Food - Drink
What Makes Dry-Aged Beef Unique?
If you ever look at a menu at a fancy steakhouse, you will probably see the words "dry-aged" and wonder how meat could be aged and still be edible. Aging beef is a slow and careful process that must be done in a safe way, where a large piece of beef may be left for weeks, or even months, before being set up for cooking.
As the meat is dry-aged, it loses moisture, and the flavor of the beef is intensified; this combination of time invested and intensified flavor leads to the higher price tag we have come to expect with dry-aged beef. Another attribute of this variety of beef is its tenderness, which occurs when enzymes break down the connective tissue as the meat ages.
To dry-age beef, it is hung in a place with a maintained temperature of around 32 or 36 degrees Fahrenheit so it doesn’t spoil, but doesn’t freeze either, and at a relative humidity of 85% to prevent drying. As the beef ages, a white mold grows on the exterior of the meat, which is cut off after the process is completed.
The drying process can last from two weeks to 120 days, where after two weeks, the steak starts getting tender and after three weeks, its flavor begins to alter. At the 30-day mark, a more beefy taste develops, and another two weeks after, it gets a funky, blue-cheese-like taste — the longer the beef is aged, the stronger-tasting and more tender it becomes.