Can i dry age beef at home?

     
A little age never hurt anyone—unless we’re talking about our increasingly creaky knees & ever-more foggy memory, or sorer-by-the-day lower backs. Okay, scratch that. For us mortals, age hurts, period. But when it comes khổng lồ such culinary delights as wine, cheese, & red meat, age has the power lớn enhance flavor và deepen our enjoyment.

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This is especially the case for dry-aged beef, which is known for a richer flavor và more tender texture—as well as a heftier price tag—than its fresh-cut counterparts. But what is it about dry-aging that works such magic on meat?


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Even if you appreciate what a dry-aged steak does for your tastebuds, the nuances about how it delivers such a transcendent experience may escape you. That’s why, with the help of food scientists and chefs, we’re unpacking exactly what dry-aged beef is and how dry-aging works.


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What is dry aging?

“An unsexy way to lớn explain it is that dry-aging, in a nutshell, is a controlled decay process,” says Katie Flannery, butcher & COO at Flannery Beef. “You’re exposing the subprimals to lớn oxyren, which allows natural enzymes within the meat work,” she says. “They’re aerobic bacteria, so they need oxygene lớn survive. They come alive sầu và start breaking down the molecular bonds of meat.” This, in turn, alters the flavor và texture of the cut.

What dry aging looks lượt thích is literally a room full of moldy carcasses. In the dry-aging process, meat hangs in a humidity-controlled environment in a way that exposes all of its sides with unimpeded airflow around the entire cut. “Then there’s the good mold that finds its way onto lớn steaks, which will slowly start to lớn break down and increase the amount of evaporation,” says Chris Pandel, executive sầu chef at Swift and Sons in Chicago. “You’re puling moisture from the meats over time. As that happens the mold will extover its life and grow. It’s like the mold on blue cheese—it’s good mold not bad mold.”

Of course, before that slab of beef makes it lớn your plate, all of the mold will be trimmed away, leaving just “tenderized, funky, delicious meat,” Pandel says. He describes the flavor of dry-aged meat as having a nuttiness khổng lồ it that you won’t get in a wet-aged steak. Likewise, it’ll be more tender and have a different mouthfeel.


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Steak from Pandel’s Swift & Son’sPhoto: Courtesy of Swift và Sons


How does dry-aging change the taste & texture of meat?

Moisture loss is one aspect that changes the flavor of dry-aged meat. “What that does is essentially concentrate the remainder of the tissue,” says Harold McGee, food scientist and author of Keys to Good Cooking: A Guide khổng lồ Making the Best of Foods & Recipes. “Meat is about 75 percent water. If you đại bại a few percent lớn evaporation … what’s left will be more concentrated, so the flavor will be more concentrated.”

For those who know their way around a kitchen, Flannery likens the process lớn reducing a stoông xã lớn a demi-glace. “You have sầu that pot on your stovetop. As more và more moisture evaporates, the flavor of the liquid is getting more and more concentrated. With beef, as water evaporates, the natural beef flavor intensifies,” she says.

But chemical changes also affect the flavor. “During the aging period, some of the flavor compounds & other molecules in the meat undergo chemical change that will increase some flavor components while reducing others,” says Joe Regenstein, Professor in the Department of Food Science at Cornell’s College of Agriculture & Life Sciences.

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Muscle cells are made of lots of different materials, and chief aao ước them are the proteins that enable the muscles lớn contract, and the molecules that fuel this process, such as glycogene, DNA và RNA. During dry-aging, these large, flavorless molecules are broken down inkhổng lồ smaller, flavorful fragments, explains McGee.

“All of those molecules are relatively large, và when they’re broken down by the enzyme activity, they khung fragments that are more flavorful than the original large molecules,” he says. “Some proteins get broken down into amino acids. They can be a little bitter, savory, such as in MSG, and the DNA/RNA material can get broken inkhổng lồ other molecules that are savory & enhance the savoriness of MSG. And glycogen broken inkhổng lồ sugars which are sweet.”

Dry aging transforms the texture of meat as well. “Meat has a very complex internal structure that can be difficult to lớn bite through. By breaking some of these proteins down, the teeth can now more easily go through the meat,” Regenstein says.


What are the best cuts of dry-aged meats?

