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Aging venison vs. it drying out  RSS feed

 
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Last year was my first year butchering a deer on my own.  If I get an older deer I've heard I should let it hang and age for 4-7 days at refrigerator temps.  I should have those conditions in my garage.  I'm going to skin it right away while it's easy to get the hide off.  I'm worried that with the skin off the meat that is exposed to the air will dry out.  Does aging a skinned deer result in lots of wasted meat?

One method I though of would be to butcher it promptly, wrap the cuts for the freezer and put the meat in the refrigerator for 4-7 days.  Then freeze it.  Would that give the same "aging" effect with less drying out?  Would it result in other horrible problems?

Am I totally over-blowing the dried out meat thing?

Thanks!
 
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I typically hang my moose or elk for 10-14 days.  You have the right idea with hanging the meat at fridge temps.  There will be a little bit of dry meat on the outside, but not much.  Just be sure that it is not humid in the place you are hanging the meat or you may have problems with mold.  All that being said, if you are planning to do ribs I suggest cutting those first before you hang the carcass.  Because the meat around the ribs is not very thick it will dry out more.
 
Mike Jay
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Thanks Tim!  So do you cut off the dry meat as you butcher?  How deep does the dryness go?  1/2" on a moose may not be a big deal but it adds up on a little deer, if you know what I mean...

Also, do you cut out the tenderloins right away or let them age along with the rest of the carcass?
 
Tim Siemens
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If the tenderloins are seperate, cut them right away.  I would say the dry meat to trim off is 1/16".  Not to much.
 
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We have cut our deer into quarters and put it into a refrigerator, maybe a week before processing into selected cuts.  This way the meat is well drained of blood.  The dried out parts can be cut into pieces to be used as pet treats or cook them in a crockpot for a tasty dog food.
 
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Years ago, my friend experimented with skinning two hind quarters and rubbing them down with kosher salt several times a week untill at layer about 1/8" of pretty hard " rind" built up.  He hung them for about two weeks at @ 40 degrees.  The meat inside the rind was moist and tender.  Not sure what he did with the rind part.  Knowing him, the chickens got it.   Larry
 
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Mike Jay wrote: I'm worried that with the skin off the meat that is exposed to the air will dry out.  Does aging a skinned deer result in lots of wasted meat?  



Other than the guts and bones we have very little wasted meat.

We cut the silver skin and any dried meat from hanging off then put these in a crockpot along with any scrapes (like grizzle)  that have been trimmed off, then fill with water to cover and cook all day.

This becomes dog food or food for what ever animals you have.  We also set aside small pieces of meat for dog treats.

 
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I hang mine with the hide on to protect it from drying out and getting dirty as I hang it in my shop. After doing it that way I haven't seen a benefit of skinning first. (Its not that much harder to skin after aging)
 
Mike Jay
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Thanks Marc, that's an option I hadn't considered.  I can get a fresh hide off in what seems to be 20 minutes.  If an aged one was not much worse, I'll go that way for sure.  Do you pull the hide off with fingers and elbows or do you cut it off or use advanced machinery?
 
Marc Dube
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Yes Mike I just use my hands and strength no special method to skin just the usual way with a knife. I tend to save the hide so I keep it in one piece and try not to nick it up. Cant take much more than 20 or 30 min to do.
 
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My family has always processed our own meat. That's one of those things I took for granted for a long time. I'm so glad my parents and grandparents taught my brother and I how to do it. I'm not teach my children.

For deer we always field dress them and hang them for at least 4 days. To skin or not to skin seems to hinge on temperatures. We want to cool them to refrigerator temps, but not freeze. If there is a risk of the shop stove going out overnight and the meat freezing we leave the skin on to buy time as it insulates the meat from the sudden temperature swing. Generally though we prefer to skin right away as it seems to peel a little easier. We do like the trick where you hang them from the head and cut all the way up the underside of the neck and then up and over the front of the ears. Once you get that pulled back a little the ear mass works as a handle of sorts to hold and pull on.

Dried meet has never been an issue as far as I recall. It's been our experience that pieces cut for steaks or chops that have any dried edges will re-moisten once you package them. Anything questionable went into the burger meat pile and absorbed moisture from the rest of the meat. Worst case it was trimmed off and went into the dog/cat food sack.

Now that I'm thoroughly hungry thinking about venison steaks and chops I think I'll go see if I can't find a package hiding in the freezer.
 
Mike Jay
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Awesome, thanks gents!  So it looks like I have options.  I'll let the weather decide.  With a fresh deer I can skin it without a knife (other than cuts around the legs and neck of course).  I'm glad it doesn't really dry out enough to matter.  Three weeks till deer season around here...
 
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It works about the same to just go ahead and butcher it and freeze right away. Then after taking out of the freezer age the cuts in a fridge for five days or so. This is what you have to do if the weather is warm and you are processing the meat yourself.
 
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break the bones, boil and simmer them, until all the marrow has melted out. Let it cool and freeze it. it makes a great stock for soup.
 
Mike Jay
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I got a young buck this year and due to Thanksgiving travel, skinned it right away and butchered it two days later.  Unfortunately it was rather cold so I learned that butchering a frozen carcass is harder than a thawed one.  Now that we know more, I took apart the leg joints and we pressure cooked the legs, shoulders and ribs for some extra meat, venison soup and a bunch of bone broth.  Due to the slight chance of CWD I fed the spinal column, neck and head to the local wildlife.

There's one day left in the season so if I'm lucky enough to get one tomorrow, I'll see if aging it is a possibility.
 
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