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Thread: Home "Larder" - What's essential? What's not?

  1. #1

    Home "Larder" - What's essential? What's not?

    Hey guys,

    So, I'm new and I've got my first question(s) which I hope someone / some people will be able to help me with.

    I'm in the process of converting my garage into a workshop / work area. In light of enjoying my first forays into stalking so much and needing to have a space to butcher animals somewhere, I've set aside a space about 4-5' square as a hanging area and mounted two strong hooks into the roof ready for the addition of chain, hooks and gambrel when those things arrive in the post. They'll hold 200kg happily enough, so I think I'll be able to accomodate anything I might shoot and bring home.

    I plan to progress to culling larger deer in time, but by and large I'll be bringing home smaller animals for eating myself rather than for sending to game dealers. If I shoot any Reds, it's likely that the estate I visit will want to sell them to their regular dealer and I'd certainly struggle to fit a larger animal into the freezer space I've got at the moment! If anything I shoot is going to a game dealer, I'm guessing it'll be dealt with at the estate in their proper facilities and either by myself supervised, or by whoever's guiding me that day. In short, it's unlikley that I'll be responsible for butchering any venison headed into the public food chain - so this post relates to having somewhere to deal with any animals I'm wanting to eat myself.

    In view of that, what I'd like to know is how much I need to worry about duplicating all the kit / equipment that I see in the "professional" larder at the estate? Perhaps unwisely, I'm currently reading the DSC1 hygiene & deer diseases stuff, so this may be making me a little bit paranoid about ever eating venison again for fear of contracting anthrax, TB or anything else; I'm sure some shared experience from Stalking Directory members would help put my mind at rest.

    To give you an example of where I'm at, the first muntjac I brought home was gralloched / drained / skinned at the estate, immediately after shooting, but then hung for 24 hours on coat hanger wire to cool / dry in my garage before I butchered it the next day. Hopefully that hasn't got any of you gasping in horror at my (inadvertant) bad practice - my wife and I haven't since died from eating it I suppose. That said, it probably never got as cold as (the recommended) 7 celsius and the air probably wasn't entirely dry - the neighbours have a dryer in their side of the garage building and you can sometimes detect a bit of humidity if they have it on for a long time.

    (In future, I'll be able to use better equipment for hanging the deer - gambrel / hooks as described above.)

    It would be helpful to know how far I need to go towards professional equipment to be safe eating what I bring home. Do I need to buy a proper cooler for chilling animals (probably unaffordable right now), or could I simply rig up an insulated cupboard around the ceiling hooks and put a refigeration unit in the bottom of it to keep the air inside cool? Do I need to worry at all, if the animals are going to be cut up within 24 hours? (I can basically guarantee this, or any shorter time as advised.)

    On a related note, if I were to use something like a shower base on top of an effluent tank to catch blood / mess to be disposed of, would that be sufficient or do I need to have the garage plumbed onto the water supply?

    Another related note: I have heard that temperature is not the main factor in keeping a carcase safe for eating, but I'm not sure what the most important consideration is if that's true?

    Hearing what others have done to prepare their homes / outbuildings for accomodating deer for butchering would be valuable in helping me decide what I can do in my situation. I want to be able to deal with the animals I shoot myself, but I don't want to endanger myself or my wife if I can help it. I'm afraid it's unlikely that I'll be able to set anything up in the house - my wife struggles with the sight of bloody raw meat, let alone anything that looks vaguely like a whole animal - it's disappointing really, but I'd rather like to keep her happy all the same

    With thanks for any advice you can offer,


  2. #2
    If it's for your own use and you don't plan to hang deer for long, you really don't need much. I hang them on an adapted length of curtain rail with two S-hooks in my shed over a plastic crate to catch any blood. Then I line the crate with a bin liner and skin the deer straight into that. Then I transfer it to my old plastic camping table which I wipe down first with kitchen towel and an antispectic spray. After that, I take off the legs, backstraps and fillets and put them in the fridge, remove as much meat from the remaining carcass as I can for dicing or mince, and everything else goes in the bin-liner with the skin. From start to finish it takes me maximum an hour and a half, depending on light. I just need two very sharp, short kitchen knives, a couple of big salad bowls, a roll of kitchen towel and one of cling film. These photos that I took in the process will give you an idea:

  3. #3
    Thank you for the link to the pictures - much appreciated. You certainly got the everything off that carcase! Perhaps regrettably, I tend to leave the intercostals / rib cage as I don't have a mincer yet and they're a lot of work but don't tend to add much except a rubbery texture to caseroles, but when I do get one (on the list for my birthday in Sept) I'll definitely be making sausages as well!

