Aging Venison....

Submitted by Joe on 09/09/2003. ( )

I'm intrested in hearing the way to properly age WT meat, especially in the wram early season.

If these events happened within a day of the deers death would it work to age the meat? The deer gets harvested, hung, skined, boned out, and the meat put in the refrig. for a couple days before wraping and freezing.

I process my own meat, this is the reason for the question. Thanks guys!

Return to Deer Taxidermy Category Menu

Use a refrigerator

This response submitted by The Taxidermologist on 09/09/2003. ( )

Basically in order to handle the meat properly it must be aged at 38-40 degrees farhrenheight for 7 to ten days. This cannot be sped up with aging at 60 degrees for two days - decomposition would happen in the carcass with risk of tainted meat.

Skin the animal as fast as is possible from the field, wash it with a hose and hang to ambient temperature (i.e. cool to outside or garage temperature). Then cut it up in chunks, empty the refrigerator of all racks, and place the whole carcass into the fridge. I usually have a rib section, torso, sometimes separating the rump, and the four legs. You can tuck the quarters into the rib cage to compress the space used. I have yet to get a buck that I couldn't cut down to fit in my fridge. The only other possibility is to use a series of Ice chests and place blocks of ice, or milk jugs frozen before-hand to cool the carcass. When I'm cutting on three at once I use this system.

You can begin cutting up the meat a day later but let it age for the week before freezing. I bone out the whole animal and actually separate all muscle groups like I was dissecting a comparative anatomy animal in college. All the smaller pieces I will eventually grind, are placed in tupperware tubs and refrigerated for the week, ground, then packaged into 1 lb. packages or made into burgers and froze. I only slice the steaks just before packaging, or leave whole loins, round roast etc.

Lets see if I have this clear...

This response submitted by Joe on 09/09/2003. ( )

So your telling me I can skin and bone out the meat right away then I can age the chunks of meat in the fridge for a week then wrap and freeze? And this will work the same way as leaving the meat on the bone for a week.

I'm limited on cool temp storage space!

That's what the man said

This response submitted by George on 09/09/2003. ( )

Can't believe how proud I am that Stephen set that myth of "aging" to bed as it should have been. Hanging meat is OK but his method allows the muscle tissue to relax normally and usually more tenderly than hanging. I crack up to see unskinned deer hanging in trees for weeks "aging" when I know that they are really rotting. No wonder some people don't eat venison. LOL

Now, Joseph,

This response submitted by Glen Conley on 09/09/2003. ( )

you come into this Forums and ask how to do taxidermy, then you come in and ask how to turkey hunt, then you come in and ask how to age venison.

You have just proven that what Cecil's famous friend said is true. It takes a Forums to raise a taxidermist.

The aging technique that I do is real similar to Steve's. I run a cooler temperature, 34-36 F. I do not age the leg muscles that have a lot of tendon in them, or the neck. Another thing I do differently is I age all the big hunks in 13 gal. white plastic garbage bags. I rinse each piece before placing in the bag. On day 3 you will get a lot of drainage. Pitch the bag, rinse the meat off, and then a new bag and back in the fridge. On day 5 or day 6, the meat should have drained again. Depending on the age of the deer, I "might" start wrapping on day 6. I weigh out meat portions, wrap in Saran Wrap, and then in freezer paper. Identify cuts with an indelible marker.
Old deer will get aged longer.

Now, before you come back in here in a few weeks and ask how to cook a deer, I'm gonna beat ya to it.

Joe, this is kinda like trade secret stuff, so don't go tellin' anyone else. O.K.?

All those leg muscles with all the tendon, and the neck, go ahead and cut it up in chunks, wrap and freeze in one pound packs. When you're ready to use 'em, take out 4 one pound packs, use a 6 qt. dutch oven and cook at a simmering, bubbling boil until the tendons are tender. They will also be quite palatable at that point. When done take the meat out, you will want to wind up with 2-3 qts. of broth. Keep an eye on your water level before taking the meat out.

