Dry-Aged Beef Questions
  Re: (...)
Hey All,

I've been disappointed with the filets I've been buying at Acme lately so I was inquiring around my food buddies and they recommended a Whole Foods that's near my work place, but a trip from home.

So Friday a week ago I went to WF after work and picked up two 7 oz filets. Their prices aren't for the weak-hearted, but if it's good beef, I don't mind paying the price. At the meat department I notice they dry-age some cuts of beef, most notably, porterhouse cuts, sirloins, and prime rib roasts. I inquired about purchasing a rib roast and was told I had to order in advance, so I did last Tuesday - a one ribber 'cause it's just the two of us.

So I'm picking up the rib roast yesterday when I notice that there's no bone for the roast. The guys behind the counter told me that they cut that off as the meat dry ages. Also, it was all nice and red and fresh looking while the ones in the dry-age fridge they have looked entirely different. So what's the beef here? What I've got for tonight looks like a huge ribeye steak. I like to roast the rib roast rib bones side down and now I can't do that.

Can you experts out there explain this process to me in more detail? Can I do this on my own at home?

BTW, the filets were awesome and the first time in months I actually finished the whole thing!

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Then find someone whose life has given them vodka.
  Re: Dry-Aged Beef Questions by BarbaraS (Hey All,[br][br]I've...)
Here is information from the University of Minnesota Cooperative Extension...

Aging Beef
Richard J. Epley

The aging of beef is normally thought of as the time, in days, from slaughter until the carcass is broken down into retail cuts. The average industry time for aging beef before cutting the carcass into retail cuts is about seven days. Consumers can use the following guidelines in determining the length of time their beef should be aged.

What Aging Does

Cooked, unaged beef has been described as "metallic" and lacking in typical beef flavor. Aging gives beef a flavor that has been described as "gamy." True beef flavor is fully developed after about 11 days of aging. The aged beef flavor increases with increasing aging time.

Aging also increases tenderness. It has been shown that during the aging process certain changes take place in portions of the structure of collagen and muscle fibers. Currently, it is thought that enzymatic-caused changes in the structure of muscle fibers are largely responsible for the increase in tenderness. It is known that tenderness decreases immediately after slaughter while rigor mortis takes place (taking 6 to 12 hours to complete); then tenderness increases gradually. Tenderness continues to increase up to 11 days, after which there is no increase in tenderness.

One study showed that maximum tenderness and progress of tenderization during aging varies among muscles and is associated with the color of the carcass lean. (See Animal Science folder F0-0688 for a discussion of "Dark-Cutting Beef.") In general, aging dark-cutting beef beyond seven days did little to increase tenderness. However, in carcasses where lean was lighter in color, tenderness continued to improve during up to 16 days of aging.

The tenderness effects of aging are more evident in carcasses from older animals than in the usually more tender lean from younger animals' carcasses.

Aging also decreases the shelf life of fresh meat products. Ground beef made from trimmings from aged beef carcasses usually has a shorter shelf life in the retail case and in your refrigerator, primarily because of increased microbial growth that occurs on certain parts of the carcass during the aging process.

Some research has demonstrated that as fresh meat ages, the activity of the various enzymes decreases and protective action against oxidation declines, thus increasing susceptibility to oxidation. This suggests that oxidation of fresh raw meat becomes increasingly important the more meat is aged.

During the aging process, one can also expect a loss of weight of the product. Because the lean (exclusive of trimmable fat and bone) is approximately 70 percent water, it's easy to see why there is a weight loss. The weight loss is caused by dehydration of the lean and fat. The weight loss occasionally occurs at tremendous proportions depending on relative humidity, amount of air flow and temperature of the aging cooler. During chilling of the hot carcass immediately after slaughter, the carcass will lose 2 to 3 percent of its weight because of moisture loss. Aging the carcass beyond this time will result in additional tissue shrinkage of 1 to 1.5 percent for each seven days. Carcasses with a thin external fat cover will lose more moisture than carcasses with a heavy fat cover. One study observed an 18 percent trim and shrink loss from loins aged 14 days in a 36 degrees F cooler.

Consumer Preference

Most of the beef offered for sale as retail cuts at supermarkets is aged from 5 to 7 days, which would be called moderately aged beef. Beef for certain restaurants is aged from 14 to 21 days, primarily to obtain the strong aged beef flavor.

