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Aging Beef at Home?

s
Sam I Am Mar 12, 2007 02:33 PM

Hi All,

Does anyone know how to dry age beef at home to get something close to the aging that restaurants do?

Thanks!

  1. m
    mtl to tor Mar 12, 2007 03:05 PM

    You'd probably get more responses if you posted this on the Home Cooking board.

    That said, I'm no expert but I think it might be tough to recreate the fairly precise humidity and temperature controlled rooms beef is aged in. That said, what the heck do I know? People were aging beef before fancy climate control systems were available...

    1. damonster Mar 12, 2007 03:18 PM

      Alton Brown did a show on beef and he mentioned aging at home. Sorry but I don't recall much of what was said except to parrot mtl to tor temperature and humidity levels are very important, also mentioned on Brown's show from what i remember. Particularily tough when you are opening and closing fridge door numerous times a day, also storing other food in the fridge can affect your beef as well.

      1 Reply
      1. re: damonster
        TroyTempest Dec 28, 2010 10:46 AM

        FYI,
        This episode was called "the Porterhouse Rules".

      2. p
        Pantz Mar 12, 2007 03:29 PM

        Unfortunately most people lack the facilities to properly age meat at home. Still you can do it on a smaller scale and get interesting results. Cooks Illustrated had an article about this a little while back.

        Take a fairly large roast cut, say five to six pounds. Wash and pat completely dry. Put it uncovered on a rack over a baking sheet and place in the bottom rack (the coolest spot) of your fridge. Leave it there for up to a week, checking occassionally for moisture and patting dry. By the end of the third day, the meat will have be showing signs of the dry aging process. The exterior will be drying and forming a dark "skin".

        At this point, the enzymes in the meat will have started to break the protein down into amino acids, improving flavour, as well as tenderizing the meat. Even after 24 hours, your roast will start to develop nice flavour.

        When you cook the roast, you will have to trim off the dried exterior, which means you will loose a good amount of beef to the aging process. That's the cost of dry aging! I've done this several times and been very happy with the results.

        In BBQ circles, some people like to age their briskets for several weeks in vacuum sealed packs. The vacuum pack allows more aging time at home without exposure to harmful bacteria and the enzymes really have a party in the meat. I've never done this, so can't say how it compares to this method.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Pantz
          Melanie Wong Mar 12, 2007 05:37 PM

          Wet aging in vacuum pack is a great method. We've been buying lots of hanger steak that's sealed this way. We keep 'em up to the dating limit, usually a week or two, in the cold meat drawer in the home fridge. I've cooked enough of them now that I'm sure that the extra tenderness and richness of flavor is due to the extra aging and not just an individual batch difference compared to one bought and cooked the same day.

        2. Tartinet Mar 12, 2007 03:43 PM

          Jeffrey Steingarten wrote about dry-aging beef at home. I think the essay's called "High Beef" and I think it's in his book, The Man Who Ate Everything. If I remember correctly, he scoffs at wet aging, but I don't remember why. He's well worth reading even just for entertainment.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Tartinet
            QueenB Mar 12, 2007 06:28 PM

            He says something to the effect of wet-aging tenderizing the beef without developing it's flavor, and that dry-aging is the only way to really develop a good flavor.

            1. re: QueenB
              j
              jpc8015 Nov 2, 2008 12:28 AM

              Dry aging allows water to evaporate from the cut that is being aged. This concentrates the flavors that are in the meat.

          2. byrd Mar 12, 2007 08:06 PM

            this is the closest you could come, from askthemeatman.com:
            http://www.askthemeatman.com/is_it_po...

            1 Reply
            1. re: byrd
              s
              Spot Mar 12, 2007 08:40 PM

              Yes, meatman is right on. The towel thing is a drag but necessary for absorption. I tried paper towels once to disastrous ends, tweezing little bits off forever, it seemed. To my mind, just like with hanging my game, the trick is to lose moisture and let the (incredibly mysterious to me) enzymes get their thing going. Do you lose some? Yup, but what's left is so much better....

            2. i
              Iknowmeat Mar 16, 2007 12:49 PM

              The askthemeatman.com method is effective but best results would be achieved if it could be accomplished in a refrigerator that is not opened and closed several times a day. It is important to keep the meat at 40 degrees or less and keep the humidity constant. Opening the refrigerator changes both. The enzymes that soften the fibers of the muscle are called calpains and the process works in a vacuum sealed bag (wet age) as well as in a dry age environment. The dry age process creates a unique flavor from a bacteria (good bacteria) and controlled mold growth which creates a smoky, nutty flavor. When meat gets over 40 degrees, spoilage bacteria can threaten the process and too much humidity can prevent the good mold from developing and keep the meat from drying properly. Unless you have another refrigerator that isn't in constant use, it is best to leave the process to the professionals. Some Whole Foods stores are now dry aging beef.

