Dry Age at Home

Discussion in 'Whats Cooking? Food, Drink, & Gear' started by orangehero, Mar 17, 2019.

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  1. Mar 17, 2019 #1

    orangehero

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    I was wondering if anyone dry ages beef at home and can give me some advice.

    I have a small wine fridge that I would like to convert into a chamber for dry aging beef. I can set it up for precise temperature and humidity control with controllers and a small humidifier. Has anyone done something similar and have advice on the ideal parameters to set it up, equipment, and what your experiences have been? Thoughts on temps and humidity levels?

    What is the issue with air flow? My wine fridge has fans inside to circulate air, but I imagine it's also important to have air exchange.

    What about time for dry aging?
     
  2. Mar 17, 2019 #2

    Itsjun

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    You can try putting a battery operated Mini fan inside
     
  3. Mar 17, 2019 #3

    rickbern

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    Great YouTube video about this from alexthefrenchguycooks.

    Hysterical. Five parts, worth watching. He really answers all the questions about time and humidity and comes up with a pretty interesting contraption

     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2019
  4. Mar 18, 2019 #4

    orangehero

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    Ok I'll try for some reason I really have a hard time watching any videos with that guy in them.
     
  5. Mar 18, 2019 #5

    Michi

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    I've ordered a pack of the UMAi bags. Should arrive today or tomorrow. Will bag up a hunk of rib eye and report back in about six weeks :)
     
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  6. Mar 21, 2019 #6

    krx927

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    But for this you need to keep the fridge around 1C all the time, isn't it -> no possibility to do it in my only fridge which is used daily and is for sure more than 1C...
     
  7. Mar 21, 2019 #7

    5698k

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    I’m not aware of this. I’ve done a number of whole ribeyes in the umai bags, and my refrigerator isn’t that cold.
     
  8. Mar 21, 2019 #8

    Michi

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    Mine is set at 4 °C. That should work fine.
     
  9. Mar 21, 2019 #9

    krx927

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    I don't know if anything above 1C is safe for a longer term. I was reading about real dry aging and temp was always mentioned to be below 1C or around it...

    Do you get any smell in the fridge when you are ding it?
     
  10. Mar 21, 2019 #10

    5698k

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    Of the ones that I’ve done, there were no unusual odors at all, and usually this is the only perishable in this refrigerator. All of mine were aged for 28-30 days.
     
  11. Mar 21, 2019 #11

    Kgp

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    Curious to see how you make out with it. I've done couple of wet aged primals in the cryovac for 45 days. NY strip, select grade, which is below choice. They were very inexpensive at $4.00 per lb so if not very good I could grind them up for burgers. Probably the best steak I ever had at home, very tender and flavorful.

    Only had dry aged in restaurant one time, 45 day porterhouse. It was tender, but wasn't wild about the flavor. I understand that it is an acquired taste, so my next go at it may be better. Tough for me to drop that much on a piece of meat, though.

    Ken
     
  12. Mar 21, 2019 #12

    playero

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  13. Mar 21, 2019 #13

    podzap

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    The temperature requirements are not that tight. Anywhere from 1-3.3 celcius (34-38 f) should be fine.

    The temperature of the meat isn't going to change for brief openings, of course if you stand there with the fridge open for 5 minutes wondering what to snack on then that's another story.
     
  14. Mar 21, 2019 #14

    Michi

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    No smell; it's been in there for only four days :)

    The meat is in an UMAi bag, so I don't think there is any worry about bacterial contamination. Also, there are ways to dry age meat that involve simply hanging it up in the sun, and people still don't die from eating it.

    I'll find out whether 4 ºC was cold enough about five weeks from now. If I die, I'll let you know ;)
     
  15. Mar 21, 2019 #15

    orangehero

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    Is UMAI used commercially? If not what are the drawbacks (if any)?
     
  16. Mar 21, 2019 #16

    Michi

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    I don't think it's used commercially. The point of the bags is to allow you to dry age meat in a refrigerator, instead of needing a dedicated cold room or some such.

    There are plenty of YouTube videos where people people compare normal dry ageing with the UMAi bag method. Looks like the results are pretty much identical, if you believe those videos.

    I'll report back with how mine worked out. (If I don't die, that is…)
     
  17. Mar 21, 2019 #17

    5698k

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    I haven’t died yet...
     
  18. Mar 21, 2019 #18

    orangehero

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    So I'm wondering why wouldn't more restaurants or grocery stores offer dry aged beef without having to invest in dedicated cold rooms? I have a small fridge I can convert, but now I'm thinking what's the point if these UMAI bags are fine.
     
  19. Mar 21, 2019 #19

    Michi

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    The bags are expensive. Somewhere around USD 7 each. It's a fancy high-tech semi-permeable membrane. Similar in concept to Gore-Tex. (I don't know if the bags are actually made of Gore-Tex or something else.) The point is that the membrane is breathable, so water vapour can get out, but bacteria can't get in.

    For commercial quantities, a cold room is probably a lot more practical and versatile.
     
  20. Mar 22, 2019 #20

    bahamaroot

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    My parents own a farm and we process our own beef. After slaughter and quartering the beef hangs in a 34F cooler from 21-28 days before butchering. The temperature range can vary safely from 34-38F or 1-3.3c as pozap stated.
     
  21. Mar 22, 2019 #21

    krx927

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    One additional question

    When you put the meat in the bags you use vacuum machine to seal them in, or what?
     
