Dry Aging: 102 Basics of Dry Aging Steak
Attend this Intermediate-level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!
All the Prep Work
If you’re planning on doing this at home the first thing you need to do is to find out if it has already been aged to make sure you do not over age it. Then you need to decide how long you are going to age it. 21-28 days is a good range for the first time you experiment with this and experiment from there. You need to keep the beef at a consistent low temperature so your fridge is probably your best bet, the issues you will have is it is going to take on the flavor of whatever else is in your fridge. Also, the ideal Humidity is 75-80% and not many refrigerators are going to give you an option for that as they actually work to remove moisture. You also need to keep air moving in there, a possible fix for this would be to point a computer fan into a corner of the fridge to keep air circulating. I’d put my meat on a jerky rack with coarse salt underneath to absorb any off odors or flavors and try to keep the fridge closed as much as possible to prevent temperature fluctuations.
How Long to Age?
How long you want to age this depends on a few things. How much meat are you willing to lose to dehydration and surface mold is generally the biggest one. As the meat sits in the open air a few things are happening, some that can be seen and some that cannot be seen. The biggest and most obvious is the effect of dehydration of the meat. The 75-80% humidity is designed to control this and prevent what we would call case hardening in sausage. This is where the outside of the meat either dries or cooks too quickly and it can no longer effectively pass heat into the meat or (and this is the more important factor for what we are talking about today) pass moisture out of the meat. If we put it in a box with no humidity control at all the outermost sections of the meat would dehydrate too quickly and we wouldn’t get the full benefits of the dry aging.
Our Method & Experiencing Loss
We had some subprimal sitting in our dry aging chamber here and the plan was to pull the first batch at 21 days, the second at 42, and then leave the last one in there as long as we could. Well, we got the first batch at almost exactly 21 days, and when we did that we went from 13.7 and 13.4 lb of meat to 11.45 and 12.65 which was a 17% and 6% loss on them, as you can see there can be a wide range of expected product loss here. Now, as we have said before in the first 21 days the tenderness of the meat has been improved as much as it is going to be, tests have been done by major universities meat labs that have proven aging beyond 21 days does not have any noticeable effect on the tenderness of the meat. What happens after 21 days is all about the flavor profile.
So we also pulled a batch at closer to 60 days than 42 and this is where we saw some pretty significant jumps in product loss, we went from 12.15 and 15.75 to 9 and 11.05 lb which was a loss of 26% and 30%. The trimming here was also significantly more difficult than it was in the first batch, so when we factor in the amount we had to trim off we are looking at losses of 55%. So, is the taste change from 21-50 something days worth the extra 40% loss in product weight?
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