September is around the corner, which means you're getting ready for hunting season. Some hunters have their harvest butchered professionally, but others like to do it in-house. Whichever way you cut it, there are some butchery basics to keep in mind.
We realize that we're not talking commercial grade restaurant equipment for every hunter who wants to cut meat themselves. Still, there are certain things that cannot be looked over if you wish to successfully butcher in-house. Take a look.
Freshly butchered and packaged proteins need to be properly stored. You can have the best meat grinder and butchery set up on earth, but if you improperly store meat, it doesn't matter. Whether you're freezing a bunch and keeping some to be cooked a bit sooner, having ample frozen and refrigerated storage space is key to keeping things fresh. Don't try to stuff a bunch of venison cuts in a college dorm freezer. You'll come back to spoiled steaks and rue the day you didn't properly pack them away.
Best meat grinder practices
Sure you don't need an industrial meat grinder, but grinding meat is an essential hunting season butchery practice. How else will one make burgers, sausages, and the like? Keep your meat well refrigerated and before you begin, and heed the advice of professional meat grinders: aside from the motor, put all the pieces of your meat grinder in the freezer for an hour before grinding. Why? Warm parts will warm the meat as you grind it and your goal is to keep it as cold as possible.
You have to make sure your knives make the cut. Literally. Having a hunting season butchery requires more than one type of knife. Invest in quality steel, keep them well-sharpened, and know that one knife isn't going to do every job a butcher requires. Knowing your way around your tools and what jobs they're meant for keeps your cuts clean and your hands safe.
Hunting season is a great time and learning to butcher is an excellent skill to have. Unfortunately, it's an art that's thought to be easy, but people quickly realize how delicate and precise it is. Having the right tools, practices, and space to accommodate your in-house butchery is a wonderful place to start. Remember, industrial meat grinders, etc. don't make the butcher. It's practice. Once that's in order, get cutting and happy hunting.