6+ Reasons to Try Salt Aged Steak for a Deliciously Unforgettable Meal

Salt-aged steak is a flavorful, tender dish aged in salt to enhance taste and texture. It retains flavor, tenderizes the meat, and creates a unique umami profile for a truly unforgettable meal.

Raw uncooked black angus beef tomahawk steak on bone served with salt and pepper on round wooden slate cutting board over dark wooden plank table. Rustic style. Square image

Salt-aged steak is an exceptional culinary dish that will tantalize your taste buds. 

It’s an old-world method of aging beef, where the meat is dry-aged in salt for several weeks to create an intensely flavorful cut of steak.

This article will explain what salt-aged steak is and why you should try it yourself.

Then, we’ll answer related questions on preparing the perfect salt-aged steak for a truly unforgettable meal.

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What Is Salt-Aged Steak?

Before we get into the meat of the article, it’s important to understand salt-aged steak.

There are various methods for aging steak, which simply means allowing the steak to age (or mature) to develop a more intense flavor. Salt aging is one of these methods, in which the meat is covered in a salt or a salt mixture before the aging process begins.

Salt dehydrates, or dries out, the steak. The beef’s natural brine and flavors are concentrated as water is extracted from the steak, intensifying the flavor.

Here are six reasons that make salt-aged steak a deliciously unforgettable meal:

It Allows for Maximum Flavor Retention

Dry-aging beef in salt helps to reduce the amount of moisture lost during the aging process, allowing for maximum flavor retention.

This process also helps with tenderizing the meat, making for a softer, tastier, and overall more enjoyable experience when eating the steak.

Salted-steak is so good because of the Maillard reaction, a chemical reaction that occurs when heat is applied to the steak.

The salt helps to create an environment where the Maillard reaction is maximized, resulting in a more intense flavor.

It Creates a Unique Umami Flavor

Salt aging also creates a unique flavor profile, often referred to as “umami.” This flavor is a savory, meaty taste that lingers on the palate.

The reason salt-aging makes steak more savory is that it helps draw out the natural juices of the beef, resulting in a richer, bolder flavor.

This type of steak is perfect for those who want a steak that’s not only flavorful but also has an interesting, unique, and highly memorable taste.

Enhances Aroma and Taste

Salt aging not only retains and enhances the steak’s flavor but also retains and enhances its accommodating aroma.

Aging with salt helps to bring out the natural aromas of the beef, resulting in an even more inviting and pleasing fragrance.

The relationship between taste and smell is complex, but we all know that when we lose our sense of smell – say, from a cold – our sense of taste gets a hit too.

That said, when the aroma of a dish is enhanced, it ends up tasting that much better as well!

Helps to Add Depth of Flavor

Now that we’ve discussed retaining, enhancing, and defining the flavor, let’s also discuss the depth of flavor.

When chefs talk about the depth of flavor, what they mean is the complexity of flavor.

Salt aging helps to add depth of flavor because it creates and draws in brine by capillary action, then denatures the proteins as it moves deeper into the meat while aging.

All of this means that once it hits the pan, the steak develops a more complex, intense flavor.

Allows for an Easier Cooking Process

Flavor aside, salt-aged steak is often easier to cook than other types of beef.

Since the meat has already been tenderized by salt, there is no need to use additional techniques such as pounding or marinating. This makes for an even more enjoyable cooking experience.

Of course, if you still want to tenderize the meat further, you can always opt for a more intense dry-aging process or carry on with your normal pounding and marinating techniques.

Results in a More Tender Steak

Finally, salt-aged steak helps to create a significantly more tender steak. It seems counterintuitive since salt is drying out the steak.

But as the beef ages in salt, it breaks down the muscle fibers, resulting in a softer and more tender steak.

This type of beef is perfect for those who want the full flavor and texture experience of a premium steak instead of having to chew for hours on end.

Should I salt aged steak?

Yes, aging steak with salt has various benefits when it comes to the results of the steak. It can help retain, maximize, and deepen the flavors and aromas of the steak for a delicious contribution to any dinner.

Should I pre-salt a dry-aged steak?

If the steak is already dry-aged, you may be wondering if you need to pre-salt it before cooking. 

The answer is no; you don’t necessarily have to because the dry-aging process will have already tenderized and seasoned the steak.

However, if you choose to do so, you will end up with an even more flavorful steak. Many people still choose to generously salt their dry-aged steak before cooking it just like they would any other steak.

