Aging beef has always been the not-so-hidden secret to juicier, more tender, and tastier steaks and burgers. This has been practiced since several centuries ago that the Dutch painter Rembrandt even depicted the concept in his masterpiece, “The Slaughter Ox.”
The process of aging beef meat, when it started, was merely about hanging and has now evolved into dry and wet-aging. These modern procedures have adapted to the latest cooling technologies over the years to reduce the risk of contamination while allowing the meat to mature.
Now, aging is not so much about storing the beef meat for long until it’s old, unlike most might assume. It’s a scientific art process of releasing the good properties that make beef so delicious in any dish you prepare it with. Read on as we answer all your curiosities about this practice.
What Is Beef Aging?
Beef aging is a process of letting the meat’s connective tissue break down for some time before consumption. The connective tissue in meat is known to butchers as that element responsible for the tenderness of beef.
However, meat scientists haven’t made formal studies that further explain the biochemical relation of this tissue to the quality of beef. They just went as far as concluding that the toughness of beef served in commercial settings doesn’t have anything to do with the tissue.
Still, the butchers have deemed the connective tissue of the beef as a determining factor in the softness of the meat. We guess we will never come up with a definite fact any time soon, so we thought we should discuss the roots of connective tissue’s association with meat quality.
Also known as Hydroxylysylpyridinoline (we know, it doesn’t sound like we’re still talking about food anymore), this compound is a fluorescent cross-linking compound found in collagen fibers. If you didn’t know yet, the abundance of collagen in meat is what causes it to shrink when cooked.
Collagen fibrils, specifically, shrink and cause loss of necessary meat fluids that result in less tender beef. High amounts of the pyridinoline in these fibrils have been proven by a study as the enemy when tenderizing meat and pleasing commercial beef consumers.
Pyridinoline is the cross-linking compound that’s mainly accountable for meat shrinkage and toughness. This was an uncertain fact during the 1980s, although the compound has since received the reputation for being that cooking-resistant component in meats.
During cooking, what happens is that the collagenous part of the connective tissue becomes a soluble gel that turns the muscle of the meat soft. Moist heat, low temperature, and long cooking periods trigger this activity.
In the medical field, pyridinoline is an indicator of pathological collagen degradation in urine samples. That’s how significant it is, and it’s aging that stabilizes its quantities in beef so that you wouldn’t have prolonged cooking periods.
You should note, however, that beef aging doesn’t have anything to do with how old the cattle is before slaughter. They carry equal amounts of collagen, so storing them for a while after being butchered is the maturity required in this process.
The pyridinoline softens as aging enzymes innate in the beef act on the muscle fibers near the connective tissue. These areas host the most collagen fibers and are the spots where butchers make various commercial beef cuts.
The Flavor Change
Leaving the beef to age over a certain period under controlled conditions allows its natural enzymes to do the magic. Proteins, glycogen, fats, transform into amino acids, fatty acids, salt, and sugars that bring out the rich flavors of meat on its own.
The exact formula for the irresistible taste we look for in beef is caused by monosodium glutamate or more commonly known as MSG. It is a natural flavor-enhancer the meat develops over time while it’s stored.
You can familiarize yourself more with how this amino acid works by knowing that they’re abundant in cheese and tomatoes as well. Those two are popularly used in dishes for a savory twist.
About the controversy on the health influences of MSG, it is said that it could only cause harm if over-consumed. That’s not something to worry about in aged beef as the MSG levels produced by the meat is natural and pure. Still, we advise you to go easy on the steak.
Why Is Beef Aged?
If you didn’t know yet, fresh beef meat tastes like metal. It doesn’t have any of the aroma or taste we like about it right after the kill. That’s one of the main reasons it’s stored and left to age after slaughter.
Another reason is tenderness. It is an essential factor in steaks. The meat industry has even developed the Warner-Bratzler shear force test, a measuring method for evaluating the texture of aged beef.
We think we can all agree that tender and tasty meat is what we pay these expensive restaurants for. Since beef aging is a craft that takes some effort and time, you now get why steaks could cost up to a month’s rent sometimes.
