A Substitution For The More Adventurous
While a standard home refrigerator should get the job done, one isnt as consistently cold as a refrigerator meant for dry-aging. If youre feeling particularly adventurous, consider investing in a dry-aging refrigerator. Consider how a dry-aging refrigerator outperforms your standard home fridge:
It keeps its contents cold. To dry-age meat successfully, you need low temperatures. Ideally, the temperature range should be between 34.7 degrees Fahrenheit and 35.6 degrees Fahrenheit. This small range doesnt leave much room for error.
Even if your home fridge has electronically-controlled thermostat regulation, it wont be able to precisely remain in these temperature constraints. A dry-aging refrigerator is designed to meet the specific temperature requirements for dry-aging meat.
It controls the climate. Temperature isnt the only factor to consider. You also want to have a sterile environment for dry-aging beef. A dry-aging refrigerator sterilizes and controls the humidity to prevent the development of unhealthy mold.
It has other purposes. If you decide to take a break from dry-aging meat, this type of refrigerator can be used for other purposes. For example, you can keep herbs, vegetables, and fruits fresher for longer in the consistent temperatures and sterilized conditions that this fridge offers. Just make sure you disinfect the fridge in between uses.
What Happens To The Meat During The Aging Process
Whats happening, Poll and Kawa both told me, is that the enzymes in the meat are breaking down, resulting in a more tender, juicier steak with a much more concentrated flavor. There’s also some shrinkage.
Essentially, the water is coming out of the meat and its technically shrinking. The flavor of the meat is getting more and more intense as it gets denser in the dry-aging process, revealed Perry Pollaci, Cutthroat Kitchen champ and the executive chef at Castaway in Burbank, California.
There’s also often mold that forms on the meat. But that’s natural too, and while eating a hunk of meat that has mold on it might seem counterintuitive, it’s actually just a part of the maturation of flavors.
Think of it this way, Pollaci said, the meat is almost breaking itself down, so the natural enzymes are causing the muscle tissue to break down, which is going to make for a more tender and flavorful cut.
What Is The Difference Between Dry
Dry-aging activates chemical processes that develop new flavors in the meat. Wet-aging primarily protects the meat against spoilage.
Until about 50 years ago, dry-aging was the only way to store and age beef. Whole carcasses and larger cuts were transported to supermarkets and butcher shops where they were stored and aged, then sold to customers.
In the 1960s and 1970s, beef began to be delivered in vacuum packaging, leading to the advent of “boxed beef.”
With “boxed beef,” meat packing companies delivered vacuum-packed individual cuts to stores â rather than huge portions of the animal as before. This saved weight in transport, eliminating the need for large bones to go along with the beef. Supermarkets could simply order the cuts they needed.
This vacuum-packed beef is also known as wet aged. Wet aged beef is stored in sealed plastic packets with the natural moisture of the beef inside. Because the plastic protects the meat from air and potential contaminants, the beef can be aged as long as it is stored in refrigerated conditions.
However, there is no reason to believe that wet aged beef develops additional flavor the way that dry aged beef does.
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Can You Dry Age A Single Steak
Because desiccation can convert your steak into a tough black strip of dried flesh if you dry-age single steaks for an extended length of time, you should avoid dry-aging single steaks. Technically, you might be able to chop through all of that and save a slice of decent flesh from the middle, but the effort would be far less than it would be worth it.
What Kind Of Steak Can You Dry Age At Home
This is pretty important. You SHOULD NOT age individually cut steaks . Technically speaking you CAN age individually cut steaks, but its a colossal waste, and youre foolish for undertaking it. Your meat will shrink vastly in size as it loses water through the aging process. When you combine the amount of rind trimming that needs to occur along with the smaller size, youll be left with barely a sliver of a steak.
What you SHOULD be dry aging are subprimals or larger whole muscles. For example, a strip loin shell , or a 107/109 rib . It doesnt matter whether it is grain or grass fed thats just a case of personal preference. You want to look for meat that is on the bone, not because it tastes better, but because you can cut the bone away during trimming and not lose any meat. If you keep reading, Ill explain why you cut the bone away, rather than cook the meat on the bone.
The quality of the meat also matters. You need to use meat with a minimum degree of marbling, Choice grade or higher, and steer clear from overly-lean cuts . Lean or lower grade meat does not develop any significant intensification of flavor, because the marbling is slight. Fat equals flavor, and so the absence of fat means youre lacking the taste foundation which you need to build on.
