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Preparing game for the freezer – here’s what to do

Plenty of game birds that you want to serve up later on in the year? Graham Downing advises on how to store game in the freezer

meat in freezer

Label and date everything that goes in the freezer

Q: At this time of year I always end up with an abundance 
of game birds that I need to store until quieter periods in the year. How best should I prepare game 
for the freezer so that it will keep 
as long as possible without developing a “freezery” taint?

Get to an oven ready state first of all

When freezing game you should first prepare it to the condition in which you will be taking it to the kitchen. In other words, you should pluck and draw it to an “oven-ready” state for roasting, taking care to remove any damaged or bloody meat. Alternatively, you can bulk pack game bird breasts 
and legs. I personally like to skin and 
cut out the whole breasts on the bone, 
as I think the breast meat keeps better that way.

freezing game

Tips for freezing game

Now that the season has started you’ll hopefully be bringing plenty of game home. Of course you won’t be able…

Having prepared the game, you should then vacuum pack it, if possible. 
A vacuum packer is inexpensive to buy, 
it removes all the air before completely sealing the packed game, while the pouches it uses are strong enough to prevent the microscopic cracking that will occur in conventional polythene freezer bags and leads to the tainting 
that you have experienced.

If you wish to use ordinary freezer bags, I strongly suggest double 
wrapping your game and removing all the air you can before sealing with wire ties. Don’t forget to label and date your packages clearly, so that you can use them in rotation.

How long can you freeze game for?

Some game chefs suggest three months for venison and pheasants for a maximum of six months. Some people stretch this out to 12 months though.