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dry aging beef at home

barrbrenbarrbren Posts: 2
edited 2:04PM in EggHead Forum
anyone here ever try dry aging a big chunk of beef at home??? and were successful?


  • Ex-GasmanEx-Gasman Posts: 287
    Never have, but would like to try it sometime.
  • Essex CountyEssex County Posts: 991
    Surprised you haven't gotten more response to this. stike might be the resident expert on dry aging at home but I know others have tried. If you search the forum you should find a few descriptions of successful and failed attempts at this. Good luck.
  • civil eggineercivil eggineer Posts: 1,547
    You need to be able to closely control temperatures and humidity levels to do it correct. A refridgerator does not allow control of humidity levels although some have accomplished "ageing" to a limited degree.
  • RollocksRollocks Posts: 570
    Here is link to the method I've used with success.
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597

    there are folks who will say it's impossible because you don't have the equipment, and likewise you'll find stuff on the web that makes it look easy and includes some dangerous or just erroneous stuff.

    concerns about equipment center on two things; temop and humidity. temp is fine. a spare fridge infrequently used is best, but you can (yes, you can) achieve the right temps in a fridge. daily use opening and closing the door will not introduce drops in temp that allow bacteria to form. how do i know? well, you keep your other food in the fridge and haven't died yet. toss a steak on a counter and see how long it takes the temp to change. opening and shutting a fridge door is not dangerous. but you do want an odor-free environment. a spare fridge is best. other equipment concern is humidity. when you go 6, 7 weeks, sure, you want a more humid environment. your fridge is a dehydrator. that long and your meat will be too dried. but if you are going 7,14,21 days, you will be fine and won't get too dry at all. those are the only real issues (besides other food odors) and both are answerable in a home (ideally spare) fridge.

    i'll offer what i have put together. i'm not an expert, but this is a result of my looking into it heavily and sorting it out.

    first... no towels. ever. that is a complete misunderstanding of the way it used to be done, and has grown into an internet myth that keeps getting perpetuated from one method a guy posted back maybe in '96. it not only defeats half the purpose of aging, it introduce lots of room for bacterial error. take a look in any restaurant or shop that ages it's own beef commercially. you won't see one towel. and there a plenty reasons NOT too.

    here's what i post whenever someone asks this question:
    no expert here, but i have been chasing this stuff down long enough that i think i finally have it sorted out. i have done it myself, and i have also thrown out meat after trying it. my fridge was off-temp.

    first, when in process it should not look or smell 'rotten'. and SO then this is my BIGGEST chunk of advice. don't bother dry aging until you have had commercial dry aged steaks done properly.
    for one thing, you may not notice a difference, frankly. when i got the egg i was so gung-ho i was cooking anything i could find and soon was getting nutty, which became "must-find-dry-aged-steak". i bought one from julia child's butcher (still making payments on it). at the time we said "so-so. not worth the money". part of that was because the steaks we'd been having from the egg were so much better than off the gasser, the difference was lost on us. we were still in the egg honeymoon phase.
    now, maybe 4 years later eating BGE steaks, and finally being able to tell the diff between cuts, and we DO appreciate a difference.
    so, here we go. a dedicated fridge (a spare fridge in the basement, etc.) is ideal, but not absolutely necessary. some good points in posts below explaining why. off-odors from other foods in the fridge, plus temp swings from open/closing. if you have a beer fridge, it's ideal. you cannot at ALL trust the thermo setting on the fridge. don't play around here. bacteria wants badly to grow, and it'll find a way. it MUST be kept between 34-38 degrees (gives you 2 degrees safe room from freezing and 2 degrees on the other end below the safety zone of 40 degrees). you can dip lower (meat won't really freeze too solid at 32), but do NOT go higher. ideally, get a fridge thermo and let it go a few days as you check/adjust the fridge before aging. remember, aging starts to pay off on day 14 or so. some as long as 45 days. all you need is 4 hours of above-40 temps, and you risk squatting on the toilet and counting floor tiles for a day or so.

    you do need to do the whole primal (or roast). you can't do individual steaks. you should cut all your steaks at once after aging if you can. that's so before slicing them, you can more easily trim off any moldy parts (if any), and anything overly dry and leathery. you don't have to trim all over to reveal 'new' flesh underneath. just remove anything that feels freezer burnt or is off color. ...that'll be a dicey call if you are unfamiliar with how it should look.

    if you age it correctly, you will enjoy a certain very slight 'funk' to the meat. for lack of a better description (and i don't ever count this word as a negative) it is 'gamey'. the smell is predominantly from the natural enzymes (not living things) which break down the tissue and produce great little ester by-product luvin which give it depth. you should be able to take a deep close sniff and think only, "that's different" rather than retch and hurl in the sink. it should smell clean, maybe metallic

    it should NOT get slimy AT ALL. the outside should be cold and clammy/waxy feeling, with no slime. this is one reason for no frigging towels. they keep the surface wet. slime is bacterial and it WILL make you throw up upon smelling. slimey? toss it.

    this is why you should pay for a real dry-aged steak first, so you can taste it and SMELL it. you don't want to put a hundred dollar chunk of meat in your fridge and after 21 days, when your wife whiffs it, have to shrug when she asks if it's ok to eat.


    look at the above pic. that was last night's steak. would you eat that if it came out of YOUR fridge? that was from a butcher, aged 45 days. if the answer is 'no', well, then you may want to skip this experiment!

    alton browns's method is spot on, though on the show he does NOT use towels if i remember correctly though i think the posted recipe on does. you don't need them if you are going for true dry-aging. in fact, they may wick water away from the meat, but they then hold it close to the meat. they can also be a breeding ground for bacteria (though if temps are ok, you would be ok). you actually want as much free air around it as possible. ideally, a small good dorm fridge (which holds correct temp) would be perfect. the bottom (coldest) portion of a lesser-used fridge, with the meat in that tupperware coffin (holes drilled all over for air-circ) which alton uses, is great. i have done them up on a wire rack in a roasting pan and uncovered (in my beer fridge).

    good luck, but seriously, do not even bother if you haven't had a dry-aged steak to begin with.
    if i may go all out on the know-it-all branch here, if you do go get a commercially dry-aged steak, try the rib eye first. a strip steak (un aged) for me is my go-to steak, but dry-aged, nuthin beats the rib eye. it has the most fat of all the cuts traditionally aged, and the fat gets literally hard, and condenses so much it is damn near butter (which is beef fat, essentially). tenderloin is already tender, and may get more so from aging, but it will gain flavor from the enzymatic action. i think a good old regular un-aged strip is so good, i don't bother with the aged ones any more.
    oh, and use prime if you can. half of what you are doing is condensing the fat, and if there's not a good amount of marbling, you'll miss out. you also want a good fat layer on the exterior, as insurance against microbial ne'er-do-wells.
    sorry for blathering, but this is something i am pretty passionate about and love to do/have.

    i'll say again, just to be clear. no towels no towels no towels. your wife will thank you (no laundry), your beef will thank you (proper drying), and your mouth will thank you (best flavor) the bacteria will not be thankful, because they will not thrive on a dry surface with a decent pellicle, and the pellicle can't form if it's wet
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • FYI, this is now on my todo list. I usually dry age my rib roasts this way when my "spare fridge" is available November through March when my unheated but enclosed porch stays above freezing and below 40 for 4 months. I simply hang them. Alton Browns method

  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    sounds like you are already doing it?
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • barrbrenbarrbren Posts: 2
    Thanks for all the advice,
    I'm going to try it with
    a big prime rib. sorry I
    took so long to reply,
    asked the question and
    then i went on vacation.
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