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Old Meat vs. Aged Meat

MaskedMarvelMaskedMarvel Posts: 2,030
edited March 2012 in EggHead Forum
Greetings friends,

I picked up a few prime ribeyes on super sale because they were "cook today" at the butcher. I'm hoping someone here is going to tell me that they are just aged even tough they're turning brown and the label says they expire tomorrow and that I can trex them later this week and they'll be even more delicious.

Go! ;)
Large BGE and Medium BGE
36" Blackstone - Greensboro!


  • travisstricktravisstrick Posts: 5,001
    Bump. I wanna know the answer too.
    Be careful, man! I've got a beverage here.
  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 28,817

    If they don't smell rotten they are OK. In all likelyhood you could keep them for several weeks if you removed the packaging and left them on a rack in the fridge. stike will be here shortly


    Caledon, ON


  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    edited March 2012
    grab a coffee. hahahaha

    don't unwrap, that will just dry them too much. you can't truly dry age a steak, because the sides of exposed flesh are so broad, they just become too thin.

    if it isn't wrapped, it's wet aging.  and that's it.

    go bad?

    gotta tell me what 'bad' means.  unsafe to eat?  i would say, effectively (for our purposes) never.  it never goes 'unsafe'.  your milk and butter don't go unsafe after a week.  why worry about a steak? hahaha

    seriously, though.  if temps are ok, then bacteria is slowed.  colder the better.

    but 'bad' as in unpalatable?  well, i find 60 days to be the max for me.  but that is a very different steak than fresh-from-the-market.  intense flavor, but firmer and drier texture.

    gonna back up here and try to be simpler about this, because apparently despite typing it three or four thousand times, even steven ain't getting it:

    a steak in a package is wet aging.  age it however long you want, as long as your temps are low 30s.  couple weeks? sure.  even then, the issue is more quality than safety.

    fwiw, i once ate a huge 45 day aged steak.  couldn't finish it.  wrapped it and tossed it in the meat drawer.  two months later, found it, and ate if for lunch.  +/-100 days hahaha

    have also purposefully dry aged 100 days (a little too dry for most).  and wet aged 60, dry aged 40 (a little too sweet from the enzymes).  now of the mind to go 45 total, say two weeks wet, 30 or so dry. or just 45 dry. i'm gonna drive a flag into the ground and claim the wet+dry dealio.  had not seen that before.  but there are some doing it now.  my only claim to fame >:D<

    steven: ignore specifics, and remember the concept: temps safe, and the meat is likely safe. smell is a difficult indicator if someone hasn't had aged beef.  aged beef is sweet.  cloyingly sometimes, if over-aged. also faintly metallic.  beef that is 'bad' will smell putrid, not merely 'different'.  aged is different, 'putrid' is going to make you wretch, not simply wonder. and if your meat is bad, then so is everything else in the fridge.  why do we keep butter, milk, eggs (USDA says eggs, susceptible now to salmonella, are good for literal WEEKS beyond the sell by) for weeks, but freak out on flesh?  they don't recall steaks, they recall ground beef.  massive difference (huge, enormous) between a steak, and the very same steak ground up.

    the best steak in the butcher's case is the brown one. it's on sale, and it's (wet) aged.  your great-grandfather never saw a bright red steak in his life, and he'd wonder why your supermarket steak is so bland

    bonus tip:  no "sell-by" or"use-by"date has ever had anything to do with the safety of the food/product. except baby food.  the sell-by is merely an indication of the MANUFACTURER's estimate of best quality, and has NOTHING to do with food safety. (nothing. zilch. zip. nada.)

    americans are undeducated for th most part about this, and throw out far too much food.  incredibly wasteful.  i know a woman who throws out food after two days.  that, to me, is a sin
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • A2ZA2Z Posts: 99
    We have done wet aging on most of our steaks and know it is beneficial. We do have friends who throw food out after 2 days. Truly a waste,
  • gerhardkgerhardk Posts: 938
    I am sure you are right Stike and I have used steaks days later than the Best Before date but I am not that comfortable leaving meat that long.  I know what you are saying though, we love a nice ripe Brie cheese that flows when you cut a wedge out of it my sister on the other hand throws it out at the first sign of softness.  

    I have a muslim friend and his family won't eat pork or anything that has touched pork.  This has come up in conversation and he says that intellectually he knows there is nothing harmful about pork but a lifetime of training makes it impossible for him to eat it, he compared it to me eating maggots I may know that they won't harm me but it would not be easy to force them past my lips without having a physical revulsion.

  • Hillbilly-HightechHillbilly-Hightech Posts: 966
    edited March 2012
    So Stike - I think the question was, is there a difference between "rotten" and "aged." 

    I've seen rotten meat, rotten milk, etc - you can smell it, you can taste it.  Rotten (ie, spoiled) milk tastes very sour, almost like trying to drink straight buttermilk, but worse.  It IS "unpalatable" - and I, as I'm sure most others here, were told that eating / drinking "spoiled" (rotten, whatever label you wanna give it) food, whether it is steak, or milk, or whatever, can / will make you sick. 

