how long do you age beef

For the enzymes to properly start breaking down the aged meat, the minimum dry-aging time is 14 days. However, it takes about 21 days for the meat to begin to develop the complex flavors you’re after. Most experts agree that the optimal timeframe is somewhere around 28-30 days of dry-aging.

The longer you leave your beef to age in the dry age refrigerator, the more intense the flavor will become. At 120 days onwards the meat will have lost at least 35% of its original weight and will taste truly unique which many describe to have a funky edge. Beef is rarely aged for this long and is only sold at a few high-end restaurants. This is because the risk of spoilage is higher, the time it has taken to age and of course its completely unique dry aged flavor.

If you appreciate the flavor associated with dry aged beef but don’t want the taste to be too overpowering we recommend dry aging your beef for a maximum of 45 days. At this point in the dry aging process the beef will have lost only a fraction more of its weight and has developed a much more sharp and pungent taste which is said to resemble notes of blue cheese.

If you are keen to take the intensity of flavors to the next level why not try 90 day aged steak. At this point bold blue cheese notes will be even stronger and a white crust will have developed around the meat to protect it. This outer crust will be removed before the meat is sold.

During the first 7 days in the meat aging fridge, the main structural protein of the beef will have started to break down. However, at this stage in the process it is only early days, this means the beef is still bright in color and would not be officially classified as ‘aged’ when sold. This is due to the fact that it will not have had enough time to begin developing the unique flavors and texture typical of dry aged beef.

The sweet spot of dry aged beef is generally considered to be at around 30 days. At this point in the dry aging process, the steak ager beef will have developed a more intense flavor and texture typical of a dry aged steak. Around 15% of the beefs weight will have been lost as the flavor concentrates even further leaving a more rich, umami taste which can only be achieved naturally through dry aging.

Recommendations for Aging Beef Reviewed September 2017

Harold B. Hedrick, William C. Stringer and Andrew Clarke Department of Food Science and Nutrition

The main reason for aging beef is to improve tenderness and flavor of the meat so that if properly cooked it will be more satisfying to the consumer. Proper aging of beef results in a combination of changes that many people appreciate.

Effect of aging on beef flavor and tenderness

Aging or “ripening” of beef is simply holding a carcass or wholesale cuts at refrigerated temperatures to allow “natural processes” to improve flavor and tenderness.

The muscle of beef, and of other meat animals, undergoes progressive changes after slaughter that affect tenderness of the cooked product. First, muscle goes into rigor, a shortening and stiffening process. Rigor generally lasts for a few hours up to one or two days. During this period, the meat will be least tender if cooked. After the rigor process, muscle undergoes changes that result in a gradual improvement in tenderness.

While muscle is undergoing changes associated with tenderness, chemical breakdown of certain muscle and fat constituents occurs, resulting in a more intense flavor and aroma. In general, these changes in flavor and aroma are desirable to most consumers. However, undesirable flavors and aromas can develop during aging due mainly to the effects of microbial growth, rancidity of the fat and adsorption of off-odors if present in the chill room.

Temperature, relative humidity, air movement and general sanitation of the aging room are essential considerations in successfully aging beef. Temperature of the aging room should be maintained at approximately 34 to 36 degrees Fahrenheit, relative humidity at 85 to 90 percent and an air flow of 15 to 20 linear feet per minute at the surface of the product.

The aging room should be clean and free of all off-odors at all times. Floors and walls of the aging room should be thoroughly washed with an alkaline cleaning solution and an approved sanitizer applied weekly or more often if needed. Sawdust should not be used on the floors because it contributes to air contamination.

Cured and smoked meat, poultry, vegetables, fruits or shipping cartons should not be stored in the aging room because of the off-odor produced by such items, which will be adsorbed by the meat. Except during cleaning, walls, floors, and ceiling of the aging room should be kept as dry as possible.

Carcasses and wholesale cuts should be properly spaced on trolleys or hooks to allow complete circulation of air around the product.

For the enzymes to properly start breaking down the aged meat, the minimum dry-aging time is 14 days. However, it takes about 21 days for the meat to begin to develop the complex flavors you’re after. Most experts agree that the optimal timeframe is somewhere around 28-30 days of dry-aging.

FAQ

How long can you safely age beef?

We recommend letting the cut rest for at least 28 days or up to 75 days. This is because the longer the beef ages, the more complex and intense flavours it develops, therefore the tastier it gets. At 28-35 days subtle mushroom and umami flavors develop, from 45-75 days bold blue cheese notes will develop.

How do they age beef without it spoiling?

Using a dry-aging chamber, butchers and steakhouses can keep the beef free of harmful bacteria with cold, dry air circulation. Hanging the beef within the chamber, the entire surface of the meat is exposed to dry air that forms a protective crust. The lack of moisture makes it difficult for the beef to spoil.

What is the optimum time to age beef?

The sweet spot of dry aged beef is generally considered to be at around 30 days. At this point in the dry aging process, the steak ager beef will have developed a more intense flavor and texture typical of a dry aged steak.

How do you dry age beef at home?

All you need to dry-age at home is your refrigerator, a wire rack, and a sheet pan. Refrigerators have an air circulation system to ensure freshness. By aging meat on an elevated wire rack, uncovered and near your refrigerator’s fan, air will circulate all around the meat, keeping it dry and cool.

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