What is dry aging? Is it okay to eat old meat? What is the difference in meat being aged between 45 days, 60 days, and 90 days? What are the cooking methods for dry aged meats? Well, you are about to find out!
Dry aging is when large pieces of meat are hung from anytime between a week and 4 months. The meat is left in just over freezing temperatures, which allows it to age, but not go bad. These temperatures are very controlled. During this time, the meat loses much of its initial water concentration and becomes much more tender. The flavor of the meat is also changed due to bacteria, enzyme breakdown, and oxidation.
Is it okay to eat meat aged this long?
The answer is yes! You may not realize it, but the meat you purchase from the grocery store is typically at least a week old. This gap in time since the meat had been cut is essential to making the meat more tender and for improving the taste.
Essentially, the longer you age the meat before it is packaged, the more tender it becomes. Once the meat has been dry aged, the outer surfaces are cut due to dryness and microorganisms on it. When the meat is cooked, any microorganisms that are still on the surface of the meat, are killed. This allows the meat to be 100% safe to eat.
What is the difference in taste and smell as the product ages?
As the meat ages, it becomes more tender and has a much stronger scent. If you age your meat for about 45 days, the ends of the meat will be very earthy tasting, versus the middle pieces that are much less tender and are more rare.
After 60 days of aging your meat, it will be charred around the edges after cooking. The charred edges are from the meat losing its water weight during the drying process, but still having the fat. The fat becomes more concentrated and burns more quickly. The meat will be somewhat gamey, and may have a slight scent to it, but nothing too potent.
Now, after 90 days of aging your meat, there will be a strong smell to it, similar to blue cheese. The meat will also be incredibly tender and the taste will be much more intense and concentrated. The 90 day aged meat will also be more expensive than the meat aged for 45 days or 60 days.
How does one prepare dry aged meats?
First off, prepare the meat by seasoning it about five minutes before your preferred amount of cooking. It is recommended to only use minimal spices, such as coarse salt or pepper, to season the meat.
Whether you are cooking a rib-eye, a well-done or medium rare steak, or simply beef for tacos, it is necessary to cook the meat on high temperatures. Once you are done cooking the meat on high heat, it is essential to have it sit for at least ten minutes before serving and cutting. This allows the meat to continue cooking for a little longer, and also allows it to become more flavorful.
Now you are a dry aging genius! How long do you like your meat aged?