The consumer preference for aged beef varies, as indicated in the following example. Two families went together and each purchased a side of beef from the same beef carcass. The carcass had been aged for 14 days. One family thought their beef had a wonderful flavor. The other family found the flavor of this aged beef to be objectionable.

The length of time to age beef is strictly a personal preference. Some people prefer aged beef, while other people find the aged beef flavor objectionable.

How to Age Beef

If you are personally aging a beef carcass, remember some important considerations about aging. The beef carcass or side should be aged in sanitary surroundings. Also, the aging area should be free of products such as kerosene, gasoline, paint, onions, and fish, since the carcass will absorb these undesirable odors. Because meat is a perishable product, it can spoil at temperatures of 40 to 60 degrees F. Therefore, maintain the temperature at 30 to 35 degrees F while the beef carcass is being aged. Sawdust should not be used on floors because it will contribute to air contamination. Carcasses and wholesale cuts should be properly spaced to allow complete circulation of air around the product. Freezing the carcass temporarily stops the aging process and should be avoided.

Recently interest has increased in short-time (12 hours) aging at 60 to 66 degrees F to speed up the aging process. The carcass is then placed in a 32 to 34 degrees F cooler to chill and complete the aging process. This procedure benefits cow beef more than steer or heifer beef, because cow beef is usually less tender. Apparently, carcasses with a thin fat covering would benefit more than fatter carcasses. However, the effect of this short-time, high-temperature aging on bacterial growth on and in the carcass is not understood fully.

Also remember that fat protects the meat from dehydration. Therefore, if you are aging a beef carcass with very little fat, you can expect a higher weight loss during the aging process than would occur normally with a fatter carcass. Maintaining the aging cooler at 85 percent relative humidity will keep weight losses down during prolonged aging. Carcasses with little external fat are more likely to pickup undesirable cooler odors and should thus be aged no more than five days.

Because of the drying process that takes place during aging, molds often grow on the carcass. If this occurs, merely trim off the mold (and accompanying fat or lean) at the time of processing and discard it. Do not use this trimmed-off portion in ground beef.

Some believe that it is possible to age beef in the refrigerator in the unfrozen, retail cut form. Research concerning the effectiveness of this practice is lacking. However, if you try aging beef in the refrigerator, eat it before an off-odor or off-color develops.

Dry vs. 'In The Bag'

The previous discussion has centered on aging carcasses and wholesale cuts (e.g., ribs and loins) in a cooler of some type. This process is referred to as "dry" aging. If you have an animal slaughtered at a plant or buy a side of beef, aging would likely take place in this manner.

Currently, about 90 percent of the beef shipped from the point of slaughter is shipped as boxed beef. Boxed beef is wholesale cuts packaged into vacuum packages (bags) and placed into a box for shipping. The retailer stores boxed beef under refrigeration until meat is needed for display and sale. The bag is opened and the meat cut into retail cuts. During the period meat is in the bag, it does actually age and is referred to as "aging in the bag."

There is considerable debate in the industry as to which process results in the most desirable flavor. Most people agree that dry aging results in a unique flavor. However, persons not familiar with dry aged beef often describe it as slightly "musty" in flavor when eaten for the first time. One study (J. Food Sci., 50:1544) observed that dry aging resulted in a more intense beef flavor compared with aging "in the bag." However, overall eating satisfaction was higher in cooked steaks aged "in the bag" because of fewer off-odors and off-flavors. It is known that the predominant microorganisms present after dry aging are the pseudomonads whereas the lactobacilli are the most prevalent in beef aged in the bag. It is also well-known that less shrinkage occurs with beef aged in the bag as compared with dry aging.


Aging of beef is practiced to varying degrees in the meat industry. Your personal preference for the aged beef flavor strongly dictates how long you would age beef or how long you would recommend a processor to age a side of beef that you are purchasing. Keep in mind that as the length of aging time increases, so does the aged beef flavor, the tenderness, and the weight loss. The processor must use valuable cooler space to age your beef, so you must expect to pay a higher price per pound because of the additional expense involved.

For most consumers, aging beef 7 to 10 days will result in acceptable tenderness, desirable flavor and modest weight loss of the carcass. Carcasses with little or no fat cover should not be aged beyond 3 to 5 days.

