Dry aging is a process whereby beef meat are stored without protective packaging at refrigeration temperatures for one to five weeks, to allow the natural enzymatic and biochemical processes that result in improved tenderness and the development of the unique flavor.
Aging beef increases the tenderness and taste of the meat by producing a stronger beef flavor. One of the processes used to age beef is dry aging. This process can take anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks depending on the type and cut of the meat, as well as the desired end flavor and tenderness.
Consume the beef immediately after the meat has been aged for the desired amount of time. If you are unable to eat the meat the day it is done aging, you can leave it in the refrigeration unit for 1 to 2 days without damaging the meat.
Primary factors to consider when dry aging meat
- Days of aging: The number of days products are dry aged varies in practice as well as in different writes on aging. Determining the number of days of dry aging is mostly based more on personal preference than any scientific literature where findings support a definite minimum or maximum days of storage.
- Storage temperature: Temperature of storage is critical in that if it is below freezing temperatures for meat (-2 to -3°C), the enzymatic processes involved with aging will cease. If the temperature of storage is increased the enzymatic processes involved with aging will work quite well, but so will the microbial spoilage process resulting in the development of off-odours and off-flavors
- Relative humidity: One of the greatest questions concerning dry aging parameters is what relative humidity should be used to store products. Relative humidity is important because, if it is too high, spoilage bacteria can grow and result in off-odors and possible off-flavors. If relative humidity is too low, excess product shrinkage will occur.
- Air flow
How to age meat
- Find a refrigerator that meat can be safely stored in as it ages. It is important that this refrigerator can be easily regulated. Meat needs to be kept at the right temperature during the aging process. Meat will spoil above 4oC but will freeze below 0 oC. The correct temperature for aging is2oC throughout the entire aging process.
- Clean the refrigerator of any other products with a strong odour. Meats will absorb other strong flavors, such as cheese, fish and garlic, while it’s aging.
- Cut the beef into desired sections or portions. Store these pieces of meat in a vacuum-sealed plastic bag. This is the most common type of packaging while aging. Some individuals will age beef out in the open and without packaging, but this results in a very different and distinct flavor in the beef.
- Examine the color of the meat prior to storing. The color is directly related to the tenderness of the beef and how long the aging process should be. If your beef is darker, it does not need to be aged more than a week. Beef that is lighter in color should be aged more than 7 days, but no longer than 14 days.
- Place your beef in the refrigeration unit. Leave the meat in there for the amount of time you determined by inspecting the beef’s coloring.