Due to popular demand, I thought I would write a little ‘how to’ piece on dry aging at home. For this piece, I have decided to use a pasture-fed bone in rib eye. The aim of dry aging is not only to affect the flavour of the beef, but if done correctly, increase the tenderness of your cut. I am only going to dry age for a seven-day period, however if desired you can dry age for a much longer period.
What you will need:
• a loin cut – rib eye or porterhouse usually work best
• a large plate
• a resting tray
• salt and pepper
Take your beef out of the vacuum seal and pat down with paper towel to remove any excess blood and moisture. Rub with salt and pepper and place on resting tray. The salt not only helps to bring out the moisture of the cut but will also ‘melt’ onto the surface, developing a nice crust, which will still be present when you are ready to eat your beef. Place resting tray on top of a large plate that will act as a drip tray, ensure that there is room for air to circulate around the whole piece. Place in fridge – your fridge needs to be running at 1–3 degrees. Let the games begin!
Okay, so if you have managed to make it to days two and three without cutting yourself off a steak, you are both doing very well and starting to notice a slight reddish crust developing on the outer edges of your cut. By this stage the salt has ‘melted’ and if desired, you can apply more. The slight crust appearing is the beginning of the decomposition process and exactly what you should be seeing. If there are still some areas that are obviously moving slower than others, you need to ensure there is enough air circulating around the cut. Most importantly, continue to hold off, as it will be worth the wait.
Your cut will now have developed a ‘leathery’ feeling to it. As you can see by the picture, the crust is significantly drier than on day one and therefore starting to break down a small amount. Similar to days two and three, if there are areas that are different in texture turn the piece over. There is no need to re-salt your cut. Your cut is only a couple of days from being ready.
By day seven you will notice your beef is a much darker red. This is due to the lack of moisture on the surface of your cut. Your piece of beef is now ready to be cut and eaten! You will notice once you have cut your first steak the difference in colour between the centre and the outer edges of your steak. Seven days is by far not the end point for dry aging. By continuing the processes outlined above, you can go up to eight weeks – the muscle fibres will continue to break down and your cut will only continue to increase in tenderness and flavour.