Entire primals, rather than single steaks are dry-aged, but to lớn be a good candidate for dry-aging requires a good protective sầu covering of bone or fat. This means there’s less surface area that needs to lớn be trimmed away later. “Filets tover not lớn be aged because there’s no bone or fat protecting it, Flannery says. Dry-aging is wasteful because every single side of meat that is exposed khổng lồ air will be breaking down faster than the meat on the inside.” Bone-in Thành Phố New York strip or ribeye are good contenders for dry-aging, Pandel says.


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Ribeye is a great cut to lớn dry age.Photo: Kevin Marple


What’s the igiảm giá time to lớn dry-age meat?

The igiảm giá khuyến mãi length of time for dry-aging meat really comes down to individual taste. For Flannery, the sweet spot is around 30 to 35 days. “For retail customers, we go 35 days, but for restaurant customers we go 18 to lớn trăng tròn,” she says. “That’s because in the restaurant industry, if a diner isn’t familiar with dry-aged beef, their first reaction might be to think that something is off.”

Pandel says he likes meat that’s been aged around 45 days. “You can tell it’s been aged, but it’s not unpleasant,” he says. “We’ve sầu gone further. In running a steakhouse it’s personal preference. Some folks like it really funky, but for some people it’s too gnarly.”

And the longer you go, the funkier the flavor will get. “Dry-aged meat does have a chất lượng smell and flavor. Funky is a good way to lớn describe it,” she says. “It’s a more rich flavor up until the 30-day point. When you go farther than that, và if you go really far out, lượt thích 60 to 90 days, you develop a serious blue cheese funk lớn it. It will smell remarkably like xanh cheese.”

Why Is Dry-Aged Meat More Expensive?

With a dry-aged descriptor comes a steeper price tag—but it’s for more than just the fancy moniker. “There’s a reaction lớn higher prices without fully understanding why dry-aged meat is more expensive,” Flannery says. “We’re not slapping another 50 percent lớn the cost because we feel lượt thích it. It’s a more costly product to lớn produce.”


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Adam Perry Lang in his aging room.Photo: courtesy Josh Telles


Dry-Aging Vs. “Wet-Aging”

Occasionally, you may also hear the words “wet-aged” used describe a piece of meat. Wet-aging describes meat that has been aged in a vacuum-sealed plastic bag. “The meat is held for weeks or months enclosed in a plastic bag that prevents evaporation from taking place, so you don’t get the same loss of water và don’t get the same concentration of flavor,” McGee says.

“I’ll just say it: Wet-aging is bullshit. It’s basically khổng lồ get the word “aging” on a sản phẩm without incurring the massive loss of dry-aging,” Flannery says. “Because dry-aging so expensive is one reason people push wet-aging. There’s no tryên ổn loss và no moisture loss. But you have sầu that cool cache of it being aged.”

Wet-aging won’t deliver the nutty flavor or same mouthfeel as a dry-aged steak. “You can’t fake dry-aged. You can’t condense time. It’s a really quality hàng hóa,” Flannery says.

Dry aging at home


Most professionals will tell you khổng lồ not dry age at trang chủ, but what else would professionals say? However, they make a very compelling case when it comes to flavor và even safety. Dry aging is a controlled fermentation, which René Redzepi and David Zilber of Noma showed you can vị at trang chính, but with necessary precautions and equipment. With dry aging steak, the problem people run inkhổng lồ is that they don’t realize the home fridge doesn’t really work, for a couple reasons. You want your dry-aging fridge to have sầu a more consistent temperature and air flow than your trang chính fridge offers. Also, you don’t want anything else in the fridge, because over time the steak will start absorbing the flavors of the other food inside the old icebox with it. So when the steak actually has time lớn undergo the enzymatic reaction that makes dry-aged steak so delicious, it will start khổng lồ have sầu a muddled, stale flavor because of what it has absorbed in the fridge. That doesn’t mean you can’t dry age at trang chủ. The key is getting a dedicated dry-aging fridge that will eliminate all the aforementioned challenges. And instead of getting individual cuts, by large slab that allows you to lớn tryên the meat before slicing inkhổng lồ individual steaks. Then again, you could always just order the beef already aged by an online purveyor and save yourself the time.


Chuyên mục: Tin Tức