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aging deer meat,



By: ROBBY
Posted: 22-Oct-09

I recently read that you need to age venison 3 to 4 weeks to make it really taste good and be tender. In the past I have aged it ten days and did not see a differance. Next deer I get I'm going to try it. I do have an extra refridge to use. Any input on this guys.


By: JTV
Posted: 22-Oct-09

When temps are good and cool(42 and below), I let hang for up to ten days.....Jeff


By: paddl-in
Posted: 22-Oct-09

OK this is always a controversial topic and I will be the first Huckleberry to play...

I personally dont age them. I just get them into a cooler as fast as I can but that is mainly due to southern MO heat in Sept and October and as a lazy hillbilly i figure just get them put up now so i dont have to do it later. Later season kills I don't rush them into a cooler yet I prefer to not let them exposed and hanging for more than a day or two.

1) Do you really have problems with tough venison? (I haven't ran into a "tough" chewing deer and yes I do kill afew adult bucks) 2) Flavor-what about the flavor gets better? Milder? gamier? What changes? Heres my observations-none of my venison is ever tough to chew period. Occasionally a rutty bucks meat may have a very mild rutty smell and taste a lil gamier and seems to me the longer that meat is held prior to processing the gamier it gets.


By: archer
Posted: 22-Oct-09

You can't age venison because it does not have enough fat/marbelization.


By: Howatt39
Posted: 22-Oct-09

in very cold outdoors where it is safe from predators/scavengers, Ive aged 14 deer succsefully without issue, as low as 4 days maximum 6 days, without loss of meat, I butcher myself mind you and as I do, put excess cuts/scraps into a sterile bowl and grind it up for ground after...works well, and never had tough meat..


By: Hellbender
Posted: 22-Oct-09

Ive not aged dozens of deers and never had tough meat.


By: x-man
Posted: 22-Oct-09

Aging deer is an old wives tale started by locker plants that are too busy to butcher right away like they're supposed to.


By: vb40
Posted: 22-Oct-09

I agree with x-man. I can not tell any difference in the deer I hang from 30 minutes to 7 days before butchering. Just make sure you take the time to field dress and butcher them properly.


By: Sito@Work
Posted: 22-Oct-09

Here's some info from the NDSU Ag. department:

"The question of whether or not to age game meats has always been a point of discussion among hunters. Many practical considerations such as the temperature at the time of harvest, the chilling rate, the age of the animal, the proper storage place for aging and the intended use of the meat need to be determined if you plan to age your game.

Aging of meat is defined as the practice of holding carcasses or cuts at temperatures of 34 F to 37 F for 10 to 14 days (Figure 3). This allows the enzymes present in the meat to break down some of the complex proteins contained in the carcass. Aging of meat usually improves tenderness and flavor.

Immediately after death, all meat decreases in tenderness. From one to approximately 14 days, tenderness increases at a constant rate. After 14 days of aging, tenderness continues to increase but at a much slower rate.

Because mammals and birds forage for food, their muscles may develop more connective tissue than muscles of domestic animals. Exercise can be given as a reason for less tender meat. Tenderness is generally inversely related to age of the animal at harvesting. The tenderest meat comes from young, healthy, alert animals. The condition of the animal prior to harvest has an overall effect on the quality of the meat. If an animal has run a long distance before being killed it will have depleted its reserve glycogen stores, which may result in meat which is darker in color (a brownish-red to a purplish-black) and may be sticky or gummy in texture. Consequently, this meat does not decrease to a normal pH of 5.6-5.8, but stays at a pH greater than 6. This decreases the keeping quality of meat and increases the potential of bacterial growth.

Not all meat should be aged. Young game animals are tender by nature. Aging game that has been skinned often results in excessive weight loss, dehydration and surface discoloration of the lean tissue because there is little or no fat cover on the carcass. The meat is also exposed and susceptible to deterioration by bacteria and mold growth. Processing game meats into sausage or ground meats should be done as soon after harvest as possible to minimize weight loss from drying and deterioration due to microbial growth. Grinding or chopping tenderizes game so aging is not necessary. If you prefer to age your game, leave the hide on the carcass and maintain proper temperature.

