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Thread: Hanging/Aging Game Birds

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    Default Hanging/Aging Game Birds

    Does anyone hang or age their game birds? Wether it be duck or pheasant?

    I was watching a show on the travel channel while they were walking through markets in Britain and there were pheasants hanging and they touched briefly on why it is done.

    I have occasionally left my ducks or pheasants in the garage for a day or two (usually when its cold out) to clean them later at a more convenient time.. I've never worried about eating these birds because I always just think how they used to hang for days back in history in outdoor markets at much warmer temps and it was the norm.

    I wanted to know more, so I searched the net.

    Most websites that I found said to age pheasants with innards in for 3-10 days at 50 degrees F. They claim is that this makes the meat more tender and also takes away some of the "gamyness." They also said younger birds and pen-raised birds need less time whereas older/wild birds need longer.


    So this little bit of research made me wonder if anyone ages their birds..

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    Member tjm's Avatar
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    Can't say I've done it, but I've heard of someone that has done it. Supposedly they got the results you described.

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    I've read the same thing on some waterfowl forums and I may try it next season. Not sure if I would hang a bird for 10 days though.

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    Im all about getting ultra uber fresh meat when im hunting. Not into letting it sit. Especially with the innards still inside. Basically the hour after an animal is shot it releases bacteria that starts to break it down already.

    Is there anything better than fresh meat? 10 day old 50 degree meat maybe? Sorry im not trying it.

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    Those birds in the market have one thing different than the market birds- they have not been shot. No blood or bacteria from organs contaminanting meat. The quicker the better. In this case I would say the meat would get worse over time because of the conditions of being shot, you would have risks of salmonella and in general once killed poultry/birds should be consumed within 5-7 days. Is there anything better than fresh pheasant breast!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ty Stromquist View Post
    Im all about getting ultra uber fresh meat when im hunting. Not into letting it sit. Especially with the innards still inside. Basically the hour after an animal is shot it releases bacteria that starts to break it down already.

    Is there anything better than fresh meat? 10 day old 50 degree meat maybe? Sorry im not trying it.
    Obviously you don't want to let anything sit with the guts in. The idea of aging meat is to allow the protein that causes rigor mortis (sp?) to break down which simply tenderizies the meat. It takes several days for this protien to break down and the muscles to loosen up again.

    10 days at 50 degrees!!! I don't think anybody would do or reccomend that, obviously you gotta get the meat chilled quickly and keep it cool, especially if your gonna hang it for a while. About 35 degrees is great and fresh meat can hang for quite sometime with no foul side effects. Obviously if you get it too cold the meat will freeze, preserving it in its current state and not allowing it to age.

    I personally don't age my meat. Usually, like most hunters, I have no place to do this as it is much to warm or cold outside to do this. That and the fact, that my wild meat is tender and tasty the way I process it already, so why change?

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    I take a few 4 day upland hunts out west each year. Dogs cant handle much more. Heck as I get older I need to rest after four.

    Any how, I gut my birds each day and leave every thing in tact till i get home for transporting laws. I find by leaving the skin on the birds it keeps the meat from drying out.

    As for 50 and multiple days I get nervous with some smells when hunting snows on a warm spring day so no thanks.
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    it sounds gross, but many a fine chef will tell you to hang the bird, guts and everything for awhile. but yeah, if you try it, make sure its with a head shot bird.

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    taken from hunter/angler cooking website:


