Why Hanging Meat Matters
While many folks argue that the best venison is fresh venison, that’s not always true. Hanging meat is the ultimate way to tenderize a deer, and it’s an art form in the beef industry.
With cattle, butchering is never done within the first 24 hours after death, which is when the muscles go into rigor mortis. During this time, the meat is full of collagen, which later begins to break down via natural enzymes. For supermarket beef, most cows are butchered after two to three days. For steakhouse beef, some cows are hung for up to a month.
The key to good aging is the form, though, and in this case, that means doing the tender hang rather than the widely popular Achilles hang. The Achilles hang is where a deer is hung by its back legs, but the tender hang places the gambrel in the pelvis. This takes stress off the ham muscles, and allows them to age much more efficiently.
Don’t let this stop you from digging into your harvest at camp, though. Some cuts, like the tenderloins and heart, should never see the glow of a freezer light.