How long do you salt a steak?

You can leave the salt on the steak for as long as you would like to age it. Thirty days is usually the sweet spot when it comes to aging beef.

More FAQs

What is salt aged steak?

Salt aged steak is the process of dry hanging cuts of meat in a room filled with Himalayan rock salt. This method extracts moisture from the room, providing an ideal environment for the meat to mature. The steak is aged for a period of 28-35 days, during which it becomes tender and develops a nutty flavor. The flavor intensifies the longer the meat is aged.

Why does aged steak taste better?

Aged steak tastes better because the moisture is extracted from the meat, resulting in the lean muscle shrinking around the fat. This causes the fat to become more prominent, enhancing the flavor of the beef. Additionally, the aging process encourages the growth of bacteria, which contributes to a rich and desirable flavor profile.

How do you cook salt aged steak?

To cook salt-aged steak, start by generously seasoning the grass-fed West Country beef with sea salt. Then, pan-fry it over high heat for approximately 3 minutes on each side to create a delicious crust. Afterward, transfer the steak to a preheated oven and cook for 6-10 minutes to achieve the desired level of doneness. The result will be an incredibly tender and flavorful steak.

Does aged steak taste different?

Aged steak does taste different. Dry-aged steaks offer a more flavorful and tender experience compared to freshly cut steaks. However, whether it is worth the cost depends on your personal taste preference.

Why do you salt aged beef?

The reason for salting aged beef is to extract additional moisture from the meat, thereby enhancing the flavor.

What does coating a steak in salt do?

Coating a steak in salt helps tenderize the meat by breaking down the protein cells when the salt is absorbed into the meat. To gain a deeper understanding of the process of dry brining, you can refer to this article from Real Simple.

Does salt toughen steak?

Salt does not toughen steak; in fact, it helps to make it tender and juicy. Contrary to the belief that salt draws water out of meat, it actually dissolves protein strands over time, allowing the meat to retain water as it cooks. This process enhances the tenderness and juiciness of the steak.

How long can you salt age steak?

The salt aging process for steak can last up to overnight, but the ideal time to season the meat is roughly 45 minutes prior to cooking. This allows for the salty film to dissolve and the salted water to be drawn back into the steak, effectively seasoning it throughout.

Can you salt a steak for 3 days?

Salting a steak and leaving it uncovered in the fridge for a duration of three days can result in something truly delightful, as stated by Alton Brown.

Can you salt a steak for 48 hours?

The steak can be salted for 48 hours. It is recommended to place the steak in the refrigerator, uncovered, for a duration of 3-48 hours. The longer the steak is left to salt, the better the salt will be able to penetrate the meat. Ideally, upon removing the meat from the fridge for cooking, there should be minimal salt granules visible on the meat and the meat should have a darker appearance.

Can you salt a steak for 2 days?

After seasoning, it is recommended to refrigerate the steak uncovered on a baking rack for a minimum of one hour and a maximum of two days, allowing the salt to enhance its flavor.

What happens if you salt a steak too long?

If you salt a steak for too long, the salt will draw out more juices from the meat. If you immediately grill the steak after salting, you may achieve a crispy sear, but the meat’s juices will be unseasoned. However, if you allow the salt to sit on the steak for a while, it will penetrate deep into the meat while extracting additional juices.

Can you leave salt on steak overnight?

Leaving salt on steak overnight allows the salt to penetrate the meat, enhancing its flavor and texture by thoroughly seasoning it and altering the protein structure. This process enables the steak to retain more juices while cooking.

Can you salt steak in the fridge?

When it comes to seasoning steak, one option is to salt and dry the meat in the fridge for a few days or even up to a week, if there is enough time. This technique, known as dry brining, is similar to dry aging as it helps to reduce the moisture content of the meat and enhance its flavor.

How long can you preserve raw meat in salt?

The preservation of raw meat in salt can last for varying lengths of time depending on the method used. When using salt water brine, also known as wet brining cure, the meat can be preserved for a period ranging from 1 to 3 months up to 1 to 4 years. On the other hand, dry salt curing, which involves saturating the meat with salt, can extend the preservation time to 1 to 3 years. Another method is using a combination of salt and vinegar, which can preserve dried meat for up to 1 month. Lastly, preserving meat in fat with no oxygen can keep it fresh for 1 to 6 months.

Do you wash the salt off after dry brining?

