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About aging beef....

Rebecca_Ray's picture

A friend of mine buys packaged beef at the supermarket and then leaves it for 2-3 weeks in the frig, in the original packaging. He says that this is perfectly safe for aging beef. I find this questionable since it would seem to me that the bacteria count would get too high. How is meat aged commercially? Isn't it at really cold temperatures? Any information from someone knowlegeable would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Rebecca

nihon_no_cook's picture

(post #25937, reply #1 of 9)

Yuck. If I were you, I would claim to be a recently-converted vegetarian when you eat at their house for dinner! If it were really safe to age beef at home, why would stores have "sell-by" dates on the packages, and why would every cookbook I own recommend storing meat in the fridge for no more than 3 days? I think this person is a case of serious food poisoning waiting to happen.

PMace_'s picture

(post #25937, reply #2 of 9)

Aging beef is done under carefully controlled temperature (35 F) and humidity (30-40 %) conditions and is done to halves or primal cuts prior to butchering. If you keep the humidity under control you can hang a side of beef for around 2 weeks before it starts getting "hairy" (a mold on the skin side). Aging allows the natural enzymes in the beef to begin breaking down the connective tissue (toughness) and results in a better tasting product. The cold temp and low humidity retard bacterial growth (spoilage), neither of which are present in a film wrapped steak in the meat drawer in a refrigerator. Aged is aged, spoiled is spoiled. I agree with NNC...dine elsewhere!

Rebecca_Ray's picture

(post #25937, reply #3 of 9)

Thank you, nihon no cook and PMace. I sure appreciate the input. It's my sister's boyfriend and I don't want him poisening her!!! (or me and the family for that matter). I had a feeling, call it common sense, that this aging he was doing was indeed more accurately called spoiling!

Rebecca's picture

(post #25937, reply #4 of 9)

Also, even if you do it properly as PMace suggests, the parts that get dried out are cut off & not used. If the piece of meat is small (like less than a side of beef,) the parts needed to cut off would be the whole thing.

Steve_Bergstein's picture

(post #25937, reply #5 of 9)

I've seen a few magazines suggest letting beef age for a day or two over on a rack in the frig. But, that's a day, not two-to-three weeks.

The one-day aging is supposed to dry the meat a bit, concentrating the flavor.

amlynarz's picture

(post #25937, reply #6 of 9)

Does anybody knows the technique for aging meat? I tried aged meat in the states but it has been impossible for me to find it in my country. I really appreciate if somebody can help me.

Anthony Mlynarz

MEAN_CHEF's picture

(post #25937, reply #7 of 9)

Aging allows the natural enzymes in beef to tenderize the meat by breaking down specific proteins (connective tissue) in muscle fibers; most of the tenderization occurs within the first 7 to 10 days of the aging process. The increase in tenderness after 7 to 10 days is relatively small compared to the increase during the first 7 to 10 days.

Two types of aging are practiced commercially: dry and wet aging.

Dry aging is the process of placing an entire carcass or wholesale cut (without covering or packaging) in a refrigerated room (320 to 340F) under humidity controlled conditions for up to 28 days. Too much humidity allows excessive microbial growth; too little causes excessive shrinkage. If the temperature gets too high, microbial growth increases significantly. During properly controlled dry aging, beef usually loses moisture. The dry aging process also adds flavor to beef, often described as "brown-roasted beefy flavor." Today most dry aging is done by upscale steakhouses and specialty beef purveyors.

Wet aging refers to the aging of beef in vacuum bags under refrigerated conditions of 320 to 340F. Humidity control is not necessary for wet aging as the beef is tightly sealed in the packaging. Because most beef is vacuum packaged at the site of carcass cutting, wet aging is the predominant method of aging used today. By the time the vacuum-packaged beef reaches the retail store, at least 7 to 10 days (the time needed for much of the tenderization to occur) have usually elapsed. However, additional tenderization will occur with longer aging. (Ideally rib and loin cuts should have a minimum of 14 days for aging; tender-loins a minimum of 7 days; sirloins a minimum of 21 days and preferably 28 days; and chucks and rounds a minimum of 7 days.)

sanderson_'s picture

(post #25937, reply #8 of 9)

Make a note of that store wrap for meat allows air to penetrate...that's what makes the meat look red. If you prevent air(read oxygen) from contacting the meat it is a dark blueish purple which we've been taught to not prefer. Buying meat from the grocery store means lots of handling and potential contamination has already happened. I'd never trust the quality of meat bought over the counter that's sat around for more than 5 days...and that's probably too liberal.

FlavourGirl_'s picture

(post #25937, reply #9 of 9)

Cook's Illustrated, December 1995 did an article on aging Prime Rib. Here is the method:

Buy your roast up to one week early. Pat it dry and place it on a wire rack set over a paper-towel-lined cake pan or plate. Set the raced roast in the refrigerator and let it age until you are ready to roast it, three to seven days.
i (author note: I left one in the refrigerator for nine days; the cooked roast was meltingly tender with big flavor)
Before roasting, shave off any exterior meat that has completely dehydrated. Between the trimming and dehydration, count on a seven-pound roast losing a pound or so during a week's aging.

Heed MC's note about keeping your refrigerator between 32° and 34°F - don't want to make anyone ill.

I did try this last spring and it was fabulous. Good luck.