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Film: Never Ever Soak Wild Game Meat in Ice Water

Would you go to the store and buy a $40 piece of meat and soak it overnight in ice water? Probably not. Then why do it with wild game meat? 

People talk so much about soaking meat in ice water to tenderize, remove gamey flavors, leech out blood, and other crazy reasons. This type of meat care is all a myth! Wet soggy meat is not what you want to cook with. Instead of tenderizing, you can introduce bacteria, change the texture of the meat, and reduce the moisture content.  

Justin takes two cuts of meat and places one into an ice water bath and takes the other and places it into a dry cooler. He lets them both soak for 24 hours. 

The meat soaked in ice water is visibly pale and soggy looking. The meat in the dry cooler is a beautiful bright red color, which you would see in the grocery store.  

We cross-cut the meat, and you can see the difference. Soaking meat does not do what you think to the meat. Gamey flavors result from poor field care and improper cooking techniques. Soaking meat in ice water is not recommended for several reasons:

Leaching of Flavor: Soaking meat in ice water for an extended period can cause it to lose some natural flavors. The water can absorb water-soluble nutrients and flavors, leaving the meat bland.

Potential Bacterial Growth: Soaking meat in water, especially at temperatures between 40°F (4°C) and 140°F (60°C) where bacteria thrive (the “danger zone”), can promote bacterial growth and increase the risk of foodborne illnesses.

Texture Changes: Prolonged soaking in ice water might alter the texture of the meat, making it mushy or excessively soft due to the breakdown of proteins.

Moisture Loss: Contrary to popular belief, soaking meat in water does not necessarily make it more tender. Instead, it can lose moisture, mainly if the meat soaks in water for too long.

Potential Cross-Contamination: Soaking meat in water can lead to cross-contamination if proper sanitation practices are not followed, as bacteria from the meat may spread to surrounding surfaces or utensils.

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This segment originally aired on the Sporting Chef on the Outdoor Channel. View new episodes on Mondays at 9:30 PM ET in October and November 2023. 

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