To hang or Not to Hang, That is the Question

I’ve never been much of a believer in letting the carcass age. Mine usually go right to the processor and I usually pick up the results a week later. He may let mine hang for a few days, while it waits its turn, but that’s it. I’m on the road to processing my own, now that I have a shed to do it, but it won’t age.

I worked in a frozen meat plant for years, and before we ground up the 8-foot diameter pallets of beef, we’d put it in a tempering room. Basically, we were aging the cuts slightly before using them, and also letting them achieve the right temperature. Usually, a pallet of beef stayed in tempering a couple of days. Once commited to tempering, a lot of meat had to be out in x hours or it was resold as dog food. Things were tight, and nothing stayed in longer than 72 hours.

Aging in beef has to do with the chemical breakdown of the intra-muscular fat. Aged beef tastes better, because the fat has changed.

In venison, things are different:

1) The fat content is so much lower as to add a near-negligible component to the overall taste.

2)We deliberately trim off as much of the fat as possible with venison, and then generally add back hog fat or beef fat to suit our palates. Few people do a venison roast or steak without a strip of bacon in the recipe somewhere.

3)Freezing venison also does a bit of aging-like chemical changes to the meat. I personally prefer my venison after it’s been in the freezer 90 days.

The other thing that I feel is an argument against aging is the fact that it is hard to keep meat at a good consistent temperature and humidity in an industrial environment, let alone in a home operation. I won’t even mention the pathogenic implications.

As I said, this is one guy’s opinion, but I was around processed meat for several years, I was closely attached to the QC and microbiology end of the business and I got to see how things got done on an industrial basis. I also got to see how small slip-ups could become catastrophic.

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