Dry Aged Steak – What It Is and How to Buy It
Dry aging beef is a centuries old practice returning to plates across US restaurants and homes. It features better beef flavor with a much more tender steak texture.
Dry aging steak involves leaving quality cuts of meat to age for numerous weeks in a temperature- and humidity-controlled fridge, before shipping and serving to customers.
The following article takes you through the dry aging process, offers you online options to purchase dry aged steaks, and offers comparisons with other storage or preparation methods.
What is Dry Aged Steak?
Dry aging steak involves leaving the meat to age for numerous weeks in a temperature- and humidity-controlled fridge storage space, hung up, on a rack, or wrapped loosely in cheesecloth.
When you dry age steaks the blood stays in the tissue, giving the meat the moisture that it needs to keep from drying out as the water evaporates. The flavor intensifies as the beef ages and makes a tender texture for your tastebuds.
The meat purges of water and shrinks but retains tremendous density, allowing the enzymes in the meat break down over time while the muscle desiccates.
Dry ageing results in a tender, more juicy steak with an individually concentrated flavor that’s not dissimilar to the process of ageing vintage blue cheese.
Of course, mold forms as a byproduct to the flavor maturation but is a necessary part of the process as the meat breaks down.
How Do I Buy Dry Aged Steak?
Dry aging steaks are hugely popular for traditionally expensive cuts of meat, partly because dry aging needs an evenly distributed fat level within the cut to work to its best and create the best in tender meat.
Some of the more popular dry aged cuts include:
- Prime Rib (bone in)
- NY Strip steak
- Filet Mignon
- Wagyu Beef
- Rib eye
Due to the time consuming and highly involved process of dry aging steak it tends to only be available at your high end steakhouse, specialty gourmet butcher shop, or high-end restaurants.
This has opened the way for online retailers to get involved in selling and shipping dry age steak to lovers of beef and the dedicated grillers throughout the US.
Here are some basic tips for buying dry aged steaks online:
- Whenever possible buy USDA Prime beef for peace of mind. A USDA seal of approval means you’ll get the best possible flavor, tenderness, and taste
- Choose a superior cut such as rib eye, NY strip steak, filet mignon, porterhouse steaks or tenderloin. Don’t waste your money trying to improve a mediocre cut when you can have the best delivered right to your door
- For the inexperienced at dabbling in dry aged steaks make sure the beef has been aged at least a month, and from there mix and match to find the right age and flavor for you
- Finding a butcher shop, online retailer, or specialty store that you can trust is hugely important to finding high quality dry-aged beef and makes you process of learning about the craft more enjoyable
Below you’ll find four top online retailers to help you purchase top quality dry aged steaks and a range of other fantastic meat and poultry products:
1. Chicago Steak Company
Get USDA Choice and USDA Prime steaks delivered straight to your door. Whether wet or dry aged each steak is hand selected and hand cut.
2. Snake River Farms
High quality and well marbled Northwest prime beef steaks with top drawer dry age Wagyu beef a specialty for them to deliver.
Snake River Farms even offers some other great meats such as Kurobuta pork and briskets. I dare you to scroll through each page without ordering!
3. Pat La Frieda
It’s hard to out -meat butcher Pat LaFrieda. His online shipping offers a tremendous array of dry aged options including USDA Black Angus Dry Age Strip Roast or USDA Prime Black Angus Porterhouse and Bone in Rib steak.
4. Lobel’s of New York
With a page that’s enough to give you the meat sweats, fifth generation meat purveyors Lobel’s offer a fantastic range of USDA Prime dry aged steaks and roasts plus old time specialty sausage, quality cuts and even American Wagyu.
What are the differences between dry aged and wet aged beef?
The technique of wet aging beef has come along rapidly thanks to technical innovations in refrigeration and vacuuming. Cuts of beef are vacuum sealed in plastic and then sent to market, with the aging process taking around a week to ten days from when the meat is slaughtered and then sold to its final customer.
One significant difference to dry aging meat is that more moisture is lost when wet aging even during the shorter process of maturation, so the meat will have a less tender texture when it makes its way to your plate.
You may also find that the wet aged steak lacks the depth of flavor you’re looking for inc comparison to the dry aged steak.
One the key factors in the growth wet aging steak is that it’s a cheaper process; costing less for the manufacturer as the wet age beef doesn’t need to be stored and maintained for prolonged periods, nor does it lose weight from dehydration.
This means it’s cheaper for the consumer when it’s time to make payment and have their produce delivered.
Can I dry age beef at home?
It is possible but quite time consuming to dry age beef at home. Some guides say that you can do it in your refrigerator wrapped in paper towel or cheesecloth, however this only dehydrates the beef.
For actual best dry age steak results from breakdown of enzymes it often takes dedicated equipment and a minimum two weeks of temperature-controlled aging.
Be aware that for the dry aged beef best results it’s recommended that you use whole primal cuts rather than individually cut steaks to better deal with mold and retain a larger sized cut for cooking.