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The Required Tools Are Inexpensive And Versatile
All you need to dry-age at home is your refrigerator, a wire rack, and a sheet pan.
Refrigerators have an air circulation system to ensure freshness. By aging meat on an elevated wire rack, uncovered and near your refrigerator’s fan, air will circulate all around the meat, keeping it dry and cool. The sheet pan just goes underneath to catch drippings and keep your fridge clean.
This setup minimizes moisture and heat, safeguarding against rot.
Buy two quarter-size sheet pans on Amazon for $12 and two elevated racks that fit perfectly inside, also .
How To Prepare Your Dry
How long you age your meat is really up to you. As Ive said, for most people, somewhere in the 28-35 day dry-aged range is ideal. But like all fun things in the kitchen, experimenting is the name of the game!
Once you decide to take the cut of meat out of the refrigerator, you need to be prepared for some visual changes: the outside of the meat is going to look desiccated, cracked, deep red-brown or even purple-brown. But fear notall this gets trimmed away. Also trim off most of the fat just leaving a little because, well, we all love a little fat on our steaks, right?
Finally, cut the meat neatly into individual steaks. Making each individual steak 1 ¼ to 3 thick is ideal, with 2 inches thick being the sweet spot for most. Then go fire up that grill, baby, cos its chow time!
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How Long To Dry Age Beef
Dry age beef between 14 and 60 days. Beef that is aged for less than 14 days won’t take on additional flavor. Once that point is passed, new flavors start to develop. After 14 days, the length of dry-aging really depends on your personal preference. Some restaurateurs identify 28 days as the sweet spot for dry-aging, but not everyone agrees. Some prefer beef aged for 30 days or even 45. Most people seem to agree that beef aged for more than 60 days is unpleasantly pungent.
The specific temperature, air flow, and humidity of your particular dry-aging setup may lead to different results. And the quality of the beef you buy may change the ultimate flavor. So you may find that your setup delivers the flavors you want at 26 days, or 34 days. There’s really no way to tell until you cook and taste the beef. For this reason, you may want to err on the side of fewer days for your first try.
Dry-aging beef is more of an art than a science. Don’t get discouraged if your initial efforts don’t result in the flavors you were hoping for.
Check the steak — very briefly every few days — to make sure there isn’t any out-of-control mold or rotting going on. A funky smell and small amount of mold is normal .
Selecting And Preparing The Meat
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How Long Can Steak Be Stored In The Fridge
Steak can only be stored in the fridge for a short period of time before it begins to go bad. There are a few factors that go into determining exactly how long it will be able to last in the fridge.
Two important factors include the temperature of the fridge, and how your steak is packaged. Ultimately, the average time your steak can be stored in the fridge is between 3-5 days.
It isnt recommended to consume a steak after the 5-day mark unless it still looks 100% healthy and edible. If there are any signs of it going bad, even if they are minor, its best to not eat it.
Here’s How To Dry Age A Ribeye In The Fridge
The difference between good beef and great beef is sometimes due to the qualities of the animal itself. More often, however, the difference is because of how that beef is handled after slaughter.
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Most modern beef is wet-aged, an economical and cost-effective process. However, the best beef is dry aged in the traditional fashion. Although some work is involved, any food lover can dry-age a prime cut such as ribeye at home in the fridge.
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How Do You Prepare Dry Aged Steak
When Cooking a Dry-Aged Steak, What is the Proper Method of Cooking?
Proper Preparation & Cooking Of Dry Aged Meat:
Your set up is a huge part of the dry age process, but so is knowing how to treat the product when its ready to eat. There are important two factors you need to consider when approaching the preparation and cooking stage: palatibility and food safety.
PALATABILITY basically refers to how enjoyable it is to eat, both in terms of flavor and texture. Assuming all your aging parameters were correct and theres no spoilage, the only hindrance to perfect palatability is going to be the rind, or hard outer shell that forms during aging. The rind does not soften during the cooking process and so needs to be removed. Dont be stingy with your trimming here theres no point in aging steak only to have a poor eating experience by leaving rind on there.
