It is important to make a quick and clean kill. If you're not able to make a quick kill, the animal will run and build up adrenaline which will result in a gamey flavor in the muscle. Once you down your game, bleed the animal as thoroughly as possible. Next you need to remove the guts as quickly as possible, taking care to rinse and wipe out the inside cavity of the animal. Once you have done this, return to camp immediately; your next step is to skin and lower the temperature as quickly as possible. Meat left un-chilled will begin to sour fairly quickly. A large refrigerator works best, but for most of us that is not always an option. The next best option is a few large ice chests loaded with ice. Take care to bag the ice since moisture and fresh meat don’t mix. The goal is to chill the meat quickly while keeping it dry. If you prefer to age the meat, then the skin should be left intact while hanging the carcass in a large refrigerator at 34 to 38 degrees for up to 2 weeks. Leaving the skin intact keeps the needed moisture on the meat throughout the process and minimizes dehydration and trimming losses. Aging venison is a matter of personal preference; some people claim that the process tenderizes the meat with excellent results while others claim that it’s an unnecessary step and you risk spoiling good meat.

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