How Does Beef Aging Work?
Beef aging is not as simple as letting the beef age in a room or a fridge. Back in the old times, sure, hanging the meat in some room using a hook would work.
Nowadays, we are more aware of bacteria that could infest our foods and potentially kill us. That means beef aging works in a tech-conditioned environment for a certain period.
How Does Beef Age in the Controlled Environment?
Meat aging is manipulated decomposition, and there’s no way to sugarcoat it. That means beef ages with the help of the bacteria that grow in its tissues.
The beef is exposed to oxygen during the process, and that is what lets natural enzymes work. The good bacteria in the meat needs oxygen to survive and see to it that the connective tissues break down.
So expect the room where the beef meats are stored to have strict humidity settings. It allows for moisture to release the good mold in the meat tissues like, how that good mold grows on matured cheese over time.
The good mold enables evaporation, which decreases the collagen fibers, so the meat develops tenderness and richer tastes. Of course, once the process has reached its end, the mold is scraped out of the beef, leaving the edible slab for cooking and serving.
How Long Should Beef Meat Age?
Aging could last from 7 days to 120 days, although the typical duration followed by many meat producers is 30 days. Here’s a timeline explaining crucial changes in various timeframes based on Pat LaFrieda’s book called Meat:
Within this period, the collagen would have already broken down. However, the ideal texture and flavors of the meat wouldn’t be present at this stage yet. The meat would still appear bright — hence it’s not perfect to be sold as aged steak.
During these three weeks of aging, the steak would lose up to 10 percent of its weight due to evaporation. Fluids will ooze out of the front and back of the meat while the fat and bone on the sides are waterproof.
The fat of the beef will darken, yet it won’t shrink, although the rest of the meat does over time. That begins to show right in this aging stage.
This is the steak age. By this time, the meat would have already developed that taste of leaning between roast beef and buttered popcorn.
That is why this is the most commonly requested age of beef. The meat would have lost 15 percent of its weight at this stage, which adds more value reflected on the prices we see on menus.
This is the meat funk grows. Within this timeframe, the meat has only lost a fraction from the 30-day weight loss.
You’ll also notice white striations in the tissues of the beef meat, which are the salt and mold becoming more visible. It’s worth noting in this age that the flavors of the fat will change before the meat does, so don’t cut the fat before cooking.
By this time, the white striations have now formed an entire white crust. This crust, however, has the same purpose as the rind that protects the cheese. This crust is removed from the meat before selling.
For some reason, this funkiest aged meat is also the most expensive. The original weight of the beef meat would have lost 35 percent at this point.
That means consumers are paying more for the fact that there’s only little edible beef left in this age. The flavor of this steak isn’t notably better than the average 30-day aged meat.
Meat Aged for More than 30 Days
Beyond a month’s aging, the beef starts tasting nowhere like the scrumptious steak we anticipate. Two to three weeks is enough to let beef age and produce those delicious flavors.
Anything beyond that just sounds like a capitalist trick. So the question we’re leaving you is — do you like your steak funky or just pure steak?
Your personal preference sets the standard for the best age for meat. After all, you’re the one paying for your own, not some steak aficionado.
Dry-Aging vs. Wet-Aging
Dry-aging and wet-aging are two recognized methods of aging meat. The former is well-known for producing quality steaks for a long time now, while the latter is just a recent technique.
Both aging processes follow the same controlled decay mechanic. Still, they come with different strengths and weaknesses depending on various circumstances.
Get to know each aging process with our dissection of their pros and cons. Then you decide which is better.
Dry-aging involves hanging the whole sides of the beef meat in the open air under the temperature that’s just a little over freezing point. This method allows for dehydration given the open-air setup, which generates concentrated taste and texture.
The enzymes of the meat naturally intensify the flavors and form a tender surface and interior. Even the lost moisture of the meat contributes to concentration in tastes.
Dry-aging reduces a lot of meat weight, which leaves less yield than desired and increases the price of the product. Add the fact that most of the parts of the beef meat have to be trimmed off before selling, so that leaves you a very little portion per cut.
