Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
May 21, 2012 12:19 PM

Cryovac Beef - How long is it good for?

Hi everyone!

Just got a great deal on a whole beef eye round packaged in cryovac. $1.99/lb!! The sell by date for the store is labeled May 27th. How much longer can I keep that refrigerated for after that date, and does it age well or at all in that kind of packaging?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. You can keep it for up to 45 - 60 days past the sell by date (depending on the temperature it's kept at - store it in the bottom in the back of your refrigerator) and, yes, it will continue to wet age while in the cryovac.

    1. You can wet age it for months. Seriously, I've kept the large cryo subprimals sealed for 8-12 weeks.

      1. Thanks so much! Based on that information, I will try to pick up another one tomorrow! Just got a new meat slicer, so this makes the rare roast beef so much less expensive than at the deli!!

        1. I wet age for two weeks minimum in cryo as a standard SOP fopr every steak house I have run. I've done six weeks a few times at home but the meat gets pretty ripe and has a very distinct flavor profile after that. It's not for every one past three weeks.I'd suggest not holding fresh cryo for more than a month in the fridge if this is a first effort and 3 months is going to yield green meat. Not a good idea IMO. You can freeze meat in the cryo as well.

          27 Replies
          1. re: TraderJoe

            Thanks TraderJoe! I think I'll use it within a three week period as not sure if the family will like the distinct flavor! I was more interested in trying the wet aging process with it because of the cut of meat. I have had tender eye rounds before, but most of the time they are a bit chewy. Hoping this process might help it to become one of the more tender ones!

            1. re: AllieM

              You can go four weeks easily without any developing any flavors that some might find objectionable.

              Have you considered also dry aging the beef? You could wet age it for four weeks then dry age it for an additional week.

              I do this exact method each Christmas. Costco's best prices on beef around November and December are found right around Thanksgiving. So, I buy the meat then and leave it in the cryovac for about four weeks (depending on when Thanksgiving falls) then I take it out of the cryovac and dry age it for a week with the final day being Christmas Day.

              1. re: 1POINT21GW

                Have you considered also dry aging the beef?

                You can not dry age beef in your home fridge although that is not to say you can't improve the meat. I use the same method you suggest.
                Yes the meat is drying and each day meat is older it is aging.
                However the process of dry aging in the technical sense is a bit more involved and runs far longer than a week. A refrigerator is a giant de-humidifier and most are a titch too warm for proper dry aging. Dry aging requires control of both temperature and humidity. There are humidifier kits available so you can convert a fridge into a drying unit and you can find those at companies that specialize in sausage making as they are great for drying sausage as well.
                Four weeks of wet aging is usually going to produce a notable flavor profile in wet aging. I suggest that any one trying this for the first time stick with 2-3 weeks and try aging longer in the future to determine where your preference is. Flavor will change with the type of sub-primal and fat content.
                Either way wet aging and drying in the fridge is an excellent way to work with sub-primals for the home cook.

                1. re: TraderJoe

                  I mean no disrespect to you, however, I disagree with practically everything in this post.

                  Most notably, beef can most certainly be dry aged in a home refrigerator and very authoritative sources support this.

                  1. re: 1POINT21GW

                    Beef that is dry-aged in primal form is usually very much untrimmed. This allows for the enzymes to work their magic, while the outer layer of the meat/fat can be lopped off. Cryovaced beef is generally trimmed already, and thus not a great candidate for dry-aging, at home or at a restaurant or store.

                    You can certainly leave a steak in a fridge for a couple of days and it will get funky. But that's not quite the dry-aging process that I have come to appreciate.

                    1. re: tommy

                      I think you might be confusing subprimals with fabricated cuts (individual steaks).

                      1. re: 1POINT21GW

                        I didn't refer to subprimals. I am referring to primals, which are what are generally dry-aged at places like Peter Luger.

                        You can throw a subprimal into the fridge and it will get funky, but that's not the dry-aging process that I have come to appreciate.

