Choose & Prepare Meat
Choose a large cut of meat to dry age. Dry aging single steaks is not a great idea since the amount of waste would be much greater than the usable portion.
When dry aging a steak sanitation is very important. Always clean all surfaces with food safe sanitizing solutions prior to preparing the steak.
I prefer to trim any large pieces of fat off the outside of the steak. This gives the meat more surface area to breathe. The moisture from the steak will not permeate through the layer of fat. If you prefer to leave the fat on you can do so. Finally trim off any visible or accessible silver skin. You do not need to chase the silverskin deep into the meat, just trim what is visible.
Make sure the meat is not dry to the touch. This can happen if it is left out for too long . If the meat is damp you can proceed to the next step. If it is dry in any spots just brush it with some water.
Installing The Gfci Outlet In The Fridge
This step involves working with high voltages, so please make sure that the fridge is not plugged and there is no power to it before you do any cutting or work with it. When looking for a place to cut a hole, please consult the manual to see if it shows where coolant lines may be running, in the case of my fridge they run along the walls only. If you cut into the wrong wall, you risk cutting the coolant lines.
This was probably the most involved step when it came to setting up the dry aging fridge. Some people just buy a surge protector with a flat cable that they run inside their fridge, but I wanted to contain everything inside the fridge and not have cables hanging out of the door. For this you’ll need to look around the fridge for a suitable area to cut and carve out a hole to fit the work box. On my fridge the best place that did not have any coolant lines or any potentially important parts was the bottom left hand side of the fridge. With my current setup I am running two power cables, one will be solely to provide power to the newly installed outlet and you’ll have the power cable to the fridge itself.
I proceeded to measure and cut out a hole using my dremmel tool. I’m sure it would have been easier with a saw.
I then carved out the insulation until I could fit the work box in snuggly.
Cut off the end of the power cord that usually goes into the computer and strip the wires.
I then drilled a hole in the back of the fridge where I ran the power cable through
How Do I Tell If I Am Buying Good Quality Meat
As mentioned above, you want to look for pieces with a certain amount of marbling and fat on the exterior. These are elements you can easily spot.
To ensure you buy meat of good quality, use your best judgment. Look out for brown or gray edges. Steer clear of cuts that are wobbly and wet instead of dry and firm.
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Talk To Your Local Butcher Or Farmer
When it doubt, dont be afraid to ask for help. Your local butcher or farmer should be your go-to person.
They are experts when it comes to meat and can help you with your buying decision. Let them know that youre planning to try dry-aging at home. They can give you their recommendations and maybe even provide you with advice on the actual process. They can also ensure that you are taking home only the highest quality of pieces.
Equipment Needed For Aging Your Meat At Home
OK, its show time! You are now an expert on dry-aging meats, and its time to get to work. Heres what you will need:
- A mini-refrigerator
- A small desk fan
- A wire rack
- A tray to catch any meat juices
- A good hunk o cow! A bone-in untrimmed prime rib with fat cap and chine bone intact is my recommendation for starting out. Make sure its top-grade, USDA prime beef. And a prime rib, not a ribeye
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What Are The Best Cuts Of Dry
Entire primals, rather than single steaks are dry-aged, but to be a good candidate for dry-aging requires a good protective covering of bone or fat. This means theres less surface area that needs to be trimmed away later. Filets tend not to be aged because theres no bone or fat protecting it, Flannery says. Dry-aging is wasteful because every single side of meat that is exposed to air will be breaking down faster than the meat on the inside. Bone-in New York strip or ribeye are good contenders for dry-aging, Pandel says.
Ribeye is a great cut to dry age. Photo: Kevin Marple
What Is Dry Aging
Dry aging is a post mortem treatment for beef designed primarily to intensify flavor, with a secondary benefit of promoting tenderness. The flavor development is shaped by both a reduction in moisture which correlates to a concentration of flavor, and the cultivation of good mold and bacteria to lend a funky, nutty profile to the meat. In short dry aging makes beef taste really, really good.
CAVEAT: dry aging does not appeal to everyone. There are some folks who prefer regular beef, and who find the intense and nutty flavors of dry aging too much for their palate. The assumption here is, if youve arrived at this article interested enough in creating a set up at home, that you enjoy aged beef. If you havent yet tried it, I thoroughly recommend getting in touch with a local purveyor and tasting dry aged beef before you embark on this journey.
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How To Prepare Your Dry
So youve very patiently dry aged your beef, youve watched it develop that hardened crust on the outside and the colour is now a deep red, verging on purple or brown. There could even be a bit of mould. Now its time to get it ready to cook.
