Dry-aging is a key factor in creating high flavor profiles in your beef. When you take a bite of a steak at a restaurant or one you have cooked at home, you want that flavor to come rushing to your taste buds. It’s important to understand the process of dry-aged meat to make educated decisions about where to purchase it and what to look out for.
How is it done?
Dry-aging is not typically done by the general industry. The beef is first processed, cooled, cut, placed in a cryovac bag, and shipped to the consumer or company where it will be sold. While this doesn’t necessarily result in any negative tastes, it does not work with the beef to maximize them, either.
Farmer Matt uses a specific process to ensure his beef cuts have an intense, rich flavor profile with his dry-aging process. He utilizes a custom butcher that he knows personally, who places the beef in a temperature-controlled environment for at least 14 days. During this time, the meat enzymes will begin to naturally break down the product and increase its tenderness. While this reduces overall moisture, you can be assured that juiciness and flavor are gained.
What’s the benefit?
When the meat is dry-aged, it’s losing a lot of moisture and water weight. The longer it is dry-aged, the more moisture that is lost, but the higher the flavor profile. Companies who mass-produce beef aren’t as concerned with flavor as they are with maximizing profit, therefore, dry-aging is typically not done. This results in higher moisture content, meaning you are partially paying for water weight.
Those who dry-age for longer may lose out on some profit, but the products you are getting have a higher quality to them, noticeable by the first bite. During the dry-aging process, the collagen fibers break down, leading to increased tenderness to those cuts of beef.
What contributes to the flavor?
During the dry-aging process, the butcher or farmer creates the ideal conditions for the meat to become more tender and tasty. The conditions must be carefully controlled, with enough humidity and cool air for the beef to break down in an ideal way for consumption. The butcher must maintain this environment for several weeks, where it will eventually end up on your plate.
You can get some dry-aged beef at grocery stores and at some steakhouses. Farmer Matt sells Angus beef that is completely controlled farm-to-table style. What does this mean? It means that he raises the cattle, controls their diet, and makes sure that no expense is spared for either the taste or quality of meat. While this may not always result in the biggest profit, it results in the best-tasting beef, making your dinners that much more enjoyable.