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Hanging meat

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  • Hanging meat

    I asked a question in another thread about this, but instead of hijacking that thread completely, I'll post it here.

    I've never bothered to hang my meat. Most of my hunting is done in August when it's still pretty warm, and I don't have access to a cool place to hang it. I do have a garage, but unless the temps outside are quite cold I don't have a way to cool it off.

    Given the above, would you still hang your meat? For how long? Do you cover it with anything?

    Someone mentioned in the other thread that they hang it at a temp of around 40 degrees, but this just isn't possible for me unless I harvest something late in the season. What do you guys do? I'd love to hear your experiences and ideas.


  • #2

    2 to 3 days in cool place uncovered as long as flies or absent

    makes the meat tender


    • #3
      We always hanged the moose in the field until the trip was over. This took place for 2-3 days, depending on when we planned to depart camp. Once the moose is back at home we would hang the quarters for a couple of days until the outlayer tacked up. During this time of the season the moose are usually in the latter stage of processing for human consumption . Tarps are laid out on the garage floor and a box fan is used to help keep the garage cool while the garage door is open about 6 inches or so. We never suffered any soilage.

      Why we did this, I cannot tell you. The whole group took part in processing the moose and I did what I was told to do.


      • #4


        There are 2 main reasons to hang meat, and both are related to tenderness. If the carcass is butchered too soon after killing, the meat is still 'all scrunched up' from rigor mortis and can be tough. The other reason is to let the enzymes begin breaking down the cell walls - the first step in decompositon, otherwise known as rotting.

        There is a third factor involved, too, and that is taste. A lot of the gaminess of meat comes from bones and connective tissue. Hanging meat allows some of the strong flavors to seep into the surrounding muscle, making it a bit gamey to some folk.

        My general practice is to butcher the carcass either within the first 24 hours after death or to wait for 3 or 4 days. Both of these deal with the problem of rigor mortis. As far as the tenderizing goes, I don't have one of Clarence Birdseye's flash freezers, so the slow speed of freezing in my home freezer allows ice crystals to build up and break the cell walls in pretty much the same way enzymes would.

        FWIW, Clarence B's claim to fame was figuring out that flash freezing happened so fast that ice crystals didn't have time to get big and rupture the cell walls, so his frozen vegetables were almost like fresh. In home freezing of veggies, they are almost always parboiled first to make the cell walls resistant to puncturing by ice crystals.
        He fears his fate too much or his desserts are small who fears on just one touch to win or lose it all.


        • #5

          If it is cool out (under 50 degrees), I'll hang the meat awhile. If it's not, I go ahead and butcher and freeze it. Often, it is 3 or more days from when I shoot something before freezing it is even an option. I keep the meat cool as best I can but sometimes it is warm and sunny, all you can do is rig a tarp for shade and make sure there is good air flow around the meat. If I know the meat was subjected to warmer temps on its way out of the field I will butcher and freeze it as soon as I get back.

          I usually have good tasting meat, but if things didn't go quite the way I'd like - well, I think that's why sausage was invented.


          • #6
            I would suggest you talk to a butcher shop or 2 on the fine points of hanging meat. I think it can be done successfully at warmer temps, but for a shorter duration and you need to protect from bugs.
            I'm skeptical about ruperts statement that gaminess comes from bones. I thought bones add flavor to meat and that is why most cuts of meat include the bone. I know they sure add flavor, from the marrow, to soup.
            Another thought.........if you do any fish smoking, I mean cold smoking, you might consider a couple days of hanging meat in smoke. I know folks in rural Ak. who have hung meat quarters in the fish smoke house and they say it really adds some flavor.
            You also might try hunting some species in sept.
            I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
            I have less friends now!!


            • #7
              Marten - I'd love to do more hunting in Sept, but as a teacher my September time is extremely limited. Thanks for the tips.



              • #8
                Flavor can be gamey and still be flavor

                Originally posted by martentrapper View Post
                I'm skeptical about ruperts statement that gaminess comes from bones. I thought bones add flavor to meat and that is why most cuts of meat include the bone. I know they sure add flavor, from the marrow, to soup.

                Martentrapper, skepticism can be a good thing, but consider that what you've said reinforces what I said. The bones do add flavor to the meat, it is just that for some folk, wild meat flavored with bones and connective tissue is a flavor (or too much of a flavor) that they describe as gamey.
                He fears his fate too much or his desserts are small who fears on just one touch to win or lose it all.