You need to trim away this crust to get to the good stuff inside. Also trim away any fat on the outside.
Cut your beef into individual steaks to your desired thickness and grill to your taste .
Which Cuts To Age
Typically, amply marbled steaks such as T-Bones, Porterhouses, or Bone-In Ribeye steaks are the best choices for dry aging. Bones and fat layers are the best when it comes to protecting the meat from drying out too much. For wet aging, leaner cuts such as Filet Mignon, are solid choices.
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How Long Do Steaks Take To Dry Age
The length of time to dry age a steak varies by cut, flavor preferences and patience. Large, bone-in, sub-primal cuts can age anywhere from 21 70 days or longer. Up to 21 days will add an increased tender outcome, up to 45 days will bring out nuttier and umami flavors and 65 days or beyond will develop some funky flavors and aromas.
A bone-in cut with a full fat cap offers less shrinkage and less waste. We do not recommend aging boneless cuts for longer than 35-45 days because the bones incorporate enzymes that build on flavor but it will not become any more tender. Boneless cuts should be placed into the meat aging fridge with the fat side up.
The two best ways to achieve your desired results are to one, dry age to your favorite length of time like 45 days, butcher the sub-primal cut into steaks then vacuum seal and place into the freezer for up to 6 months. Or, to cut a steak or two off at a time every few weeks to see how the flavor develops. Just apply a coat of butter, bacon or beef fat to the cut side so its a bit protected from the aging process and to keep it tender.
You can read our full article on how long you can keep dry aged steak in the fridge that covers from 7 up to 120 days.
The Secret Is Controlling The Moisture
Its important to keep the meat cold while it ages so it doesnt spoil. But you also need an environment thats relatively low in humidity to help draw out the excess moisture.
Problem: refrigerators are terribly humid places.
Enter the Umai dry-aging bag. It looks like any other plastic bag youd use with a vacuum sealer, but the Umai dry bag has a secret: its permeable in one direction.
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Get Your Dry Aging Fridge Knocked Up
When I discovered the concept of dry age fridge inoculation, it kind of blew my mind. I had never considered it before, yet it was so obvious! Much like a sourdough needs a starter, or salami requires introduced mold cultures, your dry aging fridge will benefit from being inoculated by an already dried piece of meat.
In short introducing the right mold to the fridge gets you off to a flying start, and makes sure the correct bacterias are present from the get go. The Certified Angus Beef® dry age locker in Ohio got their starter piece from DeBragga meats, New Yorks Butcher® . And my fridge was started off by a 70 day old strip shell from the CAB facility, with DeBragga provenance. Its kinda cool to trace it back that far. So ideally, you want to start off your fridge by smearing the interior with the already-aged meats from a facility that has a good program already set up. This may require you to trace down some online options or try to negotiate with your local dry age purveyor.
So, what happens if you cant get your hands on a piece of dry aged meat and you dont inoculate? Well, nothing bad. You can still start your own fridge off, but the microclimate will just take far longer to develop. So, your meat will be tender and slightly more intensified, but will lack the funkiness of a mature dry aging facility.
Basic Things You Will Need
A refrigerator. While we recommend getting a dry-aging refrigerator, your normal one will work just fine. However, keep in mind theres a catch: the refrigerator you choose should be used for dry-aging only.
Dont use it to store beer bottles, condiments, and other miscellaneous items. A multi-purpose fridge with other items stored in it can mess up the flavor of your final beef product. Opening and closing your fridge a lot can also disrupt the final results.
Also, be mindful of your fridge size and how much meat you plan on preparing. A fridge thats too small can cause inadequate airflow, while one thats too large can give you trouble with humidity levels.
Find a refrigerator that meets your preparation needs. Consider getting one with a glass door, so you can check on your beefs progress without opening the door and interrupting the aging process.
A fan. This may sound like a strange tool to have in a kitchen, but youll need it to dry-age meat. Ensuring you have proper air circulation is important to the setup process. Without it, you wont get a tasty final product.
A small standalone fan will work just fine. You can get a small battery-operated one. Or, one with a power cord will work, as long as the fridge door can close securely. Just make sure you sterilize your fan before it goes in the fridge.
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The Science Of Dry Aging: The Ultimate Guide
Does the idea of eating old beef disgust you? Well, it shouldnt, because its actually a good thing. Heres everything you need to know about dry aging beef.
Lets talk about the elephant in the room, why do we age beef in the first place?
Aging is a common technique used to improve two major characteristics taste and tenderness. As nasty as it sounds, the process of aging meat is essentially a decomposition process that is carefully controlled so meat doesnt spoil.
