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KG243

Aging your venison before you rocess it?

35 posts in this topic

How cold does it have to be outside and how long do you let it hang? I have always heard of this but we usually just skin aquater it the day of the kill and then process the next day. What is your guys' take on this aging thing? Thanks!

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I do not "Age". I dont care for it. I like to butcher right away. Usualy that means the next morning as I do most of my hunting in the eavning. I have had a deer completely buchered and wraped within 3 hours of the shot, it was morning shot with the bow so the weather was a little warmer.

If I had a walk in cooler like the butcher shop I may consider it, but for now it is shoot, photo, cut. As soon as possible.

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I've read many articles on aging... they are all over the internet.

What I've learned is that #1 - you cannot age venison like beef. The structure of the meat is totally different than that of beef. #2 - Aging is done at very precise temps that do not allow bad bacteria to proliferate. If I remeber correctly that is temps of 34-38 degrees constant. They also keep the humidity level in a constant range.

Everything I've read on processing venison is that you should skin and debone it as soon as possible. Get all the fat, silver skin and tallow off the meat and this is that the best you ca do to insure good tasting meat.

Good Luck!

Ken

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Like Labs said, you need a pretty controlled environment to age venison or any other meat. I am sure a good butcher shop or locker plant could age it for you. I think it would be very difficult to do on your own without a walk-in cooler.

I can't say I have ever had bad freshly butchered venison. Is some better than others? Yes. But that is mostly due to the age of the deer, the area the deer was harvested from and the primary diet of the deer.

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"There are some persistent myths about aging venison that may cause you to stock your freezer with inferior meat this season. I'm sure you've heard them: Deer meat can't be aged like beef, because it dries out if left hanging. Or: Aging is simply "controlled rot," and why let good venison rot? And: You only need to hang deer a day or two for tender meat, so any longer is a waste of time.

None of this is true.

Despite its different taste and lower levels of fat, venison is very similar to beef. It contains the same basic enzymes, particularly lactic acid, and goes through similar changes after the animal dies.

First, the muscles go into rigor mortis, a stiffening lasting at most 24 hours. Butchering a deer during rigor mortis is one of the worst things you can do. It can cause a phenomenon called shortening, where the muscles contract and remain tougher than if butchering took place a day later.

Maintaining a consistent temperature is the main problem with home-aging venison.If your weather isn't ideal, you can home-age venison in a spare refrigerator. Skin the quarters and bone-out other large sections of meat. The quarters from a typical deer (or even two) will fit in an average-size refrigerator.

Young deer don't have much collagen, so aging for a couple of days is plenty. Older bucks benefit most from the extended period, and many hunters who do it properly actually prefer the taste of mature bucks. After aging, the steaks are as tender as a young doe's-but with a rich flavor reminiscent of the best restaurant beef."

I found this article in field and stream. Other info that I found on the internet said basically the same thing. Hope this helps.

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Thanks for the greta info westb. I didnt relise that this wasnt a forum to ask qeustions, the end? If you dont want to continue to read then dont click on it. Just a thought, so if anyone else has something to add that would be great!

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I have butchered deer in rigor mortis and never noticed any problem.

I only keep the backstraps and maybe a few round steaks for cooking later. The rest ends up as jerky or gets ground.

If it is warm out, say above 50 degrees, I butcher immediately, boning out into pieces small enough to get into a cooler. If it is 25-40 degrees, I'll let them hang for a day or to. This is more for my convienience than any attempt at aging. It is just nice to do ALL the butchering at one time incase more deer are shot.

One thing I am real fussy about is getting the hide off, and cleaning the carcass inside and out with clean cloths and white vinegar. Get all the hair, debris and dirt off and it will make for better product later.

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A few years back I read a great article in the minesota volunteer about aging and processing venison, it had lots of good information from a famous game chef. I tried to do an online search for that back issue but am having probs w/ ther dnr HSOforum, but found plentyy of other sites w/ aging info.

I usually hang my deer in the garage and skin it asap(the golfball trick is awesome). Let it hang makes teh tallow harden and is easier to cut off in hunks, then it's time for a fresh meal of backstraps/t-loins and few beverages to celebrate. After that's done assuming it cool enough there's no big rush so I leave it hang for a couple days and cut a quarter off each night after work and set up atable in the garage to start cutting and wrapping. Sometime I'll cut all 4 quarters off and wrap each in a garbage bag and put in the garage fridge for cutting later. I take my time and make sure there isn't any hair,bone,silverskin on my venison. The whole process probably takes a week but I invite my freinds to bring their's over and it's a nice way to share some socail time and relive the hunt. So far I've never had any bad venison and my wife asked to to shoot a second deer this year so I must be doing something right. Fall is in the air, won't be long now!;-)

redhooks

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I have butchered deer in rigor mortis and never noticed any problem.