                • #9
                  Hanging meat- gamey taste

                  I don't claim to know everything about care of meat but here are a few opinions of mine that I have experienced over time. I have owned and operated a wild game proccessing plant and a domestic custom cutting operation in the past and have heard just about every opinion there is on care of wild game and beef. There are several things to remember about any meat be it wild game or beef. For one, the phrase you are what you eat applies to both. The main reason people feed cattle corn, grain or green grass before butchering is for flavoring the fat and the marrow. You never hear of people feeding a prime beef that they are getting ready to slaughter old brown grass, the reason being that once grass starts to die it develops a bitter taste instead of a pleasing sweet taste ( if you have ever chewed on grass like a farm kid does you know what I am talking about). Wild game is no different, other than we shoot our wild game in the fall when the grass and tundra is dying and we have no control over what they are eating. Because of this that is why most of us trim the fat and heavy sinew off the meat and don't use band saws to drag the marrow thru the meat, giving the wild game the gamey taste that most do not enjoy. I say most because there are many people who enjoy this taste because that is what they are used to.
                  Another difference (in my opinion) in the care of beef and wild game is the hanging period. The reasons stated in earlier posts of hanging or aging is for tenderizing of the meat thru active enzymes in the meat, and for the meat to firm up so it is easier to cut straight even cuts. Beef you can age for 14 to 20 days without any problem because they have been slaughtered in a very clean and controled environment, and then washed thoroughly with hot water to keep any bacteria off of the carcass to allow the long aging period. As much as we try to keep our wild game clean we will never be able to keep it as clean and bacteria free as slaughterhouse beef, and so our hanging period can not be as long. The first 8 hours is very important with either to completely cool down the meat. The heavy pieces of meat like the neck, between the shoulders and the hams should be opened up if you are in the field to ensure proper cooling. Once you get your game back to the house it is completely up to the condition of the meat to determine how long it can be aged or hung. Since this is so hard to judge, my rule of thumb for my wild game is kill it, cool it and cut it. I have aged moose for people in the past that asked for 14 days of aging, for just that but it requires constant monitoring and alot of extra trimming and a constant cooler temperature of around 38 degrees. I trimmed a 1/4 inch of green dry mold off this particular moose and turned out to be the tenderest most pleasantly tasting moose I have ever tasted, but I would still not do it again for the risk of loosing the animal. My recommendation is to let the meat hang (not sit on the floor) untill it is cool, dry and firm before cutting if you can. The aging period is your preference but you will need to monitor the condition closely for temperature and bacteria growth. It is very difficult to monitor boned out meat because you cannot see it very well in game bags and alot of meat in the middle is not accessible. Just use your best judgement with what you have to work with for hanging meat.
                  I hope I haven't got to windy and bored all of you to sleep, but thot I better throw in my 2 cents. Hope this has helped.


                  • #10
                    Clean beef?

                    Lots of good stuff in doubletime's post.

                    But the notion that you get clean meat from a commercial slaughterhouse...

                    I'm sure there are exceptions, but these are NOT clean places. This is a 'family' kind of board, so I'll spare the descriptions. Suffice it to say I'll feed my kids very rare game meat long before I'd give them medium-rare beef.

                    Beef can be aged 14-20 days largely because it's aged around 38 degrees. Your game could be, too. Most bacteria go dormant at 40 and below, thus the enzymes can work while the bacteria sleep.

                    One thing my dad taught me to do was, when the meat is hanging, open up every place where I see blood and trim or wipe it out. Blood is the ideal medium for bacteria and other pathogens to grow - they sell petri dishes lined with gelled blood to laboratories for germ cultures because they grow faster in that than anything else.

                    At any rate, I was amazed at how the blood wicks up and stays in connective tissue. If you get it all out, you can hang the meat to very good results. If there's blood in there, it's going to sour faster. I know guys who hang their meat, trim the bloodshot, and never poke around to get all the blood out of the tissues. I guess I don't know for certain, but I can't imagine their meat hangs as well.

                    Those citric acid sprays can't possibly hurt, either. We sprayed the heck out of our deer with them this year - the quarters hung 3 and 1/2 days over 50 degrees, then we froze them for travel, thawed them in my crawl space (prob. 60 degrees) overnight before butchering, and they didn't spoil at all.

                    Finally, keep in mind that freezing doesn't kill most bacteria. So if you've frozen the quarters and later thaw them for butchering, you don't get to start the aging/spoilage clock from zero. Something to keep in mind if you call for a meat flight or spend a night or two in town before butchering.

                    Good eats!


                    • #11
                      hang time

                      IMHO The best meat is hung for as long as 10 days. The problem is its seldomly consistantly cool that long in many places. One warm day and its really ripe.

                      If its 40 degrees or cooler, meat that is potentially tough gets the long hang around our place.
                      Proud to be an American!


                      • #12
                        Sounds like you've been in ALOT of commercial slaughter houses, 8x57. Just how many really dirty and disgusting slaughter houses have you been in? How many, if any, clean ones? Are the public health insp. not doing their job?
                        I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
                        I have less friends now!!


                        • #13

                          I have laid my meat on cut alders and then laid other alders on top. I then rotate and flip the meat every day and this has lasted me a good 10 days in the field at temps at around 45-60 degrees, with minimal loss of meat.


                          • #14
                            If the weather is cool enough let it hang for awhile. I read a study from the University of Wyoming and it looked like the bigger the animal, the longer you should let it hang. For something like a moose you could let it hang for 15 days in cool weather (less than 50). For a deer a couple of days is fine. Has something to do with the different size of muscle mass.

                            One thing I have done in warm weather is butcher the animal right away. Then I'll pull the meat out of the freezer several days before I want to eat it. Let it age in the fridge for up to a week. Might not be as good as hanging the whole animal, but seems to work.


                            • #15

                              The University of Wyoming has a ton of information on ageing game meat on it's website- more than most want to know. Just Google University of Wyoming Meat Ageing. Or you can try this link and click on several articles.


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