This is How You Can Dry-age Beef at Home and Make it Flavorful

How to dry-age beef at home
Don't we all love that delicious, juicy beef? Apart from cooking, processing the beef by dry-aging also impacts the flavor and texture of the beef. Although you can get dry-age beef from butcher shops, they are generally very expensive. To avoid burning a hole in your pocket, try dry-aging beef at home using these simple tips.
Dry-aging beef at home is not recommended by food safety experts as they believe there is a risk of food-borne illness.
Imagine a plate of delicious, tender juicy steak accompanied by a glass of robust red wine―sounds like pure bliss, doesn't it? Cooking and seasoning the beef can alter its taste significantly. However, there are other ways in which you ensure that the beef tastes the best. One such method of transforming the beef and adding flavors to it naturally is by dry-aging it. If you have ever savored a nice, dry-aged steak, you would know how flavorful and tender it is. So, what exactly is dry-aging, and how does it change the flavor and texture of the beef?
About Dry-aging Beef
Dry age beef
When we dry-age beef, we are essentially creating conditions that allow the beef to be broken down by the enzymes. The enzymes in the meat break down the muscle tissue, resulting in improved texture and flavor. To do this, portions of the meat are allowed to rest in carefully controlled temperature and humidity.
In butcher shops, the meat is hung in walk-in refrigerators or placed on a rack to dry for weeks. This is often done for several weeks or even months to allow the enzymes to break down the collagen which holds the muscle fibers together and makes the meat tough. Due to the dry-aging process and breakdown of collagen, you are left with tender protein that has wonderful concentrated flavors. On the outside, there is a tough shriveled "crust" with some amount of fungal growth that forms on the meat's surface. This is trimmed off when the meat is prepared for cooking.

While it may taste delicious, you do need to shell out quite a lot to have this tender aged beef. Check out the mind-boggling prices of dry-age beef in steakhouse menus. As a third or more of the weight is lost as moisture, dry-aged beef is not readily available in supermarkets. So, what do you do when you want to have succulent, tender dry-age beef? Well, you could simply try doing it at home.
Tips to Dry-age Beef at Home
Choose a Large Cut of Beef
Large cut of beef
Large cuts of meat like the rib steak and porterhouse are best for aging. Aging individual steaks is not a great idea as you will need to trim away a substantial portion of the exterior of the meat when it is dry-aged. Moreover, there is also shrinkage caused by moisture loss. Instead, buy a prime rib with the fat cap intact.
Wrap It in Cheesecloth
Beef in cheesecloth
Unwrap the meat, and rinse it well. Do not trim away the fat on the surface. Instead, wrap the piece of beef with two to three layers of cheesecloth. The cheesecloth allows the meat to breathe and lose its water during the aging process. Some people also suggest sprinkling some sea salt on the meat before wrapping it. You can change the cheesecloth or simply unwrap and then re-wrap the same cheesecloth to prevent the fibers of the cloth from sticking to the meat during the aging process.
Place It on a Rack
Beef in rack
The beef has to be placed on a rack. You can choose a wire or steel rack to elevate the meat. Do not keep it on a plate as the part of the meat that comes in contact with the plate does not age properly.
Keep It in the Fridge
Beef in fridge
Place the wire rack with the beef on it in the back of the fridge which is the coldest. You will need lots of space in the refrigerator to keep the huge chunk of beef. Moreover, the smell of the meat can be a little too much to bear and can even permeate other foods. To avoid this, you will need to clean the fridge and remove the foods for the time you are aging the beef. If possible, a mini fridge that is dedicated to aging beef works well to avoid the transfer of aromas.
Have Loads of Patience
Refrigerate the meat for 7 to 20 days. Some say that you can dry-age beef for nearly 40 to 50 days to get really intense flavors. The temperature should ideally be 35°F, and the humidity should be around 85. You can get a refrigerator thermometer to check the temperature of the fridge. Avoid opening and closing the fridge too many times to take a "peek" as there needs to be constant flow of air all around the meat, to avoid bacterial contamination. Some also suggest using a small fan inside the fridge to allow air to circulate around.
Trim the Outer Layer
Trimmed beef
Once the meat is ready, unwrap it. The dry meat is a dark in color, and the exterior is leathery and tough. Use a sharp knife to trim away the outer layer and mold. The inner layer is tender and maroon-colored. Slice the steaks based on the thickness you like.
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Well-aged steaks have a wonderful beefy and complex flavor. Another way of aging beef is the wet-aging method, which is more popular and commonly used. The beef is placed in a vacuum-sealed bag which helps to retain its moisture. The moisture is retained in the bag, and the meat ages in its own juices. Although this prevents moisture and weight loss of the beef, it does not provide the concentrated wonderful flavors of dry-aged beef.