Technically speaking, theres a lot of methods of aging ranging from dry-aging, wet-aging, butter-agingwith varying results.
For the sake of completion, we are going to talk about, wet, dry and butter-aging.
Want Perfect Steak This Method For Dry Brining Steak Paired With Reverse Sear Cooking Will Result In The Tastiest Steak Youve Ever Made At Home
I conducted a small and seemingly uncomplicated experiment in my kitchen recently. It involved steak, and salt. Simple enough. But this basic procedure resulted in the greatest tasting steak Ive ever prepared in my own home.
A while back I posted my fairly extensive article talking about the myths and facts of dry aging. A few people commented that I should try to leave the steak uncovered in the fridge for a few days, and one even pointed out Alton Brown had a four day technique for pulling off dry aging at home. Considering the article I wrote says a minimum of 14 days aging is required to see any result, I was pretty skeptical of their suggestions. I came to discover that their method is a bit of a flavor game changer, its just that they were calling it by the wrong name.
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The Deep Seasoning Method For Steak:
Start with a steak thats at least one inch thick. Generously season with kosher salt on both sides. Lay it on a rack above a foil-lined tray, uncovered, and put into your fridge.
Thats it. Thats the whole, entire procedure. Well, not entirely, because now you have to wait and leave it like this for 1-3 days. Being the impatient person I am, I tried the method out with a few different increments of time but discovered that the three day yields the best result .
IMPORTANT NOTE: after a host of emails from people who complained of overly salty steak, Ive added in this clarification. Turns out some folks were smothering their steak in salt, similar to using vast quantities when brining a Turkey. So heres the thing: YES, you should season generously with salt. NO, you should not use more salt than you usually would. Season it as though it were right about to hit the grill. IF YOU PUT A TON OF SALT ON YOUR STEAK, IT WILL BE SALTY! Just use as much salt as you normally would add to a steak, and do not rinse the steak before cooking.
As far as the condition of the fridge goes, youre going to want to make sure theres nothing with a strong odor left uncovered in the fridge which could work its way into the meat. Think raw garlic, stinky leftovers that arent in a tightly sealed container etc. You can also put an open box of Baking Soda somewhere in there .
Trimming And Butchering Your Steaks
After six weeks, your ribeye will have developed a hard, shiny bark. Trim it, but dont toss it.
When you remove your ribeye from the bag at the end of the aging process, youll encounter a thick, shiny layer of bark. The bark needs to be trimmed, but its not waste: you can use the scraps for ground beef or for stock.
I used to trim the bark from the entire ribeye before cutting it into steaks, but lately, Ive been cutting the steaks first. Ive found that trimming the bark from an individual steak is much easier than trimming the whole ribeye.
Make your steaks as thick as youd like and trim the fat to taste keeping in mind that a lot of the flavor is concentrated there.
I like to vacuum seal the individual steaks right away. This serves several purposes.
It prolongs their life in a refrigerator makes for a nice presentation if youre planning to give steaks as a gift and prepares them for sous-vide cooking, which, when coupled with a reverse sear on a grill, is an almost unbeatable way to cook your amazing dry-aged ribeye steaks.
Vacuum sealing the individual steaks prepares them for refrigeration, gift-giving, or sous-viding.
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How Does Cut Affect The Time Of How Long Can You Keep Dry Aged Steak In Fridge
For dry-aging, whole sides of beef or primal cuts are hung in constant air flow and kept at a temperature just above freezing and left to age for several weeks or even several months. Those cuts are usually the larger muscle cuts that should be on the bone and still have their natural fat cap intact.
This environment will allow the natural enzymes working on the muscle tissues and permits the cuts to slowly dehydrate. This concentrates the meat flavor and changes the taste, texture and tenderness. The benefit of this process is very tender meat with an intense flavor. The downside is that a certain weight loss occurs due to moisture loss, which decreases the yield and increases the cost per pound. Also, the surface of the meat usually needs to be trimmed away before the beef is portioned and sold, resulting in further loss of volume.
Weve Found That The Sweet Spot For Aging Is Between Six And Eight Weeks
At six weeks, the enzymes will have tenderized the meat and concentrated the flavor nicely. By the eighth week, the flavor of your steaks will be surprisingly nutty and complex.
Dont be alarmed if your ribeye seems a bit smaller at the end of the aging process. The ribeye in this article started out weighing nearly fifteen pounds at trimming time, it weighed perhaps a pound and a half less.
Just keep in mind that cooking any steak involves a loss of moisture. A dry-aged steak has simply lost its water weight in your refrigerator, rather than on the grill.
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