Dry aged is a term you will have likely heard when talking about beef but what exactly is dry aged beef and what is so great about it?
An ageing process can be applied to many food and drink products including wine, cheese and red meat. The objective is to enhance the flavour, which is exactly what are dry ageing process does to our meat.
It produces a far richer flavour and more tender texture which means this luxurious taste does come with a higher price tag, but we explain why it’s worth it!
What is the Dry Ageing Process?
The process of dry ageing goes back thousands of years. Before we had the invention of refrigeration, the one of the only ways to keep meat fresh was to dry age it.
It is essentially a controlled decay process, which we know doesn’t sound very appealing but hang in there. You place the meat in a controlled open-air environment which draws out moisture and allows the natural enzymes to break down the muscles slowly, therefore making it more tender.
The process of dry ageing exposes the meat to unimpeded airflow which allows good mould to find its way into the meat and increase the amount of evaporation and adds to the final flavour of the beef – just like the mould on blue cheese. This will all be trimmed away before it reaches your plate though so don’t worry!
How do you stop it from spoiling?
The environment for dry ageing must be carefully controlled. The key is consistency and these three factors: air flow, humidity control and temperature control.
The bones and fat in the meat also help protect it against rot and once the process is completed the dried-out layers are cut away. Resulting in a delicious dark-red piece of edible meat.
How long should meat be dry aged for?
This can be down to a matter of opinion and taste. The longer the dry ageing of the meat, the richer the flavour. Typically, we would recommend around 30-35 days dry aged, especially if you haven’t tried dry aged meat before. For restaurants you will find dry aged meat will be around the 18-20 day mark.
That said, we do offer our meat dry aged up to 100 days.
Why is it more expensive?
Put simply, it is more expensive to produce. Once you have drawn out the moisture and whittled away the mouldy parts you can be losing up to 50% of the original weight of the meat.
Not only that, but the dry ageing process also achieves a far superior taste compared with a standard cut and pack.
What is a Himalayan Salt Chamber?
A Himalayan salt chamber is built using pink salt blocks, which are used specifically for their purifying and flavour enhancing abilities.
The salt particles from the bricks in the chamber draw moisture from the meat and surrounding air and seeps into the beef, adding to the flavour.
This process is called ionisation. The negative ions from the salt counteract the positive ions in the meat and this produces a completely unique, sweet and flavoursome product.
This method allows us to age the meat for up to 100 days for our ultimate cuts.
We are in fact one of the only meat producers across the South-West and the Midlands to offer Himalayan salt aged beef, lamb and pork. This is produced in our very own salt chamber in Gloucestershire.