Tips on handling rabbit meat
Safe Storage Times
Take rabbit home immediately from the grocer and refrigerate at 4.5 °C or below. Use it within 2 days or freeze at -18 °C. If kept frozen continuously, it will be best before 12 months. It is safe to freeze rabbit in its original packaging. For prolonged storage, over wrap for long-term storage. For best quality, use frozen whole rabbit within a year; pieces within 9 months.
Never defrost at room temperature.
Refrigerator: It’s best to plan for slow, safe thawing in the refrigerator. Bone-in parts or whole rabbits may take a day or longer to thaw. Once thawed, rabbit may be stored in the refrigerator for 2 days before cooking. During this time, if you decide not to use the rabbit, you can safely re-freeze it without cooking it.
Cold Water: To defrost rabbit in cold water, do not remove the packaging. Be sure the package is airtight or put it into a leak-proof bag. Submerge the rabbit in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes so that it continues to thaw. Small packages may defrost in an hour or less; larger packages may take 2 to 3 hours. Plan to cook the rabbit immediately after thawing by the cold water method.
Microwave oven: When defrosting rabbit in the microwave oven, plan to cook it immediately after thawing because some of the areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook.
When roasting rabbit parts, set the oven temperature no lower than 163 °C. A 1 kilogram, cut-up rabbit should take approximately 1 hour to cook.
A whole, 1 to 1.5 kilogram rabbit should take about 1 to 1.5 hours to roast. Stuffing it will add approximately a half hour to the cooking time.
Braising rabbit (cooking it in a small amount of liquid in a covered pan on the range or in the oven) also takes about 1 hour. Rabbit can be broiled about 15 minutes on each side.
For safety, USDA recommends cooking rabbit to an internal temperature of at least 72 °C.
It is safe to cook frozen rabbit in the oven or on the range or grill without defrosting it first, although the cooking time maybe about 50%longer.
Do not cook frozen rabbit in a slow cooker, thaw first. Cut whole rabbits into smaller pieces so heat can penetrate the meat more quickly.
Safe Handling of Leftovers
Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours after cooking. Use within 3 to 4 days or freeze.
Use frozen, cooked rabbit within 4 to 6 months for best quality.
Reheat leftovers to 74 °C.