How to Dry Age Beef

With the 4th of July holiday fast approaching, it’s the high season for steaks on the grill. Somehow, though, those steaks never quite taste the same as they do in that great steak house. One reason is the high heat cooking used in restaurants. The other reason, however, is often dry aged beef.

Dry aging in the commercial sense is where the beef is hung for several weeks at near freezing temperatures. This causes moisture to evaporate from the muscle tissue leaving a more concentrated beef flavor. Also, the natural enzymes in the meat break down connective tissue which makes for more tender meat.

Of course storing cuts of meat for several weeks (especially the more costly cuts that are better suited to dry aging because of an evenly distributed fat content) is very expensive. This is why dry aged beef is, for the most part, the realm of the steak house and specialty butcher shop.

Of course, you can buy dry aged beef (e.g. Whole Foods often carries it), but you will pay extra, for certain–as much as $3-4 per pound or more, in my experience. Who needs that?

Ah, but that flavor…some things are worth paying for.

Unless, of course, you can do them yourself. Here’s how to dry age your steaks and roasts:

  1. Place a rack inside of a glass or ceramic baking pan that is large enough to hold the meat. alternatively, you can get two plastic, rectangular container and perforate the bottom of one. Place the perforated one inside the other.
  2. Place your beef on the rack or inside the container line the beef with paper towels.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for 24-72 hours at 35-38 degrees. If you can control the humidity of your refrigerator, keep the humidity between 50-60%.
  4. Check the paper towels every 12 hours. If they are wet, replace them.

I recommend the plastic containers and the lid is air tight. The benefit is more to the odor of your refrigerator. Plastic will contain the odor better.

Yes, the dry aged beef will have an odor to it, but once you cook it, it sure will taste good!

If you are cooking steaks, refer to my previously posted entry on how to cook the perfect steak.