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Re: Wet and Dry Aging Beef At Home
Posted By: Danny L In Response To: Aging Beef At Home (Joe Ames)
Date: Friday, January 30, 2004 at 12:05 p.m.
In Response To: Aging Beef At Home (Joe Ames)
Below are two articles with the link to the site where I found them. Both contain a warning about proper refrigeration temps and bacteria. The first warns about the recipe provided here for dry aging. I'm afraid I'm in agreement that it is not something you should try at home unless you have a walk in cooler but certainly not in your home refrigerator.
The less expensive alternative to dry aging is called wet aging. Meat is shipped from packing plants to butchers in vacuum packaging. Butchers can set this packed meat aside in their refrigerators and allow them to age. Since the meat is packed in itís own juices the enzymes will breakdown the connective tissues and make it more tender. However, because there will be no fluid loss the concentration of flavor that you get from dry aging wonít happen.
So why not save yourself some money, and age your own beef? Take that vacuum packed primal cut (from which market cuts are taken) from the butcher and put it in the refrigerator for 2 weeks and youíll have a really tender piece of meat, right? No. Aging needs to be done and precise temperatures under controlled circumstances. The average family refrigerator just doesnít have what it takes to properly age beef. It is very easy to get a good colony of bacteria going in that meat during the couple of weeks it takes to age a piece of beef.
Worse still is this recipe for a trip to the hospital thatís been floating around the Internet. Take you prime or choice steaks, unwrap them, rinse with cold water, wrap in a clean kitchen towel and place on the coldest shelf of your refrigerator. Every day for 2 weeks take the steaks out and change the towel. At this point you are promised a fantastic steak, provided you live though the digestive process after eating it.
The old method of aging meat in known as dry aging. Dry aging is done by hanging meat in a controlled, closely watched, refrigerated environment. The temperature needs to stay between 36 degrees F and freezing. Too warm and the meat will spoil, too cold and it will freeze, stopping the aging process. You also need a humidity of about 85% to reduce water loss and to control bacteria and you need a constant flow of air all around the meat, which means it need to be hanging in a ventilated space. The last and most important ingredient in this process is an experienced butcher to keep a close eye on the aging meat.
There are many reasons that butchers donít typically age meat these days. First of all the cost of aged beef can be very high. Because of the weight loss of aged beef, the price per pound can be pretty outrageous. If you add in the time, storage space, refrigeration, labor that price just keeps moving up. For aging to properly improve the quality of a cut of meat, it should contain substantial marbling. This means that there is fat evenly distributed throughout the meat. Only the highest grades have this kind of marbling and make aging worthwhile.
Because of the high price and the space necessary to age meat, dry aging has become very rare. Actually only a few of the finest restaurants buy aged beef. Many in fact, have taken to aging their own beef.
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