Soaking Venison In Milk

I recently published an article about soaking venison in salt water and had a few people reach out regarding soaking venison in milk.

Both options are good, and depending on what I’m making with the venison will determine which soaking method I will use.

Why Soak Venison In Milk

The main reason for soaking venison in milk is to reduce the “gaminess“. 

As I said in my article about soaking venison in salt water, I don’t often soak venison because I am used to and like the taste of venison.

If you are not used to venison, it may come off a bit strong, then soaking in milk will help reduce the intense flavor, this is particularly true for organs, such as the liver or heart.

Soaking Venison In Milk

Another reason for soaking venison in milk is to tenderize the meat and make it juicier.

Essentially, soaking venison in milk is just another form of marinating the meat.

The only difference between milk and any other marinade is that with milk you are looking to extract flavor, whereas with other marinades you are looking to impart flavor.

With that said, often when I marinate with milk I will add some dry spices like garlic powder or paprika, and kill two birds with one stone.

Milk has fat solubles which are great for carrying flavor, you may have noticed this if you have left the milk open in the refrigerator with other strong or pungent ingredients.

This is why using milk as a marinade works very well. Using dry or fresh herbs with milk can lead to some very flavorful venison.

How to Soak Venison in Milk

Soaking venison milk is as simple as it sounds, although to get the best from your venison I have a few choice tips for you.

The type of milk

Soaking Venison In Milk

While you could use any regular milk you will get a better result from buttermilk.

Regular milk will leech blood and impurities which cause the gamey taste, but buttermilk does more.

Buttermilk is naturally acidic and considerably more so than regular milk. 

Buttermilk has a pH of 4.4-4.8, whereas regular milk has a pH of 6.4-6.8, the lower the number the higher the acid content.

Regular milk would be close to neutral. For comparison, citrus and vinegar which are commonly used in marinades are around 2-3pH.

As I’ve mentioned in all of my marinade recipes, a good marinade needs an acidic compound, this is usually vinegar, wine, fruits, etc, but with buttermilk you already have acidity.

The acid in buttermilk helps to tenderize the meat by breaking down collagen and denaturing proteins.


Soaking Venison In Milk
  1. Trim the meat so there is no silver skin or membrane remaining
  2. Pat the meat dry, this step is very important as it removes the most impurities, and helps the milk penetrate the venison
  3. Add 500 ml buttermilk to a large container, or ziplock bag. I prefer to use a vacuum bag as it provides a more even marinade, and also prevents the meat from other strong flavors that may be in your fridge
  4. Add some seasoning to your milk if you like, my rabbit recipe will be a good fit
  5. Place the venison in milk and put it in the refrigerator. I like to do 6 hours minimum, but 12 hours will be even better. Don’t go much longer than this or the outside of the meat will become mushy
  6. Remove the meat from the milk, and pat dry thoroughly
  7. You can now create your favorite venison recipe. If you are making steak I can recommend this venison steak recipe.

What Soaking in Milk Cannot Do

As with every venison marinade, soaking venison in milk will not turn a chunk of round into a delectable tender cut, you need a pressure cooker for that.

Marinades, including milk or buttermilk, will only penetrate the very surface of the meat, this is why it works best on thin cuts of venison.

It’s good to use on steaks, stir fry cuts, or any other thin cuts. 

Soaking larger cuts of venison in milk will still extract the blood and impurities that cause that gamey flavor, but it will have very little tenderizing effect.

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