Link is good, but pdf links aren’t working for me. Could be user error.This will answer every question you can ask.
Thanks!Aging Big Game: http://www.wyoextension.org/agpubs/pubs/B-513R.pdf
You just take the link URL and add the '-' in where it appears in the link text. (i.e. B513R.pdf becomes B-513R.pdf)
Thanks for the info! Good stuff! We use a similar process with deer in a walk-in cooler with great results. I would add that keeping it dry is critical.Big Game
This is can be a serious rabbit-hole, but it's a fun one to explore. First, I think it's most important to differentiate between hanging and Dry Aging:
Hanging is the process of letting Rigor wear off before butchering, which is super important as meat cut and frozen during rigor-mortis will stay that way - about as pleasant to chew on as a rubber band. This only takes 24-48 hours, but is best done on the bone.
The Aging process is a little more nuanced, and can produce a range of improvements to flavor and texture, but one must be aware of the variables and tuned in to their effect on the meat and that for every action there is a consequence - in this conversation that usually means loss.
Perhaps the most important consideration though, is why? What cuts of meat will be used in preparations that will allow the flavors produced in the aging process to come through. Aged round steaks are great burger can be awesome especially with the right fat, and backstrap can be a good candidate, although I prefer to be more careful with that. Roasts, shanks, on the other hand don't benefit a whole lot from the process.
You can hang meat for quite a while and let things get really funky as long as the temperature stays above freezing and below 40 and the humidity isn't so low that things turn to jerky. Ideal conditions in my book are 38 degrees and about 70% humidity. Regardless of your aging goals, you'll want to stick with larger cuts (small cuts from small critters dry out too fast) and keep things primal or sub-primal (No steaking)
If we all had a temperature and humidity-controlled environment at our disposal this would be easy, but most of us don't and all too often we're coming out of the field under less-than-perfect conditions. Fall and winter in most places gives us a little leeway; a cold garage will suffice for a couple days, the rest of the time a properly drained cooler will work for a day or so, but its good to befriend a butcher and get things hung up quick - that way you can take your time, let things be for a couple days to relax and get to butchering on your own time.
There's also a clear benefit to hanging birds - especially upland game birds, but they come with a very different set of variables. Because of their size and physiology we generally hang 'em whole, unless they're shot up. Sniff and feel for a perforated gut - if you encounter anything offensive, just clean that bird right away. There are also a few other caveats to consider; Turkeys are real hot inside, so generally I send those straight to a brine bath. For me, the benefit of aging ducks and geese are hard to discern. With grouse, pheasants, chuckar and quail, I'll allow them to go up to a week as long as it isn't much warmer that 50 degrees. All that said, most birds will hang in my garage for a day or three, intentionally or not.
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