Dry aged beef vs wet aged beef

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Dry aged beef vs wet aged beef

Postby Bob Henrick » Thu Dec 14, 2006 7:18 pm

When we buy beef at most retailers we are buying wet aged beef. this is beef that was cryo packed at the packing house and delivered through the delivery system to the retailer. Aging of the beef generally is counted as the amount of time the beef has spent from time of slaughter to the time it is cut into manageable pieces etc. In general that time is seven day at most packing houses. If the meat is maintained in the cryo pack at the retailers and not frozen it is further wet aged (AKA bag aged)

OTOH a dry aged piece of beef is generally limited to the loin (not the tenderloin) such as a ribeye or a standing rib roast. The beef is kept in a cooler with the temperature controlled to between 34 and 38 degrees F, and the humidity at or near 85%. This dry aging period is usually an additional 7 to 14 days more than the packer gave it a the slaughter house. A dry aged piece of beef will lose about 25% of it's weight as it is "dried" and in addition the collagen is broken down naturally which makes the meat very tender. Dry aged choice to prime beef is without doubt the most tender beef one can buy, and just as shriveled grapes concentrate the flavors in the grape, dry aging concentrates the flavor in the meat.

I have reserved a three rib dry aged standing rib roast for my Christmas dinner, and will report on it after consumption. Right now though I would like to get input from any of you who have eaten and or cooked dry aged beef. I am thinking that if the meat is more tender it might take less time to cook it. Of course I will cook it to a specific internal temperature, probably 135F for a medium rare. Thanks in advance for any advice.
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Re: Dry aged beef vs wet aged beef

Postby Robin Garr » Thu Dec 14, 2006 8:22 pm

Bob, I get dry-aged steaks on occasion - never a roast, though. For steaks, I'd say the result shows in flavor and tenderness, but I can't say the cooking time has been obviously different. Sounds like a great Christmas dinner, in any case!
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Re: Dry aged beef vs wet aged beef

Postby Bob Henrick » Fri Dec 15, 2006 7:39 pm

Thanks for your reply Robin. When I first posted on the subject of dry aged beef, I was certain that I would have gotten some interest. If I had originated a thread remarking on the flavor of grass fed beef from a ranch in the Rocky Mountains, I suspect it would have had a more interesting following. I guess I am surprised, or maybe the subject is of more interest to me because I grew up on a farm where my father did slaughter hogs, but not beef. I suspect that was because with the pork he could smoke the meat and preserve it, but Beef does not lend its self to that manner of preserving.
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Re: Dry aged beef vs wet aged beef

Postby Randy Buckner » Fri Dec 15, 2006 8:01 pm

We frequently cook dry-aged beef. I never pay any attention to cooking times except as a very rough guide -- I go by internal temperature.
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Re: Dry aged beef vs wet aged beef

Postby Bob Ross » Fri Dec 15, 2006 8:35 pm

Bob, we only eat beef once or twice a month so we buy grass fed, dry aged beef. The beef is grown to be eaten rare or medium rare. Most of the venders we use -- primarily local farmers in New Jersey and New York -- recommend their own cooking times and temps -- go by internal temp, not time, and set the oven about 50F less than wet pack beef -- say 275F rather than 325 to 350F.

A good overview is from one of the grass fed trade associations -- see http://www.americangrassfedbeef.com/tip ... ss-fed.asp

Another excellent source of advice is Lobel's free Grilling/Cooking guide for meats. Lobel gets the highest marks in New York City for its dry aged beef. http://www.lobels.com/store/main/gguide_orderform.asp

I would cook to 125F -- watching the temp like a hawk -- even a minute or two can make a difference in grain fed dry aged beef [or in bison, our other red meat indulgence]. It will come up in temp during a ten minute resting period after leaving the oven.

Enjoy. Dry aging makes an enormous difference in our opinion, and it's well worth the premium paid for the additional work, carrying costs and shrinkage.

