How to Cure Deer Meat


Hunting deer for the purpose of harvesting the meat is a common practice in many areas of the world. Once the game is killed, the meat can be prepared and consumed immediately or processed and preserved for consumption at a later time. Curing is used to preserve meat. Many benefits are associated with curing deer meat, such as the improving the taste of the meat, avoiding spoilage and preventing food poisoning.

Things You'll Need

  • Cooled leg and shoulder deer meat
  • Stitch pump
  • Bucket
  • 1 lb. brown sugar
  • 2 lbs. non-iodized salt
  • 3 gallons water
  • 6 lbs. salt
  • 3 lbs. of sugar
  • 3 oz. of sodium nitrate or 1 ounce of sodium nitrite
  • Lukewarm water
  • Clean container or sink
  • Stiff-bristled brush

Stitch Pumping

  • Place a butchered leg or shoulder section of deer meat on a clean, flat working surface.

  • Prepare a pickling solution in a clean bucket to be injected into the meat. A basic solution is 1 pound of brown sugar, 2 pounds of non-iodized salt and 3 gallons of water. Stitch pumping results in a more even curing of the meat because the solution is injected into the meat and allows it to cure from the inside as well as the outside.

  • Wash the entire pump in warm, soapy water. To avoid contamination after washing, ensure that you do not touch the needle with your hands or lay it down. If you need to put the needle down, place the pump, needle first, into the pickling solution.

  • Draw the stitch pump full of the pickling solution, and inject it into a section of meat. Typical injection sites are in the joint areas of the shoulder or legs. Use steady and even pressure when injecting the solution. Draw the pump slowly toward you to ensure even distibution throughout the section of meat.

  • Repeat Step 4 for each section of meat that needs to be injected.

    Use three to four pump injections for shoulder or leg sections weighing 10 to 15 pounds and five to six pump injections for sections weighing 15 to 25 pounds.

Dry Curing

  • Make a dry cure to rub onto the meat. Mix 6 pounds of salt and 3 pounds of sugar. Add 3 ounces of sodium nitrate or 1 ounce of sodium nitrite to the mixture.

  • Day 1: Rub 1/3 of the mix on all of the sections of meat, taking care to apply rub around any joints, hocks or bones.

  • Place the sections of deer meat uncovered on a flat surface, in a temperature-controlled environment of 38 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Leave the deer meat in this environment for two days for every pound of meat. For example, if you have a leg section that weighs 15 pounds, you will need to let it cure for 30 days.

    Day 7: Rub 1/3 of the mix on all of the sections of meat, taking care to apply rub around any joints, hocks or bones.

    Day 14: Rub 1/3 of the mix on all of the sections of meat, taking care to apply rub around any joints, hocks or bones.

    After Day 14, allow the deer meat to remain in the environment until it is completely cured.

  • Soak the sections of meat in cold water for 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of the section. For example, soak a 10-pound section of meat for approximately 30 minutes and a 25-pound section of meat for approximately 1 hour.

  • After soaking, use a clean brush with stiff bristles to remove the fat and salt coating the meat.

  • Prepare the meat by boiling, smoking, steaming or baking. You also might choose to freeze the cured deer meat for up to three months.

Tips & Warnings

  • Ensure that the temperature controlled environment never reaches 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature should ideally be between 36 and 38 degrees.

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