Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Can I get my meat to continue to age in the freezer?

David from Elk Ridge, MD wrote in:

Hi Brad,

We just took 4 deer (does) and are going back out on a 4 day hunt. We skinned & quartered them and hung them in a fridge (temp is about 36/38 degrees). Can they hang in there for at least 5 - 6 days? No meat is touching. I also heard that if you hang a deer (weather permitting) for a day or two, then freeze the meat, it will age in the freezer. How true is that?

Thanks for the question David!

Aging is one of my favorite topics! For proper aging you should allow your meats to hang and age 3 days for every 100lbs of carcass weight. If you have beef that weighs 700lbs, you would age the animal 21 days to ensure proper aging.

Some choose less and some choose a little more. Finer steakhouses choose 21 days. If you follow the same formula on wild game meats (the average deer carcass is going to weigh between 100 - 125lbs), 3 days per 100lbs of carcass weight would mean 3-5 days of aging at a temperature between 34F and 41F. If you go much below 34F, you will begin to freeze the animal carcass and the aging process cannot take place.

In order for proper aging to occur, the good bacteria that is contained in all muscle tissue must be allowed to break down the muscle fibers and tenderize the muscle tissues. If the carcass is frozen, so is the bacteria that is supposed to be breaking down the muscle fibers, so the aging process cannot take place.

During the aging process, the evaporation of body or carcass moisture also takes place. This cannot happen if the animal carcass is frozen, so once again, proper aging cannot take place.

You are on the correct path by aging in the cooler that you have, with no meat touching - plus your temperature is correct!

Congratulations on stacking up all the deer! Good hunting!
"The Meat Man"
Brad Lockwood

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