Whether or not to age birds is also a matter of personal preference. Young game birds have lighter legs, soft breastbones and flexible beaks. Older birds have darker, hard-skinned legs, hard and brittle breastbones and inflexible beaks. They need to be aged longer than young birds. If you do not have a cooler in which to put the birds, the weather can affect the aging process. Hot, muggy conditions accelerate aging. Sometimes birds are not dressed before aging. (The authors do not recommend this.) Hang the birds by the feet in a cool, dry, airy place. Feathers should be dusted with charcoal and covered with cheesecloth to protect from insects."


By: BOHUNTR
Posted: 22-Oct-09

Only buck deer need to be aged. The meat from a buck deer that is under 4 years of age is toxic and should not be eaten. The meat from bucks over 4 years old is not only good but increases sexual stamina in men by up to 200% - This is a new wives tale and every bit as true as the original one about aging deer meat.


By: KSArcher
Posted: 22-Oct-09

I've found that the best way to age venison is by tooth wear........mine! :-)

KSArcher~~~


By: midwest@work
Posted: 22-Oct-09

So there you go, Sito. NDSU is obviously spreading an old wives tale. ;-)


By: Acoupstick
Posted: 22-Oct-09

"The meat from bucks over 4 years old is not only good but increases sexual stamina in men by up to 200%" I'm pretty sure that would kill me (or - more likely - my wife).


By: TradTech
Posted: 22-Oct-09

I cut meat and managed meat dept's for 25 years. Aging whitetail venison is pointless. No fat, no enzyme to break down. Let it cool and then process. Nothing to be gained by aging.


By: GVTMule
Posted: 22-Oct-09

I have been a USDA Meat inspector for the last 32 years and have hunted for even longer than that. I have been forced by circumstance to cut deer and elk as soon as they have cooled sufficiently and I have experimented with aging and I can tell no difference. By letting them age you lose moisture and the exterior of the carcass hardens to the point that you have to completly remove the hard tissue that forms which is no fun. I believe that the key to good game meat is to keep it clean, clean, clean and to chill it as quickly as possible.


By: tjh
Posted: 23-Oct-09

Gut it, chill it, and let it hang. " I will eat no deer before its time "


By: njbuck
Posted: 23-Oct-09

The doe i shot 2 nights ago melted in my mouth last night.


By: grizzlyadam
Posted: 23-Oct-09

I always try to get a deer from the field to my freezer in three days or less. I have tried every method of hanging and aging deer and have concluded that they taste and look the best if you get the cuts packaged and into the freezer as soon as the carcass is cooled down.


By: Stik'n String
Posted: 23-Oct-09

I age all my venison. I don't believe it does anything to the flavor of the meat, although the texture certainly improves. I live in South Texas where winter does not exist, so hanging the deer in a cool place requires a walk-in cooler. I don't have one, so I placed an extra refrigerator in the garage and set the internal temperature to 37 degrees. I take all the individual cuts, trim off all fat and silver skin, pat them dry and seal them in vacuum bags. I place the vacuum bags in the refrigerator for 10-12 days before freezing the cuts I don't immediately consume. This process has worked for me and the meat is always incredible.


By: Sage of the Sage1
Posted: 23-Oct-09

Interesting thread. I've never messed with trying to age WT. I just think it's pretty good as it is. I've shot a few mulies that were down right skunky, though, and I have a friend that swears the gamey-ness goes out of them if they are aged for about a week.


By: Sito@Work
Posted: 23-Oct-09

How am I wrong Kiko? I simply quoted what the NDSU said, cain't ya' read boy?


By: VAbowhunter
Posted: 23-Oct-09

BOHNTR

My wife read your post and is begging me to kill a buck four years old or older.LOL. Just kidding.

VAbowhunter


By: John Scifres
Posted: 23-Oct-09

I butcher right away and then freeze. Then throughout the year, I age steaks in the fridge, wrapped in butcher paper and in a ziploc for ten days prior to cooking. This minimizes moisture loss and keeps blood from going all over the place. It helps with both texture (toughness) and flavor. This is only for grilling steaks. Backstraps and tenderloins are not aged. Crockpot meat is not aged. I do sometimes age burger meat by accident and it helps there too.


By: Bullshooter
Posted: 23-Oct-09

Why not do a side by side comparison. Age some of a deer, and cook at the same time as an identical un-aged cut. Put them on the dinner plate side by side.

