Do you want to age meat? You do it at home. Popularly known as dry aging, it is a resting process where you have to put meat through continuous aging in regulated temperature and humidity environments for an extended period.
The dry aging process can be replicated at home with relative ease with the right equipment. You should look for the right dry aging cabinet that will help you in this process. Dry aging meat is more common in specialty meat restaurants – steak houses – and upscale butchers. The main reason for preferring this method is to achieve “higher flavor concentration” and better texture.
How it Works
When the animals are slaughtered, they are cleaned and divided into large cuts refrigerated for several weeks. This process is expensive due to the equipment, space and time required. In addition, for maturation, the cuts must meet certain conditions, such as having a high-fat content distributed in a uniform way (known as the marmorization index).
The maturation dry favors the proliferation of certain species of fungi (mold) on the outside of the part, but this does not harm the workpiece as a crust that is removed when cutting and preparing the meat is generated for cooking. Three things happen: the meat’s moisture is lost, softens, and flavor changes towards a more intense and refined one.
There is also ripening in a humid environment, which is much more common than in a dry environment. It requires less infrastructure and is, therefore, more accessible. Maturation wet meat produces very tender chunks, but the flavor labeled complex is aged in dry meat is incomparable.
How Long Does Dry Aging Meat Take?
Doing it for 14 days or less doesn’t make much sense. From 14 to 21 days, the texture improves, but there are no significant changes in taste. (This is the age of an average steak in a high-end steakhouse.) From 21 to 28 days is the best point. Already the flavor has varied considerably. From 28 to 45 days, you can see notes of blue cheese, and the meat is moister. From 45 to 60 days, when more intense flavors emerge. Only for demanding palates.
Why Does it Work?
The process behind dry aged meat boils down to the enzymatic breakdown of muscle proteins into shorter chunks, altering their flavor in desirable ways. Likewise, when the fat is exposed to oxygen and is accompanied by the bacterial action on the surface of the meat, it generates a profound change in flavor after 30 days. (There is no oxidation of fat in wet aging, which means there is no development of flavors.) Restaurants not only inform diners about the quality of their meat but also about its maturation time and its cooking temperature. You can try this procedure at home to enjoy your beef.