Author Topic: Aged Venison  (Read 469 times)

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Offline Unknown

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Aged Venison
« on: November 16, 2018, 10:44:49 PM »
This last year in particular, I've been evaluating the National Weather Service forecasts. On my google machine I type in NWS with my zip code. After some practice it gives the link as a top pick for what I might be asking about. It is pretty close to spot on- especially as what was the end of the week becomes tomorrow.

All that means is I have begun to anticipate the perfect week to hang a deer carcass without having the modern convenience of a walk-in cooler. Do you Dry Age your Venison? ( I never have but want to)

At first blush I figgered I'd just hang it in the barn. I tried this once 30 years ago. I had a dry and pretty clean barn and snow on the ground. But, I sorely underestimated how determined, sneaky, big/bad the coyote could be. The barn I have now is not clean or dry. And is on a next summer schedule.

The weather has been what I call perfect - above 0. 12*F-3? at dawn with a bright sun quickly running up to 50's 60's so I have wasted a number of good days to build me a " hang house" > is that even a thing. I've likely overthought it, as I'd rather take these parts and later retrofit to a larger smokehouse- something to build nest spring/ summer when the barn is ready.

A few boards to make an above ground casket- like object, a small fan, thermostat, heater so nothing freezes. What do you think? My family did not, can't find a friend now that does. Aged Venison Do you? Why not?

I'll go ahead- does anyone smoke a deer head like one might a sheep's?  > I haven't either but why not?
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Offline Pete Bog

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Re: Aged Venison
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2018, 11:35:32 PM »
   With many years of experience on more deer than I can count, under my belt, I can tell you that we do not 'age' venison for many reasons. Our climate is much colder than yours so your experience may be different but the reasons we do not do it are varied.
   If you leave it to hang outside there are birds that poop, squirrels that gnaw and mice that climb. You can cover the carcass with clean burlap or cheese cloth to mitigate those issues but  three days hanging is about the limit up here.
   The hide is removed as quickly as is reasonable, usually not to exceed 12 hours. The hide will allow the carcass to retain heat and give the meat an 'off' taste. The skinned carcass will then get a dried outer layer as the meat cools but after about the third day hanging, the meat starts to dry out and that changes the taste too.     
   The meat becomes harder to process because more trimming is needed to get rid of the dry "skin" that has formed on it.
   Now, all of that having been said, I have seen people leave the deer hang high in a tree (eight to ten feet off the ground to keep it from predators) with the hide on. They lower it to cut off what they need when they need it. The temperatures are continually below freezing when they do it. Freeze dried venison may have its own attraction for some people but its just not for me.
   With your temperatures getting into the 50's in the daytime, I would hesitate to let it hang more than 24 to 36 hours due to the possibility of spoilage.
   If you have a deer hanging and have ever wanted to practice some bush craft using sinew, now is the time to extract it. It is an amazing material to work with.

Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: Aged Venison
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2018, 01:52:06 AM »
   With many years of experience on more deer than I can count, under my belt, I can tell you that we do not 'age' venison for many reasons. Our climate is much colder than yours so your experience may be different but the reasons we do not do it are varied.
   If you leave it to hang outside there are birds that poop, squirrels that gnaw and mice that climb. You can cover the carcass with clean burlap or cheese cloth to mitigate those issues but  three days hanging is about the limit up here.
   The hide is removed as quickly as is reasonable, usually not to exceed 12 hours. The hide will allow the carcass to retain heat and give the meat an 'off' taste. The skinned carcass will then get a dried outer layer as the meat cools but after about the third day hanging, the meat starts to dry out and that changes the taste too.     
   The meat becomes harder to process because more trimming is needed to get rid of the dry "skin" that has formed on it.
   Now, all of that having been said, I have seen people leave the deer hang high in a tree (eight to ten feet off the ground to keep it from predators) with the hide on. They lower it to cut off what they need when they need it. The temperatures are continually below freezing when they do it. Freeze dried venison may have its own attraction for some people but its just not for me.
   With your temperatures getting into the 50's in the daytime, I would hesitate to let it hang more than 24 to 36 hours due to the possibility of spoilage.
   If you have a deer hanging and have ever wanted to practice some bush craft using sinew, now is the time to extract it. It is an amazing material to work with.
Ditto to all of the above. Our deer get skinned within an hour of being hung to allow the meat to cool as rapidly as possible.  It makes the process much easier, too. Carving up a skinned carcass that's been hanging 2-3 days is no picnic. I mean 'carving' in the literal sense!  If the meat gets over 40 deg for more than a couple hours, you are inviting bacteria growth.
You can "age" venison like you would beef, but it requires strict environmental control.
I only do what the voices in my wife's head tell her to tell me to do.

Offline wolfy

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Re: Aged Venison
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2018, 10:04:39 AM »
Some years ago, Iowa State University did a study on aging venison by allowing a number of carcasses to hang for varying periods of time and temperatures.  Without going into great detail, the conclusion was that 'aging' venison, taking into account all of the varying conditions tested, did NOTHING to improve the end product.  Hanging only until the deer's carcass cools completely and rigormortis sets in produces the best tasting meat according to the study. :coffee:

Aging beef and aging venison produces entirely different results....beef improves in tenderness and taste with varying amounts of hang-time due to the marbling within the muscle tissue.  Venison, on the other hand, has no marbling within the muscle itself, but BETWEEN the muscle groups.  That means that the deer's muscle-tissue will never become more tender from extended periods of hanging......only drier and more dense.  Enzymes and muscle deterioration are at work in the aging beef, but cannot occur naturally in a hanging deer carcass.....only dehydration, density and lengthening occur.

The only parts of the deer that I take immediately after the kill are the heart, liver and 'hanging tenders' or the small tenderloins inside the body at the top of the rib cage and alongside the spine.  Leaving them inside the cooling animal, even overnight, will cause them to dry out and shrink.....sacrelig e for the most tender part of the whole animal! :doh:

The care that goes into cleaning the meat before packaging is THE most important factor in producing great tasting venison......that means NO deer tallow, hair, bone dust, sinew, blood clots or anything else that you don't normally season your meat with.  Vacuum seal or wrap tightly with plastic wrap & white butcher paper to keep all air away from the meat surface to prevent freezer burn.  As Alton Brown would say, GOOD EATS! :drool:
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Offline Unknown

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Re: Aged Venison
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2018, 11:40:12 AM »
That is not very encouraging Wolfy. Which, based on the study you've recalled, may not be a bad thing :)
  Certainly though I am waiting on cooler temps to arrive. on second thought adding a thermostat to hold at 40*F to a freezer  would be more surefire than a wood box outdoors.....holdin g high humidity would be the only obstacle.

Pete, Op, wolf- thanks for the helping hand
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Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: Aged Venison
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2018, 11:59:53 AM »
When I first got to Montana, one of the early pioneer families took me under their wing.  With the father, and 3 sons, hunting season always resulted in a shed filled with whitetails, mule deer and elk hanging.  With that much meat to process, it might take upward to a week to get it all off the bone and processed.  Coming from WA where temps during hunting season on the West Side might never get below 45F deg, I asked the Ol' Man about leaving an animal hanging that long.  His response was, "Humph...well, by the time we get to the last of it, we call it 'jerky on the hoof'. We grind most of it."
I only do what the voices in my wife's head tell her to tell me to do.