How to Handle Your Meat
Questions about meat is the most common one I receive from my Hunters. Both those that Drive up from the USA or across Canada or those that Fly commercially. Each one of those hunters have different requirements. Plus there is those customers that get there meat home and call me and tell me their meat was tough. So for those of you that want to return home with your bounty of meat and have your family enjoy it all year long here is my advice, and if you follow it you will not have this problem.
Silvertine’s experienced staff will handle all your field meat requirements. The animal is recovered from the preserve using quads, side-by side, or skidsteer tractor. The animal is taken back to the lodge, cleaned, quartered, and hung in our walk in cooler, ready to be prepared by a meat processor. For those of you that don't want to return home with your bounty of meat, we have a waiting list of local people who are delighted to come and pick up any unwanted meat. None will go to waste!
Travelling with your meat, you have several Options:
Depending on the time of year.
EARLY SEASON August & September:
Early season you can bring large coolers with you and we can bone out the meat and pack in into the coolers and you can pack ice around it for you return drive home, this will buy you several days and even more time if you replace ice often. As well, our staff can/will assist and bone out your animal into large "primal cuts" and place them in large zip-lock bags (You supply) and we will gte a good freeze on the meat and then you can pack these cuts into coolers for travel. OR some of our guests that have to drive many days back to a hot state often bring a deep freezer in the box of their truck or trailer, and pug it into generator while traveling, and at night into Motel's plugs. One larger deep-freezer is sufficient for two large elk boned out, or 4 large 100L/Q coolers as well.
LATE SEASON November & December: You can do the same as early season or even just bring a pallet and lay it in the back of your trailer, or canopied Truck box and lay the cooled quarters on there for the trip home. The meat will last quite some time if cooled in the late season.
You are allowed several pieces of luggage each. Pack light and bring a hard cooler wit you. We will bone out the "prime cuts" in camp for you and you can freeze it in our camp. You are allowed up to 70lbs and can take this amount of meat home with you as a extra or piece of your luggage. You will be charged for extra luggage if you take more than your allowable amount, but its often worth it in the end to have this wonderful meat.
3. Cut and Wrapped:
We are not a butcher shop; we do not have the facilities or time to be butchering anyone’s animals in camp. We can supply you with names of several local meat processors, and you can arrange cutting and wrapping with them. You may need to spend some extra time in town in a motel if your meat processor does not get your meat finished before your scheduled leaving day, and it depends on what day you finally harvest your animal. We will provide delivery of your meat to the local meat processor for you.
Coolers work well if you are flying and want only part of the meat. Be sure to bring a cooler with you, as they are scarce up here. Note: Unprocessed Elk, Bison, Deer and all exotic meat may leave Canada at the conclusion of your hunt. If guests want to have meat air shipped to them at a later date this can not be done anymore due to new rules of animal products crossing the border unaccompanied buy the hunter. You need to take it with you, sorry. Same with shipping meat within Canada, its very difficult to arrange.
Ageing Meat, this is the lost art of a great tasting steak.
This is where majority of my clients fail when they call me and tell me their meat is tough and chewy, damn animals! DO NOT rely on your meat processor to do this for you, just because it went through his shop does not meat the aging process was properly done. Many butcher shops are over booked, too busy, and just turn meat cutting over and get it out the door not allowing the proper amount for time for your meat to age. When we cut up your meat and freeze it in the ziplock bags for you in our camp at Silvertine, it goes in the freezer that day after the kill normally, and freezing meat stops the aging process.
Aging meat is a real art, and there is many schools of though on this, but I am going to give you mine. We are going to focus on game meat as its 95% fat free and need to be handled differently than marbled beef or pork. All game meat regardless of what it is (deer, elk, bison, Yak, or Wild Turkeys) all need to age for at least few days and up to several weeks to allow enzymes naturally present in the meat to break down the muscle tissue, resulting in improved texture and flavor. These days because of peoples time is so precious most store bought meat is aged in plastic shrink-wrap—a process known as wet-aging and often done in cryovac bags. When we hang meat in a cooler in quarters we are doing a process of Dry-ageing.
This old method of ageing meat is done by hanging meat in a controlled, closely watched, refrigerated environment. The temperature needs to stay between 36 degrees F and freezing. Too warm and the meat will spoil, too cold and it will freeze, stopping the ageing process. You also need a humidity of about 85 to reduce water loss. To control bacteria you need a constant flow of air all around the meat, which means it needs to be hanging in a well ventilated space. The last and most important ingredient in this process is an experienced person to keep a close eye on the ageing meat. This can be a risky job if you don't know what you are doing and I strongly suggest a good sense of smell to anyone who tries it. As a rule aging takes about 11 days on an averge size elk quarter before you see much improvement in the flavor and texture of the meat. After that the flavor continues to intensify, but so does the loss of weight and the risk of spoilage. Limit any aging of lage quarters to maximum 20 days, as game meat dries out to quickly with the low fat in the meat. If your Butcher is worth his salt at Dry-aging meat in his cooler, he will turn out fine flavored meat that is not chewy, but it does not end there, you still have the responsibility to prepare the meat properly, this is where your cooking skills come into play, can't help you there. I can tell you this, never get into a rush and microwave any wild meats!! The microwaves change the chemistry and the flavor and the smell of all delicate wild meat.
