Do you age your Meat?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Fire-Man, Sep 16, 2006.

  1. Fire-Man

    Fire-Man Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Question for the ones of you that proscess(?) your own. If you kill a deer or hog/cow--do you age it(hang for days) before you proscess it? I have seen some of the deer hunters that will put the deer pieces in a cooler of ice for several days before they proscess it. Thanks Randy
     
  2. Sherrynboo

    Sherrynboo Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We processed two deer last year. The first one we cut up and froze immediately, the second we cut up and stored in freezer bags in the fridge for two weeks before freezing. The difference in those two deer were incredible! We will always age meat now. On chickens we aged them for 3-4 days in the fridge before freezing.

    Sherry in GA
     

  3. Fire-Man

    Fire-Man Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Come on Sherry------Don't keep me quessing(LOL) what was the difference? Thanks Randy
     
  4. cindyc

    cindyc Well-Known Member

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    The taste... the tenderness. The fibers in the meat continue to break down until they are frozen. If you freeze it right away, it will be a lot tougher. Also, some of the water dehydrates out in that two weeks, making the meat more flavorful.

    I had the same experience. EDITED TO ADD: I don't process my own, but bought some that had not been aged last year. It was good, but some that we aged was MUCH better.

    Cindyc.
     
  5. BellsBunnies

    BellsBunnies Well-Known Member

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    We always ice deer down in the cooler for about a week - drain the blood water out and replace with ice as needed.
     
  6. longshadowfarms

    longshadowfarms Well-Known Member

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    We age it whenever we can but sometimes there just isn't a practical way to manage it (deer shot during a warm spell). If you are butchering your own, plan on doing it when the temps are right and will be for the next week or so.
     
  7. goatlady

    goatlady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    aging = breaking down of tissue = rotting! I process and package my deer and elk, and other meats within 24 hours or so. Always seems tender and flavorful to my palate, but then I do NOT eat commercially raised/processed meats. Freezing meats and then thawing to cook them breaks down tissues without it being a rotting process. I personally feel "aging" meats was invented by the commercial meat processors because there is no way they can process tons of meat quickly, so to cover their butts they decided "aging" was a good thing and "made the meat better". Good marketing technique that has paid off the the meat industry. I don't recall seeing any mention of "aged" poultry or sea food, have you?
     
  8. Deb862

    Deb862 Well-Known Member

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    When we butchered chickens the first time we did not age, just froze them. When we cooked those birds we were almost turned off to "home raised" chicken as they didn't taste too great. Then the next time someone told us to age birds for at least 24-48 hrs in the fridge first then freeze. As someone stated above, the difference was absolutely noticeable. We loved it! Now, we will always age chickens.

    As for the larger animals, we haven't really done them yet so don't know although everything I have read, everything says to age cows, pigs, deer, etc. like at least 5-7 days in fridge-like temperatures for maximal taste and product.
     
  9. Ed Norman

    Ed Norman Well-Known Member

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    Aging breaks the long chain proteins into shorter chains, making the meat more tender. Commercial processors didn't invent it to help handle the amounts of meat they process. Once the aging cooler is full, they have to process just as much as they kill every day, or else they would need to build new coolers constantly.

    Pork isn't aged, it is cut as soon as it is cooled.

    Want to know about aged poultry? Try this recipe:
    "Hanging

    Traditionally wild birds are hung before plucking, drawing and cleaning ie innards still intact. They are suspended by the neck in a cool, airy place, to tenderise the meat and develop flavour as the deterioration process begins. Opinions vary on how long to hang a bird or whether to hang game at all but 3-5 days appears typical. Today, for hygeine reasons, game birds damaged by shot are often prepared quickly."

    Luckily, that was from across the sea and we are more civilized here. I once read they hung grouse and pheasant by the neck until the neck rotted and they fell. Mmm, that's good eating.

    And as for fish, I saw some show where an old Inuit lady kept alive the tradition of burying salmon heads in the dirt for several weeks. When she dug them up, they were gray green and she went right for the eyeballs first. They said there is a good chance of dying from botulism or something, but she was in her 80s and healthy.