                        1. re: tommy

                          Primals and subprimals can most certainly be dry aged for extended periods of time without developing any off flavors. Even fabricated cuts can be dry aged for a few days.

                          But, so we don't get bogged down in semantics, big cuts of beef (whole loin, whole rib eye, etc) can be dry aged for extended periods of time (weeks). Individual steaks can even be dry aged for up to around four days.

                          Typically, cryovaced beef found in stores are the larger cuts (primals and subprimals), not individual steaks.

                          1. re: 1POINT21GW

                            I guess my point is that non-cryaced beef is preferable when dry-aging primals. Cryovaced beef is too trimmed.

                            When I say "funky" I don't mean "off" .

                            1. re: 1POINT21GW

                              Typically, cryovaced beef found in stores are the larger cuts (primals and subprimals).

                              Your not going to find primals in cryo at retail very darn often. Most people wouldn't even be able to break down a primal.
                              The difference between the process of dry aging and drying a little blood out of a cut steak in your fridge goes well beyond semantics.

                      2. re: 1POINT21GW

                        "Most notably, beef can most certainly be dry aged in a home refrigerator "

                        Allowing the blood to dry in your fridge does improve the meat but dry aging rooms are temperature and humidity controlled. A standard home fridge can not run at 32 degrees reliably nor can it control humidity.
                        There are some that will tell you can dry age in a fridge but frankly most of those methods are a good way of growing some very undesirable bacteria. Most steak houses that dry age their own beef have dedicated aging rooms. There's a reason for that.
                        Some of those rooms are lined with salt.
                        Tommy is 100% correct in the essence of what he is saying about Peter Luger. While we could niggle a bit about primals Vs sub-primal the short loins they age are cut with way more fat than what you can buy retail in cryo. Either way he's not confusing single steaks with Primals.
                        Drying for a few days in your fridge and the process of "dry aging" for 30-60 days are two very different processes with little in common other than sounding the same.

                        You may want to try to catch an episode of "Meat Men" and then you can see how much fat is left on sub-primals for true dry aging and how black the meat gets. All of that black exterior has to be cut off and is waste.
                        For home cooks you are using a very solid method.

                        1. re: TraderJoe

                          1.21 is correct, as he usually is in these matters. While whole primals -- unavailable to us mere mortals -- are certainly less trimmed than the cryovac'ed subprimals, there is always a nice layer of creamy fat covering them and always plenty to trim off after the aging process. And make no mistake -- it is real and genuine dry aging and it is accomplished in a conventional refrigerator. No matter how magical and mystical and difficult some people try to make it sound, it is quite easy to do.

                          I have a fridge that is dedicated to this purpose. It maintains a rock-solid 33F at all times and always has a whole Standing Rib, Rib-Eye or Strip Loin in it, on a rack on a Sheet pan. I've gone anywhere from 1 to 12 weeks, but my preference is about 21 days. There has never been the slightest evidence of *unwanted* bacterial growth except when I have followed the absolutely horrible advice to put a piece of cloth or fabric over the meat, which only holds in moisture and provides a great breeding ground for bugs and results in a slimy layer of foul-smelling bacterial condominiums.

                          Yes, there's a lot of trimming involved at the end of the process, and some of it is in fact meat. Between moisture loss and trimming, you lose about 50% of the initial weight. The leathery scraps go into the stockpot for the best Beef Stock you ever had, and then the dogs get them. This is why my dogs love me.

                          I don't dispute that home fridges are somewhat less humid than a huge restaurant dry-aging room, but the differences are insignificant. And this does not square with the claim that some rooms have salt on the floor, which would point to the rooms being drier -- salt is a huge de-humidifier, so I don't understand the point being made. They have these rooms for logistic purposes -- they need to store tons of meat for months at a time -- more than anything else. Can you imagine having a hundred conventional refrigerators?

