How Bacteria Affect Meat
Dont go all squirmy on me now. Our guts are full of good bacteria! Theyre all over our skin and everything we touch. Good bacteria keep us healthy, fighting off bad bacteria, boosting our immune system and help our digestion.
With dry aging beef, bacteria are your friend, working to reduce the toughness of muscle fibers and connective tissue, and convert chewy collagen into buttery-smooth tender steak.
Bacteria also oxidize the outer layer of fat surrounding the meat to increase tenderness. The important thing is to welcome only the good bacteria, and keep away the bad
For the whole hog on dry-aging beef, check out this video of the professional process. The science is the same, and its fascinating.
What Is Dry Aged Beef
What is it? Why the high praise?
Dry-Aged Beef spends weeks in a cool, dry place, slowly aging. With time, muscle fibers tenderize and flavor evolves. The result is a velvet texture with aromas ranging from salty, sweet, savory and nutty. The process is reminiscent of Scotch, wine or fine cheese.
The flavor is otherworldly in its boldness and intensity compared to other meats. Eating a dry-aged steak is a premium culinary experience.
The process depends upon high-grade meat with evenly distributed fat. The moisture in the fat evaporates from the meat, intensifying the classic beef flavor.
Enzymes within the beef break down the muscle fibers, tenderizing the meat. Those enzymes also influence the flavor profile, comparable to the way enzymes generate cheese like gorgonzola.
This process takes 15 to 28 days, and the evaporation cuts the weight by a third.
Hence, the expensive nature of eating dry-aged cuts at a gourmet steakhouse.
Before you dry-age your own beef, it is worth sampling professionally prepared dry-aged beef. You need to know how high the bar is set, if you want to clear it.
Any excuse to eat dry-aged beef is welcome.
Can You Dry Age Beef In A Wine Fridge
You may be able to dry age beef in a wine fridge depending on the type of fridge you have. The optimal temperature for wine storage is considered to be about 55 degrees Fahrenheit which is too warm for dry-aging beef and will cause spoilage. If you can set your wine fridge to temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit, it might work.
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What To Do After Learning How To A Age Steak In The Refrigerator:
You are now ready to cook your dry aged steak which you can do so using a cast iron or grill. You can place the remainder of the primal cut back into the Steak Locker for additional dry aging time. Alternatively, if you do not desire additional dry aging time, cut the entire sub primal into steaks and freeze them individually. We recommend using vacuum sealed machines and bags to prevent freezer burn.
Our steak locker meat aging fridge range is multifunctional- by this we mean that our steak lockers do more than just dry aging steaks. With the Steak Locker, the curing of charcuterie, cheese and fish are possible, we will include further details about this in later posts.
To find out more about steak locker dry age fridges, visit our product page.
Mold Is Gooddepending On The Color
Mold in dry aging is like terroir. In winemaking, terroir refers to the hyperlocal environmental conditions that form the unique flavor and aroma profiles in the wines. So each region, sometimes down to the different vineyard plots, has its own unique terroir.
The mold in your fridge will be influenced by what is locally present in the atmosphere where you live. For example even though CAB in Ohio got their starter meat from New Jersey, it will have evolved over time to account for the local bacteria that can be found there. Not to mention the bacteria on the various humans handling the meat and opening the door. My fridge will be another evolution of that mold again, with a Texas twist being added into the Ohio hybrid. This is also the reason you want to make sure not to put any additional items in your dry aging fridge, and to keep the door closed as much as possible.
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How To Age Beef At Home The Old Fashioned Way
Ready to age some beef? First, select high quality meat, at least USDA choice or USDA prime, preferably tightly wrapped in a vacuum pack cryovac bag. Fresh meat is best, but if you have frozen, Chef Gresh says it is important that you defrost the meat slowly in the fridge, not under running water, to help preserve its integrity. Next, get the right cuts. You want to start with a prime rib roast that weighs 20 pounds. Or a strip loin. Or a sirloin. No tenderloin. It is already very tender, it is low fat, and it can get mushy with age. These are expensive meats, so dont screw around or take shortcuts with the aging process. Thats a lotta meat. But what you dont use right away after aging, you can freeze.
