Dry Ageing – What is it?
Have you heard of dry-aged beef? More to the point, have you tried it or cooked with it? If you have, you’ll be very familiar with the melt-in-the-mouth tenderness and flavour that it’s so well known for.
“Dry ageing is the ageing of primal cuts unpackaged, in air.” CSIRO
Under a strictly controlled 0.5 – 1.0°C temperature and 75 – 85% humidity environment, beef cuts are hung or placed on a rack to dry for several weeks. The perfect environment also means air velocity and special lighting. All this is to encourage moisture to evaporate and the naturally occurring enzymes to do their thing of breaking down the protein and fat cells to transform flavour and tenderness. It’s a long-established technique that has been used to create transformation for hundreds of years.
The process is most effective if it begins as soon as the animal is processed and cleaned. It also yields its best results when done with cuts that have a good allocation of marbling – cue Black Onyx.
This means that your beef processor (that’s us) is the person best placed to start the dry-ageing process. It’s a labour of love and one that all parties need to be committed to, but some would say that the results make the best beef eating experiences world-wide.
“Enzymes are…nanocooks-the true molecular cooks. Dry-aging, ripening, and fermentation are all processes that take advantage of enzymes to make foods delicious before cooking.” Gizmodo (Just an opinion that we liked the sounds of)
The flavour created by the dry-ageing process is one that’s best described by taking a bite, but as we can’t offer that here, we’ll do our best to explain. It is complex, intense, full-bodied – really it’s everything you love about a great piece of beef, but more, more more. And the enzymic reaction results in an even higher level of tenderness that’s arguably difficult to get any other way. Tender plus intensely tasty – a winning combination.
For more information, download the pdf of the CSIRO Meat Technology Update here.
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