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Dry aging vs Wet aging
Aging of meat occurs once it is processed. It helps to make meat more tender and enhances the flavor which makes the consumer’s eating experience more enjoyable. Many wonderful enhancements occur at various stages of the process. Aging meat is the system by which you allow time to pass so that enzymes, one of which is µ-calpain; break down proteins, which tenderises the meat and enhances the flavour.
What is the difference between wet and dry aging?
Wet aging is when meat is aged inside a vacuum pack – the moisture is retained within the vacuum pack.Dry-aged beef is aged uncovered which allows the cut to loose moisture.
The main difference between the two methods is a degree of flavor difference. With dry aging the fats oxidize and changes the flavor. The reduced moisture causes more intense flavor.
Beef is mainly wet-aged because it allows moisture to be retained. With dry aged beef the moisture loss increases costs and is reserved mainly for steak aficionados. Wet aged beef is more common and with its less funky flavor, it appeals to a wider beef eating population.
Dry aged beef is easily discernable based on the taste, aroma and price difference. Dry aged beef is always sold as such and demands a higher price because of the loss of moisture which must be compensated for in the price.
Aging of beef is safe when conditions are controlled properly and care is taken during the process. Beef should be dry-aged as primal cuts and not as individual steaks, because it would not be possible to effectively cut away the outer layer.
When meat has been aged for the correct time, the outer surface is cut away. It exhibits microbial growth as well as being dried out. The microorganisms cannot penetrate the meat so long as it is kept whole under clean, temperature controlled conditions and at the right humidity. Only the inner portion of the primal cut is used for steak.
When aged steak is cooked, microorganisms that may be on the surface will be killed,making the steak safe to eat. Wet aging is an easier and safer process, but does not produce the requirements as defined by aficionados.