I only keep the backstraps and maybe a few round steaks for cooking later. The rest ends up as jerky or gets ground.

If it is warm out, say above 50 degrees, I butcher immediately, boning out into pieces small enough to get into a cooler. If it is 25-40 degrees, I'll let them hang for a day or to. This is more for my convienience than any attempt at aging. It is just nice to do ALL the butchering at one time incase more deer are shot.

One thing I am real fussy about is getting the hide off, and cleaning the carcass inside and out with clean cloths and white vinegar. Get all the hair, debris and dirt off and it will make for better product later.

white vinegar? care you explain why you use that?

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I hunt in northern MN and stay at my brother's place. When we take a deer, we have a place in the woods set up where we can hang it right away and spread the ribs. Since we use ATVs to get up there, we have to wait until after hours to get it home.

We usually skin it out right away that evening and then let it cool overnight and also let the meat relax from rigor. The next day we'll bone it out and package it in buckets in a refrigerator. That's where mine will stay until I take it home. When I get home it goes right back into the refrigerator and there it'll stay for at least a week to 10 days.

Trust me. Aging does make a difference. Even the ground venison is more tender. Before I aged my meat, ground venison was easy to recognize because it was just a little more chewy. Not anymore.

I recently cooked up some steaks and I kid you not, I was able to cut them with my fork. No knife required.

Bob

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Take this for what you want:

My dad and uncle both claim this, they shot a deer back in the late 50's when the season in Northern MN was Thanksgiving or after. Any how, it was a very mature buck, not gut shot at all (neck actually), field dressed without a knick in the guts, and they both said the thing stunk worse than any gut shot. They decided to keep it, and the thing froze solid at camp. When they got home it was still very frozen, and they let it hang for a warmer day, which ended up to be March 12. They claim the stink was completely gone, and it was some of their best venison steaks. They couldn't explain it, neither can I.

Like I said, take it for what you want.

DD

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The vinigar is a way to get rid of any parasites or fly eggs that have gotten to your meat durring the dragging hauling phase of getting your deer from the woods to the garage.

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The vinegar does a nice job of cleaning up any parasites as mentioned, and also helps pull hair, dirt and debris off the carcass without imparting a taste to the meat.

It seems like a small little thing to do, but if you get the meat clean right away, it makes a big difference.

If there are any bugs out, a cheese cloth or canvas game bag is a plus.

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I will let the deer hang to let the meat firm up and then skin and butcher it. I always skin it when I hang it and the next morning I will cut it up. I have never had any tough meat issues and the meat is always tasty.

As far as hanging it outside in the temps, I will if the temps drop into the 40's over night otherwise it goes into a cooler untuil the next day and then is processed.

I do not and have never aged any venison. My wife will make a roast and when see is done, the meat will fall apart and there is not a beef roast that could be any more tender.

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I like to hang mine for 3-5 days if the conditions are right. Overnight temps need to be in 30's to low 40's. I do skin right away if possible to speed the cooling. I take out the tenderloins the day after harvest otherwise they get too dry(just can't wait either). I don't let the carcass freeze, nothing worse skinning and cutting a frozen carcass.

Ruster

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I like to age my venison for 4-7 days. I always skin them immediately after hanging them. Early season the meat gets de-boned and into the fridge or ages, later in the season I will let them hang in the garage. I don't think aging is as much an issue with younger deer but I have noticed a difference with older bucks and does.

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Here's a portion of an article from the MN Volunteer (Nov.-Dec. 1999) about aging and butchering:

Goff's Advice on Aging Meat

(Ken Goff, executive chef for the Dakota Restaurant in St. Paul)

Let game hang in cool (33-45 F) temperatures for several days. During aging, says Goff, enzymes break down the cell tissue in the meat, making it more tender. The process is often used to tenderize older deer, which have tougher meat. "The enzymatic activity also makes the flavor stronger and more complex." Goff says that less moisture is lost by aging a deer with the skin left on. "If you take the skin off before aging, cover it with several layers of cheesecloth to keep insects off."

Butchering

Goff recommends that hunters butcher their own deer. "It's not that hard, and you know you're getting back the deer you killed and kept clean and not someone else's." If you take it to a butcher, he recommends asking for packages to be labeled with the specific cut. "You don't want packets that just say ?steak.' It matters what kind of steak it is. There's a big difference between a chuck steak -- which isn't even really a steak -- and a porterhouse steak."

Trimming

"If it's white, take it off," Goff says. He recommends trimming all fat and the thick, white connective tissue called silver skin. The thin, translucent silver skin can stay on the meat.

Cutting

"Cutting across the grain results in more tender venison because the long, strong strands of protein are shortened."

