How to Dry Age Steak at Home

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Dry aged steaks can be expensive in restuarants.
Dry aged steaks can be expensive in restuarants. (Image: beef steak image by green308 from Fotolia.com)

Dry aged steaks are created by exposing whole pieces of beef to the open air for an extended length of time. This exposure causes the moisture to evaporate from the muscle tissues, tenderizing the meat and enhancing the beef flavor. Once the meat has been successfully dried, it can be cut into steaks, cooked and served. When done in a restaurant, the time the aging process takes is figured into the price, resulting in a very expensive meal. But budget-conscious foodies need not live without. With careful planning and attention to detail, steaks can be successfully dry aged at home.

Things You'll Need

  • Refrigerator thermometer
  • Boneless beef rib eye or loin strip
  • Paper towels
  • White cotton towels or cheesecloth
  • Wire cooling rack
  • Shallow baking pan
  • Sharp knife
  • Plastic storage bags

Place a thermometer in center of your refrigerator. Monitor the temperature of the refrigerator for one week, checking the thermometer three to five times each day to ensure the appliance is able to maintain a temperature of less than 40 degrees F. Adjust the thermostat inside the refrigerator, if necessary, to create an environment that is cold enough to allow the meat to age while discouraging the growth of potentially harmful bacteria.

Purchase a whole, boneless beef rib eye or loin strip from a local butcher. You cannot dry age single steaks because they are too thin and will simply dry out, rather than age. Choose a piece of beef graded USDA prime that has a thick layer of solid fat covering the exterior of the meat. The fat will help shield the beef, preventing unnecessary spoilage.

Unwrap the meat, and rinse it thoroughly with cool water. Allow the beef to drain briefly, then pat the meat with paper towels, repeatedly pressing the towels firmly against the surface to absorb any excess moisture.

Cover the meat loosely in white, cotton dishtowels or several sheets of cheesecloth. Place the wrapped piece of beef in the center of a large, wire cooling rack. Pick up the rack and the meat, and set them inside a shallow baking pan. Carefully transfer the entire setup to the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.

Refrigerate the beef for 10 to 14 days, changing the wrappings each day to help keep the meat as dry as possible. The wire rack and baking pan also should be washed and thoroughly dried each day to help prevent the growth of unwanted bacteria or mold. Keep a thermometer near the meat to ensure the temperature does not rise above 40 degrees F. If the refrigerator is too warm, the meat could spoil and will not be safe to eat.

Wait until the beef has reached the preferred aging time, and then remove it from the refrigerator. Strip off the wrappings and use a sharp knife to remove any dry, discolored or hardened areas from the surface of the meat. Then cut steaks from each end. Cook as desired or roast the meat whole.

Rewrap any unused portion of beef and return it to the refrigerator. If any meat remains after 21 days, trim the beef as desired and place the individual pieces into heavy duty plastic bags for storage in the freezer.

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