                          If you really need the fridge to be more humid, you can always put some water in the bottom of the sheet pan and top it up daily, but frankly I don't think it makes a whit of difference. The same bacterial and enzymatic action is occurring either way. Only the rate at which it occurs might vary a bit.

                          1. re: acgold7

                            I don't dispute that home fridges are somewhat less humid than a huge restaurant dry-aging room, but the differences are insignificant. And this does not square with the claim that some rooms have salt on the floor, which would point to the rooms being drier


                            I think that ones a bit back words. While a home fridge is in essence a de-humidifyer the typical home fridge runs at roughly 80+% humidity, depending on climate from the door being opened under normal use. As I noted up-thread dedicated fridge conversions can work very well.

                            This is also why you have a crisper drawer in your fridge that may also have a separate humidity or temp control. Produce requires 80-95+% humidity.

                            The last thing you want to do is add water in a drying fridge with out a humidity control unit.

                            Ideas like that are how you can end up growing unwanted bacteria. Even if you don't see it.

                            If you have a dedicated drying fridge a humidity control would be a wise investment as would a rack so air circulates all the way around the meat.

                            If you don't have a humidity control you can use salt in the unit and you should be able to get close to 60%. A cheap hygrometer can be had from Amazon or tobacco stores that carry them for cigar humidors.

                            I'm not sure I've seen salt floors but some aging rooms like David Burkes Prime House uses salt lined walls to help purify the air in the room and they feel it seasons the meat. My guess would be that once the humidity is adjusted where they want it this would also allow them to keep their room a few degrees warmer.

                            Standing Rib and rib eye are the same sub-primal. No matter how you slice it if you do a full dry age on a cryo sub-primal once you trim it there will be zero fat cap left.

                            No matter what method you try please avoid any of the dry aging methods that use cheese cloth, towels etc in a home fridge.

                            The most important thing is to know the difference between these methods. An awful lot of stores are starting to capitalize on consumer confusion. Just because a steak is drying in the cooler it is not always truly dry aged.

                            1. re: TraderJoe

                              "An awful lot of stores are starting to capitalize on consumer confusion. Just because a steak is drying in the cooler it is not always truly dry aged."

                              It's becoming increasingly difficult to find a restaurant that *doesn't* make claims of "aging". I find for the most part they are unexceptional, no doubt due to their lack of commitment to aging (or of their purveyors). It's marketing at this point.

                              1. re: TraderJoe

                                Sorry, thought you were saying fridges were too dry, not too moist. Usually that is the main criticism of refrigerators, and that is why crisper drawers were added, to provide some relief from this otherwise dry environment.

                                As I noted, I always use a rack to promote air circulation on all sides.

                                Standing Rib has the rib attached; Rib-Eye does not, so they are not the same. At least that's how they are marketed everywhere I've seen them. It may vary in different parts of the country. And there is still plenty of fat left after trimming when I trim them, but that may depend on our suppliers and our trimming skills.

                                We agree on not using cloth.

                                >>>you can end up growing unwanted bacteria. Even if you don't see it. <<<

                                Not really. After a day or so, the surface of the subprimal is hard, dry and clean and displays no evidence of growth at all, by touch, sight or smell. We already know, through the miracle of science, that they can't be inside, only on the surface. If there are any bacteria there, they are in such low concentrations as to be insignificant. But as we know from freshman science, they grow in colonies which become readily apparent in a very short time. They need moisture to live, and as there isn't any on the surface, the little guys got nowhere to go. It's about as hospitable to them as the surface of the moon.

                                Even if they were there in any quantity, they are getting trimmed off. And even if they manage to elude this process -- sneaky buggers! -- they are being exposed to -- what? -- 700 degrees or so of screeching char-broiler at the surface? Frankly I'm not too worried. You could dip the roast in a pool of e.coli and still be fine.

                                >>>Just because a steak is drying in the cooler it is not always truly dry aged.<<<

                                Steak, I agree. Roast/subprimal, no.