Wet-aged beef is a modern technique that doesn’t require much time as dry-aging. The beef cuts are stored in a vacuum-sealed plastic and directly shipped to the market.
The aging process takes place between 4-10 days only, which is the usual transit period of the meat from slaughter to selling. The meat also doesn’t go through weight loss, unlike in the open-air setup.
Therefore, wet-aging costs a lot less for manufacturers as they don’t need to monitor the meat continually. They also get to sell the same volume of meat from when it was slaughtered.
Business-wise, wet-aging comes in handy. It produces ideal yield while the operations cost little due to its shorter duration.
Wet-aging can grow necessary enzymes to release the good tastes in meat, but not as tender or as flavorful as dry-aging does.
Which Is Better?
Both aging methods are advantageous on their own. However, dry-aging seems to have more downside in terms of manufacturing.
Still, dry-aging holds the most commendable quality for steaks compared to the average output of wet-aging. If you’re in the meat business and are trying to sell more than selling better, wet-aging is for you.
If you’re a meat connoisseur or a restaurant owner who wants to serve the most scrumptious steaks in town, then go for dry-aging.
In the end, it’s all about budget and flavor preferences. Just remember that appropriately aged meat should taste like it was roasted, although it might still possess little metallic taste.
What Is the Best Temperature and Humidity to Age Beef?
We’ve been discussing controlled setups to meet aging for a while now, and it’s time we dive deeper into the specific environment settings. You should know that one little error in the temperature, humidity, sanitation, and air movement in the room can harm the beef’s potential.
You’re basically freezing meat in a big refrigerator here, but it’s not as simple as putting food in the fridge. You need to be meticulous in maintaining the cleanliness of the area, strict with the humidity and temperature settings, and careful in spacing the carcasses from each other.
Here are the figures to keep in mind when setting up the beef-aging room:
The room should have a maintained temperature of 34 to 36 degrees Fahrenheit (1 to 2 degrees Celsius). Anything above or below can make significant influences of the aging of the beef since they’re contained in the room for a while.
Humidity is a crucial part of the aging process as it allows for the good mold to form. Make sure to keep it at 85 to 90 percent at all times, so the beef matures well enough to release deep flavors.
Since dry-aging requires an open-air setup for the best results, you need to be mindful of the airflow in the aging room. Observe a 15 to 20 linear feet per minute (0.08 – 0.1 m/s) of airflow at the product’s surface.
Since we’re dealing with decay here, the room should not be a host for awful decomposition occurrences that may cause food poisoning. Here are the do’s and don’ts to follow so that the area remains a safe space to age beef:
- Use an alkaline cleaning solution or other approved cleaning agent to wash the floors and walls weekly
- Place the beef cuts and carcasses properly on trolleys or hooks so the air can circulate well around the room and in between the products.
- Don’t use sawdust on the floor as it could lead to air contamination
- Don’t use the aging room to store other products with a strong smell like poultry, fruits, vegetables, and processed meat. The aging beef might absorb the odor and turn out bad.
Aging Conditions for Vacuum-Sealed Plastics
Unlike dry-aging setups, wet-aging vacuum packages only need one thing to go right. It also means, of course, that it only takes one thing to mess everything up.
To avoid that, just ensure that the plastics are tightly vacuumed. You don’t want air sneaking in to grow unwanted microorganisms in the beef and cause quick rot.
What Beef Cuts Are Good for Aging?
You can’t just dry-age any beef cut. Keep in mind that such a process would need tougher parts of beef, particularly with large muscles. Otherwise, the molds that grow in the meat during the process will just eat up the whole thing.
The beef cuts to choose are subprimal cuts like strip loin, ribeye, or sirloin. The bones and fat layers of these cuts can thrive in the decaying process and bring out the flavors and tenderness of the beef.
Just note that when aging these beef cuts, you shouldn’t trim them in tiny parts. That would leave you to nothing but mold and inedible fats. So only store large muscle cuts that are freshly slaughtered for a successful aging outcome.
Should You Trim Aged Beef?
If you don’t want to eat gross meat parts, then yes, you should trim the beef after it has aged. You have to slice the bark off from the edible meat using a knife and stop where there’s a difference in texture and color.
