, I usually de-bone the
    quarters and freeze in large plastic trash bags. Take the meat to the processers and they thaw and grind for sausage. They refreeze the finished product. Butcher told me a couple of years back that venison is one of the only meats it's safe to refreeze. This is due to the fact that there is very little if any fat marbled into the meat. As long as you cut off all the fat, you should be o.k. High fat content in any meat is a no-no for re-freezing.
    The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese...

  18. #18
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    Just a question for those who might know.

    The last part of the year here in Minnesota, temps can reach -30f, the freezing process starts within 30 min. By the time you reach the processor outer meat and extremities are frozen like a rock. So, is it safe to process then refreeze?

    Shot a buck this morning with the blackpowder rifle and it was -41f with wind chill, by the time we dragged it back to the vehicle and took a few pics, it had already started freezing. We also had started freezing, but seriously should the meat be ok? This was the first deer I have ever shot in this extreme temps and I would like to know. Thanks.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilentHntr.
    The last part of the year here in Minnesota, temps can reach -30f, the freezing process starts within 30 min. By the time you reach the processor outer meat and extremities are frozen like a rock. So, is it safe to process then refreeze?

    Shot a buck this morning with the blackpowder rifle and it was -41f with wind chill, by the time we dragged it back to the vehicle and took a few pics, it had already started freezing. We also had started freezing, but seriously should the meat be ok? This was the first deer I have ever shot in this extreme temps and I would like to know. Thanks.

    With temperatures like that I'm now thankful I live in ILL where it gets down to only single digits...and sometimes to a -5 or so degrees. See guys...you can find something positive in everything...
    "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God" (Psalm 42:1, NIV).
    3rd BTN, 9th Marines---Semper Fi!!!
    2010 Elite Judge 70# @ 26"...415 grain arrow at 275 FPS for 69#'s of KE.
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  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Cthuntfish
    Afterall, most times when we hang deer during the winter months they partially freeze anyway. How is that any different?
    I too have always been told by grandparents, parrents about freezing thawing and refreezing meat and not to do it. But as Cthuntfish said what about all the deer that hand over night or for a couple of day before they are processed. I know that many of these freeze. It may not mean anything freezing-thawing-refreezing or it might not be the same if frozen whole because the meat has not blead.

    What I have been doing for the past couple of years is. I bought a used refrigerator for me. During the summer it is used to store pop, beer and other stuff, but come deer season it becomes my cooler. I cut the straps, loins, quarters, shoulders and any other cutting I choose to take off the deer as soon as I get it home after it is skinned. These are put in heavy clear plastic bags and but in the frig. The meat drains over a couple days in the frig. Then I can take out as much as I want to cut, wrap and but in the freezer. Stuff that will be ground is partially frozen this prevents the grinder from clogging up. Sausage is mixed with 1/3 pork, burger meat is mixed with 1/3 regular beef and spaghetti/chilli what not meat is left plain.

    This process has even been enforced more with concerns of CWD because it is not necessary to sever the spinal cord by halfing the deer or cutting off the head.

  21. #21
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    This is a timely post. I was having work done in my house and the workers tripped the breaker that my freezer is on. The freezer was off several days before I discovered it, but the meat was still cool to the touch. The question: throw out or keep?

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by mq man
    This is a timely post. I was having work done in my house and the workers tripped the breaker that my freezer is on. The freezer was off several days before I discovered it, but the meat was still cool to the touch. The question: throw out or keep?

    Cool or cold to the touch. If it was cold to the touch I'd keep it. If it was cool well that depends on how brave you are and how cool it was. To many variables, but I'd probably keep it.

    What I have been doing for the past couple of years is. I bought a used refrigerator for me. During the summer it is used to store pop, beer and other stuff, but come deer season it becomes my cooler. I cut the straps, loins, quarters, shoulders and any other cutting I choose to take off the deer as soon as I get it home after it is skinned. These are put in heavy clear plastic bags and but in the frig. The meat drains over a couple days in the frig. Then I can take out as much as I want to cut, wrap and but in the freezer. Stuff that will be ground is partially frozen this prevents the grinder from clogging up. Sausage is mixed with 1/3 pork, burger meat is mixed with 1/3 regular beef and spaghetti/chilli what not meat is left plain.

    This process has even been enforced more with concerns of CWD because it is not necessary to sever the spinal cord by halfing the deer or cutting off the head.
    I do exactly what you do. I paid 50.00 bucks for a fridge that was only used for two years. The secretary at my school wanted to get rid of it and I bought it. It is such a great fridge that putting the settings higher than 2 results in slightly frozen meat or frozen drinks. It really is a great fridge. The difference that I have is that my plastic bags are black and the heavy industrial bags. 3ml or better that I get at lowes or home depot. After the season I clean up the fridge and use it to keep drinks cold. I actually have three fridges...one upstairs that my wife bought, two in the basement. The oldest one is the one that my wife said was to ugly to be upstairs. Still works, but is sitting unplugged because the other one is so much better.

    I also don't cut the spinal cord anymore. If I keep any meat off of the ribs I just cut it out as I quarter the deer and put it in plastic bags to drain the blood out. I keep the meat in the fridge for a minimum of 7 days.

    This christmas my in-laws bought me a 1000 watt meat grinder. Last christmas they bought me a food saver machine. The grinder is equal to a 1 1/4 horse power machine. Love my in-laws-----sometimes.
    "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God" (Psalm 42:1, NIV).
    3rd BTN, 9th Marines---Semper Fi!!!
    2010 Elite Judge 70# @ 26"...415 grain arrow at 275 FPS for 69#'s of KE.
    67 1/4" Osage Self bow 51#'s @ 26"
    Paulie G. http://www.vortexoptics.com/

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by mq man
    This is a timely post. I was having work done in my house and the workers tripped the breaker that my freezer is on. The freezer was off several days before I discovered it, but the meat was still cool to the touch. The question: throw out or keep?
    What's it look like? How cold is "cool"?
    I have bascially vacuum packed burger and my freezer got unplugged. The burger stayed looking good, but I still tossed the ones that were not "cool enough". The paper wrapped steaks were bad looking. The paper wrapped roasts that were still frozen were good, the ones that were thawed were not.

  24. #24
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    no problem

    I've done it many times and yes with hamburger. Got it out of the freezer to thaw in the fridge and realized it wasn't going to be used soon so I've put it back in the freezer to be eaten another time. I've run this senario quite a number of times. No big deal. Still alive to tell the tale !!
    Pete
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  25. #25
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    No, they weren't cold, unfortunately, they were cool. Also, I vacuum packed all of the meat, if that will make a difference. Guess I'll break some backstrap out and give it a try. Do the smell test and if that passes, cook some.

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