See what you think then.


By: Rising Sun Outdoors
Posted: 23-Oct-09

I like to leave my deer quartered in an ice chest and on ice for about 4 to 5 days. Every day drain the blood and add new ice. You will not have a gamy taste and it is tender.


By: Hellbender
Posted: 23-Oct-09

Ok I will be open to a test this year with my deer. As one of the get it to the cooler as soon as possible crowd I will age my next one. I need one of the pro agers to play along. I have a elk and two does in the freezer already this year so I am now in the bucks only mindset. My next deer this year (I hope) will be a mature buck. When I get one I will follow the specific directions on aging given to me by my proaging volunteer partner. Likewise the proager yet to be named must hang his deer only till it cools to ambient temperature then boned and refridged or frozen. We both then let our family eat a meal or two and we report back.....


By: Buckstopshere
Posted: 23-Oct-09

I hang my deer and keep them cool, skin on to keep it clean, with frozen plastic soda pop bottles full of water. Fill the cavity and put a couple bungi cords around to hold the frozen pop bottles in. Rotate with fresh liter and two liter bottles in the freezer every day.

I use a meat thermometer to test the temperature of the hanging deer, at least every day while it is hanging and like it between 35 degrees and 42 degrees F.

Also, keep it out of the sunshine if you are going to hang it, no matter the outside temperature.


By: ArrowShooter
Posted: 24-Oct-09

I have butchered more than a 100 deer over the past 30 years. I have never found any value to aging. I have never seen a need to age or otherwise tenderize deer meat. I have shot young and old deer. It all comes out more or less the same.

More typically, I have seen other hunters talk about the "gamey" taste of venison. That gamey taste is universally caused by either improper field dressing or "aging." Aging in cold temperatures within reason doesn't hurt anything, but it doesn't help either. I can hang a deer for 3 days at 30 degrees or butcher it while it is still warm and it comes out the same.

If you think about it, what does aging really do? It gives bacteria time to start breaking down the meat. If it is cold, the bacteria are relatively dormant, so the process is greatly slowed. If it is warm or enough time passes at lower temperatures (above freeze), the bacteria are literally rotting the meat. Not something I am terribly interested in.

My advice: if it is above 40 degrees, butcher immediately. If it is below 40 degrees, take your choice as to whether or not to do it immediately. In terms of taste and texture, it makes little difference.


By: grizzlyadam
Posted: 24-Oct-09

I read that some deer hunters up in Maine and northern VT like the Benoits hang their deer outside to freeze then leave them all winter hanging frozen. At the end of the season they bring them inside to thaw and skin and butcher them right in their living room.


By: vinemaple savage
Posted: 24-Oct-09

Hang it in woodshed and slide a galvinize tub under it after skinning. check it ever other week or so.

when the meat slides off into tub pour it into molds, freeze ...However there are a few other ways as stated.

Milt


By: playin' hookey
Posted: 24-Oct-09

If aging didn't help meat they wouldn't waste time aging beef. It helps venison too. It makes more difference with deer that are tougher to begin with, ie bucks. Deer have to be aged with the hide on because, unlike cattle, they don't have the layer of fat over the meat which keeps the meat from drying out. Besides improving the venison, I find having access to a refrigerated meat locker to be a great convenience, as it gives me some control over the timing of the butchering.


By: dlpassthru
Posted: 24-Oct-09

For the first 25 years of my life, I ate aged (hung) venison. Now that I think about it, I'm amazed I still eat venison. IMO there is nothing tastier than a deer that goes from the field to the refrig. or freezer a.s.a.p. Hung meat is gamey. I guess if it were done in an extremely controlled situation, it may be ok, but most hunters hang deer outside, exposed to sun, flies, etc. If you really want to age meat, cut it, cryovac (seal without air),freeze it, and let it thaw gradually in the refrigerator. That way, the temp is controlled. Don't let it hang outside with the hide on. Yuk.


By: Buckstopshere
Posted: 25-Oct-09

I've hung and aged a couple hundred deer and everyone says the meat, whether ground or grilled is the best they have ever had, and I would put my grilled loins up again' the best beef filet mignon. Not to mention it is a lot better - healthier.

