Where Did Dry Aging Beef Originate?
Dry-aged beef has become increasingly popular over the last few decades. Most steakhouses offer various dry-aged steaks for customers to choose from, aged anywhere from 30 days to 240 days or even longer. Steak connoisseurs reach for dry-aged steak more often, leading to supermarkets and butchers to offer dry-aged meat as an option to purchase and grill at home.
Dry-aging beef can be dated back hundreds of years, even in the Renaissance period. Back then, it was simply called the “hanging” of meat because the meat was hung on a hook. The problem was the beef would become too contaminated with dangerous bacteria due to unstable temperatures. With the invention of refrigeration and butcher lockers, dry-aging began to make a comeback.
The History of Dry-Aging Beef
Up until the 1960s, dry-aged beef was more common. Carcasses would hang in a locker for a few weeks to become more tender and flavorful. With the advances in plastics and vacuum packaging in modern processing plants, wet-aging replaced dry-aging. Meatpackers embraced this method because meat aged faster and retained more water weight, making it more profitable. While the beef “wet aged” in its own juices, it improved tenderness but was missing the characteristic dry-aged depth of flavor and rich texture.
In the last few decades, advancements have been made in refrigeration technology to help make the rigorous aging process safe and stable enough to create adequate maturing climates. Temperature, humidity, and airflow all need to be monitored and controlled at specific temperatures in order for the beef to process. With dry-aging chambers, restaurants, stores, and butchers can age beef safely and naturally.
How a Dry-Aging Chamber Works
With a dry-aging chamber, you can age steak properly to accomplish the rich, nutty taste and tender beef that is characteristic to mature meat. In order to age beef properly, there are important factors to consider when choosing the right equipment:
Maintain an 80% humidity level
Climate between 33.8 and 34.7 degrees Fahrenheit
An advanced ventilation system that circulates fresh air
Antibacterial environment to help enhance flavor profile
Technology to assist in the healthy aging environment