The salt does not need to be washed off after dry brining. The chicken will have absorbed the salt, ensuring it is not overly salty. However, it is important to avoid adding additional salt before cooking.

Is salt aged beef good?

Salt aged beef is indeed good. The texture and appearance of the meat are enhanced as the salt relaxes the protein strands within the muscle cells, resulting in increased tenderness and improved visual appeal.

How does dry-aged meat not spoil?

Dry-aged meat does not spoil because it is kept in a dry-aging chamber where cold, dry air circulates. By hanging the beef in the chamber, the meat is fully exposed to the dry air, which creates a protective crust. The absence of moisture makes it challenging for the beef to spoil, allowing it to retain its quality and flavor.

How long does salt cured beef last?

The salt-cured beef can last for 2-3 weeks when stored in refrigerated conditions. However, if kept at higher ambient temperatures, spoilage may occur within 3-5 days. To extend their shelf life, the sliced cured and smoked meat products can be further air dried or vacuum packaged, which can enhance their keeping quality by a few days.

Why does aged beef taste better?

Aged beef tastes better because the dry ageing process, which takes about two months, is a meticulously controlled system that eliminates moisture from the steak, intensifies the flavor, and significantly improves the tenderness of cuts of beef that are already tender.

Does aged beef taste different?

Aged beef does taste different when it is properly aged. It has a distinct umami flavor that is rich, dense, and full of flavor. The taste can be reminiscent of other delicious flavors such as blue cheese or nutty notes. The duration of the dry-aging process usually determines the intensity and complexity of the flavor.

Is aged beef more tender?

Aged beef is more tender due to the process of dry aging, where large cuts of beef are aged for several weeks to several months before being trimmed and cut into steaks. This process not only enhances the flavor of the steak but also significantly increases its tenderness compared to completely fresh beef.

Can you age beef in the fridge with salt?

Aging beef in the fridge with salt involves generously seasoning it with kosher salt on both sides, placing it on a rack above a foil-lined tray, leaving it uncovered, and storing it in the refrigerator. This simple procedure is all that is required.

How long can you leave steak in the fridge with salt?

You can leave steak in the fridge with salt for 1 to 3 days, as this allows for the meat to be dry brined and enjoy the added benefits of salting and leaving it uncovered.

How do you age a steak without it going bad?

To age a steak without it going bad, you can place the meat in a dry-aging chamber that maintains a specific level of temperature, humidity, and special air flow. By placing the beef in one of these chambers, it can be aged for a period ranging from 7 to 21 days, or even up to 120 days, without spoiling.

How long can you leave meat in salt?

The meat can be left in salt for varying lengths of time depending on the preservation method used. Wet brining cure, which involves soaking the meat in salt water brine, can preserve the meat for 1-3 months to 1-4 years. Dry salt curing, where the meat is saturated with salt, can preserve the meat for 1-3 years. Using a combination of salt and vinegar to dry the meat can preserve it for up to 1 month. Lastly, preserving the meat in fat with no oxygen can extend its shelf life for 1 to 6 months.

What is the longest you can dry age a steak?

The longest duration for dry-aging a steak is up to 240 days, although the usual timeframe is around 30 days. Aging beef for a longer period intensifies its flavor, which is why high-end restaurants opt for extended dry-aging.

Should you salt steak overnight?

You should salt steak overnight for the best results. The recommended time to salt your meat is 24 hours before cooking, although dry brining can also be done as little as two hours prior to cooking. To do this, evenly spread ½ to ¾ teaspoon of salt per pound of meat over the entire surface. After salting, place the meat in the refrigerator.

Should I dry age steak with salt?

You should dry age steak with salt to enhance the dry-aging process. Salt is the sole seasoning that consistently and efficiently permeates the meat, imparting flavor, tenderizing it, and extracting excess moisture. Prior to aging, I always generously sprinkle sea salt on the meat.

What happens if you salt steak too early?

Salting steak too early, allowing the meat to absorb the salt for less than 10 minutes, results in the salt drawing out the meat’s juices through osmosis but not having enough time to reabsorb them. As a consequence, the steak loses moisture, making it challenging to achieve the desired crispy crust.

Does salted meat last longer?

Salted meat lasts longer because the curing process involves using salts or smoke to remove moisture from the meat, making it less conducive for molds and bacteria to thrive. This dehydration process extends the shelf life of the meat.

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