Dry Aged Beef is best known for the way the process creates more tender and flavorful steaks. However, you might be wondering ‘what is dry aged beef?’ If so, you have come to the right place. In this article we are going to explore what dry aging is.
What is the dry aged beef process?
Dry aging beef is the process of taking large sub-primal cuts of beef where the internal and external fat around the muscle are aged for several weeks or months. This process is most commonly done today in special fridges like the Steak Locker. After the beef has been dry aged, it is then trimmed and cut into steaks. Not only does this process help with making the steaks more tender but it helps to develop flavor. The natural enzymes in the muscle, fat and bone break down some of the collagen that holds the muscle fibers together and causes it to toughen when cooked without being aged.
What is dry aged beef’s history?
Dry aging is a process that dates back thousands of years and would have begun in a chamber, a cellar, or a cave. The only other methods used to store meat prior to refrigeration were to smoke, brine or pickle it. It’s important to have an environment that has forced air, constant temperature, and steady humidity levels. When meat is exposed to open air, the natural enzymes draw the moisture through the middle then outward creating a pellicle crust on the exterior while staying moist and red on the interior. Some people describe the process as taking on a science lab experiment kind of vibe. Don’t worry though- fortunately for us meat lovers, the carcass is 100% safe for consumption when treated correctly.
Today, fridges work just as well, if not better than the traditional methods of dry aging. We recommend using a specially designed fridge for dry aging like the Steak Locker to ensure you get the best results with minimal risk of spoilage. The final flavor profile of the beef is also enhanced by the moulds and yeasts that land on it and within the air around it.
What is dry aged beef time scale?
It’s standard for the dry age process to take anywhere up to 65 days but many feel that beyond this length of time the stronger it gets, and the flavor can become too intense. The longer the age, the greater evaporation that takes place which results in a greater change in taste, texture, and yield.
To learn more about the time scale of dry aged beef, check out our blog post ‘how long can you keep dry aged steak in the fridge’.
Can I dry age other meats?
Once the process of dry aging beef has been mastered, it’s easy to further experiment with other proteins like pork, poultry and even fish. You can also use the Steak Locker to cure cheese which we talk more about in our cheese recipe kit article. However, these proteins do not require the same length of time to dry age and some for only a few days to get enhanced flavor.
Some other experiments with a beef sub-primal would be to butter age or to whiskey age and these techniques can be found in our previous blog posts.