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Thread: Aging venison questions

  1. #1
    Boolit Master Tripplebeards's Avatar
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    Aging venison questions

    So a lot you know that I’ve been soaking my venison in saltwater and vinegar brine to draw the blood out before cooking because I don’t it tears me up. I soaked four small pieces of steak on am on my second day and third bowl of brine exchange. Yesterday I dumped it and the water was so dark red you almost couldn’t see the four small pieces of steak. They are about 2” thick by 3” wide and about 5/6” long. The second bribe dump today was pretty red as well. I still have them soaking and think almost all of the blood has to be out. This has been my normal ritual lately. Then I soak in milk to kill any vinegar that might be on it. This meat was bloodier than usual.

    The problem is I have never aged my meat properly in the past and just cut up the deer right after I get home (same day) and wrap it up and freeze. Some times I’ll let it sit in the fridge for a day and then wrap a freeze. So I’ve read in the net when googling on aging meat that some leave it in a cooler sitting on to0 or ice and keep pulling the drain plug and adding ice? Or leave it in the fridge to drain for a couple days before processing. I never do either because I’m afraid the meat will spoil and fear of food poisoning...which I’ve already had from old venison just last fall from a 2 year old bloody steak I didn’t cook long enough. Any suggestions?

    I can tell you my brine works wonders for me and from what I’ve read kills any bacteria and brakes down the enzymes for softer, more tender meat.
    Last edited by Tripplebeards; 03-14-2019 at 07:10 PM. Reason: Spelling

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    Boolit Buddy Hogdaddy's Avatar
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    I always debone & put on ice 4 days draining each time ice gets low.. Kind of warm weather down here in FLA ; )
    Y/D

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    Boolit Master
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    I leave mine in a brine with a little ice for at least 21 days and as much as 35 days. It is just quartered up. I always want to see ice in the cooler but not a lot. If you have ice sitting in salt water it’s plenty cold.
    I use about a half a box of canning salt or kosher salt per deer. I’ll change the water and salt as often as I need to. Early on the water gets nasty fast. The last couple weeks may not need changed at all.
    This is called buckboard bacon. Venison that has been salt cured but not smoked. The internet says there is no need to leave in the salt past 21 days. Where I grew up in southern Mo many people still salt cured their hogs. The old timers said meat needed 28 days. Hence that’s what I try for.
    My deer meat doesn’t taste like traditional deer meat.
    This is what I do and it works for me.
    Some people live and learn but I mostly just live

  4. #4
    Boolit Master Tripplebeards's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfer View Post
    I leave mine in a brine with a little ice for at least 21 days and as much as 35 days. It is just quartered up. I always want to see ice in the cooler but not a lot. If you have ice sitting in salt water it’s plenty cold.
    I use about a half a box of canning salt or kosher salt per deer. I’ll change the water and salt as often as I need to. Early on the water gets nasty fast. The last couple weeks may not need changed at all.
    This is called buckboard bacon. Venison that has been salt cured but not smoked. The internet says there is no need to leave in the salt past 21 days. Where I grew up in southern Mo many people still salt cured their hogs. The old timers said meat needed 28 days. Hence that’s what I try for.
    My deer meat doesn’t taste like traditional deer meat.
    This is what I do and it works for me.
    I can tell you after two days of salt soak and a day or two in milk it makes a world if difference. I wonder what 21 days tastes like?
    Last edited by Tripplebeards; 03-11-2019 at 08:53 PM.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master tinhorn97062's Avatar
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    I hung it in the shop, wrapped in cheese cloth for a few days. The shop averaged 45*. After hanging, wipe down with applecider vinegar and process as usual.

    The hanging allowed the blood to drain, softened the meat (bacteria for the win), and the vinegar got rid of any surface mold that may have wanted to start. This was also at 4500' high desert....very low humidity.
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    shoot them in the evening. In the freezer by noon the next day. Never age them one bit and don't brine them unless im making hams. Id like to have a dollar for everytime someone ate venison at my house and said it was the best they ever had. Aging venison is rotting it. No fat marbled in it that needs to break down. Quit ageing it keep it cool and get it in the freezer as possible and you wont have to brine it to pull that decomposing blood out of it. Comical how some think they can gut there deer in the mud toss it in the back of there pickup run around showing it off then hang it on a tree in the back yard for 3 or 4 days with the flys and bacteria building and then expect it to tasted good.

