Those of you who buy or raise/sell grass fed, grass finished beef, how long does your butcher hang them? (Meaning young fat beef, not cull cows)
Got an array of answers to this yesterday at a meat workshop from butchers and producers and am curious to see what you all are doing/seeing.
I just butchered a grass finished 2.5yr old heifer two weeks ago yesterday with a nice fat layer. My butcher was impressed with the fat layer for a grass finished animal (makes me wonder what other grass finished animals he's seeing?) and said they'd hang it for 10-14 days. Today is day 15 and they haven't called me yet to say it's ready and I'm getting so hungry for beef!
From what I've been reading, you shouldn't go beyond three to five days for carcasses with very thin to no fat. I or the article I got it from could be wrong, but here's the article: http://extension.missouri.edu/p/G2208
Hanging at a cool temperature is done to allow the enzymes in the meat to break down the cell walls, making it tenderer. The longer it hangs, the more time this process has to work, so the meat gets tenderer.
As the carcass hangs, the outer layers dry out and lose quality. This will have to be trimmed off before packaging. If the outer layers are fat, then trimming that will not cause you to lose valuable lean beef. If the fat layer is not thick enough, the butcher will have to trim some of the beef away.
A good butcher can look at the carcass and guess just how long he can hang it before having to trim good beef away. You can overrule him and have your carcass hung longer, you'll just end up losing some outside beef off of each cut.
Every carcass can be different. Genetics and feed can make a big difference in the amount of fat cover on the carcass. If you are not experienced enough to make the call yourself, then take the advice of your butcher, who should be well able to decide.
Don't ask me how long to let your carcass hang. I'd have to come to where you are and take a look at the amount of fat on the outside in order to make a guess.
Thanks for the replies. I haven't had a steak in over 2 years, so no matter how long my beef hangs, it's too long, because I'm steak deprived. I trust my butcher, but did find it interesting that he was surprised when I told him it was grass finished, he assumed it was grain finished because of the fat on it.
At the workshop the answers varied from 3 to 21 days, and so I was curious about what anyone else doing grass finished fats does to compare to. Many others at the workshop were surprised at the 21 day hangtime so I figured it was more unusual to hang that long.
Is it possible to cover the outside of lean beef (or venison) with plastic wrap or cheese cloth to prevent it from drying, to permit it to hang longer? Would that do any good? What about leaving the hide on to keep meat from drying out? We process our own meat and currently have to pack the meat in coolers full of ice for a few days. Not ideal, but it's the best we can do (been doing it this way for years). But we are thinking about building a walk-in meat cooler for beef and deer. I'd love to be able to hang the deer longer but don't want it to dry out.
I just sent a grass fed Holstein to freezer camp back in early December. He did have corn the last 4-6 weeks, so he has a nice fat layer. He hung for 16 days (Christmas was coming so they couldn't hang him any longer as they were going out of town for a month. I got a sweet deal on processing since I was OK with 16 days.)
YUM YUM YUM!
What's really neat is that my DH has rarely had beef that is home grown. Mr. City Boy was raised on store beef. When I was working with the processor I found out what day he was cutting my sides and arranged to get ribeye steaks before they went into the freezer. Dh threw them on the grill that night and we celebrated having our first home grown beef from our farm. DH cut off a hunk of his "perfectly grilled" steak and after chewing with a look of estacy on his face swallowed and said, "I get it now!" He didn't think there was that big of a difference in store vs. homegrown but now he's totally won over! He's even talking about "helping" me pick out the next steer! (Back off, City Boy, Momma's a country girl who likes to eat and can pick out a good calf with my good eye closed!)
I refuse to believe corporations are people until Texas executes one.
I also believe that workers need Unions as much as gun owners need the NRA.
My butcher refuses to hang longer than 5 days. He says things like,
"Do you want it fresh, or starting to rot?"
"They can hang it longer out west where the air's dry, but we've got too much humidity here and I'm in and out of the cooler all day."
"I only hang my own beef for 3 days."
My steer was totally grassfed and looks plump although not a lot of fat on the outside from what I saw. I'm confused and worried. This butcher comes highly recommended and most of the deer hunters bring their deer to him.
We pick up our beef Friday and I'm so worried it'll be tough.
4-5 days hanging is great for vension ... beef, not so much. Deer don't usually have very much fat.
14-21 days for a steer with average fat cover is recommended. If there is very little fat, a week shorter might be necessary.
Look up Matkin's Meats, in Gibsonville, NC. They are a USDA inspected facility that will give you every option you could possibly want from a butcher, for about a nickel a pound more than most local butchers.
I drive 3 hours to get there. They take my steer into a walled pen, where he has fresh water all night, then kill in the early morning, when he's calm. They custom cut, weigh, price and wrap, ready for retail sale. I get mine wrapped in heavy vacuum sealed plastic. I've kept some for 2 years without freezer burn.
You don't need an appointment. They are big enough that there's always room for one more.
Your animal's hide is marked with a label that is practically unremovable (epoxy glue), then the carcass is marked with indelible dye. They are really serious about you getting back all of your own meat.
They even let you specify two different cut sheets, one for each half, in case you're splitting a steer with someone. The meat is boxed separately when you get it.
It is frozen so hard when you pick it up that I once drove 5 hours to deliver a steer, packed in coolers. When we tossed the meat into the chest freezer it made a sound like chunks of metal hitting it. That's how hard frozen it still was.
If your meat comes back from this butcher too tough because it wasn't aged long enough, you can fix it. Simply take it from the freezer to the refrigerator and leave it for a while. Once it thaws up to 42 degrees in the refrigerator, it will begin aging. You can check on it every day to see how it's doing. If it's in vacuum shrink wrap, it probably won't harm the outer surfaces at all! I read of a guy who aged his vacuum sealed, shrink wrapped beef for 60 days this way without any harm to the meat except a little darkening. He graded it as butter tender, a gourmet's delight. I don't know if I would go so far as 60 days, but I've done it for over a week on store-bought beef that was adequately packaged. It worked!