The fridge should be kept at 34 to 38°F. Any lower than 32°F and the enzymes will go on strike. Above 40°F spoilage microbes can grow. Even if you arent aging meat, your fridge should be set to 38°F max. It significantly reduces spoilage, even in comparison with 40°F. And, of course, you need a reliable thermometer. A dial thermometer is not reliable. Normally I recommend digital thermometers, but a liquid bulb thermometer is accurate enough for refrigerator temps.
Take a large pan wider and longer than the meat, and fill it with about 1/2 of salt. It doesnt matter what kind of salt. But salt is corrosive, so you do not want to use an aluminum pan. Stainless steel, glass, or porcelain pans are OK. The salt will absorb drips, moisture, and odors.
Now tuck in for a treat!
Whats The Ideal Time To Dry
The ideal length of time for dry-aging meat really comes down to individual taste. For Flannery, the sweet spot is around 30 to 35 days. For retail customers, we go 35 days, but for restaurant customers we go 18 to 20, she says. Thats because in the restaurant industry, if a diner isnt familiar with dry-aged beef, their first reaction might be to think that something is off.
Pandel says he likes meat thats been aged around 45 days. You can tell its been aged, but its not unpleasant, he says. Weve gone further. In running a steakhouse its personal preference. Some folks like it really funky, but for some people its too gnarly.
And the longer you go, the funkier the flavor will get. Dry-aged meat does have a unique smell and flavor. Funky is a good way to describe it, she says. Its a more rich flavor up until the 30-day point. When you go farther than that, and if you go really far out, like 60 to 90 days, you develop a serious blue cheese funk to it. It will smell remarkably like blue cheese.
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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 .
Is There A Quick Way To Dry
Well sure, theres always a short-cut, but as youd expect, there will be some compromises.
If you rub steak with special ground-up rice called Koji , then leave it uncovered in the refrigerator for a few days, you end up with something surprisingly close to real dry-aged steak.
Were not the biggest fans of this method because tenderness one of the principal aims of dry-aging is not as good with Koji-rubbed meat as it will be with the dry-aging method described here. But in a pinch, if you only have 3 days, hey, could be worth a try.
Read more about how to shortcut the dry-aging process here with the Koji-rub method.
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How Does Dry Aged Beef Not Spoil
The key to dry aging is consistency controlling the decomposition so that the meat ages, not rots. It all comes down to three key factors: air flow to help form a crust, humidity control to slow down the migration of moisture and keep natural juices from running out, and temperature control to stop the meat from spoiling.
The meat is also protected by the bones and fat which is why, if youre dry aging at home, its important to choose high quality large cuts with the bones still in. Once the aging process is completed, the dried-out layers around the exterior are cut away, leaving you with a beautifully aged, edible dark-red piece of meat.
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Sealing The Meat In Umai Dry
We recommend sealing your UMAi Dry bag at a 45 degree angle due to the commonly narrow sealing bar on most heat sealers. Position the meat at a 45 degree angle to the sealer and grasp the opening of the bag in your hand to create some wrinkles for better airflow and then seal the corner. Since our UMAi Dry bags melt at a slightly higher temperature than other drying bags, seal the bag a 2nd time for 20 seconds. Wait until the material is cool to check the seal and make sure it is transparent.
Next, reposition the meat parallel to the heat seal and insert the VacMouse vacuum aid strip to allow air to be drawn out by the vacuum pump in the sealer. Massage the air out of the bag corners and meat crevices while the vacuum is running. UMAi Dry does not require an absolute vacuum, making it easier for meat crafters to learn how to make dry aged steak at home.
The purpose of vacuum sealing is simply to bring your UMAi Dry bag into contact with the meat to allow for efficient moisture release.
Add a label with your anticipated dry aging start and end date. We recommend dry aging steak for 21-45 days in your UMAi Dry bag.
Which Is Better
Honestly, it boils down to personal preferences. The most notable difference between wet-aged an dry-aged meat is the intensity of the flavors. Dry-aged beef has an intense flavor, while wet-aged beef can taste slightly metallic and lacks the same depth. We recommend to try and taste each type and see which one you prefer the most.
