Aging Is The Key To Great Tasting Venison
By Pat Carrothers
Venison actually contains many of the same enzymes as beef, such as lactic acid. Venison, however, has a different taste and it is much lower in fat. You can get an even better flavor from your deer by aging the meat in the proper manner. Aging deer is a simple process, but it needs to be done with care to save the meat for consumption.
After the deer dies, it enters the rigor mortis stage. This stage usually lasts about a day. During that stage, the muscles contract and the meat is tougher to butcher and hard to cook and eat. You don’t want to freeze the meat during this stage. You can either hang the skinned deer in a very cool spot, or quarter the deer and store the meat in a very cool environment.
In order to allow the meat to age without decay, keep the meat at a temperature ranging from 32-35 degrees. Make sure the meat never gets any warmer than 40 degrees because at that temperature, bacteria can begin to grow and the meat will rot. Aging deer can take place over a period of 3 to 10 days or more. There is no specific time.
The general rule of thumb is that the younger the deer, the less aging it needs. If you have a mature buck, you may want the meat to age for 7-10 days in order for it to become tender. Younger deer usually only take 3-5 days. You will have to work in a trial and error type of way. The aging deer process will depend on many different factors including the environment, the type of deer and many other things. Whatever you do, make sure you have proper storage facilities with proper temperatures. Anything outside the right temperature range will allow meat the chance to spoil.
After the aging process is complete, you want to freeze the venison to use later at your disposal. It is a good idea to freezer wrap each piece of meat in moisture free wrappings. You may want to use vacuum packaging to ensure that you get all of the air bubbles out. This will keep the meat fresh for longer in the freezer. If any moisture gets into the meat, it will have a much more “gamey” taste and it can become tough. Venison can usually be stored in freezers at 0 degrees for anywhere from 6 to 12 months. Make sure you label each package with the date so you can keep track of it’s age. If you are an avid hunter, you may also want to label the package in a manner so you can tell from which deer the meat comes. Try it out and enjoy that tender venison!
Next post: The Best Ways To Cook Deer Meat
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