You should trim the dark parts until you see this pink interior, which is the best part of the aged meat. Just scrape off all the dark exterior of the beef and be careful not to trim the pink insides with it.
The longer the beef has been aged, the more dark parts there’ll be for you to trim. That is why they price aged beef high — too little is left in even the largest cuts, especially after 30 days of maturity.
Can You Eat the Bark of Dry-Aged Beef?
The bark of dry-aged beef, also formally known as the pellicle, is essentially a waste. It’s scraped off the edible parts of the meat, although it’s also free from bacteria and bad mold like the used meat due to UV-C light protection.
It’s just that nobody knows what to do with it. Fortunately, you can still eat these gross trimmings of the meat. You just need a meat grinder to turn them into steak burgers.
Depending on the aging setup, the pellicle can be ⅛ to ¼ deep, which gives you enough for several burger patties. Just add several pounds of ground chuck to the fatty bark.
The ratio should be 4:1. The pellicle has a strong, flavorful taste, and it’s best mixed with some ground chuck so that everything is balanced out well.
How Do You Age a Meat Without It Going Bad?
The key to aging meat without it going bad is strictly following the settings of the environment conditions cited earlier. The temperature, humidity, airflow, and sanitation guidelines control the moisture in the room that prevents harmful bacteria from growing and completely decaying meat.
If the room is too hot, the meat will spoil immediately, while if it’s too cold, aging stops as the water in the meat will freeze. Part of the process is also allowing for evaporation to take place.
In that case, you can’t go below or above the required humidity level, or the beef won’t age properly. The proper spacing between carcasses allowing for airflow is also the most responsible for bacteria growth.
That’s why you have to make sure there is proper ventilation in the room on top of the maintained temperature and humidity conditions. You don’t want to waste meat, do you?
How Can You Tell If Dry-Aged Beef Is Bad?
It’s pretty challenging to tell whether the dry-aged beef is bad or not since, after all, a well-aged beef still went through a decomposition process. So we searched for the two determining factors in telling whether the dry-aged beef is bad or not.
Put your intuition to the test and check for the following characteristics in the suspected spoiled aged meat:
If you spot a slimy area on the dry-aged beef, then it’s most likely bad meat. A slimy film on the meat that makes the beef shiny is a sign of spoilage.
The slippery surface usually creates color patches like the universally known shade for rot brown, along with yellow or green. Fresh beef has to be pink or red. Otherwise, it means there’s still active mold growing on the aged meat.
Strong Cheesy Odor
The smell is a solid indicator of whether your beef is bad or not. Raw meat has its specific smell that you’d recognize even without us describing it in detail here for you.
When the odor has changed into something a little rancid like cheese, then there’s no other reason for it but rot. However, you shouldn’t confuse this strong cheesy smell to the aroma of lactic acid that’s released during the meet aging process.
The strong cheesy smell of spoiled meat is coming from ammonia. That has a distinct aroma, which you could easily tell apart from the smell of lactic acid produced by in the aging phase.
Don’t worry — you’ll know the difference when your nose is already sniffing the meat surfaces. Believe us — your nose has that much power. You even get an idea of how something would taste just by being familiarized with its smell.
What Does Aged Beef Smell Like?
Speaking of aromas and our powerful noses, you’re probably wondering what exactly should aged beef smell like. Yes, we got the feeling that you wanted to know a little deeper than “it should smell like raw beef.”
You’re also probably wondering whether aged meat should even smell at all. Well, dry-aged beef shouldn’t smell but should carry a distinctive scent that tickles your taste buds more than your nose.
Dry-aged beef has an earthy – nutty smell, much like buttered popcorn and tender profile.
Can You Freeze Dry-Aged Beef?
We get it. Not everyone wants to consume dry-aged beef at fancy restaurants. Luckily, you can purchase dry-aged beef so you could whip it up into your gourmet.
The question is whether you can freeze it or not when storing it. Of course, you can, but it comes with risks affecting the beef’s quality.
Remember that freezing the beef during the aging process is avoided due to moisture loss. The same still applies after aging.
