Would it surprise you to know that up to 99% of beef that is readied for retail sale is wet aged? Wet ageing is a process where the beef cuts are vacuum sealed, usually at time of slaughter and processing, refrigerated and left to age for 7 to 10 days before being available for sale. This is the most cost-effective method for meat processors as the ageing is usually all done whilst the meat is in transit to its final retail destination. There is no need for storing and the conditions that the beef require in order to age are considerably fewer than those required for dry ageing. These are all huge bonuses for the processor but result in a piece of beef that is not as well aged and lacking that delicious burst of flavour as it that comes with dry agng.
On the other hand, dry aging is a traditional method of aging and results in a far superior product with optimum tenderness and flavour concentration. The dry aged process involves the meat being hung in a controlled environment for 21 to 28 days. Three main factors are taken into account when beef is dry aged – temperature, humidity and air velocity. All these conditions must be closely observed and aligned in order to achieve a premium dry aged product with many purveyors of this food/art form being dedicated to providing their consumer base with the best on offer.
Why Dry Aged Meat Is Better
“In terms of a flavour profile within the meat, there is no comparison between a steak that has been wet aged and one that has been dry aged”. Dry aged steak has a flavour spike due to the slow evaporation of the water within the meat as it hangs in this carefully controlled environment. The meat is allowed time to tenderize through the natural occuring enzymes and intensify in flavour thanks to the evaporating water.
One look into Master Butchers Whitsunday retail shop in Cannonvale ~ is all that you need to understand how far they are prepared to go to ensure only the best product will do. The Himalayan Salt drying room is a testament to the aging process. Encased behind a floor to ceiling glass wall, primal cuts of aging beef merrily-go-round on a custom built rotary metal chain rack before your eyes. looking all dark, glorious and crusty, a good sign of a well aged cut.
Himalayan pink salt is hand harvested from the foothills of the Himalayan mountains from ancient sea beds believed to go back to the Jurassic period. This salt contains the highest concentrations of minerals and has medicinal as well as culinary uses. MBWs pink room is used to help keep the air in the drying room pure and to enhance the flavour and preservation qualities of the dry aged meat as it hangs. Due to the air flow within the room, the only down fall of having such a unique feature is that it naturally deteriorates and needs to be replaced every 18 months.
MBWs butchers cut the beef to order, removing it from the drying room when needed and trimming and slicing as required. As this aging process involves more time, space and has a higher wastage than that of wet aged it can also incur a higher cost. But once you’ve experienced the difference, the flavour and quality of the beef will speak for itself.
On Monday Don, from MBW gave us three pieces of T-Bone steak, when I brought them home and told the other half that they had been hanging for 8 weeks, you should of seen her face. I asked my other half to prepare her famous broccoli salad with garlic potatoes to the side, my job was the cooking of these three little beauties. I salted them, please all you budding chefs, do not put cracked pepper on any meat that you intend to grill, as you will burn the pepper, and it leaves a rancid taste on the steak, I prepared the BBQ, (as well as a couple of Corona’s) to a very hot temperature, seared the steaks on the BBQ, for 3.5 minutes, turned them over and cooked for the same on the other side. You should of smelt the steaks as they were cooking, and when I turned them over a beautiful caramelisation that was happening.
I took them off the BBQ and let them rest for 3 minutes. JTR was the one that I was concerned abou,t he has all his meat coated in garlic, as he doesn’t like the beef taste, this night he was going to have it without, I wanted my other half and JTR to taste the meat.
My other half tasted the steak, and she thought she was in heaven, in her words a “taste explosion in her mouth” normally she would only be able to eat a half a steak, so I could have the other half, but not tonight, I had to starve. JTR, now that is another story, he is hooked, he wants dry aged beef every night.
You need to try MBWs dry aged beef and see for yourselves, do not take my word for it. Don, you have my family hooked as from now.