The Hanging and Aging Animals

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    This info came from another survival site that was deleted.

    The Hanging and Aging Animals

    Bleed and Hang
    The purpose of aging game and other animal carcass is to improve both the tenderness and flavor of meat. It was also a way to store and preserve fresh game and domestic animal meat long before controlled refrigeration became available. Particularly in cooler climates, these flesh larders, where meats, particularly venison, pheasant, rabbit and wild boar, were hung to age.

    The length of time for aging game depends on a number of variables including temperature, chill rate, species, age of animal and cooler space. Temperature is the key to encouraging healthy aging and preventing unwanted bacterial growth and decay when hanging game.
    The recommended temperature range for holding meat for aging is between 34 and 37 degrees Fahrenheit. This allows the enzymes to do their work but helps to prevent the rampant spread of bacteria. Ideally, game should be chilled quickly to 34 degrees and maintained at this temperature for the entire aging period, usually up to a week or more for large game like deer, elk and moose. If the animal is older, then up to two weeks of aging often helps to further tenderize the meat.
    If the chill rate has been slower, typically when carcasses are held in the hunting camp for a few days under less than ideal conditions, then aging times will be shorter. Game birds, such as doves, pheasant, geese and ducks, require two to three days unless they are older and larger, then four or five days hanging will do. It should be noted that aging, while increasing tenderness, may also tend to enhance an already robust flavor of some game.

    Ageing to Prevent “Cold Shortening”Animals need to be “aged” before freezing to prevent “cold shortening”, a process where the muscles actually contract and toughen if frozen too soon. Aging of game begins after the animal dies. All meat, game or otherwise, starts to lose its tenderness after death due to the onset of rigor mortis. Rigor is the process in which muscle fibers stiffen and contract. This condition lasts around 24 hours or more, depending on the temperature of the meat; for instance, meat chilled quickly and kept at 34 degrees remains in rigor for a considerable period, returning to its original level of tenderness only after three days.

    The beneficial phase of aging starts to work once the period of rigor ends. As the muscles lose their stiffness, enzymes that occur naturally within the cells, called lysosomal enzymes, begin to break down the muscle and its connective tissue (or collagen), further increasing the tenderness of the meat. This process, called autolysis, continues at a constant rate for up to 14 days, as long as the meat is held at a proper and consistent temperature, and then decreases thereafter over time. It is not advisable to overcrowd the hanging space; allowing air to circulate around hung meat is both recommended and necessary for proper aging.

    Aging Recommendations for Various Animals

    The carouse are placed into a gallon-sized zip-lock baggie and then in to an ice chest for 24 hours, then into the back of the refrigerator, where they stay for up to two weeks. The birds sniped into pieces and then placed into zip-lock baggies which are then filled with water, sealed and placed into the freezer.

    Goose & Duck:
    Hang head up for three or four days in cool temperatures and allow the natural break down of tissue. Some individuals allow the bird to hang for a longer period of time, up to 7-10 days, depending on temperature. Regardless, this will help eliminate toughness of the bird. Same applies for duck. Be cautious about hanging the bird much longer than four days and clean the bird prior to hanging.

    Pheasants Hang for a maximum of 9 days at 37°F became more tender with length of hanging but more ‘gamy’ in flavor. Many people consider this desirable.

    Turkey should be hung, head down in a cool (34 to 37oF) and airy place. The time taken to hang a bird depends very much on its age. It is common place to hang an average turkey for 3 to 5 days.

    To ensure tender venison, do not freeze it within six hours of the time it was harvested. Some important chemical reactions stabilize the muscle within six hours of death, preventing a toughening process called “cold shortening” that happens when meat is frozen shortly after the kill. Aging is a chemical process in which natural enzymes break down cell walls, resulting in better cuts of meat. Most of this enzymatic process is complete within eight days between 34 and 40oF; benefits of longer aging are negligible. In addition, there are increased risks of spoilage and reduced freezer life if meat is aged beyond eight days.

    Goat should be hung whole and age one week in 40° weather, longer in colder weather. If it’s too warm to age it, it’s a real shame to butcher at that time, because the meat won’t be as tender as it could be.

    The hung meat is cooled to about room temperature then stored for five days at 34oF before the eating quality of all cuts will be consistently good. At 37OF, a longer ageing period of 10 days is better. Although ageing may be slowed by the low temperature, good microbiological quality will be maintained and the time, up to two weeks, will be ample for ageing.

    Pork and Beef:
    Pork should be cooled at 35-40º for about two days before freezing.
    Beef should be kept at 35-40º for two to 10 days
    Use a shed or barn to store animals before freezing. If you use this method, make sure the temperature is between 30-40ºF. Hang the meat for a shorter period if it’s 40-50ºF, and just butcher if it’s over 50ºF.

    What about chickens?
    Sometimes homesteaders complain that their home-raised and butchered poultry are not nearly as tender as the store-bought variety. There can be a number of explanations including differences in breeds, feeds and the differences between a cage-raised and free ranged birds. The first question, however, should be; how long were the birds chilled before going into the freezer? Invariably the tough ones were packaged and frozen the day they were butchered. They will get as stiff as a board and will be tough as boot leather if cooked in the rigor condition.
    Aging in the sense of hanging a bird until it’s body heat is removed by cooling for a day or so before freezing the meat, will keep the meat will be tough. Let it sit in the frig for 8 to 48 of hours and it will start to lose it’s stiffness too. If you butchered early in the morning, the rigor should be gone in time for a late supper.

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