Tips & Tactics

Ice Water Venison Tenderizer

Ice Water Venison Tenderizer

By Jack McCullough

“Gamey” is an adjective I frequently hear for describing the taste of venison. I hear this complaint from hunting and nonhunting friends alike. 

Years ago, on an evening hunt, I harvested a doe and hung it up overnight. Unfortunately, I had an accident later that evening which prevented me from finishing my butcher work on the doe the following morning.

As a result of the accident, it was almost a week before I was finally able to handle processing the venison. So, here’s what I did:

I kept the quartered meat in an ice chest, and as the ice melted I drained the cooler and added more ice.

After five days of this, I noticed the drained water was barely pink, rather than bright red, as it had been earlier in the week.

Apparently, constantly changing the ice water had pulled nearly all of the blood from the muscle tissue.

Finally, I was physically able to handle processing the meat for the freezer. My wife kept out a couple of steaks and fried some venison for supper.

The first thing she noticed was how tender the meat was, and my wife commented on how she did not have to pound it as hard as she normally did to tenderize it for the skillet.

As we sat down to dinner, my wife commented — and I agreed — that the fried deer steaks were among the most tender and delicious we’d eaten in a long time.

We eat deer as often as possible and a few nights later, we had some friends over for another deer steak dinner.

Ice Water Venison TenderizerOur friend’s wife wasn’t a big fan of venison, but she said this was the first time she had eaten venison that didn’t taste gamey!

Both husband and wife commented on how tender and flavorful the steaks were.

Since I discovered this method of aging and tenderizing venison by accident (literally), I have allowed all my venison to soak and drain in ice water for at least five days before I process it.

All our guests — even those who never liked venison before — say my wife’s fried deer steaks are the best they’ve ever tasted.

If you treat your deer well in the field and use this tenderizing technique, I doubt you’ll ever hear the word “gamey” again.

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