Regards, Bob
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Re: Dry aged beef vs wet aged beef

Postby Karen/NoCA » Fri Dec 15, 2006 10:00 pm

When my husband and I were newly married and started having children, we bought our beef from a local butcher shop (yes, they called them "butchers"). We ordered a hind quarter, dry aged, and it hung for about 14 days. We always had bull meat added to our burger because it was leaner. Boy was that meat good! Over the years, we stopped eating so much red meat, and the shop owner retired and closed the shop. We have one local meat cutting shop now, that has been in business for many years. They have Harris Ranch beef and do special cuts for me. I don't know if they age the beef or not, on premesis......but I think I will ask the next time I am there.
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Re: Dry aged beef vs wet aged beef

Postby Jenise » Sat Dec 16, 2006 3:43 pm

Bob, I frequently dry age my own beef since I have an outside fridge that I can dedicate to the task. By dedicate, I mean that once the meat goes into the fridge, to assure a sanitary environment I desist use of it for any other purpose until the meat comes out. Works extremely well in areas like mine where there are no butchers to do it for me.

But that aside, I've never heard the term wet-aged beef. Do meat people actually use it? As far as I'm concerned, if the meat's not dry-aged it's not really aged at all, it sounds like a marketing term developed to make the neccessary time lapse from farm to market sound like an extra.
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Re: Dry aged beef vs wet aged beef

Postby Bob Ross » Sat Dec 16, 2006 4:01 pm

It's a well accepted term, Jenise -- Allen Brothers offer both wet and dry aged beef. You are correct that for most beef, it's the time from packing to delivery to the consumer.

If you have a butcher, though, your beef will be cut from the carcass, and little or no aging occurs.

BTW, did you escape the ravages of the storm? Sounds like serious inconvenience for many, worse for a few, people. Hope you are well.

Regards, Bob
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Re: Dry aged beef vs wet aged beef

Postby Jenise » Sat Dec 16, 2006 4:15 pm

Bob, thanks for the information. Re beef and butchers, I suddenly grok that difference: though I was then unfamiliar with anything in America beyond supermarket meat, when I moved to England in the late 70's where no aging of any kind occurred, the beef was just a bit *too* fresh for me, the taste took some getting used to.

And the storm? My area was spared. We had a lot of wind in the middle of the night, but that's all. Thank goodness--we were doing a huge dinner last night, and we sure didn't want to go to Plan B.
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Re: Dry aged beef vs wet aged beef

Postby John Tomasso » Sat Dec 16, 2006 4:28 pm

Jenise wrote:As far as I'm concerned, if the meat's not dry-aged it's not really aged at all, it sounds like a marketing term developed to make the neccessary time lapse from farm to market sound like an extra.


To the contrary, wet aging IS aging. While it doesn't produce the concentrated beefy taste of dry aging, it most certainly results in the meat becoming more tender. I love buying meat right at the edge of its code - it eats like butter at that time.
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Re: Dry aged beef vs wet aged beef

Postby Bob Ross » Sat Dec 16, 2006 4:33 pm

I'm glad you escaped the storm, Jenise.

I agree with John's analysis of wet aging -- different than dry, and not as good in my judgment and usually not as carefully controlled, although Allen Bros. make a great deal of the care they take.
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Re: Dry aged beef vs wet aged beef

Postby Bob Henrick » Sat Dec 16, 2006 7:56 pm

Bob Ross wrote:I'm glad you escaped the storm, Jenise.

I agree with John's analysis of wet aging -- different than dry, and not as good in my judgment and usually not as carefully controlled, although Allen Bros. make a great deal of the care they take.


Bob, in my area the mass market grocers such as Kroger cuts very little (if any) meat. We have one grocery store that still does have a butcher who cuts most of their meat, but they are pretty small, and often are out of what one wants. Also, there is a fair sized meat market that sells only "choice" fresh meat, but none dry aged. Their beef is the same price as this little specialty store and for the same price as the dry aged. I don't know if this place that dry ages sells grass fed or feedlot beef but it is a fair question that I will ask when I pick up my standing rib.

Aside to Jenise: below is a URL that explains about dry and wet aging of beef. and does so in a short paragraph.

http://www.askthemeatman.com/dry_aged_beef1.htm
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Re: Dry aged beef vs wet aged beef

Postby Randy Buckner » Sat Dec 16, 2006 8:13 pm

http://www.askthemeatman.com/dry_aged_beef1.htm


Still, no one denies that dry-aging is basically controlled rotting, and the meat is an acquired taste. "It has a green taste that's hard for many diners to appreciate, to the point of being offensive," said Chamberlain.