    Unless you have a meat locker that's kept at ideal temps (just over the point it freezes) you are rotting your deer not aging it. Improper ageing has probably SOURED more people on the taste of venison then anything else. even done properly it basically doesn't do a thing to improve venison. Hanging doesn't make the blood go away. Look next time and see if you have a couple quarts of blood under your ageing deer. All it does is dry up the water in the blood. Now I shoot and butcher 30-50 deer a year. Ive tasted them every way you can do it. Aged not aged soaked in about everything ive heard suggested. I properly field dressed deer taken home and butchered without getting in insides contaminating the meat. Cut and vaccum packed and thrown right in the freezer.

    How many times have you heard of guys out hunting and camping that pealed the back straps off a deer just shot and cooked them on an open fire claim that was the best venision they ever ate. I guess if I didn't like the taste of venison and was just looking for some bland meat it would proabably be cheaper to just buy some round steak. Just saw a show on tv. It was some gourmet chef that serves wild game in his resteraunt. He cooked some deer chops on an open fire for his hunting buddys and they all claimed it was hands down best venison they ever ate. It was shot about an hour before it hit the grill. What ruins venison. Rotting it, over cooking it and drenching it in a bunch of spices trying to make it taste like beef!!!
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  7. #7
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    I sometimes have needed to leave a deer hanging 2-3 days before I am able to process it, and I can’t tell any difference between it and the ones I put in the freezer immediately. I think some deer just have a different flavor based on diet, age, etc. FWIW I always thought deer taken in the early season were better tasting than the ones taken during or after the rut.
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    Boolit Master
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    I do gutless field dressing on mine and basically end up with hams, shoulders, back strap and loins. They go into a cooler under ice for at least two weeks with the cooler on a slant and the drain plug open. The best deer ever had is always processed this way, hanging is very good as well, but our temps are so unpredictable hanging is a gamble. I never soak the meat in anything! I especially find acid soaks make meat mealy and unpalatable to me. FYI haptoglobin is what makes meat red, and that's what you are seeing in your multi day soaks, not blood(hemoglobin). But hey, different strokes, just not for me.

  9. #9
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    Aging meat is important, IMHO, to a quality end product.

    To "age" you just keep the meat slightly above freezing.
    That's really all there is to it.
    Ice chest, fridge, cooler, etc.
    Having a way to drain off the blood is helpful but just keeping it separate is OK too.
    Like meat on the top of a pile of ice and the blood underneath.

    Anyway, the bigger the animal, the longer the aging.
    Just rule of thumb though.

    A deer, 4 days or so.
    Rabbit, 2 days or so.

    Simply put, blood drains away and fibers break down.
    Makes a good product.

    I quarter ONLY, then age as long as I care to wait.
    Then I debone, trim, whatever.

    Personally, I like the way things turn out this way.

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  10. #10
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    I use two different methods.

    First and easiest is to skin wrap in cheesecloth hang in place where temps can be held below 50- degrees and anove freezing.

    Second is the hang over night and butcher, transfering cut meat into bottom of re firgerators for a few days to a week. Bottom leayers will become a lil blood soalled. These are rinced (not soaked) in cold water and patted dry before freezing. Always in vac seal pouches in meal for two portions.

    Grind /sausage meat gets rinced dryed placed on wire rack within container and put back in bottom of fridge for few more days. Following weekend (usually two weeks out) sausage and hamberger is made and vac sealed and frozen.

    Growing up I had a uncle who hung his deer for at least two weeks and many times a month when they froze. Never had a bad meal and he fed his family on game meat three boys and two girls.

    Biggest key is temp. You can make a hanging box in a garage corner with a couple window air conditioners too. I ahve done this a couple times. Its pretty easy and if you shoot enough animals its quite handy!

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  11. #11
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    I use an older fridge which I've gutted and keep at 40* to age my deer. Up until the last two years, I've field dressed and skinned my deer and put the whole carcass in cheesecloth game bag then into the fridge, making sure it doesn't sit in any blood. The last two years, I've quartered the deer and hung it in that fridge for about a week, but usually start processing around the fourth day. I don't think the deer is rotting, it is just using the enzymes to break down the collagen and connective tissue, but the entire process is important from field to table. You can't expect a good outcome if you don't take care to keep the carcass cool and clean until you get it into the fridge/cooler. Mine is usually in the fridge within a few hours after harvest, depending on temp, I will either ice it down or just place it in a cooler to transport it home. I've compared my venison against friends that would just freeze it, and while the taste is about the same, with a slight edge to the aged, the aged venison is definitely not as tough as the one frozen right after harvest.
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    Deer go from field to freezer in less than 10 hours. Whatever we get that day is driven to the registration station for CWD testing(voluntary but a bunch of us are doing it to make sure it isn't in this area yet) late afternoon then we go to our butchering setup in a friends garage and break it down, wrap and it is in the freezer before we eat supper. Never give a chance for bacteria to build up.