This broth now contains a some what primitive gelatin, but it's good stuff. Three different options:
1. Just start adding any vegetables you like and throw some meat back in and call it soup.
2. Throw some meat back in, and if you can get Reggano Wide Egg Noodles, throw in a bag of them. That'll yield a bunch of grub that is too much to eat all at once. Don't sweat it, the Reggano noodles stand up to being frozen and nuked. That's my idea of a TV dinner, even though I don't have a TV.
3. Get Jiffy biscuit mix. Measure out 1 cup, to this start stirring in cool broth until you have a smooth blend. Pour this back into your broth and stir well. Make up dumplings as per described on the box. The yield will be 8-10 dumplings, with a surplus of gravy, which brings us to a subcategory.
a. You can also freeze the gravy. You have all the left over meat that you are trying to figure out what to do with. The cooked meat can also be frozen, and you will find it more tender yet when nuked. You now have the basic components for Bambi Manhattens at a later date.
b. If you get really hooked on the Manhattens, stir in 2 cups of biscuit mix and skip making the dumplings.
c. Left over meat. Can be used for cold cut sandwiches, or simmer in BBQ sauce. As a breakfast meat, see: Proper Frying of Deer Meat.

Proper Frying of Deer Meat
The best way to ruin a perfectly good piece of deer meat is to fry it in the wrong kind of shortening. Swiftning shortening rates #1, followed by bacon grease and lard. People are clutching their chests all over the place, but it's a thing of quality of life in the meantime.

That left over meat you have been worrying about can be tossed into a hot skillet just long enough to warm up. Darn good with eggs, sunny side up, yolk running every where.

We can't leave proper frying without discussing proper breading. The world's best batter mix is made by Fry Krisp, a Michigan based company. Available through IGA stores, or can be ordered on-line through the Fry Krisp website. You will want the original All Natural mix. This is truly one versatile mix. It can be used dry or as a wet dip batter. It is a batter that picks up and enhances the flavor of any meat or seafood it is used with. Large quantities can be stored in the freezer......unless you don't have a bug problem where you're at. I guess there's really nothing wrong with eating bugs, I've read they can help prevent scurvy.

You can take these boiled pieces of meat, drop them into a wet batter mix, then drop those into hot shortening in turn. Cook on each side until a beautiful golden brown, then eat 'em 'till ya get sick from over indulgence, remember, it's quality of life in the meantime.

If you like the results of all this boiling stuff, any of the meat on the front legs, including the shoulder blade meat, can be done this way. That big tough muscle on the thigh can be reduced to a delicacy in this manner.

All the back cuts can be breaded in dry Fry Krisp and then fried. Be sure to use a 4" fillet knife or a boning knife on the hips to get ALL the meat off, that's some of the best meat on the deer. Bone out all the meat left in shreds on the bone, package those separately, roll those around in dry Fry Krisp and fry.

Now if you want to produce a super mild flavored venison, marinade the cut in milk, real milk, remember quality of life, for an hour with the milk and venison being at room temperature before starting the marinade. Dip meat in egg yolk, and then in a flour and corn meal combination, then fry.

Now, if you come back with any questions on how to eat deer meat, that's when you post your address so that we can come over and give you an actual demonstration.

where I come from...

This response submitted by Bill Yox on 09/10/2003. ( )

The refrigerator is also known as "the barn". Its the right temp during the deer season, and we hang them. We leave the skin on so it doesnt dry out. We also dont always quarter and put in the refrig if we dont have to because the meat seems to drain better hanging, rather then getting those blood spots are drain areas at the bottom. If its too warm yet, Steves method rules. By the way, some guys here still skin them to cool them faster and just trim the outside off when cutting. The skin is tricky, as it can insulate a carcass if the temp is wrong...I throw a couple bags of ice into the chest cavity of hanging deer, too.

Forget letting the meat age.

This response submitted by John C on 09/10/2003. ( )

The tenderness is all in the way you cut the deer up, and cook it.

I can take the hams and seperate the individual muscles, remove the strephing cut the meat across the grain and it will fool even the best critique on being tender young backstrap.

Remember beef is beef and deer is venison. There will always be a bit of difference. Even beef can be cut wrong.

The pieces of deer that tend to be tuff are parboiled in my Jerky receipe and then dried over a charcoal fire, even they get tender when done this way.

I rspectufully disagree.

This response submitted by The Taxidermologist on 09/11/2003. ( )

While cooking and the way you cut up a deer certainly can have an effect of the tendernous of venison, proper aging with both improve how tender it is and the flavor.

