Preparing meat for freezing

teaspoon

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Hello, fellow rabbit folk!
I started raising rabbits last year and so far have only butchered one at a time. Someone is giving me a chest freezer so I’ll be butchering 30 rabbits over the next month or two. The butchering process I’m comfortable with (kill, skin, gut), but not sure what to do with it afterwards to prep it for the freezer. When I’ve butchered a chicken/rabbit/duck I’ve soaked the meat in brine in the fridge overnight. Should I do that before vacuum sealing and freezing it? Is some type of “rest” period even needed or do you put it straight in the freezer after butchering? I’d like to make jerky out of some of it (I have a food dehydrator), any tips for that?
 

Tale of Tails Rabbitry

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We have have done it with and without the brine. Either way, we do cool/rest the meat before vacuum sealing and freezing. It depends more on how you plan to prepare it. Slow cooker or ground...why bother to brine? Grill, brine or marinate. We have not made jerky yet as I am not a fan of that level of salt concentration.
 

teaspoon

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How long do you leave them to cool? If I process a lot at once I’d probably have to leave them in a big tub of ice water. I just have a little mini fridge.
 

Tale of Tails Rabbitry

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At least until the meat is cool to the touch or easier to cut. We keep some whole and some we cut up. You can also age the meat in a brine for a few days until rigor mortis passes to make it more tender. I would (and still do) l experiment with what works for us and how we prefer the meat to be.
 

Pastor Dave

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Just to add my 2 cents: I have never brined in 30 years of processing rabbit. If you go past the 12 week stage into 16+ weeks, I would recommend roasting or crock pot, as they are called roasters vs. fryers at that age.

After getting down to the clean carcass, I immediately take down from where I had it hanging and goes into a dish tub of icy salt water just to flash cool. The salt is concentrated up to a brine percentage, but used to help it bleed out some. After I get the next rabbit to the clean carcass stage, I take the previous carcass out of the salt water and put it in a chest cooler with ice, kinda like if fishing.

Once all are clean to the carcass stage and on ice, I carry the cooler in and keep on ice overnight. The following day I rinse each carcass under coold tap water and work out the rigor a bit, and quarter. I place the quatered rabbit in a gallon ziploc and refrigerate overnight until third day. I usually get sufficient drainage during this stage.

I fully process and pat dry each piece before packaging in butcher paper for freezer. I know shrink wrap is more efficient for freezer burn and longevity in freezer, but I don't have one, and mine have done well in butcher paper. Once a complete rabbit has been papered, I put the pieces back in a freezer gallon ziploc and date it.

I have not noticed a taste or texture/tenderness difference between fresh butchered/process and fry that same day vs. going through my process for cooling in salt water, draining and cooling in cooler, and draining/cooling in fridge before papering and freezing.

As I said, just my two cents :)

Addendum: I generally process 6-10 at a time since I do not have refrigeration dedicated to this process. Jill loves it when I fill the bottom of our fridge with bags of rabbit. Haha
 
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Tale of Tails Rabbitry

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For Independence Day, we processed six rabbits. Three were breeders being culled out of my program for various reasons and that meat was deboned last might and will be ground today. The other three were between 5 to 6.5 pounds and they went on the grill. The meat was quite tender and tasty!
 

mystang89

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I used to let mine at in the frig until the rigormortus set out of it and then freeze it but since moving I haven't done that and haven't noticed any difference in taste it texture. I normal kill from the 12 - 16 week and it's normally made into a stew or pie.
 

Donna R. Raybon

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Most home freezers have a max amount of unfrozen produce that can safely be put in freezer without burning the motor up. It has been a while, but off the top of my head I remember we did not add more than 20 pounds??? in 48 hours???
 

greybeard

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Most home freezers have a max amount of unfrozen produce that can safely be put in freezer without burning the motor up. It has been a while, but off the top of my head I remember we did not add more than 20 pounds??? in 48 hours???
That depends on the duty cycle and the cycle is 'time on vs time off'--that, is one cycle. A good modern freezer, depending how many times the door is open each day, will run about the same # of hours it is off, which is a 50% duty cycle. On 1/2 the time--off 1/2 the time. Modern freezers have no set 'time on' limit and are designed to run for days on end, assuming the condenser coils are relatively clean.. Short cycling is what kills a compressor. Run for several hours, turn off, then turn back on shortly thereafter. Rinse--repeat and before you know it, the compressor (or it's start/run capacitor) has burned up, simply because it had to restart before the refrigerant and it's oil equalized out in the system.
Once running, and the refrigerant level and oil level are correct, compressors are simply made to run.

The meat load question really centers around how much of the unfrozen meat can be frozen quickly.
Rule of thumb is not to load more than can be frozen in 24 hours OR 3-4lbs of meat per total cu ft of empty freezer capacity. For my 18 cu ft freezer, that would be about 70lbs of meat, but I have never tried to put that much warm meat in it at one time..
 
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