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What Is Dry Aged Meat? A Culinary Process Explained

What Is Dry Aged Meat? A Culinary Process Explained

Research has proven that dry-aged meat provides a unique flavor while helping preserve the meat for extended periods.

It can take 14 to 40 days to thoroughly dry age meat in most situations, resulting in optimal flavor and preservation. Continue reading to learn more about what dry-aged meat is: 

What is the point of dry aging beef?

Dry aging beef is a process that dates back thousands of years, allowing for the preservation of beef without the need for refrigeration. This process allowed people to keep meat fresh without the need to smoke, brine, or pickle the beef.

Dry aging beef is a technique that helps maintain the refreshments, flavor profile and tenderness of beef for extended periods. 

Dry aging typically takes between 40 and 50 days, and some prefer to dry age their meats for up to two months. 

How do you dry age meat at home? 

Dry aging meat at home takes careful attention and patience, especially when wanting to create steaks with lots of flavor and tenderness. Below are the steps involved in dry-aging beef at home: 

  1. Select a refrigerator and set up a small electric fan inside to maintain airflow in the fridge. 
  2. Place a wire rack on the top of a tray to help collect drippings. Ensure the pan is elevated to allow airflow on all sides of the beef. 
  3. Set cuts of beef on the wire rack and place them in the fridge for about two to four weeks for tenderness, four to six weeks for dry-aged taste, or six to eight weeks for serious aromas and flavors. 
  4. After the desired dry-aging time has passed, remove the beef from the fridge. Trim away any mold that developed on the meat and exterior fat. 
  5. Cut the beef into individual steaks, about 1 ¼ to 2 inches thick. 
  6. Cook as desired. 

What cut of meat should I buy for dry aging? 

When dry aging beef, selecting a large piece that is best cooked using quick cooking techniques is best. Popular cuts of beef used for dry aging include ribeye, porterhouse, and New York strip

Since the steaks cannot be individually dry-aged, it is best to seek out more significant cuts of meat and then, once dry-aged, slice them into individual steaks. 

Can you dry age in a fridge?

Using a refrigerator for at-home dry-aging is a critical component in the process. The refrigerator must have a good air circulation system to help ensure freshness and air movement around the meat that it is set on a wire rack and a sheet pan. 

What is the difference between dry-aged steak and regular? 

Dry-aged steak is much richer and beefier than regular steaks. Many also claim that dry-aged steaks are more tender and melt in your mouth. 

FAQs about Dry Aging Beef

Is dry aging at home better than buying the meat dry-aged? 

Buying dry-aged meat is a great way to have restaurant-quality meals at home. Plus, dry aging the meat at home is more affordable than paying the high restaurant costs because of their reduced yield and process time. 

Can I use a dry-aging bag? 

UMAi Dry Breathable Membrane Bags for Dry Aging Steak | Ribeye Striploin Sized | Dry Age Bags for Meat | Easy At Home Dry Aging in Your Refrigerator | Includes 3 Bags

Dry-aging bags are flooding the Internet, showing a new approach to safely creating dry-aged meat at home. The bags are designed to allow moisture out but not let air in. Though these may work for dry-aging meat, several online reviews share how difficult these bags are to work with, including problems with sealing and leaking. 

What is the ideal time to dry-age meat? 

The length of time that is best for dry-aging meat is based upon a person’s individual taste and preferences. For more meats, dry-aging would take around 30 to 35 days.

However, it can be less, such as for restaurants, it is about 18 to 20 days, or it can be more, such as up to 45 days. Though not typical, it is possible to push dry-aging time to 90 days, but it can start to develop a funky taste, but some people like that. 

Is dry-aged meat more expensive than other meat? 

It is common to see dry-aged meat with a higher price tag than other steaks—the higher cost results from the extra work that goes into creating dry-aged meat.

Everything from the time it takes to prepare the meat to the length of dry-aging it and removing the mold to prepare the meat for consumption affects the higher cost of buying this type of meat. 

What is wet-aging? 

Wet-aging is another method used to age the meat but instead uses vacuum-sealed plastic bags for the aging process. This method does not allow for the same water loss as dry-aging, and it does not create a steak with the same amount of flavor as dry-aged meat has. 

Does dry-aged beef spoil? 

Once all the moisture in the meat is pulled out, the natural enzymes break down the muscles, making them tender. In addition, the process and salt levels in the air help keep dry-aged beef from spoiling. 

Can you eat dry-aged beef raw? 

Dry-aged beef must be heated up before eating, meaning it is essentially inedible raw. Though the meat has aged, it is no different from other raw meats, and ingesting it raw may cause food poisoning. As with other meat, if in doubt about its freshness, it is best to toss it and find a fresher cut or newly processed dry-aged meat. 

How can I tell if the beef I want to buy has been dry-aged? 

Dry-aged meat has an intense, rich smell to it. Since dry-aged meat looks similar to rotten meat because both are dark in color), it is essential to know the difference. If the meat is rotten, it will have a sour smell to it, and if you press your finger into it, the impression will last because the meat has lost its bounce. 

Is dry-aged beef better than fresh beef? 

Though aged steak sometimes looks similar to standard beef cuts, aged meat is more decadent, beefier, and tender. The tenderness of dry-aged beef is why many people prefer dry aging steaks over buying standard cuts of meat.