                                1. re: acgold7

                                  Standing Rib has the rib attached; Rib-Eye does not, so they are not the same.
                                  A Rib eye, Delmonico, Cowboy steak, or what ever you might like to call it is cut from the same sub-primal. A Standing rib is just bone in prime rib.
                                  The only exception is the Tomahawk which should be cut from a long bone rib eye. This does not change any where in the us as meat buyers codes are the same nationally. Marketing at the retail level is another ball game.
                                  The problem with the loose definition of dry aged is that some stores are now cutting cryo meat and tossing individual steaks in the display and marking them "dry aged" as in air drying in the cooler until sold.
                                  The color of the flesh once you have handled dry aged meat is a dead give away.

                                  1. re: TraderJoe

                                    Absolutely right. I was just pointing out that I usually have at least one of those bad boys aging at any given time. It's not about what *I* want to call it; it's about whatever Costco has that looks good that day.

                                    What you describe about the steaks is despicable and the retailers who do that should be strung up.

                                    BTW, it was pretty conclusively established on the recent thread about Delmonicos that despite current usage, which can mean anything, that the Delmonico steak is from the first cut of the strip loin, not the rib. Fascinating link to an exhaustive article in that thread and well worth the read.

                                    1. re: acgold7

                                      it's about whatever Costco has that looks good that day
                                      I scored a couple of Prime all natural strip loins at Costco recently.


                                    2. re: TraderJoe

                                      I believe the "rib" is a primal, not a subprimal.

                                      I definitely agree with you on the dry-aging. Many places around me take trimmed boxed beef and throw it in a fridge for however many days they want to or don't want to, and it's "dry-aged." They can't even do porterhouse, because the boxed short loin is so trimmed that the tenderloin would be essentially lost.

                                      "Wet aged," to my mind, simply means that they purchased boxed beef, just like everyone else.

                                      1. re: tommy

                                        I believe the "rib" is a primal, not a subprimal.

                                        Yes the entire "Rib" is a primal.

                                    3. re: acgold7

                                      I do all my aging in a basement refrigerator where the door rarely gets opened. My favorite cut is a whole 0x1 top choice strip loin. My wife and kids prefer wet aged which I normally do for about 28 days. Have 2 in the fridge now. One get cuts this weekend.

                                      I have done dry aging for a week or so in the same fridge after 20 days or so in the bag.

                                      I also have a small "shelf top" glass door commercial merchandiser fridge with a powerful compressor and an interior fan to blow the air around. Holds 90 bottles of beer which is what I mostly use it for when company comes over. ANY THOUGHTS ON "IF THE FAN AND BIGGER COMPRESSOR WOULD HELP DRY AGING"?

                                      A friend of mine in Philly is a master butcher who still brings in hanging beef and custom ages it for very high end restaurants. When I want really good DRY aged beef I get it from him. He told me he likes to hang the primals on the bone and then bone them out after they are done aging.

                                      1. re: Tom34

                                        Wow, that sounds great. If I had a friend like that I'd live at his house.

                                        That fridge sounds like it would do a great job. But then where will your beer live? Beer sad;-(

                                        1. re: acgold7

                                          Beer in basement fridge too. Not only does the butcher professionally dry age, he grinds fresh sirloin from the hanging beef trimmings 3 times a day and will eat it raw in front of me. Best burger I ever ate, med rare, explodes with juice & tastes like steak. Can't wait for the weekend!

                                            1. re: tommy

                                              His name is Steve McDonnell who owns "Swedesboro Prime Meat and Seafood". If you google it his Co. will come up. He is a whole sale butcher but he will put together "large" private orders. I try to get lots of family / friends / Co-workers together on an order and schedule a meet in the late afternoon. His "top" prime aged whole porterhouses are the best steaks I have ever eaten. He bandsaws them a good 1 1/4 inch thick for me.