Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Can I Quarter Before Hanging to Age?

Stew wrote in:

I have watched your video every year to refresh my memory and have a question about the aging? After the skinning of the hide, you have taken a wet rag and torch to it, then hosed it down. Can you hose it down, quarter the game out then.

Thanks for the great question Stew,

Aging game meat is one of my favorite topics. Often times its the most important and most overlooked step in producing a quality product. When you age meat you allow the body moisture/heat to evaporate from the carcass, this changes the flavor so we can rid the carcass of the "nasty game tasting" flavor so often associated with wild game animals. The second thing that happens is the enzymes in the muscle tissue begin to break down the muscle proteins making a more tender product. If you allow both things to occur, body moisture evaporation and muscle tissue break down, you'll have a very enjoyable product. 

As a general rule I like to age animals 3 days for every 100lbs of carcass weight, that's an average. If the carcass has some body fat you can go longer but as a general rule you should age 3 days for every 100lbs. If the carcass is 150lbs then age 4-5 days. This is exactly the reason I created the Koola Buck Portable Walk in cooler system. So hunters would have a great way to hang and age their game animals whole without having a giant walk in cooler in their house that they will only use a few times each year.

The draw back of quartering the animal and then hanging it is the increase in surface area. When you hang a deer whole and age the meat, you will begin to notice the surface drying out and even becoming a little dark in color. This is why I say take an average of 4-5 days, you will get the body moisture out and the muscles will break down enough to have a tender product. If you age longer often times the flavor really doesn't change much and the muscles really don't get any more tender than they would after 4-5 days. 

What does occur though is the surface of the meat dries out so much that you end up trimming it off and tossing in away because its to dark in color and to dry to use. You'll have some dry trim and dark areas even after aging 4-5 days, but as you age longer, you get more waste and I really don't think the benefit is worth the waste. 

The problem with quartering the animal is now you have a lot more exposed area that's going to dry out causing additional waste. Now having said that, if I did not have a choice and could not hang the carcass whole, yes I would quarter and age the animal rather than not age it at all. You will have more waste but still have quality meat.

Thanks for the great question! One of my favorite topics!

Brad Lockwood

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