              1. o
                OldTimer Mar 16, 2007 01:55 PM

                I've done both methods, and find that wet aging in the cryovac bag for several weeks beyond expiration date gives a meat that is almost as tender and flavorful as dry aging. Of course, you must have a good grade of beef to begin with (at least Choice). One of the problems is the lack of expiration date on many primal cuts. Ask the meat person how long the cut has been aged in the bag until date of sale. In fact, I no longer dry age beef, but wet age.

                1. 9
                  9lives Mar 18, 2007 09:39 AM

                  I've had success dry aging NY sirloin roasts and cutting into steaks. What seems to help keep the temp down/constant is keeping an ice pack in the drawer with the beef..changing every few days.

                  1. f
                    flavorboy Jun 19, 2007 01:56 PM

                    I've done it about once a month recently; usually bone in prime rib when it's on sale. I've also done sirloin tips for roast beef and have had great results. I simply put an unwrapped rib roast on a rack and tray in the back of the fridge, making sure it touches nothing. I like 10-11 days but even 4 days is good. Then you have to cleanly slice of the bones' trim the dried stuff and cut into steaks. Usually I cut into steaks and the trim each steak, seems easier. You trim by color and dry-ness; it's really quite easy and intuitive.You can also clean off the bones but it is a bit tougher. They are delicious though. Friday I'm buying a whole rob for July 4th. $4.76 per pound wholesale. I've never done that towel routine, that would discourage me. Also, these steaks freeze much better than "green beef" due to the lower moisture content.

                    1. a
                      antrobin Jun 19, 2007 07:12 PM

                      I occasionally dry-age beef in my fridge using the method outlined by Barbara Tropp in her _China Moon_ cookbook. It's a fairly simple process, and I've aged for up to 14 days. The downside is you loose a lot of the weight of the meat, but the reward is concentrated flavor and tenderness.

                      1. c
                        Calling All Toasters Jun 19, 2007 07:37 PM

                        I do everything you're not supposed to and still get good results. I take individual steaks and wrap them in paper towels, leaving the ends open. The towels get changed when they become pink and damp--about 3 times the first day, once per day thereafter. 3 days of this and I get noticable improvement; one week and it's just about restaurant-level for flavor, improved but not awesome for tenderness. Haven't risked going longer than a week because they seem to have lost a lot of water by then.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Calling All Toasters
                          l
                          Leander Wapshot Jun 12, 2010 01:11 PM

                          When you first did this, were you suprised at how hard the "skin" became? And, do you bother with trimming off the hard outside? I'd think that would be a prohibitive amount of trouble.

                        2. KevinF May 5, 2008 02:37 PM

                          I accelerate the drying process by bringing down the humidity in the refrigerator.

                          I do this by using silica gel and a small electric fan in the botttom of the refrigerator. Yes you do need to have a spare fridge for this, but it works well.

                          I believe this is better and safer than changing paper towels.

                          You might think silica gel is expensive or hard to find. In fact it's not, you can get it at every supermarket in boxes in the cat litter section - look for the fanciest one and check the label. It should say silica sand, gel or crystals (regardless, silica always comes in the form of small rocks). And of course, get the Fragrance Free variety.

                          You can see the full details of the dry aging method I use documented at the blog I have specified in my profile, if you fancy taking a visit.

                           
                          3 Replies
                          1. re: KevinF
                            p
                            pldunn Nov 1, 2008 08:26 PM

                            It is easy to dry age at home. I have dry aged several whole cuts and am currently aging one as we speak. It's very simple but you must maintain tempeature and humidity. Also, dedicate a refrigerator to dry aging only. Set your fridge at 33-35 degrees with a digital thermometer. Purchase a whole cut of ribeye or strip. Make sure it is at least a choice cut. Rinse and pat dry. Several sites recommend wrapping in towells but I do not do so. Place on the bottom rack of you fridge uncovered and place a large bowl of water on the top shelve for moisture. Steakhouses do not wrap their beef so neither do I. It will not drip. Make sure your fridge does not leave the temp range. I typically age for 28 days. I personally would not reccommend aging less than 21 days. If you're worried about bacteria you will know as soon as you open the fridge by the smell. If you maintain a temp less than 35 degrees there will be absolutely no discernable smell. I can buy whole cut angus choice ribeyes for $5.90 per pound. Check with local food wholesalers for the best price. Age to your preference (big difference between 21 and 28 days), cut off the ends, cut to desired thickness and trim off the dried out portions. If you are vigilant about your temp. and keep a large bowl of water this is a safe method of dry aging at home. I have dry aged six whole cuts of beef with excellent results and have NEVER had a mishap. I clean all racks and fridge with a vinegar and water solution. Good luck and contrary to what you may read, you can age well beyond 7 days. Plan accordingly, age for 28 days and you will be well rewarded with one of the best steaks you have ever had!!!