Use a butcher paper or heavy-duty plastic wrap your beef if you’re freezing it. That way, your meat is protected from direct reactions from freezing, such as further loss of moisture.
Does Aged Meat Cook Faster?
Another benefit of aging meat is that it’s easier to cook. As explained above, the cooking-resistant pyridinoline shrinks when the connective tissues break down during aging.
That means aged meat cooks faster as you won’t need to soften it beforehand by boiling. The water left in aged meat is just so little that bring it to a boil isn’t so necessary anymore.
You can still boil your meat before cooking for absolute tenderness, of course. Just make sure to keep an eye on it, or it might be too soft that you wouldn’t enjoy biting on it anymore.
Can You Age Beef at Home?
Now that you have an idea of how dry and wet-aging work, you’re probably thinking of pulling a DIY to try the activity at home. Why pay a tremendous amount of money to have it aged for you when you could just wing it on your own, right?
Yes, you can age beef at home. As long as you’re willing to put in the work and discipline in maintaining aging conditions, then you’re good to go.
That means you have to invest in certain tools and a dedicated meat aging refrigerator. Are you still up for it?
What Do You Need to Age Meat at Home?
If you’ve decided to give dry-aging at home a try, you should first understand that it’s already a commitment. So you have to gather up a few things, which you will use only for this process.
You don’t need a whole dry-aging room, luckily. You just need some small equipment to bring in good airflow and sustain manipulated rot.
Here’s a mini-guide about the things you have to spend money on and how to choose the beef for home dry-aging:
You need a fridge that will only be used for aging meat. It’s advised that you buy a new one rather than using a spare mini-fridge.
A used fridge is most likely to host bacteria that could mess up the controlled decomposition of your beef. Buy a new one, so at least you wouldn’t worry about thorough decontamination and optimized refrigeration.
Maintaining airflow inside a refrigerator is challenging. The space is tight enough even for the beef cuts’ spacing.
That’s why you need a small desk or axial box cooling fan that you can place inside the fridge. Cut a hole in the rubber seal lining the fridge door. Make one that’s just enough to insert the fan’s cord through.
Make sure the notch is tight around the cord as you can’t afford to have air from outside the fridge coming in to damage your aging beef.
Most refrigerators don’t have built-in thermometers, so you have to buy one to monitor the temperature inside the fridge. As emphasized in the dry-aging guidelines, the temperature has to beappropriately set.
Get a thermometer that has a humidity gauge. This way, you get to check on the vital conditions of the fridge.
You need to place a tray on the bottom of the beef cuts as they are most likely to leak some liquid during the aging process. You don’t want the juices of the meat all over the fridge.
That just adds another task on the sanitation front. Also, that’s a gateway to contamination.
The Meat: What Beef Can You Dry-Age at Home?
No beef aging is complete without the meat, of course. We’re pretty sure you won’t forget to include that in this list, but you’re probably wondering what beef can you dry-age at home.
The basic principle to keep in mind here is to go for meat that is on the bone. It’s still the same subprimal cuts recommended for traditional dry-aging.
So you have strip loin and rib eye as ideal beef cuts. You can also try other types like beef ribs, but you have to be mindful of the rind-trimming that comes with experimenting on these unconventional dry-aging cuts.
Take note that dry-aging meat like brisket won’t lead to anything. The process simply doesn’t nurture the flavors of this particular meat.
Stick to fatty beef cuts as fats are the ones that develop most during aging, setting the foundation for taste. Individual cuts and small steaks also won’t work in dry-aging as you’d only be left with a tiny piece of edible meat after.
How Do You Dry-Age Beef at Home?
Now that you’re equipped with the knowledge of tools to use and what beef cuts to dry-age in your fridge, here are fool-proof steps for your home dry-aging activity:
1. Set the refrigerator under dry-aging conditions
- Sanitize the fridge and make sure no other smell, flavors, and items are present in there. That’s why we recommend you just get a new small fridge just for this activity.
It might take a while to totally wipe out any traces of items from a used fridge. Use baking soda to clear everything out from scents to surface bits.
