One of the best ways of getting full flavor from your beef is by aging. When we think of fine wins or delicious cheese, we know that they go through an aging process that enhances the flavor. The same holds true with beef. Your beef needs to go through the aging process to bring out its flavor and tender texture.
Types of aging
There are two ways to age beef – wet and dry. Both processes keep the meat refrigerated at 320 to 340 in a climate-controlled environment.
For wet aging, the meat is placed in air-tight bags for up to three weeks. Dry aged meat is stored uncovered for up to four weeks.
As the beef ages, it loses some of its moisture. Loss of water does not mean less juicy. Losing some water is good because it enhances the flavor. Think about cooking a sauce. If the sauce is watery, it usually lacks the flavor and texture of a nice, thick sauce.
Aging meat allows the natural enzymes in the meat to work. They break down the muscle bonds in the meat. These muscle cells are made up of different materials. The two primary ones are protein and glycogen. These molecules fuel the muscles to contract. Unbroken, the meat would not be flavorful. And yes, the glycogen does get broken down into sugars, producing a sweeter, but not sugary, flavor.
That process produces a more tender texture of the beef. By breaking down the proteins, we get a cut of beef that is easier to slice and more flavorful when we chew it.
From hanging to table
The entire process, from the time the beef is first hung to the time it is processed for your table can take about a month. There is some loss of weight between the hanging weight the processed weight, but that is another blog topic.
So, enjoy your steak, roast, or burger knowing that like wine or cheese, beef tastes better with age.
KeiLin Farm, a producer of farm fresh beef, chicken, pork, and eggs, is located in Davisburg, Michigan. Check out our website to discover all of our products and services.