What is dry-aging?
Dry-aging is a process where beef is aged in a temperature-controlled environment for a specific length of time. The meat is removed from its original packaging and refrigerated between 32-36°F with relative humidity of 70-80% and airflow of 15-20 cubic feet per minute. The length of time for dry-aging should range from 28 to 50 days but can go as long as 100 days. The longer the beef is dry-aged, the more pronounced the flavour. Since water evaporates from the meat during the aging process, dry-aging tenderizes the meat and concentrates the flavour. Trimming and water loss during aging will result in shrinkage of 25-30% of the meat’s original weight.
Traditionally, dry-aging is done by hanging meat in a controlled, closely watched, refrigerated environment. The temperature must stay between freezing and 36°F. Too warm and the meat will spoil, too cold and it will freeze, interrupting the aging process. You need humidity to reduce water loss and a constant flow of air all around the meat to control bacteria, which means a well-ventilated space.
Dry-aging at home
Although dry-aging is more difficult and involved than you may have thought, it is doable, and you don’t actually need a dedicated drying room or cabinet. Dry-aging kits make it easier to age your beef at home. These kits include a vacuum sealer and semi-permeable bags that allow moisture to evaporate while protecting the meat from absorbing odors from other foods in the refrigerator.
- Remove the meat from its original packaging, cover any exposed bones with dampened baking parchment paper and insert the beef into the dry-aging bag.
- Vacuum seal to remove air and close the bag. Write the date on the bag to ensure accurate aging.
- Place your bagged beef in the refrigerator on a wire rack for air circulation during the aging process
- After 5 days, turn the bag over and leave in the refrigerator for another 30 days.
- Remove the meat from the refrigerator and take it out of the dry-aging bag.
- Cut away the thin layer of dried meat or bark from the beef.
- Season and cook to your preferred doneness.
Dry-aging takes a little more time and effort, but it yields more tender meat with a classic nutty taste.