At Cordray's we make every effort to process your venison so that it will last as long as possible. This includes being "fanatical" about cleanliness. Clean, bacteria free meat will have a much longer shelf life than meat that is poorly handled. You control much of this factor by your safe handling of the deer in the field or during transport. Once we get the meat, we keep it at the proper temperatures, process it as you have instructed, and then package it for you. Fresh cuts are vacuum-sealed and frozen. As long as the seal remains intact, these may be kept a year or more in the freezer. Ground meat is packaged into airtight plastic tubes and tied. These also keep a year or more at freezer temperatures. When unthawed, fresh meat should be used immediately. Spoiled meat has an obvious odor and feels "sticky" or "slimy" to the touch.
Cooked products - anything smoked and ready to eat - are also vacuum sealed in plastic bags. These may be kept in the sealed bags for up to three weeks as long as the vacuum seal remains unbroken (there is no air in the bag). Once you open the bag to use part of the package, leave it open in the refrigerator so the product can "breathe". Smoked meats tend to mold if tightly wrapped in the refrigerator. For best flavor retention, store cooked venison in the freezer and take out only what you will use immediately. Even jerky, which has a refrigerator storage life of months, has better flavor if kept in the freezer until you are ready to use it. Our forefathers kept dried venison jerky for months, but you can bet it tasted like shoe leather!