The old art of dry aging
Dry aging is a process suitable for whole meat cuts, that are still on the bone.
There are three very important factors that you must keep in mind to be able to dry age properly.
The aging temperature is the most important factor, your fridge or room should be between 1 and 4 C. If the temperature is to low the meat will freeze and the aging process will stop, and if the temperature is two high the meat will spoil.
The ideal humidity is between 75 and 85; this will give you longer aging time before the meat is too dry and the “crust” to hard. If the humidity is to low the cut of meat will dry out, and if it is too high the meat will spoil.
In the case of dry aging, air is good for the meat. Enough airflow around the meat will stop any bacterial growth and start a “crust” forming around the cut.
If all the key factors are correct the process of dry aging will give your meat a different taste and flavour. This is due to the moisture loss that takes place; this process saturates and concentrates the natural meat flavour. During the aging process the natural enzymes will breakdown the conective tissue of the muscles and the meat will become tender. On the outside of the meat there will form a “crust” and some mould growth; this is nothing to be worried about. The white mould will contribute to the flavour and the enzymes will also promote the breakdown of the meat muscle and promote tenderness.
The correct environment will give you the opportunity to age you meat for longer. The optimal aging time is 20 to 30 days. Aging your meat longer will result in a very dry cut and too much waste as the outside “crust” will become too thick.
During the aging time it is very important to keep a close eye on your cuts. If you have good knowledge of meat you will immediately see if there is a problem. The best way is always the smell; dry age meat will always have a nutty sweet smell. If there is any strange or unappetizing smell you know something is wrong. Detected early enough you might be able to salvage the steak by cutting away the bone and washing the cut with some vinegar and salt water.
As I said there might be some white mould growing on the outside, this is totally normal. Bacterial growth will always have a strange odour and greenish colour. Bacteria will spoil your meat and you will not be able to save it.