If you are considering dry aging at home, you may have came across two different methods, dry aging fridges and dry aging bags. Today we are going to discuss the difference in between the process that takes place within dry age bags VS a dry age fridge and which method we think is best.
How does a dry age bag work?
Dry age bags work by trying to create a one-way air technology so the air escapes but doesn’t allow air back into the bag, this means that condensation can evaporate out, thus drying the steak.
How does a dry age fridge work?
A dry aging fridge such as the Steak Locker works by aging the steak in a carefully climate controlled environment. The Steak Locker allows you to control the temperature and humidity levels to suit your type of meat. This means you get the best results and are able to truly tenderize the meat and enhance its natural flavors.
Key differences between dry age bags and dry age fridges
The first difference we noticed is that the bags are relatively small in size so you can only place smaller cuts of beef in them making them more limited. On the other hand, with the Steak Locker meat aging fridge, it’s best to use the largest sub-primal cut available to minimize the loss that gets cut off at the end of the process. This also means that with the dry age fridge you have more flexibility when it comes to which cuts you are able to dry age.
2. Risk of spoilage
Another element to consider is that with the dry age bags, you’ll have to be sure not to touch the beef so that no bacteria is introduced and since the beef comes in plastic, just cut one end and shimmy it out of the first bag then into the dry age bag. The downside of this is that it is more labor intensive and comes with a higher risk of spoilage than a dry age refrigerator. In fact, the Steak Locker has been specially designed to reduce the risk of spoilage with its temperature and humidity controlled environment which you can monitor via its integrated smart app and its UV antibacterial light.
3. Labor intensity
We also felt that the dry age bags were considerably more labor intensive. A vacuum sealer is required to get all the air out and the sealer doesn’t always work on the first try which can cause frustration and add time to the preparation process. You will also need to ensure you have a metal grid with a sheet tray, which you can place the beef in a dry age bag and onto. The purpose of the metal grid with the sheet tray is so the dry age bag is not sitting directly on the refrigerator shelf to allow for air circulation.
The benefit of the Steak Locker is that all you have to do is collect your meat from the butchers and put it in the Locker. After that, the fridge does all the hard work for you.
With the dry age bags, we found that the finished product often lacked consistency. The bottom didn’t age as much as the top portion even though it had air flow as directed. In the Steak Locker, it’s best practice to place the beef directly on the wire shelf and the use of trays and grids is not necessary. What’s more, the SteakLocker comes with multiple air forced fans to ensure a more rounded consistency.
5. End result
After 40 days in the bag, there were some air pockets, but it did create the pellicle that we’re looking for. However, it was really glossy and a lot less of the pellicle was required to be removed, meaning that in the Steak Locker there was a lot more moisture removed in the same amount of time. In fact, the Steak Locker aged steaks had a visible indent in the eye of the muscle showing the loss in moisture. The more moisture removed from the beef allows for a more tender and flavorful steak which is ultimately the end goal of dry aging. This also meant that the dry age bag steaks cooked a bit faster than the Steak Locker steaks.
Once cooked the dry age bagged steaks had a softer, wetter and more separated muscle fibers whereas the Steak Locker steaks were more solid, but the texture was comparable. Also, with the steaks dry aged in the Steak Locker, you always want to rely on a thermometer for when it’s done cooking because the moisture loss will trick you into thinking it’s cooked but it will overcook very quickly. Once cooked and in the taste test between the two, we could tell that there was a difference in the texture of the beef in the bag but the nutty and umami notes and flavor development was not the same as the steaks aged in the Steak Locker.
Overview of dry age bags VS dry age fridge
Overall, if you are looking for high end restaurant quality dry aged steak, it is best to invest in a specially designed dry age fridge like the Steak Locker. The key benefits of the Steak Locker include its unmatched ability to naturally amplify the existing flavor and texture of meat, and its reduced risk of spoilage with its integrated technology.
On the other hand, dry aging bags do come with the benefit of being more affordable, however, as with many products, you get what you pay for. Therefore it is important to consider that dry age bags will not produce the same quality of dry aging as a dry age fridge plus they have the limitation of size.
To learn more about Steak Locker's meat aging fridges, visit our blog where you can find our favorite dry age recipes, details on which meats are best for dry aging and more.