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Deer meat in cooler - no ice
General processing question. Had Some deer cut up and placed in cooler outside until was able to process. Did not put ice in cooler because temps outside have been 20-40s f consistently with the exception of one day reaching a high of 51. I was planning on processing the meat tomorrow for the freezer but I have a weird feeling about it. Being that I did not have ice on it and we did have a warmer day, should I dispose of the meat or do you think it’s still safe to eat? Tomorrow will be day 7.
You can tell by smelling it and feeling it.
If it smells "off or soured" or feels slimy you may have an issue.
Why did you not put ice on it?
I figured as low as the temps had been it was equivalent to a refrigerator and there was no need for additional ice… then we had a warm day and I questioned it all.
If there is green in the fascia (silverskin) and it smells bad, it probably got in the tissue. One day won't grow it. I just butchered my mule deer I shot a week ago in Colorado and it was never on ice due to it freezing at night. It thawed today, and I boned, packaged, and froze it.
Just check it. In this day and time we probably worry more about that sort of thing than is really necessary.
I've heard the old timers in Texas talk about wiping them down with vinegar after the meat got smiley with no ill effects.
If you put the meat in while still warm off the bone that heat went into the cooler.
Coolers keep out warmer air but they also keep out cooler air. Much like you can fill a insulated water jug with warm water, close the lid put it in the freezer it will take forever to freeze.
So while temps were at their lows during the night the cooler was fighting to keep it's temp it rose to during the day. And if you didn't open the drain than not only could blood/liquid not drain the cooler/meat would have been condensating on the inside as the temp changes throughout the day. Having a meat in a cooler with no ice is the same as having it hanging outside the cooler, except the cooler is going to condensate on the meat.
The smell and visual test will be really the only way to tell. If it passes but still unsure maybe just grind and cook thoroughly.
Uffda! Please don't give any away to anyone.
Noaa.gov is good for telling what the weather is going to be.
Was it already cold when you put it in the cooler? Because otherwise if it isn't 'layered' with ice it won't cool enough. Stuffing meat into a single cooler is not as good as properly packing it into two. Coolers and ice are (relatively) cheap - compared to meat.
Yes it was hung in sub freezing temps overnight. I then cut the meat off the next day and placed in the cooler… I should have just put ice in it but my thought was to let it dry age in the cooler off the bone, using the outdoor temps to keep it cold… thinking I should have just put the ice on it and saved myself any what if concerns.
You would have been better off hanging the meat in a non- heated garage or shed.
I wouldn't think you would have any issues. If it does not smell terrible cut it up and enjoy.
Shouldn’t be much of a problem. Even on the warmer day that meat inside a cooler isn’t going to heat up very much if it was kept in the shade, garage, shed, etc. the cooler and meat were already cold from previous days and cold nights. Just check the color and if any slime yon the meat you should be able to trim it off and it will be good under that. Pictures of it would help
why wouldn't you ice it down if it were going to sit. ? Even with cold days some ice would only help. Was the meat cold to the touch after the warm day? As mentioned, smell it and feel it that will tell the story. If your not sure bring some meat to a butcher and ask them to smell it, they will surely know. Next time ice if your going to let it sit.
I'd definitely consider this a lesson learned. Ya also have ground temp to consider. It takes the ground a long time to get cold. If your coolers are on the ground that's warmth from underneath and heat rises. Possibly compromising a cooler full of venison for the cost of a few bags of ice. Is just not ____________
I wouldn't be concerned with the one 51 deg day. If the meat was cold and cooler was cold when you put it in, it should be fine. Your nose will tell you.
I'd go with butcherboys advice. Listen to the pro.
Very important, what temp was it at the start? If you cooled it near or below 40 I am sure it will be fine. If it came of the animal and went in the cooler warm probably not - because the cooler would have kept the heat inside. If you opened it when cooler and closed it when warmer even better. I completely agree with the sour smell. I have had meat that was slightly bad, tasted bad but did not get sick, that smell is a lot more subtle then rotten meat.
DonV he stated in a later comment that it was hung, skinned at Sub freezing Temps overnight. Should be OK. I agree that if the body heat was present the cooler will have held it too warm. That doesn't seem to be the case.
"I'd go with butcherboys advice. Listen to the pro." X2
Agreed above with following advice of the pro. I would also be in the group of it would have been better off hanging in a dry environment in those temps. Hope it all works out and is salvageable, I think it will be.
I would bet it's good to go if it was cold when you put it in the cooler.
For future reference keep a meat thermometer handy then you can keep track of the actual temp of the meat and how well it is cooling off. they age meat at 40 degress for 10 days. For every 18 degrees biological activity doubles that means if the meat is 58 degrees you have a little over three days (square root of ten because biological activity is exponential. At 75 degrees you have a little over a day and a half and that includes all the time you need to process freeze and thaw.
A cooler ain’t a cooler until you put something cold in it. It’s an insulated chest.
Smell it. I think you will be fine. One warm day won't bring the meat temp up much at all.