Safe Handling of Bison
If kept frozen continuously, it will be safe indefinitely. There are three ways to defrost meat: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave. Never defrost on the counter or in other locations. It's best to plan ahead for slow, safe thawing in the refrigerator. To defrost in cold water, do not remove packaging. Be sure the package is airtight or put it into a leakproof bag. Submerge the package in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes so it continues to thaw.
When microwave defrosting meat, plan to cook it immediately after thawing because some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook during microwaving. Holding partially cooked food is not recommended because any bacteria present wouldn't have been destroyed.
Foods defrosted in the microwave or by the cold water method should be cooked before refreezing because they may potentially have been held at temperatures above 40 °F allowing harmful bacteria to grow.
Since it is very lean and lacks fat marbling, bison can cook faster than other red meats.
- Care should be taken to not overcook bison.
- In general, bison should be cooked using low heat (325 °F) and longer cooking times.
- Braising or other moist cooking methods are recommended for bison roasts and steaks.
- For thin-sliced bison, use quick cooking methods such as broiling and pan frying.
- For safety, cook ground bison meat to 160 °F.
- Roasts, steaks, and chops should be loosely covered with foil and braised for 1 hour; internal temperatures should read 145 °F (medium rare), 160 °F (medium), or 170 °F (well done).
- Less tender cuts should be braised (roasted or simmered with a small amount of liquid in a tightly covered pan) or stewed.
Follow these tips for safe storage and use at home.
- Keep bison meat in its package until using.
- It is safe to freeze bison meat in its original packaging. If freezing longer than 2 months, overwrap these packages with airtight heavy-duty foil, plastic wrap or freezer paper, or place the package inside a plastic bag.
- Ground or cut-up bison meat will keep its best quality in the freezer for 4 months. Larger cuts, such as chops, steaks, legs, or loins will keep their best quality 6 to 9 months.
- After cooking, eat or freeze bison within 3 to 4 days.