Aging at home
Feb. 16, 2018
by Jeff Savell and Kerri Gehring
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Dry-aged beef is becoming the craft beer of carnivores.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Over the past two decades, there has been an increased interest in the dry- aging process driven primarily from restaurateurs and retailers seeking unique ways to market their product. While there have been several scientific and review articles about dry aging during this time period, dry aging is still considered more of an art form where parameters have been developed mostly through trial and error rather than scientific or technical methods.
Because of the great interest in dry aging, there are numerous websites that give tips and recommend equipment for people to use to dry age beef at home. Small refrigerators are being marketed that allow consumers to dry age their own products with controls for temperature, relative humidity, and ultra-violet light as a bacterial control. Home-based dry aging is the ultimate food craft, comparable to the popularity in home brewing or wine making.
There are bags that have been developed for dry aging (www.drybagsteak.com) that provide some protection during storage, but still allow moisture and oxygen exchange to achieve the desired effect. Beef products are placed in these bags followed by vacuum packaging to draw the package down around the meat. There may be some commercial use for these bags, but the primary target audience appears to be the home consumer.
Interest in long-aged, dry-aged beef continues to increase. Restaurants that advertise 100- to 200-day-old, dry-aged product have become the latest fad in the move to have unique dining experiences for customers. Some restaurants have advertised some special-event dining around products that have been dry-aged for over one year, much like having an event based around opening a special vintage bottle of wine.
Regardless of the questions surrounding the best parameters involved in producing dry-aged beef, there will continue to be a small, but loyal following for this extraordinary beef destined for the most discriminating palates.
Jeff Savell is University Distinguished Professor, Regents Professor, and E.M. “Manny” Rosenthal Chairholder in the Dept. of Animal Science at Texas A&M Univ. Kerri Gehring is the president/CEO of the International HACCP Alliance and is a professor in the Dept. of Animal Science at Texas A&M Univ. Read their quarterly “Meat Perspectives” column focusing on the science of aged beef in the March issue of MEAT+POULTRY.