    But, just to make sure we're on the same page - you're saying that, if kept under the proper temps, you can eat a steak that has been unwrapped & left in the fridge for practically infinity? 

    If that's the case, I always thought that the wrapping (or the sealed cans, or the sealed old-fashioned Mason jars, etc) kept the food from the air, and that the air was what made food spoil & go "bad" (rotten, etc).  So theoretically, you can keep a food in a vacuum sealed can for a LONG LONG time and it still be "good" to use, but once you pop that seal, then you're on a "timer" of how long it'll stay "good?????"  Or are you saying that, even AFTER you reveal the food to the air, it'll still be OK?  Does this work for ALL foods, or just steaks?? 

    Please explain...

    Case in point - was recently going through the garage, and came across a few cases of mango juice (my GF's Filippina - don't judge)  ;)  -  anyway, the cans of juice had dates on it from 2007 (it's now 2012, obviously).  She wanted to throw them away but I said put some in the fridge to get chilled, and in a day or 2 I'd try it.  Well, I did... and I'm still here (much to the chagrin of some folks) >:)  Anyway, aside from a "tinny metallic" taste (which I'm guessing was from sitting in the cans), it was actually pretty good.  Now, that metallic taste COULD HAVE been there all along, even if we'd just bought them, who knows.  Also, I suggested that if anyone were to open a can, that they should drink it ALL right away & NOT try to drink some & then put the rest back in the fridge & come back a day or 3 later to finish it off - cuz I figured that once that can was opened, and that juice hit the air, it was only a short matter of time b4 it went "bad."

    Anyway, not sure where I'm going w/ this rambling discussion, but I guess I (and I'm sure others) would like to know about "rotting" vs "aging" and the similarities / differences, and if one is "bad" (meaning, it'll make you sick). 
    Don't get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup... Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend. - Bruce Lee
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,945
    The sell-by date is a safety requirement. The safety rules appear to be designed by assuming a worse case scenario, which is that the meat was contaminated when cut. Keeping the meat below 40F slows pathogen growth, but does not stop it. The regulations assume the meat can be held for X number of days (depends on the meat and cut) in the market cooler, and then X days in the home 'fridge before the level of any toxins might become a hazard.

    Odor is not always an indication of the meats safety. The organisms that make foul odors are not necessarily the same as those making the toxins. There is a very good chance that if one is present, the other also will be, but its not a certain thing.

    My own experience is that meat at the sell-by date is just fine if frozen, and I've had no problems with packages I kept for 2 days in my 'fridge, tho' the meat's color was brownish, and the surface felt dry/tough.

  • You don't like straight buttermilk?

  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    edited March 2012
    check out the USDA.
    "sell-by" and "best-by" have nothing to do with safety.  only baby food is required to have an expiration date.

    all the info is there.  i hate to say it, but i vacillate between being curt, and explaining too much.  and i can tell you that neither works.  it is not possible, especially on an internet forum, to explain anything.

    as i said, for our 'practical' purposes (which doesn';t include 'infinity'), yeah, we can leave it in the fridge for a helluva long time.

    i'm going to simply ask a rhetorical question, each person to answer for themselves.  why would you think you'd need to toss out a steak after a week, but then drive to morton's and pay 75 dollars for a steak that's been in the fridge for two months?  no, they aren't using magic to keep them safe, they just understand what they are looking for, and what can (and is unlikely) to go wrong.  no special humidity or bacterial controls are required.  but having them will increase yield.  that's all.  and it will also guarantee a certain predictability, repeatability, to their process.  so that steak 1 is similar enough to steak 5,304.

    a brown steak is not at all unsafe... fwiw.  a steak that is coated in a bacterial film, which is literally putrid, and which has been at unsafe temperatures... THAT's an unsafe steak.

    as far as the difference between rotting and aging... i said this the other day, and got beat up for it, but aging is a sort of controlled decomposition. that's not me saying it.  that's science.  :D enzymes in meat will continually break down proteins.  we don't want any 'help' from harmful bacteria or insects, of course, so it's not like a body in a field.  but that body rotting in a field DOES decompose partly because of its own enzymes....

    too many people are firing meat into their fridge and proudly proclaiming they are dry aging, without knowing what/why/where/how.  THAT is what is dangerous.

    of course, then they trim it... whole other discussion. hahaha

    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • MaskedMarvelMaskedMarvel Posts: 2,030
    Stike -

    Thanks for your replies. All of this. An occur in a supermarket steak package in the bottom drawer of your fridge? No special rewrap required?
    Large BGE and Medium BGE
    36" Blackstone - Greensboro!