    Quote Originally Posted by Pine Marten View Post
    If it's for your own use and you don't plan to hang deer for long, you really don't need much.
    Regarding hanging time, I know from experience with birds that what the advice says and what people actually do with meat varies quite a lot. E.g. in "official"-land, I've read that you should chill pheasants as soon as possible after they're shot. In reality, I know (healthy) people who hang them (in somewhat variable temperatures) for four weeks or more before they eat them. Could someone give me some idea of how it works for deer? As I intimated above, I've been told that hanging for 24 hours, kept moderately cool, is fine and my continued existence senza food poisoning seems to bear that out. It would be useful to know if there is a tradition of "ageing" venison for a bit before cooking or whether it becomes unsafe after X number of hours etc and the guidelines should be interpreted absolutely strictly...

    I think I've remembered - perhaps incorrectly - that the problem of storage isn't so much about temperature but about insects bearing diseases getting on to the meat. Can anyone comment on whether that's correct?

    Thank you again for your help,

    Last edited by neutron619; 22-05-2013 at 14:43.

  4. #4
    watching this thread with interest, thanks for starting it Adam - hopefully I'll be in your position in a couple of months. Already do a lot of food processing for the house, but you are right reading that official infor brings me out in cold sweats. i'd love to ignore some of it, but not knowing enough to understand which bits I can take a risk on makes me probably overcautious.

    That said i'm eating rabbit tonight that was shot last night, gutted and hung in the shed.


  5. #5
    Well the reason for hanging meat is to tenderise it, and let's make no bones (ho ho!) about these: what we're talking about here is muscle fibre relaxation through controlled putrefaction. Broadly, the bigger and older the animal, the denser the muscle and the more tenderising it requires, hence why beef is often hung for 30 or 40 days. But a muntjac or young roe really doesn't need much tenderising, if any. The reason for refrigerating it as fast as possible and keeping it cold is slimply to slow down the rate of bacterial or fungal growth: everything happens more slowly when it's cold, faster when it's warm. Humidity helps these things to develop too. Insects are a problem because they lay eggs on the meat that develop into maggots. You can avoid that by putting a mosquito net around the carcass. In the winter, that's not really a problem though.

    It's all about controlling risk, but really if you're quite fast, and it's for your own consumption, you don't need to worry much, just follow basic hygiene practice like you would with any fresh food.
    Last edited by Pine Marten; 22-05-2013 at 15:12.

  6. #6
    Understood - thank you for your help. I'll bear the points about temperature / humidity in mind.

    I'm thinking at this point that I might "enclose" the area I've chosen for hanging deer, or at least make it possible to hang some netting around them, a bit like a shower cubicle or something simillar. Keeping flies / maggots out is clearly something I'll want to do and it shouldn't be too difficult to rig up something collapsible. I'm setting up the chains / hooks / gambrel rig so that everything except the bolts in the roof can be taken down and cleaned and I think it might be a good idea to do the same with any enclosure. I'll have a think. I do like my woodwork though, so it would be a nice project to come up with an elegant way of keeping prying flies, cats, etc out of that area when there's an animal hanging there.

    Thanks again,


  7. #7
    In that case, you could try and enclose it in a scaled up version of a cheese box:

    Attachment 28575

  8. #8
    That's a lovely idea - thank you. Already my mind is rushing off, thinking about quantity of wood required, etc, etc! I think that's my "late summer" project sorted

  9. #9
    Glad to be of help! If you feel like it, you can then come and build the wine rack in the awkward space under my stairs out of gratitude...

  10. #10
    You could just get a domestic 'larder' type fridge off ebay. Remove all the shelves, stick a bar across the top shelf holder and Bob's your mother's brother who touches you inappropriately.Paid 50 for mine and it holds a fallow... Then you can keep a carcass in good condition for a lot longer (certainly a couple of weeks).
    Last edited by Tom_Ov; 22-05-2013 at 18:15.

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