Dry Aging Beef at Home

primerib

Most home cooks don’t have access to a meat market that sells dry aged beef or prime grade beef, but  a short period of dry aging in your refrigerator will improve the taste & texture of the standard rib roast that is readily available in any supermarket.

Beef is commercially aged with either a wet method (in cryovac packs) or a dry method. The dry method is what most fine steakhouses prefer. When beef is aged enzyme activity breaks down the protein making it more tender and dry aging concentrates the beefy goodness by evaporating  the moisture in the meat.

While many home economics teachers may gasp at this technique, this method is safe as long as you start with a roast that has been freshly cut, perfectly dry on the surface before aging and kept in the coldest part of your fridge (my coldest spot is in the back part of my lowest rack). Mold will not grow on the surface if the meat is completely dry, cold and uncovered.  Uninvited microrganisms are more likely to form on a piece of refrigerated beef if it is kept moist in the original packaging than if it’s stored dry, cold and uncovered till ready to cook.

I recommend starting with a freshly cut standing rib roast of at least 3 ribs (5 lbs) or more. Even a mega-mart supermarket will freshly cut a standing rib roast for you to order with some notice. Immediately upon getting home with the roast unwrap it. Do not wash the roast but pat dry very well with paper towels. Place on a rack in a dish and set in the coldest part of your fridge unwrapped. I like to age for 3-5 days but have done so up to 8 days with excellent results. The exterior of the roast will turn dark red as it ages but this will not affect the interior. It’s not a cause for alarm. Flip the roast from one side to the other every 12 hours during  the aging for even drying.

Remove the roast from the refrigerator 2 hours prior to roasting to bring to room temp and smear all over with a paste made from 2-3 cloves of minced garlic, 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon dried herbs of choice (I like thyme) and just enough soy sauce to moisten. The moisture in the paste actually rehydrates the outer layer of the meat as it roasts and produces a tasty, crusty exterior. I also like to tie my roast to help it keep it’s shape while roasting.

The actual roasting method in my opinion doesn’t make much difference in the final product. Both the high oven to start then lower temp to finish as well as the low temp all the way methods work very well. I have even roasted on an outside grill finishing with wood chips during the last hour of cooking with fantastic results. A meat thermometer is the best way to know when your roast is ready to pull from the oven. We like ours on the rare side and pull the roast out when a meat thermometer reaches 125 degrees and then let it rest for at least 45 minutes lightly covered with foil before serving. The internal temperature will rise 5-10 degrees more after it is removed from the oven. The final result will be a roast with a richly flavored, crusty exterior and a beefy, juicy interior. I serve this with Yorkshire pudding roasted in the pan drippings while the roast is resting and of course a simple horseradish sauce made with sour cream and hot horseradish.

Freshly cut beef is the only meat I recommend treating in this manner. Pork and poultry generally don’t benefit from aging unless you are into home butchering of livestock or are a hunter and know how to handle venison. When I have the luxury of planning in advance I also briefly age large steaks and larger pot roast cuts with this technique before cooking with equally fantastic results.

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    • Lloyd
    • March 12th, 2011

    Good day,

    I read your article on “Dry aging beef st home” and i am very interested in trying it.

    one question, you mentioned the coldest part of the refrigerator, do you have a recommendation on an actual temperature range?

    Thank you

    • The ideal internal temperature for home refrigerators should be between 35-38 degrees F for food safety in general.

      Most refrigerators will have areas that are cooler than others. The areas near the back of my refrigerator are the coldest. I know this because milk often freezes if I store it back there That shouldn’t be happening, but that’s another story).

      I would recommend that you put a thermometer inside your refrigerator. The closer to 32 degrees you can get without freezing your milk and condiments,the better.

      I have never had an issue with mold or spoilage, even when aging beef for an extended time, but it’s critical that you start the process with a freshly cut piece of meat and that it be placed on rack so air can circulate around it. The dryer and colder you can keep it, the longer you can age it without risking mold growth or spoilage.

      Don’t hesitate to ask if you have any other questions. If you decide to give this a try, I’d love to hear how it worked for you!

    • Aki
    • January 3rd, 2010

    I am dry aging a 6 lb. roast in my fridge right now for the first time. I am on day 7. So far, so good. No mold or foul odour noted. Meat is becoming a dark red.

      • lvegas
      • January 3rd, 2010

      Glad to hear it, sounds like you started with a dry, freshly cut roast and are keeping it cold. Time to think about your cooking method.

        • Aki
        • January 7th, 2010

        I am on day 10. Prime rib roast is looking good. A little bit of mold on one corner but the meat is turning a nice dry, dark red. My cooking method will be an oven roast. What do you think?

      • lvegas
      • January 7th, 2010

      Personally, I’d advise cooking your roast at this point. You are entering an advanced stage of aging as evidenced by the mold growth, that can only be controlled in an environment with very specific humidity and temperature, difficult in a home refrigerator. You have very likely achieved the maximum benefit from the aging process and should have a very flavorful, tender piece of meat at this point. Before you roast it, do as they do in steakhouses that serve aged meat and cut any visible mold off before roasting…..should you decide to age further, please keep me posted on your progress and results. I seriously would love to know how your roast turns out! Thanks for the update!

        • aki
        • January 15th, 2010

        Cooked my roast after dry aging for 10 days. The fuzzy stuff I
        thought was mold, was fuzz from the cheesecloth that I had the
        roast wrapped in. It tasted great, and the texture was fabulous!
        Now I plan on roasting one without dry aging so I can compare.

        • lvegas
        • January 15th, 2010

        So glad to hear it! The next time you age a roast, try doing it without covering it. I’ve found it really isn’t necessary and you do run the risk of creating areas favorable for mold growth with the cheesecloth.

  1. I just recently found a meat market (on the way back from Austin) that does this. I stocked up on a few items and some other interesting things they had available. Apparently they cater to the Highland Lakes crowd as well as big-time hunters, so they always have plenty of everything & they’re open year around. Thank. The. Lord. But honestly, I restrict us to 1 night of meat per week now that we’ve gotten older.

    Great, informative post!!!

  2. Good information, we are not big beef eaters, but when I do eat beef, I like something really nice like this!

    • Terri
    • September 24th, 2009

    Wow… sounds interesting! I might try this soon!

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