  22. Mar 22, 2019 #22

    Michi

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    Yes, you are supposed to use a vacuum sealer. (It would be impossible to use those bags without, unless you glue the edges of the bag together somehow, or roll the edge and clamp it to create the seal.)

    The UMAi bags don't have the usual grooves that you get on the inside of ordinary vacuum bags. (Those grooves allow air to be extracted even when the sides of the bag near the edge are squashed together by the sealing machine.) Instead, the UMAi bags are completely smooth.

    To avoid having the sides of the bag press against each other, thereby sealing the bag and preventing the pump from evacuating the air, UMAi include something they call "VacMouse". That's basically a strip of plastic mesh that you put between the edges before sealing. The mesh still allows air to be extracted because it stops the two plastic sheets from completely sealing against each other; when the heating strip on the machine is turned on, the mesh melts together with the plastic of the bag and forms an air-tight seal. (The mesh looks very similar to the mesh you can buy at fabric stores for glueing bits of fabric together by ironing them with a layer of the mesh in between. It almost certainly isn't the same material though.)

    At any rate, the entire process it simple, easy, fool-proof, and painless. Basically, throw the meat into the bag, squash it against a corner so as much of the bag is in contact with the meat as possible, put the VacMouse strip between the edges of the bag, and seal away.

    If all this sounds mysterious, just google "UMAi bag" or some such. There are quite a few videos that show how it works.

    Meanwhile, I can't wait to die five weeks from now ;)
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2019
  23. Mar 23, 2019 #23

    podzap

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    Like
     
  24. Mar 24, 2019 #24

    Bodine

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    I dry age in my garage fridge set at 34 degrees, I just put the portion of beef on a rack that allows air flow from beneath and let it sit for 3-4 weeks. Trim the dried portion and cook it up.
    Enhances beef flavor to the max.
    I have done prime rib roasts, ny strip loins, and filet loins with great success.
     
  25. Mar 25, 2019 #25

    megapuff5

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    Look forward to hearing the results. A friend of mine bought the UMAi bags and it looked really cool. I've been wanting to do it since. What cut of beef did you use?
     
  26. Mar 25, 2019 #26

    Michi

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    At the moment, I have a 1.5 kg piece of rib eye (bone out) sitting in the fridge. Things are looking good so far. Meat is darkening, and no smell.

    I normally buy dry aged beef at my local butcher. They have a glass cabinet in the shop where all the "works in progress" are on display. I asked them what temperature they use, and was told that, at the moment, the cabinet is at 4.9 ºC. It looks like my impending death might suffer a bit of a delay ;)
     
  27. Mar 25, 2019 #27

    podzap

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    This whole "glass cabinet at the shop" thing started springing up about a year ago and I'm guessing about 90% of supermarket meat shops around the world bought into some huge industry report that claimed dry-aged beef was about to take over the market. Like it is some new kind of invention :) Store manager to the "butchers": read the instructions with the kit and jack the price up by 3-4 times.

    They probably think that 1.6c over the maximum safe temp is "close enough". I mean, hell, it's only 1.6 :) It is absolutely enough to create spoilage.
     
  28. Mar 25, 2019 #28

    Michi

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    I've been shopping at that butcher shop for many years. They've had dry aged beef for around five years, possibly longer. And I've been buying their dry aged meat from them for about that long.

    I've had many conversations with these guys. They are the kind of traditional butcher outfit that is getting very, very hard to find these days in Australia. They don't just have pre-packaged cuts on trays with plastic wrap over them; instead, they have carcasses in the cold room. When I want an unusual cut, they literally go out the back and cut whatever I want off a carcass.

    I'm inclined to trust them. After many meals from their dry aged meat cabinet, I have yet to experience any ill effects. Don't forget that, until about forty years ago or so, all meat was effectively dry aged. Heck, when I was a child, the cold room at my local butcher shop was cooled with ice blocks; large-scale electric refrigeration didn't exist back then (at least not for small suburban butcher shops; we still had gas street lighting at the time). I very much doubt that butchers could keep their cool room at a constant 2 ºC (or whatever) that way, and people didn't die like flies from eating the meat, regardless.

    Even assuming that there might be some bacterial contamination (which I think is unlikely), what's the absolute worst that will happen? A bad bout of diarrhoea, most likely. While I appreciate hygiene and food safety, there is such a thing as getting carried away a bit, I think. It's not as if the meat turns from "safe" at 3.3 ºC to "health hazard" at 4 ºC…
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2019
  29. Mar 25, 2019 #29

    podzap

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    Yeah, good those kind of old-school butchers are still found somewhere :) Due to temperature instabilities, of course in the old days dry aging was pretty much limited to 28 days. Nowadays with proper temperature control you find stuff well past 100 days! Dry aging, by definition, is the controlled spoiling of the outer layer of the meat without spoiling the inside.

    In any case, it tastes awesome. I hope that yours turns out even better than expected.
     
  30. Mar 25, 2019 #30

    Bill13

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    My only caveat with using a garage fridge is not to do so in the winter months (unless it's detached), or at least for not as long. Part of what is happening with dry aging is that we are using the dehumidification process that occurs when the fridge is going thru it's cooling cycles. If you live somewhere where it gets cold, and your garage gets cold, this cycling of the compressor does not happen as often. Yes, I found out the hard way last winter;(.
     

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