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When you know how to grind fresh venison at home, you’ll be able to tailor the fresh ground deer meat to your taste and preferences. Below you’ll find all the info on the tools and techniques we use to grind venison meat at home!
Freshly ground venison is a staple ingredient in our house and in my favorite ground venison recipes. A few years ago, we stopped spending money at the butcher and started grinding our own. Now we’ll never go back! Here’s how we do it.
Supplies You’ll Need
Fresh Venison Trimmings – Once we get the tenderloin, backstraps, and various roasts and stew meat from the deer, everything else that is edible goes into the trim pile. This is then set aside for meat grinding.
Meat Grinder – We have an old one from Cabela’s that’s been around for ages, as well as the meat grinding attachment for a KitchenAid mixer. We use both in tandem to make processing large quantities of meat go quicker.
Coarse and Fine Meat Grinding Disks – Grinding the venison twice helps us to get a great texture to the meat, very similar to that of ground beef.
Large Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls – You’ll need (at least) one to hold the venison trimmings and (at least) one to hold the ground venison.
Wild Game Meat Bags and Ties - Or another storage bag solution, more on that below!
Sausage Stuffer (Optional) – We like using a sausage stuffer to fill our meat bags quickly and easily.
Rubber Gloves (Optional) – To keep your hands clean so you can easily switch from grinding to stuffing and tying bags, if you’re by yourself.
Kitchen Scale (Optional) – If you don’t have the one-pound meat bags and are measuring the ground venison by hand, a scale will help you ensure you get the same weight in each bag.
I know this seems like a lot of fancy, schmancy equipment. We’ve been fortunate enough to collect it over the years and expand our gear more and more with each season.
If you don't have all this, don't fret. There are options!
Starting Equipment for Meat Grinding
If you’re working on a budget while grinding venison here are my suggestions:
Hand Grinder – I’ve seen so many at thrift stores over the years. The older ones are really heavy duty and can be great quality. Give them a good scrub and oil, and you’re good to go!
Meat Bags – you can get 25 1-pound meat bags for as little as $4 online. Also check with your local butcher or meat department at the grocery store to see if they’ll sell you bulk bags.
If you have the funds and a place to store them, you can get upwards of 1000 bags for around $50! Those will last you season after season.
Portion Scoop – if you don’t have the money or room for a kitchen scale, divide your meat up into equal portions using a cookie scoop.
How to Grind Fresh Venison
This is just a quick overview, you can find a more in-depth explanation in the recipe card below!
- Cut your trim into small pieces. Depending on the size of your meat grinder, you’ll want to make sure it fits into the opening easily.
- Grind the first time. Using the coarsest grinding disk you have.
- Grind the venison a second time. Using a finer disk. Each of our grinders only has two disks, so we start with the coarsest and finish with the finest.
- Pack and freeze the venison. Either in meat bags, ziptop bags, or vacuum sealer bags.
What cuts of meat for ground venison?
When we process deer, we typically follow this pattern:
- Remove the backstraps and tenderloins, freezing separately to use for things like grilled backstrap and smoked venison tenderloin.
- We get the outside, inside, and sirloin roasts from the back legs of the deer. As well as the rump roast. These we use for things like red wine venison roast or cut up into chunks for the best venison stew.
- Any remaining meat from the back legs, as well as all the meat from the front legs, chest, and neck is trimmed off for ground venison.
I know not everyone does it this way, but it’s what we’ve found works best for us. We’re lucky enough to have a friend whose family were butchers for generations and he helps us break down the animals quickly and easily.
Also, by cutting so many roasts from our deer, we know that if we run out of ground venison for recipes, we can easily grind the roast in the future. You can’t work the other way, wishing you had more roasts instead of packages of ground deer!
How to easily grind venison meat
Here is the number one tip I can give for grinding venison, whether you’re hand grinding or using a meat grinder:
Make sure the meat has a chill on it! Putting the trimmings of venison in the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour will firm up the meat, making it move through the grinder much easier.
The same premise applies here as when you’re making a venison Philly cheesesteak and have to slice the deer steaks very thin.
Adding fat to venison for grinding
This may be controversial, but we don’t add any fat to our venison while grinding. It is very common to do this, typically in a mix of 80% venison meat, 20% pork trimmings.
We love the flavor of pure venison. We love that it’s incredibly lean and doesn’t need to be drained after browning. Because there aren’t any additives, we can tailor the taste and use of the fresh ground deer meat to whatever we like.
However, when we’re processing fresh venison to make venison sausage and venison breakfast sausage, we do add pork trimmings as you just need some fat in sausage.
Storing Ground Venison in the Freezer
When the venison is ground and ready for storage, we use a 10-pound restaurant grade sausage stuffer, such as this one from Fleet Farm, to pack the ground deer meat into 1-pound wild game meat bags, very similar to the ones you find in butcher shops.
We find that the sausage stuffer with bags (and this nifty little tape dispenser) works best for us. It helps us to streamline the process and get it done quickly while also protecting the meat from freezer burn.
There are other ways you can store your ground venison, though.