That sounds so appetizing, Bob.... :shock:
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Re: Dry aged beef vs wet aged beef

Postby Jay Miller » Mon Dec 18, 2006 9:39 pm

I find relatively little benefit to wet aging vs. dry aging. I usually dry age my own in the refrigerator though I don't have one to dedicate to the task. Very easy and works well.
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Re: Dry aged beef vs wet aged beef

Postby Bob Henrick » Mon Dec 18, 2006 10:44 pm

Jay, would you expand on your reply? When you dry age, what cuts do you do this with? Also for how long, and at what temperature? Also do you somehow manage the humidity when you are dry aging? do you find that you lose 18-20% of weight in the beef you dry age at home? Do you do the wrap and change every day? I have read that it can be done, but am a little reticent to try it myself.
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Re: Dry aged beef vs wet aged beef

Postby Jay Miller » Mon Dec 18, 2006 11:46 pm

I usually do it for rib roasts, just put it in the refrigerator on a rack and wrap it in towels. While linen is recommended I've found that paper works fine so long as you don't mind losing a tiny bit of meat (small bits of paper sometimes stick and need to be cut off). I try to change them once a day but don't always remember. It's more important to do the daily change the first few days anyway.

I've let it dry for up to 8 days with no problems. I've never seen any mold but if it appears all you have to do is cut it off.
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Re: Dry aged beef vs wet aged beef

Postby Bob Ross » Tue Dec 19, 2006 12:09 am

Jay, that seems a very short time to make any difference, especially with a rib roast. Lobel's, for example, would age four to six weeks, perhaps longer for a roast, at 34 to 36F.

Allen Bros doesn't give their recipe/technique but it requires at least 28 days, with several changes of humidity, all depending on the cut.

Regards, Bob
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Re: Dry aged beef vs wet aged beef

Postby Jay Miller » Tue Dec 19, 2006 12:12 am

Bob,

I'm pretty sure that those aging times are for much larger cuts of meat than what I'm doing.

There is a definite change in both flavor and texture in the 7-8 day time period.
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Re: Dry aged beef vs wet aged beef

Postby Bob Ross » Tue Dec 19, 2006 12:15 am

I might be wrong, Jay, but I'm pretty sure that's the correct time for a roast in their world. I'll stop by and ask on Friday -- we're getting a Lady M cake and some other goodies nearby.

Revert later.
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Re: Dry aged beef vs wet aged beef

Postby John Tomasso » Tue Dec 19, 2006 9:47 am

I'll weigh in on this too.
From time to time I read folks reporting on 'net food sites that they do their own dry aging in their fridge at home. Well, no, not really. They don't.
They may dry out the meat a bit, and I agree that they may achieve a textural change, but what they're actually doing is not dry aging in the sense that we use that term in the industry.

Most people I know would be horrified to see what a piece of dry aged meat looks like, before it's trimmed. Randy got it right - controlled rotting is a good descriptor. There will often be a black, hairy growth all over the meat - I don't think anyone is getting that in 7 to 10 days.

Allowing meat to give up some of its moisture over the course of a couple of days mimics the effects of dry aging, but only to a degree.
At the outer end of the dry aging process is where a good deal of the changes to the meat take place. This is really one of those cases where I would advise, "don't try this at home."
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Re: Dry aged beef vs wet aged beef

Postby Bob Henrick » Tue Dec 19, 2006 5:58 pm

Randy Buckner wrote:
http://www.askthemeatman.com/dry_aged_beef1.htm


Still, no one denies that dry-aging is basically controlled rotting, and the meat is an acquired taste. "It has a green taste that's hard for many diners to appreciate, to the point of being offensive," said Chamberlain.

That sounds so appetizing, Bob.... :shock:


Randy Buckner wrote:
http://www.askthemeatman.com/dry_aged_beef1.htm


Still, no one denies that dry-aging is basically controlled rotting, and the meat is an acquired taste. "It has a green taste that's hard for many diners to appreciate, to the point of being offensive," said Chamberlain.

That sounds so appetizing, Bob.... :shock:


Bucko, like I said, I will try to post a note on the beef after I have cooked and eaten it. I am sure that I have had dry aged beef in the past, but not knowing it at the time. This time I will know what I am eating and will let you and the forum know how it went.

As for the controlled rotting remark of someone, isn't all dead flesh an exercise of controlled or uncontrolled rotting? Dry aged not withstanding?
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