    As for me, I age venison and beef if the weather is good. Chickens stay in the fridge a few days, cleaned, then get frozen. Pigs hang overnight to cool and get cut the next day. Wild birds get gutted quick and cleaned and frozen when I get home. Same with fish.
     
  10. vicker

    vicker Well-Known Member

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    To really "age" meat you need to have it where you can keep the temp and the humidty very constant. We don't do that. We do keep ours out long enough for the carcas to get passed the rigor mortis stage. That is most important. It happens quicker in warm weather than in cooler weather. We will age chickens and small game in the fridge. We try to kill deer when it is cool and damp, but sometimes that doesn't happen. If you hang them up when it is cold out, it could take forever to pass rigor. I would prefer warm over freezing weather. Bacteria grows on the outside surface of the meat and is killed quickly in cooking (or freezing).
     
  11. Highground

    Highground Well-Known Member

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    Ever wonder why some of us Hillwilliams have fridges on our porches?
    Skin 'em and hang 'em for a week. :dance:
    Don't forget to add a lock. :p
     
  12. skruzich

    skruzich Well-Known Member

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    You can also age your beef by taking them out of the freezer thawing and throwing them in the fridge for a week or two. I usually age mine in the fridge for a week then in a marinade for another week
     
  13. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    Yes I age everything. Tastes better and chews better.
     
  14. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    i normally leave a deer hang in my stone smoke house for 3-5 days (all except for the tenderloin). it maintains a stable temperature in there. usually it stays above freezing during deer season. i have left deer hang for a week before. it does change the flavor. it is all in what you like.
     
  15. Laura Workman

    Laura Workman (formerly Laura Jensen) Supporter

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    Bacterial breakdown is rotting, and is dangerous to eat. The enzymatic breakdown of aging takes place in lower temperatures than bacterial breakdown and is not the same thing. Properly aged meat is safe to eat.
     
  16. chas

    chas Well-Known Member

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    Every animal I butcher is aged depending on the animal.
    Birds and rabbitts 2-3 days in ice water,changing the water as it gets pink.
    Deer and goats I quarter after they have hung for a day or two.Then put up to two in a huge refrigerator in the basement for a week or two.My wife won't let me keep it on the porch Highground:shrug: .
    Hogs hang for a day or two after being skinned.
    Cattle I keep at the slaughter house in the cooler for 2 weeks.
    I made a mistake cutting up a cow the same day it was slaughtered.Even the hamburg was tough.
    Chas
     
  17. Trixie

    Trixie Well-Known Member

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    I actually never heard of home killed meat being aged.

    Although, we have never butchered deer or cattle ourselves. We never age pork , as someone said. There is no way I would hold chicken any longer than it takes to dress it, chill it, and put it in the freezer, or can it. Of course, we have always dressed from 30 to 80 chickens - so it takes a while for them to fully freeze, I guess they age some in that process.

    That is just my preference, though. It may also be that I was raised on home killed, non-aged chickens.

    I guess if you do and it works for you - do it. Maybe try some both ways and see how you like it.
     
  18. Christiaan

    Christiaan Dutch Highlands Farm

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    I send our beef out to be processed, they hang it for at least 21 days. This year's steer went for 28. Tender as butter and the tastiest beef I've had in years. Chickens sit in the reefer for two or three days before freezing, ditto with rabbits. Havent' rasised a pig in many years. We used to wait until cool weather and usually would hang them for a day or two before cutting up.
    Aging is an age-old (pun intended) way to tenderize and improve the flavor of most meats.
    I read a report some 30 years ago about to Native American women in Wisconsin who died of botulism after eating fermented beaver tail. Yum.
     
  19. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    must...fight..the urge..to comment on the beaver tail! :baby04:
     
  20. Bearfootfarm

    Bearfootfarm Hello, hello....is there anybody in there.....? Supporter

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    I cut deer in quarters and salt it and put it in trash bags. Then I set it ON TOP of ice in a cooler for at least a week. The difference in the tenderness is amazing.