Having already taken a closer look at some of the equipment and infrastructure required for a dry aging room, this post is a deeper dive into the logistics and best practices of setting up the room and keeping it organized.
Tips and Tricks to Better Organize and Manage Your Dry Aging Room
The first step will be to pin down the arrangement of the shelving in the room. While some are built with overhead track systems to convey and hang the beef, modular shelving is becoming increasingly common given the advantages in cost and maneuverability. The exact location of the shelving is typically governed by the dimensions of the room, but the most common arrangements are either along the perimeter walls and leaving space in the middle for inspection and trimming (though most butchery happens outside), or configuring parallel rows that connect at the wall, almost like the letter "M" might read on a pixilated digital display.
If you intend to add a salt wall (or dedicated shelving for salt bricks) their location isn't especially critical insofar as proximity to the beef, so it's likely best to place these in the least accessible areas rather than use up prime real estate. From there, the width of the rows between shelves is just a question of how dense a layout you need for the volume of beef, and ensuring adequate air circulation and exposure to UV lights for safety.
LabelingAfter forming a rind and losing more than 40% of their weight, these primal cuts will be unrecognizable and potentially indistinguishable no matter how good your memory is. After 30 days (or more!) you'll understand the value in taking the time to set up a proper labeling system that includes the arrival date, intended target aging date, the initial weight, cut, and grade. If you have multiple suppliers it may also be worth noting the slaughterhouse and picker, or even the breed of cow.
Most dry aging rooms put labels or tags with the above info directly on the beef, but an alternative would be to label the shelves. It's unlikely that your beef would move from shelf to shelf often outside of periodic cleaning, so any sort of food-safe signage hanging from the shelf or supports to indicate what's what will save you a headache later.
Selection and Inventory
It's likely you already have an inventory management system or process in place for the rest of the restaurant, and this would be the perfect place to layer in the beef-specific needs. If nothing else, a spreadsheet to cross-reference the information on the primal cuts labels will be a life-saver when it comes down to determining how long you've had a given product or would benefit from re-ordering. Some more elaborate systems even have their labels bar-coded to streamline higher volume restaurants.
The selection process is governed to an extent by the ordering habits of patrons, but most dry aging rooms operate on a "First In, First Out" (or FIFO) principle by which the oldest cut of beef meeting its aging requirements is selected for butchery into the subprimal cuts. This can help ensure a steady rotation with new beef always replenishing old, but in the event that you've overbought, a 30-day can always be re-categorized into a 60-day as long as it's relabeled and relocated accordingly.
To learn more, get in contact with the experts at Metro Today!
Watch the video below to see how Metro products help with the Dry Aging process at Prime + Proper Detroit, MI