The Knowledge Behind Aging Meat
Kjell Hedstrom 2017, 2022
Moose cow and calf hanging and dry aging while waiting for the final day of the annual moose hunt. Depending on hunting schedule and ambient temperature it is not uncommon that hunters have to butcher the dry aging moose prematurely. Savvy hunters then switch to wet aging the processed meat cuts to reach at least the minimum 40° C day grades before fåreezing the meat.
DOES AGING MEAT EVEN MAKE SENSE?
My question to you is instead: Why should you not age your venison?
WHAT AGING MEAT IS ALL ABOUT
The result after a successful moose hunt in Sweden. Several moose are dry aging in the village big game processing house.
Types of Aging
[*] When dry-aging in proper conditions a pellicle, a hard, dry surface, will form on the outside of the muscles. This surface area is also protecting the meat from bacterial spoilage since the bacteria need moisture to thrive. Having a dry surface is beneficial for the internal meat quality. The downside with the pellicle is if it goes to waste, and many choose to trim this away.
The pellicle is just dehydrated meat. Instead of throwing it away, try grinding it, and use it for chili or other stews. My preference is to label the ground pellicle trim as "thirsty ground meat". This ground meat will rehydrate during cooking and will taste absolutely fine.
The °C day grade measure system
The °C Day Grade Measurement System
So, what is this Celsius° day grade measurement system?
Recommendation: Unless the meat is in a well-controlled environment the temperature will fluctuate.
If the animal is dry-aging in a barn or in a garage you can count on big temperature variations during 24h. Even in a fridge, there will be temperature variations.
I strongly recommend that you try out the tenderization timer. The small, energy-efficient, and robust timer measures the ambient temperature every 21 seconds and calculates the average day grade temperature. The timer is the best way of getting the same, consistent, tenderized result from one animal to another, year after year.
Why use the Celsius Day Grade System? Why use a Celsius° system when Fahrenheit° exists?
Manual tracking of C°day grades using thermometer, pen, and paper works great. Even better is to use the tenderization timer - making it easy, foolproof, and helping you to predict and plan when the animal should be butchered.
What the hunting and wild game meat experts say, and how it compares to the °C day grade measure system
Q: How can you know that it makes sense?
Below are 5 examples of different aging advice from some very knowledgeable people. Let us see how their advice is on the day grade measurement scale compared to my recommended minimum aging time. My recommended aging day grades are 40°C as a minimum but my preferred, well-aged, value is 60°C day grades. With this comparison, I hope to show you that the minimum of 40°C day grades makes sense.