So many discussions surround the processing of game. Many people swear by aging meat for 7 – 10 days while others tell you that you have to get the meat to the freezer ASAP. Which one is right? What else should I know about processing my game?
I ran across this great article about processing game from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. It talks about aging times and the process needed to make sure your meat is taken care of properly.
Some of the points you should remember are that all aging should be done under refrigeration. This means that anyone not living in a place where the daily temperatures stay below 40 degrees should look at getting themselves a game refrigerator. The same one I use as my kegerator is the same one I use to age my meat. I have a shelf above my kegs that I store my game on, then cut, clean and wrap it when the time is right. In checking my local Craigslist I am looking at about 30 that all cost less than $100 and would work fine out in a shed or garage for this purpose.
Also, keep in mind that the meat will dry out if you are not careful. I like to put the quarters on a metal rack and big cookie sheet to allow for blood drainage and then cover the whole thing in a large garbage bag. This allows me the ability to “hang” it while keeping it 100 covered and moist so as not to lose meat to drying out. The only processing I do before I start aging consists of skinning, quartering, and cutting out any bloodshot areas.
When I actually process my game, I run it under water and squeeze out any additional blood that might be in the meat. This might take away the “flavor” some people like, but I prefer a less “gamey” flavor, as does my wife who won’t eat it if it takes “funny.” It also give me the opportunity to ensure that the meat is actually 100% clean as well. Although any number of people you talk to will result that that many different ways to do something, I suggest you keep your game as clean as possible before wrapping. It lasts longer in the freezer without adopting crazy flavors or odors.
In conclusion, I suggest you at least read the article and check out the aging information. You might find a few things that you were unaware of that help to make your next harvest all the more tasty.