PART 16: How Long Should You Be Dry Aging Your Venison With Chris Fourie

It is important to note that different cuts need different aging times

Aging venison is the process of giving meat enough time to age in a controlled environment to reduce its moisture content, while allowing natural enzymes to break down connective tissue to tenderize it.

Any attempt to dry age meat should be at the right temperature with the right humidity.

Benefits of aging venison

Venison is aged for many reasons including the lack of space to hang the carcass and outside temperatures being too warm and the chance of the meat spoiling. But for those who can, a little bit of aging can go a long way to enhance flavour.

When aging venison in a Dry Ager®, the natural enzymes in the meat start to break it down. Which essentially means the muscles are deteriorating which results in the meat becoming more tender and its flavour becomes more concentrated. And since venison is much leaner than beef you aging time is often less that when aging beef.

The aging process breaks down the collagen in the meat that was holding the muscle fibers together. After an animal is hunted, the ‘breaking-down’ enzymes remain active so they continue to work for about eight days. This process stops if meat is cooked or frozen.

The correct environment for aging Venison

Assuming it was reasonably cool when the animal was hunted, the aging process can begin by leaving the hide of the animal on and hanging it where the temperature stays between 33°F and 38°F, with the humidity around 65 to 75 percent. The humidity level is important because it allows the growth of desirable yeast and bacteria while simultaneously managing the rate of moisture reduction. If the meat is too moist for too long harmful bacteria grow; if the meat dries too quickly there is not enough time for its flavours to enhance.

The next Step is to skin the carcass, and cut into sections to comfortably fit in your Dry Ager cabinet to start the ageing process.

Air circulation is a critical part of the aging process in addition to tem- perature and humidity, allowing space between your meat cuts ensures that the meat is free from harmful bacteria as moisture evaporates.

Venison can be aged for several weeks, while beef is typically aged for 21-28 days and pork is usually aged for 7-14 days

Keep a look out for Part 17 on 14 February 2024 where we highlight dry aging in just 6 steps

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