I’ve found an incredibly easy way to age venison in a normal kitchen fridge that I wanted to share. All you really need is one shelf clear, which you can fit a baking tray or oven tray in.
A friend introduced this method to me about 10 years ago, and it is a whole lot easier than all the other more complicated methods that require a walk and chiller or hanging area to hang a carcass. It has some similarities to wet aging, but it’s a little different.
I’m lucky enough to sometimes have the facilities from farmers or so I can dry age a whole gutted deer. Generally speaking, I’m coming home with hind legs and loins in my backpack. I have to do the aging myself.
So with this method we use when carrying the meat out and we want some aged steak to enjoy.
You probably have everything you need already, so this makes it all pretty straightforward.
So first a really simple step-by-step and then I’ll get into further detailsabout how I do it.
Easiest Way to Age Venison in a Fridge
Place prime steak cuts on a non-reactive drip tray on top of another oven tray. Cover or wrap the meat so minimize oxygen exposure. Place the tray inside the fridge for 5-10 days depending on taste preference.
Or step by step:
- Place whole venison steak muscle on a non-reactive rack on a tray
- Wrap or Bag Meat
- Put into fridge
- Wait 5-10 Days depending on personal preference
Of course this method assumes all the basic hygiene of using clean surfaces, and keeping the venison cool as soon as possible after harvesting & gutting it.
I’ve used the same technique for other harvested fresh wild red meat. It can be incredibly rewarding having nicely aged cuts ready to go anytime you want, straight out of the freezer.
Wet-aging is a relatively recent technique that developed along with advances in plastics and refrigeration. In this process, cuts of beef are vacuum-sealed in plastic and shipped to the market. The aging takes place in the 4-10 days between slaughter and sale while the meat is in transit.
The enzymes still have time to tenderize the meat enough to make it acceptable, and the biggest plus is that there’s no weight-loss in the meat due to dehydration.https://www.thekitchn.com/whats-the-difference-dryaging-78737
As you can see from the above it is probably a hybrid version of wet aging without the vacuum sealing, it happens a lot faster than dry aging too.
It’s an interesting point as well, that the meat does not lose as much weight as with dry-aging meat.
Probably what I dislike the most about the idea of vacuum packing meat is that your using a lot of throw a single-use plastic. If you’re piling up the cuts for aging and the method below, I reckon you’d be using less plastic.
Nowadays its scary, since most waste plastic (even from polyester clothing), goes out to the ocean eventually, eaten by fish – then we consume the fish.
Google about airborne microplastics too, it’s floating around the cities especially and we end up breathing it in.
Anyways, that’s one of many reasons to live in the countryside.
Back on track,
With a lot of venison (& alot of other meats duck,turkey, rabbit etc) I like to dry cure the meat, this is a whole another ballgame.
But really it’s about using salt to preserve and intensify the flavor. If you want to go over the basics of dry curing mean, it can be done with many different types of venison cuts.
Here is a post I wrote all about the basics of dry curing meat at home.
So here is the method that I use in detail for aging venison,
Steps In Detail
(sorry I don’t actually have alot of pics of the stages, next time I harvest – I will upload some)
1. Place Venison to age on Non-Reactive Rack on Oven Tray
Stainless steel is considered non-reactive
Aluminum, copper, iron, and steel (not ‘stainless’) are all reactivehttps://www.thekitchn.com/food-science-explaining-reacti-73723
The reason I mention the above, I have learned through experience that some of my oven racks are stainless steel and some are not.
(I’m talking oven racks you normally use for roasting beef, pork etc.)
If you end up using an aluminum rack, or I guess something that is a mixture of metals it may be ‘reactive’ to the meat. You end up getting undesirable effects on the meat that’s in contact with it, I ended up slicing off quite a bit of waste which is a real shame.
I use either the coated type baking tray or some large commercial stainless steel trays. I wouldn’t want to be wasteful with that quality beyond organic harvested meat.
2. Wrap or Bag Meat
I prefer not to use single-use clingfilm plastic wrap for most things, but it’s the most effective way we’ve found of covering the meat properly.
Since this is only 2 to 4 times a year when there is a big meat harvest, happy I’m not going through rolls and rolls of it.
3. Put into Fridge
Just need enough space and room – all you do is slide it into the fridge and in the waiting game starts.
4. Wait 5-10 Days depending on personal preference
The sweet spot for me and most friends is around the 7-day mark. Although one of the guys does like to go 10 days, sometimes 14 days.
It goes without saying that when cooking the venison steak from rear to medium-rare. Overcooked venison steak -is a ‘mis-steak’!
I just thought I’d jump into how we like to go through the whole process of preparing the meat until the different groups in categories.
Steps for Preparing Harvested Venison
- Keep Meat Cool or Refrigerated after Harvesting
- Debone if Needed
- Break down into Major Muscle Groups (Roasts, Steaks, etc.)
- Tidy Meat Up – Sinew & Silverskin removal (optional)
- 2 Bowls for Off Cuts (Sinew, Stew/Mince)
- Place Aging Cuts on Non-Reactive Drip Tray
- Wrap Steaks or Bag Meat / Vac Pac Other Meat
- Wait 5-10 Days depending on Preference
1. Keep Meat Cool or Refrigerated after Harvesting
I mention this above, but of course, most guys know this is pretty important. Getting the meat cool as quickly as possible after harvesting is really important.
2. Break down into Major Muscle Groups (Roasts, Steaks, etc.)
The main groups of hindlegs, front legs, loin/back steak. We break down all the cuts for roasting and making steaks. For instance the rump, you, of course, want to keep that whole when you add it to the steak aging pile that you put on the tray.
Not going to get into the offal side of things bit off-topic for this.
3. Tidy Meat Up – Sinew & Silverskin Removal (optional)
I actually enjoy tidying up the meat a lot.
There is an option here that some people use for those roast cuts of meat.
You leave on the silverskin, it supposedly provides another level of protection if you’re going to be freezing the meat for longer periods of time.
4. 2 Groups for Off Cuts (Dog Food, Stew/Mince, Compost)
As we are working through the meat, we like to have three containers or bowls sitting there.
- Dog Food – sinew and other undesirable the to meat
- Stew/Mince -2 containers/
A a lot of the forequarters gets put into this cube pile either cubed up bagged and frozen ready for a curry or stew
Cubed up and ready for the mincer, then bagged up ready for freezing.
These 3 steps are the same as above.
5. Place Aging Cuts on Non-Reactive Rack on Tray
6. Wrap Steaks or Bag Meat / Vac Pac Other Meat
7. Wait 5-10 Days depending on Preference
Thanks for dropping by, I’ve been passionate about meat curing for around 20 years now. Having been lucky enough to learn inside fine dining kitchens through to backyard smoking sessions. From doing courses, trial & error and reading extensively – finally, I thought it was time to share my passion online.
My insatiable appetite and passion toward classic Italian dry-cured salumi and all forms of curing and smoking are what drives this website engine. All the best, Tom