Producer Question from 2012
Q: Do you have to hang a beef carcass in a cooler before cutting and processing the meat? (February 2012)
A: Hanging beef in a cooler (at about 38° F) for at least 10 days is recommended to improve tenderness. This process is called aging. This allows the enzymes in the meat to break down the proteins and improve eating quality. The process would also allow the development of flavors associated with the aging process.
Many slaughter operations will only hold the carcass for 30 to 48 hours, then fabricate or cut the meat into major muscle groups. If the muscle groups are placed in a vacuum bag, then the meat can be aged in the bag instead of in the carcass.
If you intend to grind the whole carcass, then you could process after chilling a short time, then grind. The meat should be cooled to less than 37° F for best grinding results.
Dr. Dennis Burson
University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Lincoln, NE