Ground Venison in a Freezer bags
Freezer-safe plastic bags are a great route to go and are available practically everywhere. A small kitchen scale can help ensure that you’re packing the bags with an equal amount of meat in each.
Be sure that if using the freezer-safe plastic bags that you squeeze out any excess air and ensure that the bag is properly sealed before storing.
Vacuum Sealing Fresh Ground Deer Meat
A vacuum sealer is also a great option for storing the venison meat you grind yourself. In fact, we use a vacuum sealer and heavy-duty bags to store all of our whole cuts of venison to help protect them against freezer burn.
As with the Ziploc bags, you’ll want to be sure that you’re using a scale to measure out an equal amount of ground venison into each bag before vacuum sealing it.
I recommend 1 or 2-pounds go into each bag so that you can easily make recipes that call for those quantities.
No matter how you store your fresh ground venison, make sure to label each bag with the contents and date it was processed.
Testing Fresh Venison for CWD
If you live in a CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease) area, follow state guidelines regarding testing your harvest.
When labeling the packages, be sure to also write your confirmation number to keep track of what packages of meat came from which animal.
Cleaning and Maintaining the Grinding Equipment
My husband has worked in food sanitation for over 16 years and he knows his stuff when it comes to working in sanitary, clean conditions!
Before we begin grinding, we thoroughly clean and sanitize our equipment and work surfaces.
After grinding, be sure to thoroughly scrub clean and sanitize all pieces of your equipment. This process may take longer than the actual grinding. That’s ok! We want to be safe.
After washing all items, make sure you are also washing and disinfecting all work surfaces with a cleaning spray or wipe.
For larger items that won’t fit in a sink, such as the sausage stuffer, we will wash those in the bathroom tub (that’s been cleaned and sanitized itself beforehand). After washing, be sure to once again clean and sanitize your tub.
Be sure to let all items completely dry before storing away until next hunting season. Damp equipment can not only rust, but it can harbor and grow nasty bacteria if it wasn’t properly cleaned.
Also, to avoid rust on any items, particularly the meat grinding disks, brush with a light coat of mineral oil and store in plastic bags. This will help keep them clean and shiny until next year, and all you’ll need to do is give them a quick wash before use.
Simple Recipes Using Ground Venison
Ok, so you’ve processed and frozen your fresh venison meat, now what?
It’s time to get cooking, of course!
Go forth and process your deer!
How to Grind Fresh Venison
- Meat Grinder or Meat Grinding Attachment for a KitchenAid
- Coarse Grinding Disk
- Fine Grinding Disk
- 2 – 4 Large Mixing Bowls
- Storage Bags
- Sausage Stuffer (Optional)
- Kitchen Scale (Optional)
- Rubber Gloves (Optional)
- 50 pounds Venison Meat Trimmings or whatever quantity you have
- Pork Shoulder Trimmings (optional, we do not use pork trimmings in our ground venison)
- Cut venison trimmings (and pork trimmings, if using) into pieces small enough that they will easily fit into the feed hole of your meat grinder.
- Once all the venison trimmings are cut into workable slices, place meat into the freezer for 30 – 60 minutes, so it can get a chill on it. This will make the meat much easier to grind.
- While the meat chills, prepare your grinder by fitting it with the coarsest meat grinding disk you have. Set a large mixing bowl or container below the grinder to catch all of the ground venison.
- When meat has chilled, begin feeding it through the grinder the first time. This will take some time, just work slowly, piece by piece, until all the trimmings have been ground the first time.
- If you find the grinder slowing down or getting bogged down, turn it off and check to see if the disk is plugged. This can happen when large pieces of ligaments and connective tissue from the trim get stuck inside the grinding disks. Carefully clean off the disk before continuing with the remaining meat. Running a few pieces of white bread through the grinder is a great way to clean the disks!
- Set the coarsely-ground meat off to the side for a moment.
- Remove the coarse grinding disk from the meat grinder and fit with the fine grinding disk. Place another empty, large mixing bowl or container below the grinder.
- Run the ground meat through the grinder a second time, again working at a speed your grinder will allow (with a KitchenAid it’s really great to be able to vary the speed during this process).
- Once all the meat has been ground a second time, freeze it in meat bags, freezer-safe plastic bags, or vacuum seal bags in 1 or 2 pound portions. A sausage stuffer and/or kitchen scale will help make the process go very quickly!
- Thoroughly clean and sanitize all equipment before drying and storing until next hunting season.
To pack ground venison using a sausage stuffer:
- Fill the sausage stuffer with the ground venison, pushing it down to be sure there are no large air pockets.
- Set up the stuffer in the operating position and place a wild game meat bag on the extruder.
- Fill the bag in 1 or 2 pound portions, sealing with hog rings or tape.
- No matter which method of storage you choose, be sure to label each bag with the contents, weight, date, and CWD testing number (if necessary) so you know what the bag contains in the future.
- Freeze ground venison for up to 1 year.
- Refer to post for notes on equipment, storage, and recipe ideas for your ground venison!