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    Never give a chance for bacteria to build up.
    pay attention to what mary said there. Local butcher does deer processing on the side in deer season. Even he will tell you that venison isn't beef. Ageing does nothing to help tenderness. He laughs about the smelly deer brought in and even has a sign on the counter in his garage that says if your deer tag shows your deer has been shot more then 3 days ago don't cry to me if it tastes bad. This guy has cut up more deer in his life then probably every one here combined has. I help him if he gets overloaded. Ive cut up a few deer myself and can about tell you with one smell if a deer is fresh or is decomposing. Might be a few that have a proper locker to age meat and maybe they aren't hurting it (but still aren't helping it) but put in a cooler sitting in melting water for a week or laying in a puddle of blood or hanging on the tree in the back yard and thinking your improving your meat is nuts. At least in a refrigerated locker at a constant temp your if nothing else delaying the rot till you can get the time to cut it up.
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  14. #14
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    I process as soon as possible....If I can't right away I will skin and have it quartered and on ice within 24 hours, and butchered and vacuum packed when I get it home....within 3 or 4 days. The most important thing for me is to get them cooled down as soon as possible. I never brine, soak in milk, or do anything other than gut and get them hanging and cooled off as soon as I can.

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    Aging and brine for deer? I think read about soaking in Milk as well. We are talking about deer, right? Field dress, bring home to process and in the freezer by the end of the day. If itís shot at last light they are kept cold and processed in the morning. So many people ruin deer w/ their processing methods.

  16. #16
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    Bacteria build up? Have you ever eaten yogurt, drank buttermilk, real air cured meat ex salami, sourcrout, or kimchi? Bacteria is what MAKES these foods possible, you ought to see buttermilk under a microscope! Do what you will with your deer, but my days of putting one up the day it's killed is long gone, because ageing it does make a the deer meat better!

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    I hang them for a week with temps ranging from 45F daytime for 3-4 hours max and 25 F or so at night 10-12 hours. I believe it produces a more tender and flavorful meal. I didn't do this to a moose, that went right in the freezer and it was my biggest regret in eating venison. You chewed on him til you were tired. I shot a mature buck this year that had a neck swollen larger than my thigh and he chews pretty good.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thundarstick View Post
    because ageing it does make a the deer meat better!
    This is subjective. I donít like the taste of aged venison. Just like I donít like the taste of highly aged beef. Last time I was in Vegas I ate one that was aged close to year. I didnít pay for it and donít remember how many days it was aged for. But it didnít taste good to me. Aging venison falls under the same category for me. And Iíve tasted way to many deer that were ruined from improper handling, which aging can be part of.

    Taste is subjective and just because it tastes good to some doesnít mean everyone likes it. I donít eat yogurt of any kind and hate most types of cheese. But I know plenty of people love the stuff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dragon813gt View Post
    Aging and brine for deer? I think read about soaking in Milk as well. We are talking about deer, right? Field dress, bring home to process and in the freezer by the end of the day. If it’s shot at last light they are kept cold and processed in the morning. So many people ruin deer w/ their processing methods.
    Soaking a deer steak in a brine or butter milk ick cool it down and butcher it A.S,A.P
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thundarstick View Post
    Bacteria build up? Have you ever eaten yogurt, drank buttermilk, real air cured meat ex salami, sourcrout, or kimchi? Bacteria is what MAKES these foods possible, you ought to see buttermilk under a microscope! Do what you will with your deer, but my days of putting one up the day it's killed is long gone, because ageing it does make a the deer meat better!
    There is a difference between controlled fermentation with the proper bacteria like making pickles where lacto bacteria are the primary species and the ph and salt levels stop the others from growing, or beer brewing where the yeast used is tightly controlled versus hanging a deer and letting whatever bacteria are on the surface work their way into the meat rotting it... unless you have a temperature AND humidity controlled cooler to hang it.

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