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How to Tell if Deer Liver is Bad [Definitive Guide]

Deer – also known as venison – liver may not be a staple in your kitchen. We’ll make sure you are prepared whenever you decide to cook up a delicious deer liver pate.

This article will cover how to tell if deer liver is bad and other common questions surrounding its storage.

Signs That Deer Liver Is Bad

Brown Color

If the deer liver has changed from brown to red, then it has gone bad.

Liver should be a rich, deep red. The liver will also contract a metal-like shine when it starts to deteriorate. Although, this can be hard to notice as the liver is already a little shiny. It is best to look out for dramatic color changes.

As a general rule any form of discoloration is a sign the liver has spoiled. The liver will need to be immediately disposed of. 

Sour Smell

Deer liver will start to smell when it begins to expire or deteriorate. It is common for the liver to contract a pungent, sour smell when it has gone bad.

A fresh deer liver has a non-distinct, semi sweet smell. Any smell that is different from this is a sign the liver can no longer be eaten. 

Slimy Texture

The texture of deer liver begins to change when it has gone bad. A thick slime can appear on the liver when it has gone bad or has started to deteriorate.

This occurs because the liver is breaking down. If this happens, it is likely that it has been too long since the deer was killed and the liver is losing freshness. Alternatively, the liver may have been exposed to the elements, in particular, heat. 

Do not consume the deer liver if you notice any of these signs.

What Do White Spots on Deer Liver Mean

White spots on deer liver are a symptom of liver fluke or tularemia. Liver fluke is a name for the parasites that infest the liver. Liver fluke can happen to both animals (like deer) and humans.

Tularemia is an infectious disease that attacks the internal organs of animals. Tularemia also presents as white spots in a deer’s liver. 

It’s really important to inspect the deer liver for white spots before you consume it. White spots mean that the liver is not safe for human consumption.

If you do eat liver that has been infected with liver fluke or tularemia you may become unwell. Cooking can kill bacteria, however, it is better to be safe than sorry. 

What Happens if You Eat Bad Deer Liver

Eating spoiled meat can make you very unwell. It contains pathogenic bacteria which are the cause of food poisoning and other food related illnesses. Bad deer liver should be immediately disposed of. 

It’s good to note that a lot of problems derive from the freshness of the meat. To protect the liver (and yourself) make sure you refrigerate as soon as you have purchased or killed the meat.

Similarly, throw away any liver that has sat around for too long (regardless of whether it is in the fridge, freezer, or on the counter). 

Can You Eat Deer Liver Raw

Technically you can eat deer liver raw. Although, medical practitioners do advise against it. This is because deer liver contains pathogenic bacteria like hepatitis e, salmonella, and campylobacter, which can make you very unwell.

It is best practice to thoroughly cook deer liver before you eat it. Cooking will immediately kill any bacteria in the liver. 

Raw liver has an overpowering metallic taste to it due to myoglobin from the deer. You’re not missing out on much, it’s not even that nice to eat raw! 

How to Clean Deer Liver

Before cooking, freezing, or refrigeration, you will need to clean the deer liver. Deer liver is a notoriously dirty cut of meat. It has a lot of blood, slime, and other moisture attached to it.

The more excess you can remove from the liver, the better it will taste. Follow these steps for a thorough clean; 

  1. Slice the deer liver into bite sized chunks. 
  2. Remove any grisly bits attached to the liver. 
  3. Dissolve two tablespoons of salt in a bowl of water. 
  4. Place the liver chunks into the water. 
  5. Place the bowl of water with liver in the fridge. 
  6. Leave to soak for a couple of hours. 
  7. Pat dry with paper towels. 
  8. The liver is now ready to be cooked

How Long Does Deer Liver Last?

On the Counter

Deer liver (both raw and cooked) can be left on the countertop for up to two hours. Raw, exposed meat can easily spoil at room temperature. Do not eat or cook deer liver that has been left on the counter for longer than 2 hours. 

In the Fridge

Raw deer liver should only be kept in the fridge for 1-2 days. You can keep cooked deer liver in the fridge for 3-4 days (this also applies to pate). Offal goes off far more quickly than other cuts of meat. 

In the Freezer

Deer liver (both raw and cooked) can be frozen for up to 3 months. After 3 months, the liver can deteriorate from freezer burn or it will start to lose its freshness.

Is It Okay to Freeze Deer Liver?

Yes, deer liver can be frozen. Here’s how we like to freeze our deer liver; 

  1. Drain excess liquid and blood from the liver before you freeze it.  
  2. Portion and divide your liver into meal sized portions. You don’t want to necessarily thaw the liver at a later date.  
  3. Wrap your liver in clingfilm and place it into airtight bags. A vacuum sealer is the best option, however,  this is not always feasible. At the very least make sure you double wrap the liver. This helps the meat stay as fresh as possible, for as long as possible. 
  4. Label your liver with the date you placed it in the freezer and the date it should be used. A good rule of thumb is a 3 month expiry. 

How to Store Deer Liver

Deer liver can be stored in its original package or an airtight container. 

When you first purchase the liver it will come in plastic packaging. It is secure, safe, and convenient to keep the liver in this packaging. 

Alternatively, you can remove the original plastic package and store the deer liver in your own airtight container. Find a container that has enough room and a locked lid.

You can also store the liver in a ziplock plastic bag. Both are great options if you want to marinate the liver before cooking. 

It is best to place the liver in the fridge immediately after you purchase it. Leaving liver on the counter, while temporarily fine, can encourage product spoilage.

It is better to throw it straight in the fridge to ensure it stays fresh. You should only leave the liver on the counter if you are going to cook it straight away. 

Remember, meat should be stored in a refrigerator at a temperature of 10°C. Bacteria can start to grow at temperatures under 10°C. Find the coldest part of your fridge and store the liver close by. If you need to keep the liver past its use by date then the freezer is your best bet. 

Health Benefits of Deer Liver

Deer liver is rich in nutrients. It is filled with B12, vitamin A, riboflavin, and copper.

Liver is also high in protein, and low in fat. Deer liver can help you achieve a balanced, filling, and nutrient dense diet.

You should make sure that you get your deer liver from a responsible source.

The liver is a filtering organ which means that some nasty bacteria can sneak onto your plate if you’re not careful!

To Sum Up

Deer liver requires a bit of extra preparation and care than average meat. You should not eat deer liver if you notice any discolouration, slimy textures, sour smells, or white spots. If you see or smell any of these symptoms you should immediately dispose of the liver. 

Deer liver can be stored in an airtight container or a ziplock bag. You can store liver on the countertop for up to 2 hours or it can be stored in the fridge for 1-2 days. Alternatively, you can freeze the liver for up to 3 months if you don’t want to cook it straight away.