Aging allows the rigor mortis to slowly ease out of the meat. Green meat, "tough as tripe" full of rigor mortis has to be tougher than properly aged meat. Only stands to reason.

Take a rock-hard piece of meat and the same cut properly aged - no comparison in a tenderness and taste test. Peope age meat to get the rigor mortis out.


By: Wages
Posted: 25-Oct-09

"People age meat to get the rigor mortis out."

There is more going on in the aging process than just getting rigor out. Rigor only lasts about 24 hours. The effects of rigor will reverse in muscle tissue regardless of whether it is hanging, quartered, or de-boned if left un-frozen for an adequate time.

Unless a person knows what they are ding and has a way of maintaining a proper temperature, the effects of warm temperatures and mishandling often taint meat far more than any results gained from attempting to aging.

I’m not disputing that hanging/aging can offer good results, but I will say that it is just not necessary to achieve excellent results, even for older deer, particulary if you're grinding most of it, etc.

I process all my own deer; there are probably better ways but here is how I go about it:

I typically skin and quarter it at the farm, bone the back straps, etc and throw it all in a 120-quart cooler I bought just for this, and top it off with a couple bags of ice. If I have time I'll bone it all. When I get home I put the cooler in the garage, change out the water, add ice and go to bed.

The next day, if it's warm I'll drop a block of ice (frozen milk jug) in the cooler before I go to work or whatever. Once I get home I’ll finish boning it (if needed) and change out the water and ice. I'll slice the steaks and chops up and let them soak as well. I'll soak it to get out as much blood as possible, (unless its a young doe, then I'll skip the soaking. I use a metal tenderizer like the jaccard to let out as much blood as I can. I do this so that family and friends who are less fond of wild meat will like it better.

The third day, I add more ice before work if needed. When I get home I'll drain it all and then begin wrapping the steaks/chops and grinding the trim. I typically grind most of the rounds and shoulders if it’s a buck. I've taken 2.5 year olds that are not tough at all, but IMHO 3.5 year or older get a bit on the tough side and I just grind them and save the does for chops/steaks.

If the weather is cold and time permits extra soaking wont hurt, just keep it cool and change the water as often as you like. I've never hung a deer more than over night, and generally only string em up to skin and quarter.

I typically hose down the garage with bleach and water after each night, just to keep it all clean. In a perfect world I'd have a walk-in cooler and then maybe I’d hang and age em!


By: steve
Posted: 25-Oct-09

I have done it both ways 10 days to no days no differnts .STEVE


By: x-man
Posted: 25-Oct-09

"Aging allows the rigor mortis to slowly ease out of the meat. Green meat, "tough as tripe" full of rigor mortis has to be tougher than properly aged meat. Only stands to reason. "

I guess that depends on the quantity and quality of ones reasoning skills. ;)


By: Jeff McCormick
Posted: 25-Oct-09

I don't age Venison.No reason to.Cut them up,wrap the meat,and put it in the freezer.


By: GVTMule
Posted: 25-Oct-09

There seems to be some confusion between what actually activates the aging process. If it is bacterial then you have a problem. If kept at proper temperatures it is the enzymes with in the meat that performs the aging process. In addition comparing the aging of beef to deer is like apples and oranges they are not the same composition whereas beef has marbelized fat and deer do not. In the commercial world we age beef, we do not age pork or poultry for the same reason as deer, no intermuscular fat.


By: DPS
Posted: 26-Oct-09

Has anyone ever tried the Torell Game Tenderizer?

http://www.gametenderizer.com/


By: bowriter
Posted: 26-Oct-09

Okay- I haven't read all of the threads but I do a lot of commercial cooking of deer meat.

If it is convient, in other words if you have access to a walk in cooler, yes it does help to age the meat. We age ours at 36 degrees with the hide on for about 10 days.

But...if you don't have that kind of access, you can age one a day or so in a Coleman cooler with ice. Just be sure to leave the drain open so water drains out.

Or you can cut that sucker up right then. But here is a hint. If it is hot and if you can, bring that meat down to cold temp before butchering. Try, if at all possible, not to package warm meat. It is also better to butcher one when cold, rather than fresh.

Aging is important depending on the age of the deer.


