What is Dry-aging and why we do it
Updated: Aug 19, 2021
So let us start with WHAT dry aging means.
Dry aging is a time-honored technique in which unwrapped cuts of beef are stored in a specially constructed room where all aspects of the environment are strictly regulated; temperature, humidity, air circulation and bacteria levels.
The purpose of dry aging is what makes it ALL worth it.
Conventional wisdom cites three specific goals of dry-aging meat, all of which contribute toward improving its flavor or texture.
Moisture loss might be a major one. A dry-aged piece of beef can lose up to around 30% of its initial volume due to water loss, which concentrates its flavor. At least, that's the theory. But is it true? (Cue dramatic foreshadowing music.)
Tenderization occurs when enzymes naturally present in the meat act to break down some of the tougher muscle fibers and connective tissues. A well-aged steak should be noticeably more tender than a fresh steak. But is it?
Flavor change is caused by numerous processes, including enzymatic and bacterial action, along with the oxidation of fat and other fat-like molecules. Properly dry-aged meat will develop deeply beefy, nutty, and almost cheese-like aromas.
Most professionals will tell you to not dry age at home. However, they make a very compelling case when it comes to flavor and even safety.
Dry aging is a controlled fermentation, which René Redzepi and David Zilber of Noma showed you can do at home, but with necessary precautions and equipment.
With dry aging steak, the problem people run into is that they don’t realize the home fridge doesn’t really work, for a couple reasons. You want your dry-aging fridge to have a more consistent temperature and air flow than your home fridge offers. Also, you don’t want anything else in the fridge, because over time the steak will start absorbing the flavors of the other food inside the old icebox with it. So when the steak actually has time to undergo the enzymatic reaction that makes dry-aged steak so delicious, it will start to have a muddled, stale flavor because of what it has absorbed in the fridge.
That doesn’t mean you can’t dry age at home. The key is getting a dedicated dry-aging fridge that will eliminate all the aforementioned challenges. Instead of getting individual cuts, buy a large slab that allows you to trim the meat before slicing into individual steaks.
Then again, you could always just order the beef already aged at Beef Boys Butchery.
Have a look at this video from " Hereford Beefstouw " - you can witness a timelapse of meat dry aged for 100 days.
GET YOUR BEEF ON!