  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    edited March 2012
    well. i age (dry) a whole primal. i don't buy cut steaks anymore, unless my wife sees one for cheep-cheep with a manager's special sticker on it (say, because it is flirting with sell-by date). I age commando style (no special wrap).  that vacuum wrap is a recent invention, and I haven't heard anything to describe how it is 'better' to use it. from what i have heard (from the manufacturer, related to me by a devoted user) it does slow drying initially (which may be a good thing depending on what you want), and it speeds drying at longer times (say over 45-50 days).  but bacteria is an issue whether it is wrapped or not. and temps control bacteria, not wrapping.  towels are an abomination and haven't ever been used in proper commercial aging environments.  it's an internet-fostered bit of confusion, and a false talisman against the heebie-jeebies.  in fact, rather than protecting, towels create many problems, and solve none. (soap box dismounted)

    if you want to (wet) age an already cut steak, keep it in the package and toss it in the meat drawer, which should be the coldest part of your fridge.  go as long as you dare.  beef will be slightly sweet smelling, smell 'gamey' (for lack of a better word, and that work is lacking itself), but should not be slimy. it will darken. fresh cut beef is purple, then the oxygen turns it red, then eventually it oxidizes and browns.  some ground beef is now packaged with CO, which will keep it reder much longer.  the ONLY reason CO-wrapped meat is saleable longer is because it is pretty longer.

    that plastic wrap covering the meat and foam tray is oxygen permeable. the meat will brown. no issue.
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • EggbertsdadEggbertsdad Posts: 804
    I recently bought a beef tenderloin butt from a local store. It was bagged and untouched. After a couple of days the most rotten smell was coming from that sealed bag. It was horrible. I took it back and got another one, and the store manager said they've had several from that batch come back. I assumed they were rotten. Is that the case?
    Sarasota, FL via Boynton Beach, FL, via Sarasota, FL, via Charleston, SC, via The Outer Banks, via God's Country (East TN on Ft. Loudon Lake)
  • MaskedMarvelMaskedMarvel Posts: 2,030
    Cool. Great info. Thanks everyone.
    Large BGE and Medium BGE
    36" Blackstone - Greensboro!

  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    edited March 2012
    probably smelled of sulphur.  those cryo packages are known for that.  pork too.

    you'll often get a whiff of sulphur funk when you open it, but rinsing and patting dry, and letting the room air out, usually is enough.  if the meat itself is funky like that, it will usually be slimey and the package will be loose.  cryo should be tight.  if it is loose,don't buy it.  it's been breached

    like the bloody chicken joints (from immature chicken bones, not from undercooking), the cryo-stink is a known 'issue' in the industry.  it's off-putting, though not necessarily bad.  and many consumers are wigged out by it.

    think of the chicken issue:  chickens are fed and engineered to reach size much sooner than previously.  months sooner.  which means you have a full-sized chicken with immature bones (soft, porous).  that meat is perfectly safe at normal temps, but the joints often appear 'bloody' or pink.  not really blood, and still safe (as long as cooked to temp).  so people are now cooking chicken much longer than they ever did.  which meant they were becoming very dry.  to counter that, the industry now pre-brines them ("up to x% solution added", for example), to keep them more moistas much as possible when scorchingly overcooked by Mr. and Mrs. Food-safety-Freak America
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • EggbertsdadEggbertsdad Posts: 804

    That's exactly what the smell was, sulphur. Thanks for the info and the chicken example. I've noticed the ribs (Smithfield) are pre-brined now as well. Very salty.
    Sarasota, FL via Boynton Beach, FL, via Sarasota, FL, via Charleston, SC, via The Outer Banks, via God's Country (East TN on Ft. Loudon Lake)
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    edited March 2012
    you will see a lot of helpful butcher sites and cooking forums saying that the sulphur smell is from bacteria and spoiling.  bah.

    the industry has been trying to come up with a way to reduce the smell, thereby extending the sell-by date .  again, not because it is spoiling, but because consumers THINK it has spoiled.  there is no safety issue from sulphur-smelling cryo.

    edit> just found an industry press release mentioning the introduction of an interlayer which will absorb (trap) sulphur smells... extending the sell-by date, by eliminating odors.  ..not because it makes them safer.

    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • scooter759scooter759 Posts: 257


    Great stuff here, thanks for the insight on the chicken joints. I couldn't figure out why my leg quarters and thighs were coming out like that. Same with the pork smell from the cryo packs.

    Extra Large, 2 Large, Medium, Mini Max, Weber Summit gasser, Weber Q. Mankato, MN
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,945
    Ahh, I see. Not a regulation, just a recommendation.  Like "best if used by," which seems kind of useless.

    Maybe there should be "day old" meat shops like there are for breads. Altho, everything should be cryo-vac'd, so that when the puffy package comes out of the fridge, it obvious that there's something very wrong.
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    edited March 2012
    "best if used by" and "sell by" date has been transmogrified by the american consumer as "holy crap, throw it out by" dates.  :)  as if the meat expires a minute before midnight.

    it's like "lather, rinse, repeat".  done to sell more product. 

    in truth, "sell-by" doesn't mean the product is actually suffering in quality at that time, it means that the "sell by" date is the last date at which the product is at peak quality.  so throwing it out, by definition, means you are throwing it out at its peak.

    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
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