By: TD
Posted: 26-Oct-09

To say you've never had any tough game? Subjective I guess, compared to what? A good beef tenderloin that is well aged? Compared to an old boot? I like "tender". That's much different than "not tough" I guess. My aim is to get it as close to a good beef steak as possible as I feel that is the pinnacle of land based protein. But that is just me. YMMV.

"Fresh" isn't bad and I have nothing against it. Good stuff. Due to logistics and time most of mine now is "fresh" But I haven't seen any meat, beef or game, that isn't improved in texture and taste by proper aging. It is the process of the enzymes breaking down the meat. Simple. Changes the flavor and tenderizes the meat. Marbling has nothing to do with it, meat breaks down, any meat, all meat.

Ever had any dry aged Allen Brothers steaks? Now go down to Safeway or whatever and pick up the same steak that is supermarket "wet aged" (that is the proper technical term used). Cook and eat them side by side. The dry aged Allen Bros will kick the Safeway steak all over the dining room. I believe their aging is measured in weeks, as in 6 to 8.

I don't fully age everything, very little nowadays as I lost my access to a walk in cooler. Someday I plan on building a small one of my own. But if you get a chance to age meat properly it makes a difference. Enough different to warrant the extra work? I guess we get back to that "subjective" thing again.


By: Wages
Posted: 26-Oct-09

"The dry aged Allen Bros will kick the Safeway steak all over the dining room"

The Allen Bros are graded "prime", where as the Safeway steak is at best "choice". 2 completly diffeernt steaks, so you're comparing apples to oranges.

Just the same, I agree with points overall.


By: glacier
Posted: 26-Oct-09

The last study I saw on aging was related to beef carcasses. Tenderness improved dramatically until about 10 days. Flavor improved as well. There was no advantage in flavor or tenderness after 14 days.

For those of you who call aging a wives tale, you should do some reading. If you prefer or are forced to cut it fresh, more power to you. But there are advantages to aging, give the proper temps and a method of keeping the meat from drying (fat cover or leaving the skin on)


By: bowriter
Posted: 27-Oct-09

Glacier- you are just about dead on. But it is impossible to compare beef to deer meat due the marbling factor. Aging is nothing but the breakdown of tissue due to enzyme or bacterial action. One very effective method to wet age meat is to freeze it, let it thaw, then freeze it again.

Properly aging deer meat is best done with the hide on at just above freezing temps. We have found 36 degrees to be just what we want and no more than 10 days.

But there are some tips to aging. That carcass must be clean. We wash all ours out with a hose before hanging, then dried with towels and we hang all of them head up so all fluids can drain out. Each deer is inspected every day.

But in truth, the biggest key to tasty, tender deer meat, is what you do in the first 60 minutes. Nothing you do in the kitchen can overcome improper handling. No amount of aging can over come imprpoer handling in that first hour.


By: REX
Posted: 27-Oct-09

I cut a lot of meat and always hang deer and elk for 10-14 days in my walk-in cooler at 35 degrees.

I have experience cutting meat as soon as the same day of the kill to as late as 14 days after. I can honestly say that the aged meat has always been more tender. The aged meat cuts easier and the silverskin is easier to remove.

In my experience, the taste of wild game is relatively unaffected by aging.

You can't compare wild game to beef when it comes to aging. There are too many differences.


By: polar@work
Posted: 27-Oct-09

my venison is processed personally,hung 7-10days at 32-40 degrees,backstraps&main muscle groups are seperated,all fat,bone&silverskin are removed and cut up into steaks,the rest of the deer is then put to burger,you would pay $20 a plate for the meals this method provides.


By: bowriter
Posted: 28-Oct-09

Polar- I am with you 100%...but I want youo to try something. I f you have a set limb loppers (big pruning shears) cut off a rack of ribs right at the backbone, after removing the back strap.

Let them come to room temp. and sprinkle well with Adolphs meat tenderizer and run well with KC dry venison run or regular KC dry BBQ rub. Sprinkle well with Wroc, sauce and let stand at room temp for at least an hour. I alos season well with Tony Chachere Cajun Seasoning. Then smoke of 2 hours at low temp.

Not much meat but talk about a hor dee over. Oh, be sure and trim the lower end well.

Drove to Alaska one time with a guy and we ate smoked deer ribs the whole way. He had three big sacks full of them. No way you can eat just one.

But a cold beer is a must.


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