Another option is have your Butcher Cryovac your meat if he will not be able to hang your quarters to allow sufficient time for the meat to age. Cryovacing is know as wet-aging as we spoke earlier. If your meat was cut up into primal cuts in camp and frozen you can get your butcher to cut up your meat and re-wrap or cryovac the meat when you get home. The aging process is easily and safely be done if you own a refrigerator. Since the meat is packed in it’s own juices the enzymes will breakdown the connective tissues and make it more tender. However, because there will be no fluid loss the concentration of flavor that you get from dry aging won’t happen. Now you know your meat was not dry-aged in a cooler, and maybe your butcher only partially thawed our frozen primal cuts and re-froze them in the cryovac bags.
When you want to eat some steaks for dinner, plan ahead, and take a pack of steaks out of the freezer and set this packed meat aside in your refrigerators and allow them to thaw. Once thawed, take your prime or choice steaks, unwrap them, rinse with cold water, and put in your favotite marinade or do not open and place the cryovac bag on the coldest shelf of your refrigerator. Every day for up to a week check the steaks out and maybe even chage the marinade. At this point you are promised a fantastic steak, provided you live though the digestive process after eating it. What you need is the experience and knowledge to know when spoilage first starts. There is a definite change in smell and color of the meat so very close inspection is required during the aging process to insure that it doesn't go bad. The biggest risks to any piece of meat that you attempt to age on your own are all the things that happened to that meat before you put it in the frig. Any exposure to bacteria during butchering, packing or shipping can make that meat unsafe to age, so you need to watch it daily for any changes to color or smell. many times you can age meat in the frig like this for up to two weeks, but I normally leave it a 5 days to a week.
All our turkeys we shoot we recommend our guests age them in the frig for a week before eating, as we freeze them the day they are killed for safe transport home.
Special Tip for Customers shooting Yaks to Consider:
Hands down the best tasting meat on the ranch here at Silvertine is Yak meat. Yak meat is the ultimate exotic game meat!
Some say the healthiest meat! Once you eat Yak, You'll Always Come Back!
Yak meat is a sweet and delicately flavoured red meat. Yak is juicier than buffalo and elk, and never gamey. It is lighter tasting than beef, never greasy. This all-natural premium lean meat is never bland or mushy. This most desirable flavour and "feel" for discerning palettes come from its lean tender meat and natural oils. The best way to age Yak meat is in Cryovac clear packaging, as it enhances the freshness. By ageing Yak meat in a Dry-ageing method there is dehydration happening, and this concentrates and changes the flavour of yak meat. You do not want to loose that sweet difference of this premium quality meat that makes it so great, so do not dry-age it!! Upon returning home have your yak cut and wrapped and cryovaced in primal cuts, and let it age in these cryovac bags for a few weeks in your butchures cooler. Have your butchure oversee this Wet-ageing for you as his coolers are set at the correct temperatures for ageing meat, your frig is not idea for these large cuts. Once they have been aged in the cryovac bags for sufficient time, you are safe to open them up, and cut them into steaks and roasts and freeze them. Once at home and you are ready to eat your Yak, thaw in freezer and go threw a short marinade or few day ageing process in the frig and enjoy. The average Yak Primals will aged in the cryovak bags for 11 days or more at the butcherer shop.
Yak meat is healthier to eat than skinless chicken and most fish!! Yes, that's right!! This naturally ultra-lean dark red meat (95% to 97% fat free overall) is very juicy due to it's high percentages of Omega 3 oils, CLA's ( Conjugated Linoleic Acids ), Oleic Acids,and Stearic Acids, (35% higher than beef as a percentage of fats that are good for us). At the same time, Yak meat is very low in Palmitic Acid which is bad for us (30% less than beef as a percentage of fats, and 120% less than beef as a percentage of meat). Yak remains higher in protein, solids, minerals, and vitamins than beef; while scoring much lower in saturated fats, cholesterol, triglycerides, and calories than beef !!
All or Yaks are naturally raised with NO additives, NO growth hormones, NO steroids, NO fed antibiotics, NO fed animal by-products, NOTHING ARTIFICIAL, yields an All-Natural meat without contaminants. Mountain grazing on lush meadows, raised by myself on our Clinton BC Ranch or an Alberta Ranch we pasture finish all our animals and know what went into these animals, and they lived a pampered and unstressed life. The health and longevity of the Himalayan Peoples are attributed to their eating Yak as their primary meat source.
pasture finish (no feedlots).