- Set the temperature at 36 °F (2.2 °C) for the whole aging period. Any increase in the temperature can rapidly spoil the meat, while a decrease can freeze everything useless.
- Add the fan in the fridge. As instructed above, cut a notch on the rubber insulation on the fridge’s door so you can insert the fan’s cord through. Just make sure to cover the extra spaces if there are any.
2. Prepare your meat
- Perform a color check on the beef cut/s you’ve picked out. If the beef is already dark, store the meat in the fridge for no more than seven days. If it’s still light, allow it to age for at least seven days and no more than a month.
- Unwrap and rinse the beef. Make sure that you pat the meat dry with some paper towels.
- Use a cheesecloth or triple-thick paper towel to wrap the meat. It will serve as protection from quick dehydration so you can get the best aging results.
3. The Dry-Aging Process
- Place the beef cuts in the refrigerator. Make sure to put a tray under the meat so their liquids can drip there. You can also just put the beef on the tray directly.
- Rewrap the meat after the first aging day. During the first day, the original wraps of the beef cuts would have already absorbed moisture from the meat’s connective tissue breakdown. So simply loosen the wrap so it won’t stick on the meat surface again.
- Let the meat age according to your set aging period.
- Trim the bark off after the aging process. Leave the pinkish or reddish interior for consumption.
- Use the aged beef soon after the process. This is to avoid unforeseen unhealthy post-aging occurrences. If you can’t consume the beef right on the day it’s done aging, just refrigerate it with a plastic wrap so the quality won’t deteriorate.
Can You Wet-Age Beef in the Fridge?
Wet-aging is far simpler than dry-aging, so it’s definitely more of a home activity than dry-aging. All you need is to vacuum-seal packages for individual beef cuts (yes, you can use smaller meat cuts here).
It’s not even necessary to have a separate refrigerator just for this process. The sealed plastics can protect the beef from external influences.
We’ve been a little biased between dry-aging and wet-aging so far. We’ve made it clear how it just doesn’t get that savory result dry-aging does.
However, you have all the right to go for this easier and less expensive process. You can always season that beef afterward anyway if you want its flavors to come out.
How Do You Wet-Age Beef at Home?
Humidity is not an essential aspect of wet-aging at home. The focus is all on the temperature settings. You should set the fridge just a little over the freezing point but still below 36 or 34 °F (2 or 1 °C).
That’s all you need to condition in your fridge for wet-aging. Well, maybe some room for the beef, of course. The beef cuts could be tiny compared to dry-age beef cuts.
Place each beef portion in a vacuum-sealed plastic and place it in the fridge for up to two weeks. After that, you can start cooking your steaks. How easy, right?
How Long Can You Wet-Age Beef in the Fridge?
You can let beef wet-age in the fridge for up to two weeks, although some make it up to a whole month. Just let it sit far back in the fridge where the temperature is more consistent and colder.
Should I Wet-Age Beef in the Fridge?
There are plenty of reasons why we don’t recommend wet-aging at home. You see, you are most likely to purchase sealed beef cuts from the market for this activity.
These packed beef pieces have been wet-aged during their transit as well. That could be for until a little over seven days. Still, you wouldn’t know how long the product has been sitting in the market, right?
That means you wouldn’t have any idea on how to properly age your beef at home. You can only go as far as setting the temperature, but the length of the process remains undetermined.
What Are the Common Mistakes to Avoid When Aging Beef at Home?
Aging beef at home is challenging, no doubt. Doing it all on your own with self-made setups could be risky if you’re not careful enough.
Aside from ensuring that the environment where you age your beef is squeaky clean, there are other precautionary measures you should take. From major mistakes to slight errors, here are what you should keep an eye out in aging beef at home:
Inconsistent Temperature and Humidity Settings
Consistency is key. That’s the basic principle in maintaining your refrigerator’s setting. A slight decrease or increase in temperature or humidity can cause either sourness in the meat or spoilage.
Make sure that your setup is free from factors that can cause your humidity and temperature to change. Many people who’ve experienced failed dry-aging at home cited inconsistency in their setup conditions as the primary cause of it.