Bone In vs. Bone Out

"It's a matter of trade-offs," Goff says. "The bone gives it more flavor, but it makes for a more unwieldy piece of meat. Many people think venison already has enough flavor without the bone. It's up to the individual."

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I wouldn't say that I try to age my deer, but I do my best to quarter the deer as soon as I can. If I'm up north and its cool, the deer will hang for 2 days. If its warm I will quarter it and put it in the cooler.

"Even the ground venison is more tender".....Not really sure about that one.

I can definitely tell the difference between young deer and older deer, but as far as knowing which ones hung longer, I couldn't tell the difference.

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Here's a portion of an article from the MN Volunteer (Nov.-Dec. 1999) about aging and butchering:

Goff's Advice on Aging Meat

(Ken Goff, executive chef for the Dakota Restaurant in St. Paul)

Let game hang in cool (33-45 F) temperatures for several days. During aging, says Goff, enzymes break down the cell tissue in the meat, making it more tender. The process is often used to tenderize older deer, which have tougher meat. "The enzymatic activity also makes the flavor stronger and more complex." Goff says that less moisture is lost by aging a deer with the skin left on. "If you take the skin off before aging, cover it with several layers of cheesecloth to keep insects off."

Butchering

Goff recommends that hunters butcher their own deer. "It's not that hard, and you know you're getting back the deer you killed and kept clean and not someone else's." If you take it to a butcher, he recommends asking for packages to be labeled with the specific cut. "You don't want packets that just say ?steak.' It matters what kind of steak it is. There's a big difference between a chuck steak -- which isn't even really a steak -- and a porterhouse steak."

Trimming

"If it's white, take it off," Goff says. He recommends trimming all fat and the thick, white connective tissue called silver skin. The thin, translucent silver skin can stay on the meat.

Cutting

"Cutting across the grain results in more tender venison because the long, strong strands of protein are shortened."

Bone In vs. Bone Out

"It's a matter of trade-offs," Goff says. "The bone gives it more flavor, but it makes for a more unwieldy piece of meat. Many people think venison already has enough flavor without the bone. It's up to the individual."

Great post! I grewup with a father who was a meatcutter butcher,thats how I yet do my deer skin on ageing,bonein processing.

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We process our own meat and my dad has worked in several butcher shops (and even for Swift and Co in the 1950s).

Aging can help VERY slightly...but it all depends on how and where and the temperature.

Our deer is hung one to two days at the most. If possible, deer are skinned ASAP for ease of skinning. If our season is Saturday and Sunday...all the meat is cut up on Monday. My dad cuts extremely fast (and we are not bad either). We do one deer (steaks, deboned, wrapped) in about 1/2 an hour. Grinding and sausage can take a little longer. In one day, we can easier get 10-15 deer all down and in the freezer.

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I'm part of the group who cuts it up asap. Same night or day if possible. Thats what seems to work best for me as far as taste goes.

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I don't age meat. I cut it up and package it as quickly as possible. Occasionally I'll age a steak by letting it sit in my fridge for a few days before cooking it, but not often. If I want tender meat, I shoot the smallest doe I can find. You can age a big old swamp buck, soak it in milk, pound it with a meat hammer, and a nice yearling doe is still going to twice as tender and half as rank.

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its the same way for us every year. monday after first weekend: skinning, quartering/deboning, steaks, roasts, trim, rinse, wrap, repeat. i hunt with a big group, and 1st weekend we've sometimes had 15 deer to do; we all know what needs to be done and it goes pretty good. we divide our meat up evenly; then each guy trades steaks for more/less trim, etc. also we have 1 cooler full of trim that gets processed into sticks for the farmers whos land we hunt.

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Just cut up a doe I shot last night. Was cleaning it less than two hours after it died. This is the ideal situation IMO. The meat was easier to separate with your hands than it was to cut in many instances. Also, it's best case scenario for keeping bacteria from forming, which is enemy #1 IMO.

The aged venison I've tasted has varied wildly in quality and taste, and due to the incredible numbers of variables at play like shot placement, aging temperature, deer diet, deer age, overall cleanliness of meat, etc; I'm of the thought that unless you have a walk-in cooler or other way to control temp/humidity, and you really know what you're doing, it's probably not a good idea for the avg. hunter.

Too often, "aged" simply means "procrastinated." In some of the Southern MN shoot-em-up parties we have in my neck of the woods, I wouldn't dream of leaving all the bullet fragments, clotting, burnt meat, stomach/fecal matter and everything else on the meat for that long due to bacteria concerns alone!

We do 8-10 deer per year this way, and never "cut" our ground with pork or beef. We get rave reviews from friends/family, even folks that have their own corn-fed venison and aren't as pleased with the results. Although, I think a large portion of getting good ground is not just using "scraps" but utilizing nicer portions of the rear quarters as well.

Joel

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