Processing and Aging Meat

Aging meat is a process used for hundreds if not thousands of years to make meat more tender and flavorful. In the USA mainstream butchers began aging beef in the 1950s and meat-aging has gradually evolved with both speed-of-processing as well as flavor in focus.

Proper aging allows the natural enzymes that exist in all meat to break down the tougher tissues (collagen). This must be done in an environment that prevents contamination and spoilage and for the proper amount of time. There are several factors that impacts on your aging results even if we assume that you avoid mistakes such as contamination, cooling down the animal too fast, not cooling down the animal fast enough, cutting into muscles before rigor mortis, exposure to water, killing a stressed or sick animal etc.

  • Humidity, airflow, temperature are the main ambient environment factors that impact on aging meat.

  • Age of animal (more connective muscle tissue - collagen), whether or not it's free-roaming (more muscle use) and fat marbling are all individual factors that also impact on how much aging can and should be done, and it's end result.

  • Method of aging (wet, dry, umai), how it's hanging (tenderstretch aitch bone hanging vs achilles tendon hanging) are also factors that also impact the time to get desired results.

At a first glance, these factors make meat-aging seems like an impossible skill to master. However, keeping to some guidelines provided here will give you great results, and then you can always experiment and fine-tune your process as you feel more confident and see the results.

In addition to sharing knowledge, we at TasteOfTheWoods also provides a Tenderization Timer, that constantly measures the ambient temperature to determine the perfect timing for aging your meat. Displaying percentage of aging done and estimating the time left. With the Tenderization Timer and the knowledge of meat processing and different aging techniques that we are sharing here at TasteOfTheWoods you can safely start improving your meat. After all, with all the shooting practice, scouting and hours hunting - don't you owe it to yourself to get the best possible result from the meat that you harvest!

Meat Aging and Processing

Salume making equipment

Possibly Coming articles

-- in progress
Quick Introduction to the °C Day Grade system. Foolproof meat aging

-- in progress
Practical meat aging

-- in progress
Avoid these mistakes - Poor meat handling practices and how it impacts meat quality.

-- Meat cutting 101