                            1. re: pldunn
                              d
                              drjk2001 Dec 28, 2010 09:30 AM

                              I have now tried this and I am getting a pungent smell-like the meat is spoiled. Does this mean my rib eye has gone bad? My fridge is at about 38-39 degrees.

                            2. re: KevinF
                              s
                              Sharlevoix Oct 25, 2012 03:52 PM

                              Huge supplies of silica gel packages can be found in EVERY shoe box at ANY shoe store.
                              There is nothing weird or unsafe about using these, because you don't actually put them ON
                              the meat, just in the general vicinity of the meat. KevinF has it right! The goal is to remove moisture content "Blood" from the meat, which then leaves behind only the meat and fat.
                              The best steaks are the ones that are well marbled. Look for tiny flecks of white fat peppered throughout the entire steak.

                            3. scubadoo97 Dec 28, 2010 01:56 PM

                              Sam there is a product called Drybags which work very well to safely dry age meat in your fridge. I know several people who use it and have had stellar results. Here is the website. The bags are different from the standard vacuum bags

                              http://www.drybagsteak.com/

                              1. a
                                amazonman Jan 15, 2011 07:27 AM

                                Big secret, so shhhh....Very easy. If you're aging steaks; rinse beef, pat dry, wrap individually in disposable diaper. Put them in the coldest part of the fridge (usually bottom drawer) for 24 hours. Remove them within 24 hrs and put in fresh diapers for another 24 hours. Repeat the process for up to 5 days...changing the diaper every 24 hours.

                                I usually season mine w/ pepper after 48 hrs...for me, 72 hrs is usually enough 'aging'.

                                I like my beef very, very rare and I take the beef out about 2 hrs before cooking, prepare a very hot fire, sprinkle the steaks w/ a little bourbon, lather w/ butter, salt & pepper both sides and sprinkle w/ minced garlic. When the fire's ready, I throw it on for 2 - 3 mins max per side.

                                Be sure to let the beef sit for a few minutes after cooking before serving. Make sure you dig the salt crusted potatoes out of the coals a few minutes prior.

                                Cheers,
                                M

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: amazonman
                                  TroyTempest Jan 15, 2011 11:14 AM

                                  back when my kids were little all the disposable diapers seemed to have some sort of chemical\baby powder\scented something that would not be pleasant on a steak. I think i'll stick to paper towels.

                                2. s
                                  Spanish Willy Feb 7, 2011 05:01 AM

                                  So, everyone seems to keep stating that this should only be done with meats that have a fat cap.
                                  I, however want to do it with ox meat fillet which has none. Any thoughts anybody?

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Spanish Willy
                                    i
                                    Iknowmeat Feb 7, 2011 02:27 PM

                                    You certainly can dry age very lean meat like ox meat fillet but most of the moisture loss in the dry age process comes from the lean and not the fat as the fat holds water better. The surface drying (hard shell) that forms in practically inedible and if there is no fat, that surface drying will penetrate the lean surface from a quarter to half an inch in 21 days. So the trimming loss is much greater without a fat cap.

                                    1. re: Iknowmeat
                                      s
                                      Spanish Willy Feb 8, 2011 12:06 AM

                                      Thanks very much for the quick reply. That's good news. As the price of ox fillet is literally 1/4 the price of regular beef fillet, I'm prepared to lose some to trimming.
                                      Thanks again Iknowmeat,
                                      SW

                                      1. re: Spanish Willy
                                        DpBluSea Oct 1, 2011 08:05 PM

                                        I'm aging my 1st cut as we speak, on day 5, plan to grill it tomorrow! I just patted it very dry with a clean cloth dishtowel, seasoned it with some coarse salt, pepper, dry seasoning, placed it on a rack, pan beneath, and placed it in the refrigerator bottom drawer, by itself, and the drawer stays closed except when i flip it and check for moisture 1x per day (so far no moisture, no drips). It looks beautiful, drying nicely! I'll let you know if I had beginners luck after we cook it tomorrow night!

                                        1. re: DpBluSea
                                          ssgarman Dec 4, 2011 07:39 PM

                                          Nothing to it...except for about 40 manhours of experimentation...

                                           
                                      2. re: Iknowmeat
                                        s
                                        Sharlevoix Oct 25, 2012 03:59 PM

                                        Yo, Iknowmeat, I think you really do know meat!

                                    2. KWagle Jul 22, 2012 11:56 PM

                                      My friend has written an extensive blog posting on this. I've had the final product and it's pretty darn good.

                                      http://the-joy-of-food.blogspot.com/2...

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