Rabbit Meat Storing and Cooking
Rabbit meat storing and cooking safety isn’t complicated but because it is a meat that hasn’t been commonly eaten many people are unsure about it. I got a call from a friend yesterday that was worried about her rabbit meat. She had defrosted it on the counter and then it sat in the fridge a couple of days. I advised her not to eat it and to not defrost rabbit, or any other meat, on the counter top.
So lets talk rabbit meat storing and cooking safety. For our purposes we are assuming that this is a rabbit you’ve raised and butchered.
Immediately After Processing Meat Rabbit
Make sure your hands and surfaces are clean and wash the rabbit with clean, cold, water. The rabbit should be stored at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Let the rabbit “rest” for 24 hours to allow rigamortis to set in and then the carcass will relax.
If you don’t plan to use the rabbit meat in the next 24 hours, following above, then freeze the meat. If the meat is stored properly in the freezer it should be good to use within 9 – 12 months.
Safely Thawing Rabbit Meat
Again, I repeat, do not defrost rabbit meat on the counter. This allows bacteria to grow and could cause serious illness!
- We recommend that you slowly defrost your rabbit meat in the refrigerator. Once it is completely defrosted you have 24-48 hours to use the meat. According to the USDA you can refreeze the meat without cooking it, within that time frame.
- If you need a speedier method you can defrost your rabbit in cold water (COLD). Make sure that your meat is in an airtight/leak proof package and completely immerse into the water. It is best to change the water every 30 minutes to make sure it remains cold and clean. This process can take up to 2 hours if you have a larger rabbit. Cook the meat immediately after thawed!
- Lastly, you can defrost rabbit in the microwave; though we wouldn’t recommend it. This thaws it unevenly and can cause the meat to be tough.
Follow recipe directions closely and make sure that the meat has an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Rabbit meat can be
roasted, braised, broiled and grilled among other methods. Always make sure the meat is fully defrosted before cooking, no matter how you decide to prepare it.
Rabbit meat should never be eaten raw or under 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
Rabbit Meat Leftovers
If you are lucky enough to have any leftovers then make sure that you store them in the refrigerator within 2 hours after cooking. Make sure that you eat them in less than 4 days or freeze the leftovers.
The USDA recommends reheating rabbit slowly at 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
We hope this information helps you to store and prepare your rabbit meat and to continue enjoying it for years to come!
Be sure to check out all the recipes we have for you on our recipe pages!