Richard J. Epley
Animal Science

Hope this answers some questions? More than likely it will lead to more.
"Ponder well on this point: the pleasant hours of our life are all connected, by a more or less tangible link, with some memory of the table."-Charles Pierre Monselet, French author(1825-1888)
  Re: Re: Dry-Aged Beef Questions by firechef (Here is information ...)
This seems to explain it in more "normal" terms...it is from the Arizona BBQ Association!

Dry Aging Beef

from the Arizona Barbecue Association (ABA)

Dry aging occurs while the beef is hanging in a refrigerated cooler, at a specific temperature and humidity, for 10 to 28 days after harvest and prior to cutting. When beef is dry aged two things happen. First, moisture evaporates from the muscle creating a greater concentration of beefy flavor and taste. Secondly, the beef’s natural enzymes break down the fibrous, connective tissue in the muscle, tenderizing it. Most of the tenderizing activity occurs in the the first 10 to 14 days. Some high quality restaurants age their meat for 28 days or more. Increased aging adds to the shrinkage and trim loss due to the drying and surface mold. Up until 20 years ago, dry aged beef was the norm, then with the advent of vacuum packaging along with increased efficiencies in beef processing and transportation, we lost the dry aging process. In today’s modern processing plants, the carcass is broken down and vacuum-sealed in plastic bags within 24 hours. Much of this beef will show up in a grocery store meat case within 2 to 4 days after harvest. Beef can be "wet aged" in a vacuum-sealed plastic bag for improved tenderness but it will not have the characteristic dry aged flavor. Because refrigerated storage is expensive, only the high priced loin and rib cuts are aged (wet or dry). It's been decades since butchers first discovered that beef carcasses, left hanging for several days, ended up more tender and palatable as natural enzymes in the meat broke down proteins and connective tissue. Today the "wet" process is primarily used for aging steaks. Wet aging is done by allowing the beef to age in a vacuum packed bag. Dry aging was big in the 50's and 60's, then the market moved to the less-costly boxed beef and vacuum packaging. 99% of Supermarkets today sell boxed beef. In the 100's, dry aging enjoyed a resurgence. Dry-aged steak is aged in the open air at controlled temperature between 34 F and 38 F with an ambient humidity level adjusted between 50% and 75%. Wet-aged meat is placed in a vacuum-sealed bag. Dry-aged beef requires 7 to 14 days or longer to age properly. Wet-aged beef can mature in as few as 7 days. Meat is muscle, and muscle is composed of protein structures that break down with the aging process. This results in more tender cuts of meat and more flavor. It's the benign bacteria within the meat itself that causes the degradation. Air circulation is essential in managing dry aging and is perhaps the biggest reason why dry-aged beef costs substantially more, since the resultant evaporation causes significant shrinkage. Typical shrinkage is 10 to 15%. And dry-aged beef usually cost about 25% more than wet aged beef.

Chef Vyhnanek's Aged BeefGood Cooking's note from Chef Vyhnanek: This is what aged beef looks like: beware that there is much waste as the dried and sometimes moldy meat needs to be trimmed away before cooking and eating it. I aged this meat for 18 days in my home refrigerator before trimming it and preparing it for roast beef (known as a Prime Rib of Beef). See the lower right area where trimmed waste pieces of meat lie. Also notice the richer red/purple color of the aged meat, compared to the very red look you will see at a supermarket, and its firm and glossy appearance. This meat is a Prime grade rib roast which also could be cut into rib steaks or boneless rib-eye steaks known as Delmonico Steaks.

Aging Beef at Home!

1. Only the top grades of beef can be dry aged successfully. Use USDA Prime or USDA Choice - Yield Grade 1 or 2 (the highest quality of Choice) only. These have a thick layer of fat on the outside to protect the meat from spoiling during the aging process.

2. Buy a whole rib-eye or loin strip. [You cannot age individual steaks.] Unwrap it, rinse it well with cold water, and allow it to drain; then pat it very dry with paper towels.

3. Wrap the meat in immaculately clean, large, plain white cotton dish towels and place it on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator - which is the coldest spot.

4. Change the towels each day, replacing the moisture-soiled towels with fresh. Continue to change towels as needed for 10 days, to 2 weeks. (See Step #7 for cleaning towels.)

