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Updated: Jun 26

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Author: Larry White

Trying to answer the question "how long does deer sausage last in the fridge" can sometimes be a little tricky. There's nothing worse than leaving your hard-earned venison meat in the refrigerator in hopes of a midnight snack or preparing a nice meal only to find out that it doesn't seem that fresh anymore. There are a few key factors that you must know about before you're able to make the best possible decision concerning salvaging or ditching your deer meat.

How Long Does Venison Summer Sausage Last In the Fridge

What are the Venison Sausages Ingredients?

There are a few different ingredients that will either increase or decrease the shelf life of your wild game sausages. You or the meat processor need to know exactly what was added to the mix in order to properly make any decisions.

Beef Fat or Pork Fat: 

Virtually almost all deer sausages contain added fats to be palatable. While fats make the sausages juicier and more delicious, they tend to become rancid much faster than lean meat on its own. But if there is any ingredient to skip out on to extend the life of sausages, it would not be the fat. You may buy yourself a few more days of freshness by making a fat-free sausage, but it will be grainy and almost inedible. 

Dairy Products: 

I think it's safe to say that we all know that most dairy products don't have a long shelf life unless they are ultra-processed. And when we think of dairy products in sausages, we often only think of cheddar cheese. But you need to keep an extra eye on sausages such as boudin blanc, bratwurst, and even some variations of summer sausages.

These sausages can be a bit finicky as they contain milk products like heavy cream, milk powder, and buttermilk powder, which can sometimes cause the meat to sour much faster. If your sausages contain only cheeses that are aged or filled with preservatives, you don't have as much to worry about. 

Curing Salt: 

Pink salts such as sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite will prolong the shelf life of sausages that contain them. The curing process for the meat mixtures that contain them is referred to as either quick-curing or dry-curing (which is done over a longer period of time).

These salts add a tangy flavor and also aid in preventing harmful bacterial growth in your sausages and make them more shelf stable. The main types of sausage that you are likely to encounter with these salts are venison salami, pepperoni, summer sausage, and some variations of snack sticks.

Were the Sausages Smoked? 

Smoked is a natural form of preservation when it comes to meats, but there are nuances in knowing how well this will work for your sausages. Generally speaking, the more smoke that is involved during the cooking process, the longer it will extend the shelf-life. But this does have its limits and is not a magic wand. You're probably looking to extend the life of a fresh sausage by a few days if it is properly smoked. 

How Long Does Venison Summer Sausage Last

Did You Thaw The Sausage After Freezing?

This is one of the most overlooked factors in determining how long your sausages remain fresh in the refrigerator. If your meat sat in the fridge for an extended period before being frozen, this will indeed shorten the shelf-life of your sausages.

So let's say you froze the deer meat two days before it became rancid, you then processed it into sausages and then froze them. This will indeed shorten the shelf life of any game meat. If this is the case for you, I recommend eating any uncured sausages within 2 to 3 days after they have been completely thawed out.

Storing the Sausages For the Best Results:

When it comes to proper ways for storing venison sausages in the refrigerator, using an airtight container or wrapping method is a good idea for the best quality. Letting too much air get in contact with the meat is a recipe for drying out a delicious sausage prematurely.

A great and popular option for an airtight seal is to vacuum seal the meat. But there's one big problem with using vacuum sealer bags. They fail and sometimes they fail a lot. In my opinion, your best bet and the most cost-effective method is to use food-grade plastic wrap.

With a few tight wraps around the entire surface area of the sausages and removing any air pockets, you've got yourself a great environment for storing sausages in the refrigerator. And last but not least, gallon-sized freezer bags. These work well, but be sure to get a brand that is known to have a tight seal. 

Visually Checking Sausages For Quality:

The best way to check and see if your sausages have spoiled is to remove them completely from their storage containers or wrapping. This may take you a little time, but it is simply your safest bet. You want to look for any signs of mold and check for any foul or off odors. But not all spoiled foods will have these tell-tale smelly signs of spoilage.

The unnoticed growth of harmful bacteria may be lurking and can make you sick. But this isn't meant to scare anyone. If you are worried, you will either need to cook any precooked sausages to the internal temperature recommendations from the USDA for reheating leftovers or toss them in the garbage can.

If it is raw sausages that you are concerned about, I would simply dispose of them. At the end of the day, you must use your best judgment or seek

the help of a professional for testing.

So How Long Does Deer Sausage Last In The Fridge?

To determine this and to come to the best-educated conclusion, we need to focus on the factors mentioned earlier. So I created a quick guide list below. But first and foremost I recommend using USDA Food Safety Guidelines to be extra careful.

Cured Sausages Containing Pink Curing Salts:

These sausages will last the longest. I have no problem leaving cooked quick-cured sausage such as this venison salami in the fridge for up to 7 days. And if they happen to contain any dairy products I cut that down to 5 days.

Dry-cured sausages will last a long time and if properly stored, I leave them in my refrigerator for up to 2 months. However, the USDA recommends eating dry or hard sausages such as pepperoni that have been opened from their original packaging within 3 weeks 

Fresh Sausages:

According to the USDA, cooked items like venison breakfast sausage, Mexican-style chorizo, and boudin should be eaten within 3 to 4 days. They recommend raw uncured sausages be eaten or frozen within 2 days.

Smoked Fresh Sausages:

If you want to lean towards the side of caution, I would follow the USDA recommendations for uncured pre-cooked sausages and uncooked. Personally, I add on a couple of days for cooked smoked sausages by taking it to around 6 days.

Uncured Sausages Containing Cheese or Other Dairy Products:

Dairy products mixed with ground meat can be tricky to gauge. So the best rule of thumb for these types of sausages is to freeze or cook them within 1 to 2 days for raw and 3 to 4 days for cooked. 


Looking for venison sausage recipes? These are a few of my favorites:


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Meet Larry White

Chef Larry White

Hey folks, I'm Larry. The recipes you'll find here are inspired by my years as a chef, travels as a hunter, and being a father. I cook from these experiences, so my food ranges anywhere from fun and creative to traditional and to what somewhat family style comfort food.     

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