Dry aging is a very popular endeavor right now. If you aren't familiar with exactly what dry aging is, it's very simple. “Dry aging is a process whereby beef is stored – without protective packaging – at refrigeration temperatures for one to five weeks to allow the natural enzymatic and biochemical processes that result in improved tenderness and the development of unique flavor.” – Beef Issues Quarterly.
The process of dry aging can be highly beneficial to any food service operation, but it requires the right equipment and knowledge to do it right. Here are the basics of dry aging and some tips and facts to help you create a great dry aging operation.
Start your Dry Aging Process Right with these Facts and Tips
A Few Facts To Consider About Dry Aging
Dry Aging Meat Fact #1: Steak Loses 10 Perfect Of Its Weight In Just 21 Days
Can you believe that through the process of evaporation, your dry aged beef is going to lose up to 10 percent of the total weight in just 3 weeks? That's one of the reasons that dry aged beef is more expensive. The time and aging process naturally leaves you with less meat in general, but the taste and flavor profile definitely make up for the loss in mass.
Meat that is dry aged has an excellent flavor when dry aged for longer periods of time. High-end steak houses all over the world sometimes like to put their dry aging rooms right in front of the house so that their clientele can see the beautiful rippling slabs of beef dry aging in all its glory.
Dry Aging Meat Fact #2: An Exterior Crust Develops At 90 Days
This outer crust holds in a ton of the flavor and protects the meat, but is cut off before sold and cooked. After the coating has developed as a dry and hard protective mechanism over the softer, fleshy meat that tender inside protein is going to taste fantastic and developed. Sometimes the crust turns dark black with a layer of fuzzy white mold over it. Sounds a little bit gross, but once it's cut off, it's not going to affect the taste or quality of the beef. It does, however, show that the dry aging process is going as sit should. If you begin to see molds of different colors or if a crust develops improperly it could be an indication to check cooler levels.
Some Tips To help you get started:
1. Know the time requirements
Many restaurants choose to dry age their beef over a month's time, this is long enough to achieve a high degree of quality during the dry aging process. However, it can be beneficial to keep the meat in the dry aging room longer to achieve a more unique nutty flavor, in general, 120 days is the highest day count you will see.
2. Create the perfect environment
The general level of humidity that is suggested for the dry aging process is 80 – 85%. Anything under or over that percentage may ruin your product. Lower humidity causes excessive weight and trim loss, humidity that is higher than 85% causes excessive microbial growth resulting in product spoilage. So, be sure that your humidity is well regulated.
Also, watch the temperature. dry aging requires temperatures in the 34°F range. Going over 39° F will result in the growth of microbes and the loss of your product. Going under 32°F will freeze the meat and stop the aging process entirely.
3. Choose your cuts
You can dry age many different cuts of beef from filet to rib-eye and everything in between. The options are endless with wagu, kobe, t-bone, and porterhouse just to name a few cuts that will get your mouth watering for a nice steak dinner. It is important to choose which cuts you want to include in your menu. In general, the cuts that dry age the best tend to be the ones with the highest fat content. So, focusing on steaks like the filet mignon and New York strip are great matches for dry aging because dry aging makes them more tender and flavorful than it would leaner cuts of beef.
Pick your shelves carefully
The quality of the shelves you choose can have a big effect on your operation. The shelves that you choose need to be able to take a beating from humidity, cold temperatures, and regulated airflow. So, make sure that you do your research before picking the shelving that will be used in your dry aging room. It can also be beneficial to choose shelving with an anti-bacterial additive. This will keep your shelves cleaner longer, and make sure that no microbial organisms start growing on your shelf further protecting the integrity of the beef as it ages. This is one of the most important investments you can make in a high-quality dry aging room. So, make sure you take time when picking your options and do it right!
Watch the video below to see how Metro products help with the Dry Aging process at Prime + Proper Detroit, MI