5. After the desired aging time, you're ready to cut off steaks from each end, trim as desired, and allow the rest to continue to age in the refrigerator.

6. If, after 21 days, you have not eaten all the meat, cut the remaining piece into steaks, wrap each steak in freezer-proof, heavy-duty plastic wrap, and freeze. The steaks will keep for several months in the freezer.

7. To clean the towels for re-use, soak the soiled towels, immediately upon removing them from the meat, in cold water overnight. Next, soak them in cold, salted water for 2-3 hours to remove any blood stains. Then launder as usual. In olden days, butchers used to cover sides of beef with cotton "shrouds" during the aging process - this is essentially the same thing.
"Ponder well on this point: the pleasant hours of our life are all connected, by a more or less tangible link, with some memory of the table."-Charles Pierre Monselet, French author(1825-1888)
  Re: Re: Dry-Aged Beef Questions by firechef (Here is information ...)
Wow!! Thank you firechef!!

So I take it the bone of the roast would've been real ucky after the dry-age process and that's why they cut it off?

BTW, glad you had a great night out with the family. I read that thread and your restaurant sounds yummy!

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Then find someone whose life has given them vodka.
  Re: Re: Dry-Aged Beef Questions by BarbaraS (Wow!! Thank you fir...)
Yeah, the bone would be icky at the least in a "large" cut. Delmonico's Steakhouse in New York City is famous for its dry aged steaks. Check out their website www.delmonicosny.com it is considered one of the best steak houses in the world and has been around for over a century.
"Ponder well on this point: the pleasant hours of our life are all connected, by a more or less tangible link, with some memory of the table."-Charles Pierre Monselet, French author(1825-1888)
  Re: Re: Dry-Aged Beef Questions by firechef (Yeah, the bone would...)
I have dry aged a rib roast or two at home. I'm uncomfortable going more than 7 days.
I found a meat market about 25 miles from home--I get them to dry age a whole ribeye or strip in their cooler for 21-28 days--they watch it and make the call when to stop. They trim the funk and slice into steaks for me --you pay for the amount of meat you start with and it loses 15+% of its weight in the process, but boy is it good!!
"He who sups with the devil should have a. long spoon".
  Re: Dry-Aged Beef Questions by BarbaraS (Hey All,[br][br]I've...)
Dry aging is a 2-3 week process in which humidity, temperature, and air circulation are carefully controlled to produce extremely flavorful and tender cuts of beef. The process actually reduces the moisture content as it intensifies the flavor. Unfortunately it is an expensive proposition as it shrinks the original weight of the meat and requires the butcher to hold the meat for weeks rather than selling it right away. And yes, the meat will turn much darker but when grilled will be a deep rich red inside. It's absolutely fabulous. I've compared Wagyu to dry-aged prime and the dry-aged delivers a decidely better beef flavor. As for the bones, it is not necessary to cut them off during aging...that might just be WF's policy. Hope this helps.
John Meyer
  Re: Re: Dry-Aged Beef Questions by jdone50 (Dry aging is a 2-3 w...)
So my question is (sorry for being such a n00b), can I still roast this meat? I like Shirley Corihor's method - sear it on all sides first, then low and slow @200 degrees until it's 15 degrees below what you want for it's final internal temp, and roast @500 degrees for 15 minutes. Then let it rest for 15 minutes.

Gee, how and I going to get it to "stand up" in the roasting pan, I wonder...

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Then find someone whose life has given them vodka.
  Re: Re: Dry-Aged Beef Questions by BarbaraS (So my question is (s...)
It sounds like you have ended up with a big thick steak, what about 3–31/2 inches? If that's the case, there are several ways to do it. Sear it on both sides using a saute pan, then put it (steak and pan) into a 400° degree oven for about 10 minutes. For medium rare, I'd cook it to about 120° internal temperature. Turn it over half way through roasting. And absolutely let it rest at least 15 minutes. It should rise another 7° to 9°. If it's bigger than a thick steak, using Shirley Corriher's method is fine.
John Meyer
  Re: Re: Dry-Aged Beef Questions by jdone50 (Dry aging is a 2-3 w...)
Thanks, John for the info. I have to ask. Are you THE John Meyer formerly from C@H?

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