    The current Authoritative Source on All Things Meat is Englishman Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who in his River Cottage Meat Book says “four or five days would be about right for me” if a bird is hung at 55 degrees.
    This is what the food writers say, but to me that’s only a piece of the puzzle. What about science?
    * * *
    Fortunately science exists on the topic of hanging game birds. My best source is an Australian government publication that did some rigorous experiments. For example:
    Pheasants hung for 9 days at 50°F have been found by overseas taste panels to be more acceptable than those hung for 4 days at 59°F or for 18 days at 41°F. The taste panels thought that the birds stored at 59°F were tougher than those held for longer periods at lower temperatures. Pheasants hung at 50°C became more ‘gamy’ in flavour and more tender with length of hanging.
    Aha! One issue solved. Food writers rarely talk about temperature of hanging because most of them think about hanging pheasants outside, which is fine if you don’t live in California; even now it is too warm to properly hang game. It seems 50 degrees is ideal, and the 55 degrees my fridge is set at is acceptable.
    Furthermore, an English study from 1973 found that clostridia and e. coli bacteria form very rapidly once you get to about 60 degrees, but very slowly — and not at all in the case of clostridia — at 50 degrees.
    That same study found that field care of the birds is vital. Under no circumstances should you allow pheasants to pile up in warm conditions because doing so will slow cooling so much that the dead birds will develop bacteria in their innards. This is no bueno.
    All the bacteria and taste tests converge on two things: 50-55 degrees and 3-7 days. That’s your takeaway, folks.
    Left undiscussed is the importance of feathers and innards. Brillat-Savarin speaks about a mysterious “oil,” and Wall talks about bacterial decomposition. Here’s my take: The feathers provide protection for the skin against drying out during aging. Pluck the feathers right away and you can still age the bird, but the skin will be unacceptably dried out and unusable.
    As for the guts, I am on the fence here. I think they do add something: Fish guts will affect the fillets because of the animal’s digestive enzymes. No reason to think land animals aren’t the same way, although at 50-55 degrees this is going to take some time to develop — for what it’s worth, a pheasant’s body temperature runs about 105 degrees.
    Yet, when I plucked and gutted my pheasants this week I noticed two things: One, they were pretty dry inside, and two, the innards in three of the four birds looked fine and wholesome, not ratty and stinky. Maybe this je ne sais quoi does not appear until later.
    * * *
    All of which brings me to my own first experiments with hanging pheasants. Like I mentioned before, I had one damaged bird I let hang for only a day. This bird’s body was drier and tighter than a fresh-killed bird, and I dry-plucked it because of the damage.
    This pheasant went into a pheasant and pork pie, which turned out to be an outstanding dish. Hat tip to Fergus Henderson for the inspiration on this one. How was the pheasant? I noted two things: One, the bird browned better (less moisture?), and it was more flavorful — even after just one day.

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    I've done it. Hung 'em cold, 40-50 degrees in the feathers with the innards in them. I can say that I think it does improve the taste of pheasants and quail.

    Not uncommon in the world to do this. I don't do it all the time.
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    Quote Originally Posted by thedarkarcher View Post
    taken from hunter/angler cooking website:


    The current Authoritative Source on All Things Meat is Englishman Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who in his River Cottage Meat Book says “four or five days would be about right for me” if a bird is hung at 55 degrees.
    This is what the food writers say, but to me that’s only a piece of the puzzle. What about science?
    * * *
    Fortunately science exists on the topic of hanging game birds. My best source is an Australian government publication that did some rigorous experiments. For example:
    Pheasants hung for 9 days at 50°F have been found by overseas taste panels to be more acceptable than those hung for 4 days at 59°F or for 18 days at 41°F. The taste panels thought that the birds stored at 59°F were tougher than those held for longer periods at lower temperatures. Pheasants hung at 50°C became more ‘gamy’ in flavour and more tender with length of hanging.
    Aha! One issue solved. Food writers rarely talk about temperature of hanging because most of them think about hanging pheasants outside, which is fine if you don’t live in California; even now it is too warm to properly hang game. It seems 50 degrees is ideal, and the 55 degrees my fridge is set at is acceptable.
    Furthermore, an English study from 1973 found that clostridia and e. coli bacteria form very rapidly once you get to about 60 degrees, but very slowly — and not at all in the case of clostridia — at 50 degrees.
    That same study found that field care of the birds is vital. Under no circumstances should you allow pheasants to pile up in warm conditions because doing so will slow cooling so much that the dead birds will develop bacteria in their innards. This is no bueno.
    All the bacteria and taste tests converge on two things: 50-55 degrees and 3-7 days. That’s your takeaway, folks.
    Left undiscussed is the importance of feathers and innards. Brillat-Savarin speaks about a mysterious “oil,” and Wall talks about bacterial decomposition. Here’s my take: The feathers provide protection for the skin against drying out during aging. Pluck the feathers right away and you can still age the bird, but the skin will be unacceptably dried out and unusable.
    As for the guts, I am on the fence here. I think they do add something: Fish guts will affect the fillets because of the animal’s digestive enzymes. No reason to think land animals aren’t the same way, although at 50-55 degrees this is going to take some time to develop — for what it’s worth, a pheasant’s body temperature runs about 105 degrees.
    Yet, when I plucked and gutted my pheasants this week I noticed two things: One, they were pretty dry inside, and two, the innards in three of the four birds looked fine and wholesome, not ratty and stinky. Maybe this je ne sais quoi does not appear until later.
    * * *
    All of which brings me to my own first experiments with hanging pheasants. Like I mentioned before, I had one damaged bird I let hang for only a day. This bird’s body was drier and tighter than a fresh-killed bird, and I dry-plucked it because of the damage.
    This pheasant went into a pheasant and pork pie, which turned out to be an outstanding dish. Hat tip to Fergus Henderson for the inspiration on this one. How was the pheasant? I noted two things: One, the bird browned better (less moisture?), and it was more flavorful — even after just one day.
    Thats one of the websites I viewed as well, Kevin. Glad I could provide u with something to research during work

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    yuk!

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    I'm sure it is a fine, acceptable practice. As for me, no thanks!
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