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Articles - Gourmet Pleasures:

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An old method wins new friends

If talk turns to dry aging of beef, especially in the premium restaurant trade, then this refers to the dry maturing of a cut of meat – preferably quick fry steaks. The method is by no means new, in fact it is nothing more than the traditional meat hanging that was common practice up to the 1970s.

Wet aging is standard today

For cost reasons this method was displaced by vacuum or wet aging. Here the beef is cut up into consumer-ready portions and vacuum-sealed in film two to three days after slaughter. The packaged meat is then stored at 1 ± 1 °C for two to three weeks, wherever possible under exclusion of light to prevent unwelcome fat deterioration. Before being sold, the meat portions are unpacked and hung for a short time in a cold store to dry off. The exposure to oxygen restores the meat’s red colour.

This is how dry aging works

In dry aging either the entire hindquarter of a carcass half or special parts such as roast beef on the bone are stored openly in cold store at about 1 ± 1 °C. Not only the temperature but also the humidity and circulation rate of the air need to be regulated to prevent the growth of undesirable microorganisms. Dry aging entails significantly higher weight losses than vacuum aging, which justifies the higher price.

Improved taste thanks to flavouring agents

As a rule, beef that has been dry aged tastes better, because, on the one hand, the oxygen in the air promotes the formation of certain flavouring agents, and on the other, the lactic acid bacteria associated with the vacuum aging tend to leave the meat with a slightly sour flavour.

Source: Rüdiger Lobitz, www.aid.de