Seasoning the Pre-Aged Meat
Some home beef-agers like to experiment by seasoning their subprimal cuts with some flavors so they would age even richer in taste. Also, it is not highly advised as adding anything to the natural salt production of the meat will only lead to high sodium content, which is unhealthy.
We recommend that you do the seasoning post-aging so the meat would have already developed everything naturally without any influences. Now, if you really can’t help adding flavors to your beef during the pre-aging stage, just remember not to add oil.
This happens because fat is forming a blockage that prevents moisture from evaporating from the meat. The salt would then penetrate inwards, disrupting the primary purpose of the process.
Opening Your Fridge In Between the Dry-Aging Process
We get it, aging your beef at home is exciting. Don’t let it get to you that you would even check the refrigerator from time to time just to see if changes are already taking place.
Opening your fridge during the aging process will cause inconsistencies in the temperature, humidity, and airflow of the setup. Humidity is very sensitive to external factors that the air from the room can mess the humidity condition in your fridge.
Small microorganisms you don’t want to eat up your beef can also sneak in the fridge even if you only open it for a second. You can’t take the risk on sanitation here, so keep that refrigerator shut.
To avoid getting anxious, whether you’ve set up the fridge correctly or not, go over the guidelines twice before starting the process. That way, you can be at peace until the time comes that you can open the fridge and harvest your improved meat.
After you’ve wet-aged your beef, don’t take it out of the plastic only to let it hang in the room or fridge afterward. You can’t dry-age a beef that has been wet-aged. That’s like setting up your meat to be attacked by tons of bacteria.
If you’re not going to cook your wet-aged beef right on its final day, just keep it in plastic and keep it in the fridge. Your already aged beef won’t go bad if you let it last longer than a couple of weeks anyway. Just make sure it doesn’t go over a month, or you might not enjoy your steaks anymore.
Does Aged Beef for Ground Meat Make Good Burgers?
Do you mean ground beef with rich flavors? Of course, aged beef for ground meat makes good burgers! However, it’s the high price of dry-aged beef that makes it unconventional as burger patties.
That’s why you wouldn’t find much-ground meat from dry-aged beef sold in the markets. Butchers settle for wet-aging instead, and that process doesn’t release the umami taste in beef, unlike dry-aging does.
Which Is Better, Dry-Aged or Wet-Aged Beef for Burgers?
Flavor and quality-wise, of course, we’re all in the dry-aged beef side. We’re team wet-aged beef only in terms of price and accessibility.
The verdict is yours to make — would you rather eat a burger patty that has been aged for an expensive cost or settle for an average aged beef that’s reasonably priced and is available everywhere?
What Is the Best Way to Cook Aged Beef Burgers?
Grilling would be everyone’s first thought in cooking aged beef burgers. It’s just this method that has always been associated with making great burgers.
Unfortunately, grilling could make the burgers too flavorful. Yes, it’s good to have that quality beef’s scent filling the room.
However, the taste of grilled aged beef could be too intense that you’d want to spit it out after a few bites. The funk of the aged beef just vanishes in the char of the grill.
Smashing the beef hard on a hot surface works best. Just wait for the dry-aged burger beef to brown and release its juices naturally through this method.
Using the skillet for cooking aged beef burgers like aged beef steaks also never fail. The beef makes a crispy crust, and the fats produce those deep flavors in this cooking method. This causes a big smoke, though, so put that exhaust on blast.
For medium-rare lovers, sous-vide is also an excellent idea for cooking your aged beef burgers. You can even find shops that sell pre-cooked aged beef burgers so that you could just reheat them when needed.
Is Beef Aging Worth It?
So now, we’ve broken down everything you need to know about aging beef. What do you think about what you’ve learned? Is beef aging worth it for you?
We think this tenderness and out-of-this-world taste produced in aging is enough reason for us to believe that beef aging is worth it. A process is indeed an art form we recommend you try at home.
Why settle for bland beef when you can let it age and turn it into a fancy steak or burger, right? We understand the issues with costs, but if it’s worth it, the price should no longer matter (just don’t break your bank).
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