Aging 101: Why do we age beef? Is dry aged beef better?

Aging 101: Why do we age beef? Is dry aged beef better?

Posted by Meat N' Bone on

All beef is aged.

Beef aging does not pertain to the age of the cattle but instead refers to the amount of time the meat has been stored and refrigerated after slaughter. We age beef because freshly-slaughtered beef tastes metallic and less "beefy". Frankly, it does not taste very good. 

The better the aging process, the better the meat usually is. High-end steakhouses and butchers such as us invest significant time and money into properly and consistently aging beef. However, even your average supermarket beef has been aged for at-least a week.

There are two methodologies to age beef: Wet-Aging and Dry-Aging.

WET AGING TENDERIZES MEAT BUT DOES NOT IMPACT FLAVOR

Wet Aging beef is the most common, it is the dominant mode of aging beef in the U.S. and UK today. It is popular with producers, wholesalers and retailers because it takes less time: typically only a few days and there is no moisture loss, so any given piece of meat sold by weight will have a higher value than a dry aged piece where moisture loss is desired for taste at the expense of final weight. 

The process of wet-aging beef involves placing the meat in vacuum-sealed bags. As it sits in the freezer, it ages. 

When you buy fresh beef from Meat N' Bone and it sits in your refrigerator it continues to wet-age. There is no moisture loss. However, wet-aging only impacts tenderness, it does not affect flavor.

DRY AGING IMPACTS BOTH TENDERNESS AND FLAVOR

Dry aging beef is a much more complex and expensive process. Beef is stored uncovered in a refrigerated room (32°F to 34°F) under controlled humidity and air flow for up to 4 weeks. Dry aging results in distinctive brown-roasted beefy flavor.

It is best to dry age primal cuts (for example, the whole rib-bone, before cutting steaks).  

Inside of Dry-aging rooms or refrigerators, the air is constantly being circulated around to prevent the growth of anything bad, while enzymes in the meat’s cells break down the protein, fats, and glycogen. This breakdown forms loads of amino and fatty acids

When beef is dry aged it loses its moisture, so as you age beef you lose up to 30% of its volume, basically you have less meat to sell... which makes it more expensive.

While not scientifically proven, some people believe that as beef ages, and loses water, the flavor is concentrated on the beef. This may explain the much more intense flavor of dry aged beef.

Dry aging impacts both flavor and tenderness. Some people age beef for longer than 90 days. However, the consensus is that the sweet-spot is between 30 and 45 days of aging.

Is Dry Aged beef better?

Aged beef IS better. However, whether dry-aging beef over 30 days is better is subject to taste. We sell many premium cuts of beef that have been aged for 45+ days. They are delicious, much more intense, and significantly more expensive. Whether they are better is a matter of preference. 

 At Meat N' Bone we dry-age all our beef for 14-30 days. Then we vacuum seal it and it will continue to wet age until frozen.

 

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