why age beef

If you are yet to try dry aged beef, you might be wondering why age beef in the first place. There are two main reasons for going through the dry age process, the first is tenderness and the second is flavor. The latter becomes more enhanced by the prior.


Why age beef? Tenderness

Let’s first discuss the tenderness created by the dry age process. Without dry aging, the enzymes that are naturally present within the muscle of the meat break down some of the collagen that holds the muscle fibers together. This causes the steaks to toughen while cooking.  


So, why age beef? When looking at it scientifically, dry aging is very controlled decomposition, achieved through exposing untreated beef to very precise temperatures and humidity. The best way to control the bacteria levels within a meat aging fridge is to keep it clean and not to store other items but meat, charcuterie, or cheese.


When the meat is placed into the Steak Locker, the environment is regulated with temperature, humidity, air circulation and bacteria levels. This environment allows for the sub primal cut of beef to form the pellicle exterior.  The pellicle will be removed prior to cooking, and takes approximately five days to form. From this point, the interior i.e fibers, fat, and flavor all transform. The longer you leave the beef to age in a dry age fridge, the more tender and succulent it will be.


Why age beef? Flavor

The second reason to dry age is flavor.  When a steak has not been dry aged, the texture is more fibrous creating a chewy experience. A dry aged steak breaks down those fibers and creates a better mouthfeel that allows more salivation and excited taste buds.  The longer a steak has been aged in a dry age fridge, the deeper the umami flavors develop. And, when a bone-in sub-primal is dry aged, rather than a boneless cut, the umami flavor is even more intensified near the bone. 


When a steak is aged between 21 – 35 days there are notes of nuttiness, between 35 – 45 days the flavor increases to a mushroom likeness and from 45 – and beyond the flavor becomes pungent like a ripe blue cheese. The increase in flavor that is created with time is consistent with many fine products, like a cabernet wine, charcuterie, and aged cheeses. You can read more about what to expect throughout the dry aging timescale in one of our previous articles.