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How To Age Beef
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Aging beef increases the tenderness and taste of the meat by producing a more succulent, beefier flavor. Most beef is aged in shrink wrap in a process called wet aging. However, exposing meat to the air will cause water to evaporate from it, concentrating its flavor. This is called dry aging. Dry aging can take anywhere from two to three weeks depending on the type and cut of the meat, as well as the desired end flavor and tenderness.XResearch source
How Enzymes Affect Meat
Once meat is no longer alive, it will start to break down. This can go one of two ways. Bacteria and rotting. Er, no thanks. Or precise control of humidity, temperature and air movement to ensure it ages safely.
In optimal conditions, natural enzymes present in the meat will work to break down fats and glycogen into tasty amino acids, sugars, and fatty acids, helping the meat gradually develop a new complexity of flavors.
In fact, one amino acid created through dry-aging is glutamate as in monosodium glutamate which we all know is a powerful flavor. And in this case, its all natural.
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Dry Aging Is Controlled Rotting
Some Egyptian royals were so fond of dry aged beef they were buried with it . During dry aging, the meat is stored in a sanitary room at 34 to 38°F and usually 70 to 80% humidity with brisk airflow for anywhere from 28 to 75 days. Dry aged beef is noticeably different tasting than fresh beef or wet aged beef. The longer it dry ages, the more complex it becomes. Some describe the taste as earthy, nutty, gamey, leathery, mushroomy, and cheesy. Some say it can even develop notes of prosciutto. Some people are addicted to it. Some just plain dont like it. Before you decide to try dry aging at home, go to a restaurant and try several ages of beef. In the picture below, we see bone-in rib primals in the dry aging locker of David Burkes Primehouse in Chicago . From left to right, they range from 7 days to 20 days, 30 days, and 60 days.
All of the aged steaks were wonderful, but all very different. After 45 days, the flavor had changed so that it no longer tasted like beef as we know it. It was as if the meat came from a different animal. Many of the changes in taste occur in the fat rather than the muscle. As for the texture, beyond 45 days, I was unable to notice much difference in tenderness. My favorite was the 28 day steak because it had not yet gotten funky, but the flavors were concentrated and the meat was oh so tender. Others preferred the older meats, proving once again that taste is a matter of taste.
A Few Things To Remember
Dry ageing beef using professional equipment will deliver a different result to your home setup, so dont expect your efforts to match that of your favourite steak house or butcher just yet.
Also be wary of meat spoilage. If you think your efforts have failed and the meat spoiled instead of aged, dont push it further.
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What Makes A Steak
First, a definition: Steaks are basically any piece of meat that falls under the category of “fast-cooking” cutscuts that are low enough in connective tissue that they don’t require the long cooking times that “slow-cooking” cuts require.
The difference between a steak and a roast essentially comes down to sizeany good roast can be cut into individual steaks .
How To Age A Steak In The Refrigerator
Aging a steak in the refrigerator is as easy as four simple steps. Here is our guide on how to age a steak in the refrigerator. Steak Locker makes the process of dry aging steaks straightforward, and minimizes the risk associated with the dry age process. The Prime Rib or the whole rib, also known as the eye muscle and is the least utilized muscle in the cow. This makes its yield the most tender, it develops the most marbling and generates generous portions.
The purpose of dry aging is to maximize the flavors in your beef. During the dry aging process, the meat will lose some of its original weight. As your sub primal cut is dry aging, slowly dehydrating and losing water, it concentrates the flavor but also loses about 15-25% of its starting weight. This is predominantly the reason that this type of high-quality product costs at least 70% more than the non-dry aged product. However, it is worth it as it will reward you with the most tender and truly naturally flavorful beef, not possible without dry aging and made straightforward with our dry age refrigerator.
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How Does Dry Aging Work
The truth is, all meat benefits from some amount of aging. Most of the beef we consume has been wet aged a process where the meat has been sealed in a bag to retain its moisture. The chemical transformation that happens to beef occurs regardless of whether the meat is left outside of a bag to dry age or inside a vacuum-sealed bag to wet age. The difference comes in the flavour.
When you dry age beef, two things happen:
1. Moisture is pulled out of the meat. The fat portion retains more water than the lean portion, causing the lean muscle to shrink around the fat the fat becomes more pronounced, thus giving the beef more flavour.
2. Bacteria formed in the aging process produces a robust flavour profile that is highly desirable. Its like cheese, says Aaron. Its very rich and intense. In fact, if you look at a rib of dry aged beef, you can see veins similar to those found in blue cheese working their way through. Both the mold, and the flavour profiles, are indeed similar.