By Samuetta Hill Drew
The fourth Thursday in November is celebrated in our country as Thanksgiving Day. This day means different things to different individuals and their families. How they choose to celebrate reflects its meaning to those individuals as well as their friends and families.
Each writes their own unique Thanksgiving story. Many travel to the mountains, oceans, or a place of wonder or familiarity. Where most individuals and families use this time as one for special gatherings with family and friends around the table eating specially prepared food dishes.
These dishes usually follow a traditional menu. While Thanksgiving story menus differ slightly, they are a favorite for them and their guests. Regardless of the menu, it is always prepared with much thought, planning and love for the people who matter the most. These next few articles will focus on how to safely prepare those loving dishes. This week’s safety article will focus on how to handle and prepare wild game meats.
Since deer hunting season has begun in our state along with many others, many families choose to enjoy venison on their table either for Thanksgiving breakfast or dinner. It is a nutritious game meat and served in various ways such as roasts, steaks or ground and used as burgers. A seemingly popular usage for ground venison is sausage.
If this is your meat of choice, then let’s review some safety tips for handling downed deer. First, keep it clean; secondly, keep it dry; and thirdly, keep it cold. You do not need to further “bleed” a harvested deer. As you prepare the carcass, remember that leaving the hide on the deer keeps the meat surface clean and prevents the outside of the carcass from drying out.
Do remove the “viscera” from the body cavity as soon as possible, especially if the deer was wounded in the gut area. This will help cool the carcass more quickly and limit bacterial spreading and growth. It is important that you work efficiently to gut the deer, while taking the time needed to do a careful, safe job.
Be careful not to cut into the intestines, stomach, or bladder. The reasoning behind this safety tip is because those organs commonly contain high levels of bacteria that can contaminate the muscle tissue. DO cut around the entrance and exit wounds to remove any dirty or potentially contaminated material. If available, use a clean cloth or towel to help control spill of blood or organ contents onto the deer’s carcass.
Once the internal organs are removed, rinse the cavity with clean, cold water when possible. Rinsing the cavity can help remove contaminants and protect the quality of the meat. For extra safety precaution and protection, use a 50/50 solution of water and vinegar to rinse the cavity. Rinsing the carcass with cold water will also help cool the deer’s carcass.
As you write your own Thanksgiving story, always Keep an Eye on Safety for everyone involved.