Learning the right way of preserving fresh fish and game makes all the difference.
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Once the hunt is over or you get home from your fishing trip, you may have fish or game to feed to your family. Providing high quality food is a hugely satisfying part of fishing and hunting for many sportsmen.
But anything you won’t eat right away should be frozen to keep it as fresh as possible. Read these six tips for freezing your harvest.
1. Field Dressing
With fish, keep them alive or get them bled and as cold as possible right away. Remember that saltwater fish should not be exposed to freshwater and vice versa. Even when filleting the fish, make sure to rinse the fillets in the water they were swimming in or not at all.
When hunting, you need to bleed game immediately and remove the organs quickly. Make sure there is good air circulation around the pieces to allow the meat to begin drying out and cooling down.
2. Prepare for Freezing
Cut fish into a fillet or steak depending on the species and the size. Freeze everything right away that you won’t eat within two days.
With game, it is important to get the meat to a temperature-controlled location right away. Aging game is a personal preference but the consensus is that 3-14 days will make the final product more tender.
3. Vacuum pack
After cutting fish or game into meal size portions you can wrap the meat in plastic wrap and then freezer paper or vacuum pack it. There are household vacuum packers, commercial grade vacuum packers, and even hand pump vacuum packers.
General tips for vacuum packing
- Make sure the meat is DRY, if it is too wet it will ruin the seal
- Do not overfill the bag or you may trap an air pocket inside
- If using an electric sealer, double seal both ends of the bag
Take a few minutes to label your sealed packages. Consider marking:
- Date harvested or date frozen
- Type of fish/game
5. Freeze it quickly
The faster your food is frozen solid the fresher it will be when thawed. A deep freezer is a good investment and can be kept easily 20 degrees colder than a kitchen freezer.
When it is finally time to pull out a frozen pack to enjoy your harvest you can let it thaw in the fridge or under cold running water. The cold water will thaw it quicker if you are going to cook it right away. Leaving it in the fridge to thaw will allow it to be used as much as 3-4 days later with excellent results.