I worked a while for the USDA at the Meat Science Research Facility at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Station helping with research on various aspects of feeding beef, cutting it up, and even an experiment on aging. Currently the Beef one purchases from a Grocery Store is usually 2-4 weeks old. If you multiply the amount of beef being aged at any one time, it staggers the mind on how much regrigerator space is being used to just store the meat. All that costs big money, both for the facility and the refrigeration. A Masters student at the University of Maryland doing research did his thesis on "Fast aging". We buthchered up beef sent in from Iowa Beef and did a control group aged for 7 days at 38-40 degrees, and his group at 48-50 degrees for 48 hours. They had a professional food testing facility there back then, and people trained on consuming and judging various cuts cooked and presented judged flavor and tendernous. The long aged faired much better. I never got the Bacterial tests info though, I left for Graduate School before that.

Hogs are not aged though - they will begin to lose quality very fast if stored in a cooler. Bear meat should be treated this way - i.e. butcher and freeze as quick as possible.

For the record, I remove essentially every tendon in my deer meat. It is very time consuming but creates a better product.


This response submitted by dustin on 09/12/2003. ( )

i hung one outside for 3 hours then skinned it cut it up and frze it and it taste the same as any other deer thjat ages for 7 days


This response submitted by Paul on 09/12/2003. ( )

If you shoot the little guys with the spots you can eat them the same day.

Me Too!

This response submitted by ? on 09/13/2003. ( )

I hit one one time with my grandpa's semi. I just scraped it off to the side cause I was in a hurry. A few days later me and my buddy went back to get it. We didn't hang it for no week. We was hungry so we skint it and then run it through the wood chipper and then right to the fire. That deer was really tender and that was in July, they say they're even better in the winter.

Stephen/Glen are correct John...

This response submitted by marty on 09/28/2003. ( )

Although, most beef in grocery stores is only aged 2-3 DAYS (not weeks). As Stephen stated, it's too expensive to maintain the refrigeration/space to do so. This btw, is why restaurant cuts are more expensive and better tasting than store bought beef.

Meat is made up of long muscle cells connected by collagen. Collagen is what causes the meat toughness. Young animals have very little collagen between their muscles. This is why you don't need to age young deer nearly as long as older deer. Natural enzymes breaks down this collagen over time. So the longer it hangs the more tender it becomes.

Maintaining a consistent cool temperature is tough at home. If the weather's consistently cool, I'll hang it in my garage. Temperature control is easier in the refrigerator as Stephen suggested. Although I quarter out my deer, pull out the loins and backstraps and then the rib-cage goes in the garbage. I loosely wrap the meat in saran wrap to keep it from drying out too.

My wife and I use to hate venison. But since I've learned how to properly age and cook it (also very important as John stated), she even agrees that my deer's backstraps blow away ANY beef steaks she's ever had...

better to age

This response submitted by hoss rogers on 10/21/2003. ( )

i done age my deer for 7 days in a 36 degree locker. this is the biggest difference in tendernous and taste.but the other important thing i do is to immediately field dress my the meat doesnt lose taste due to the rotting insides. hope yall can use this advise.. and always kill a big one.

Northern Ontario hunter knows best

This response submitted by Big Rob on 11/01/2003. ( )

I've shot, skinned and butchered a ton of deer in my time and Marty is right. Young deer can be cut and packaged a lot sooner than old deer due to the toughness of the connective tissue. Aging meat allows time for the connective tissue to break down. BUT, more importantly, the key to eating tender venison is the preparation and cooking style. If you slap a bunch of chops in a fry pan your just asking for a tough, wild tasting feed.

First of all, get rid of the fat! I can't stress this enough ! This tallow will scare away any first time venison eaters especially when they scrape it off the roof of their mouths.YUK

Secondly, slow cook roasts and marinate chops and steaks.
I like to use a half bottle of red wine, water (about an inch deep in the roast pan) and a package of onion soup mix and let the roast cook about 5 hours at 200 degrees--it breaks apart with your fork. I make a venison "porketta" out of the neck thats to die for!
Try marinating your chops and steaks in equal portions of bbq sauce and italian dressing and sprinkle with montreal steak spice. Let it sit overnight and bbq it for supper the next day. WOW you won't eat it any other way after you try that!

For tender deer 25% of it is aging and 75% of it is the cut, preparation and cooking technique.

Thats the way I see it boys! Try my cooking and preparation technques, your family will love it.

Big Rob - Canada

Return to Deer Taxidermy Category Menu