Dry Aging A Science and an Art
At Gary’s Quality Meats we have our own purpose built cool room where you can actually see the beef being aged through a glass wall. We use only the very best free range beef and age it for the optimal time in the optimal conditions.
Is dry aging a new technique?
No, dry aging is not a new technique, in fact until developments in chilling and vacuum packaging in the 1960’s dry aging was a common way to prepare meat for long term storage and transport. Traditionally, dry aging was carried out by hanging the entire carcase, quarter or cut in a cool room.
How is it done?
HOW LONG DO YOU AGE?
Our aging process is varied to our customer’s preference, however generally they are as followed:
- • 6-8 weeks
- • 3-4 months
- • 6 months+
The meat is carefully monitored as correct airflow, temperature and humanity are crucial to the meat’s success. The proteins that give the beef’s muscle its structure begin to break down, ensuring the meat tenderises. At the same time, the fats in the meat become aromatic, contributing sweetness to the flesh.
While the process sounds straightforward, like winemaking, science and alchemy come into play. Dry-aging techniques vary depending on the desired flavour, and moisture loss required for tenderising. Some dry-agers age their meat for a month, others for 80 days. The length of time increases not only tenderness, but flavour and each dry-ager determines the perfect length of time for each specific cut of meat.
When dry aging, primal cuts should be hung or placed on racks in a specially designed room away from other meats and fresh produce to prevent contamination. The cuts must be kept separated so that air can circulate freely around surfaces. Dry aged meat is typically stored at a controlled temperature of around -0.5 C to 3 C with a relative humidity level adjusted between 75% and 85%. The specific parameters chosen depend on the required duration of aging and the desired flavour outcome.
In this environment the meat will develop a characteristic ‘crust’ while also losing moisture. This results in yield loss of up to 8.5%. For this reason most people dry age meat on the bone to protect it as much as possible from shrinkage and deterioration. in preparation for service the crust needs to be trimmed to make sure the product you are serving is safe for customers. That’s why dry aged beef comes at a premium and is a science and an art.
To get dry aging right the key factors you need to consider are of aging, storage temperature, relative humidity and air flow. These are critical as they relate to development of flavour, shelf life, product shrinkage and potential loss due to microbial spoilage. For these reasons dry aging meat is considered a science, and an endeavour that should not be entered into lightly.
What happens to the meat?
The path to meat tenderness is very complex and many factors influencing the end result. During the aging of meat, proteins that give a muscle its structure and functionality break down to increase tenderness through a process known as proteolysis. As meat ages large proteins begin to break down into smaller fragments and as this process continues, the meat becomes more tender.
How does it affect the flavour?
Yes, the flavour of the meat becomes more concentrated, enhancing the flavour of the meat intensely. The flavour of Dry-aged beef depends on the length of time the meat has been aged. The longer the beef has been aged the more intense the flavour becomes, once pushed beyond 6 months the flavour of the meat takes on a rather blue cheese flavour, for those who have a taste bud for strong tasting foods. However dry aging can be completed within 5-6 weeks, which draws the moisture however does not bring on as strong a flavour, for those who enjoy a less intense meal.
Is beef the only meat you age?
No, we also age our Saltbush dorper Lamb at your request.
What cuts do you age?
Primarily we will age Rib eye, Sirloin, T-Bone, Eye fillet and Rump, these cuts offer the most tender and flavoursome meals. Also because of their excessive fat covering and the proximity to the bone, they are the only cuts we are able to age, otherwise the process will not protect the meat.
Can you age any beef?
No, only specific cattle are able to be dry aged. The beef is hand selected by Gary, who inspects its quality and whether it has the correct characteristics for aging. We primarily use Cape Grim beef for aging, which offers top quality marbled meat, furthermore Habbies Howe also is fantastic for aging meat specifically out tomahawk steaks.