When trimming back your rind, you may notice that there are parts of the muscle itself that have turned a brown shade. In most cases, this is nothing but oxidization of the myoglobin, a harmless color change. As long as you feel the darker areas and they seem to be the same consistency they will be fine to eat, despite not being appealing in color. Theres always a chance that the discoloration is not simply part of the myoglobin cycle, but a more concerning issue like meat that was close to an air pocket or seam which held mold. You should be able to make a judgement call here using smell and touch, but if in doubt, trim it away. Food poisoning is not fun, FYI.
AND SO TO SUMMARIZE
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Why dry-aging? Experts know it makes beef more tender and flavorfulbutchers arent just hanging quarters of beef in refrigerators for aesthetics. When beef is exposed to air at low temperatures, its flavors become more concentrated as muscle protein transforms into amino acids and peptides. Enzymes break down connective tissue during this process as well, making each bite more tender.
By contrast, wet-aged beefthe kind thats sealed in plasticisnt losing as much moisture. So if a home cook wants the benefits of dry-aging from a regular, packaged steak, theyll have to replicate it in their kitchen. The technique is best applied to any cut of steak on which youd want a browned, seared crust: tenderloin, porterhouse, rib-eye, top loin, and strip steaks.
Surface drying that happens over a few days in the fridge will greatly improve browning, and thus flavor, explains Paul Adams, science editor at Americas Test Kitchen.
Heres how to do it: Pat the steak dry, then wrap it loosely in cheesecloth. Place the steak on a wire rack set in a baking sheet, then set it in the coldest part of the refrigerator, which is generally the lowest shelf, toward the back.
My dry-aged tenderloin steaks, before and after searing.
Not Only Cool But Also Constant
For a successful dry-aging of meat you need low temperatures. A range between +1,5°C and +2°C are regarded as being ideal and in addition these can be held to precisely within a tenth of the appropriate temperature. Theses temperatures can not be obtained with a normal refrigerator that has a thermostat- controlled regulation, even electronically controlled refrigerators have a fluctuation range of many degrees which prevents a professional Dry-Aging.
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How To Age A Steak In The Fridge
The Correct Climate For The Maturity
Apart from the temperature, the right and accurate humidity is also decisive for Dry-Aging. The ideal air circulation aligned to the meat is an important factor which cannot be achieved with a refrigerator. Should mould develop, this can very quickly make the meat inedible and even be a danger to our health. Therefore a high- class dry-aging fridge is also a climate cabinet. The humidity is controlled, sterilised and unnecessary moisture extracted and returned to the air-circulation without needing a water-connection, a complicated process, which makes it possible to produce delicious smelling Dry-Aged Beef.
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What Is A Steak Locker Meat Aging Fridge
Our steak locker meat aging fridge range is multipurpose, which means that our steak lockers may be used for a variety of purposes other than simply dry aging steaks. The curing of charcuterie, cheese, and fish is conceivable with the Steak Locker we will provide more information on this in subsequent blogs.
How To Properly Store Steak
To prevent the risk of shortening the lifespan of your steak any further, here are a few things you can implement:
- Dont open your steaks packaging until youre ready to cook it.
- Dont leave steak packaging open for more than two hours before you cook it. Be especially careful if you plan to cook high quality Wagyu steaks.
- To package it properly, your best bet is to utilize a shallow, airtight container to prevent any oxygen from reaching the steak. This will ultimately lower the risk of bacteria developing on the meat.
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Why Did My Steak Turn Grey In The Fridge
This is one of the most common questions that meat lovers ask when they notice their steak turn grey after a few days in the fridge. The reason why this happens is that there are two types of aging processes: wet and dry aging processes.
Dry aging is the process where enzymes break down the proteins, fats, and other compounds in the tissue which gives you a richer, firmer, and tenderer cut of meat. On the other hand, wet aging reduces moisture loss during storage to keep your meats juicy for longer periods of time. However, some people have noticed that this process causes their steaks to turn grey in the fridge over time. So what causes this to happen? Here are some factors that could be contributing to this phenomenon:
Excessive exposure to air in the fridge: If your steaks are exposed to too much oxygen, this can cause oxidation which, in turn, will give your meat a greyish tint. To prevent this from happening, you should make sure that all of your food is properly sealed when stored in the fridge. You could also try freezing or refrigerating your meat once it has been cooked so that it doesnt lose moisture too quickly.
The age of the steak: Older cuts of meat tend to have larger amounts of fat and protein content which makes them more susceptible to oxidization and turning grey over time. As a general rule of thumb, try and consume your steaks as soon as possible for the best results!