Special Dinner At A Local Steakhouse? Understand The Beef Dry-Aging Process Before You Order

Posted on: 30 March 2015

If you are going on a special date night at a local steak restaurant, then you'll want to understand how beef is dry-aged. Each steak on the menu will list how long it was dry-aged, which will tell you a lot about the texture and flavor of the steak you will receive. By understanding the dry-aging process, you can order a steak that will have the flavor you enjoy.

Here is some information to help you better understand how and why beef is dry-aged:

Beef Dry-Aging Basics

Beef that is going to be turned into high-quality steaks is often hung in a humidity-controlled refrigerator post-slaughter in order to dry-age the meat. While the meat sections are hanging, the outer layers of meat dry and seal in the rest of the meat, which prevents it from rotting.

As the beef is dry-aging, the inner connective tissues and proteins are broken down by natural enzymes in the meat. This breakdown helps to greatly improve the flavor and tenderness of the meat. Additionally, the outer fat layers, called fat caps, are oxidized, changing the flavor of the inner meat.

Beef Dry-Aging Advantages

There are two main advantages of dry-aging beef:

  1. Tenderness
  2. Enhanced flavor

As beef ages, the enzymes are continually dissolving the connective tissues. This natural process makes the resulting steaks much more tender. And, as you might surmise, the longer the meat is aged, then the more tender it will be.

The second advantage of dry-aging is enhancement of flavor. In fact, the longer the beef is aged, the stronger the flavor enhancement will be. 

Beef Dry-Aging Times and Flavor Considerations

Typically, beef dry-aged up to 30 days will have the best flavor for most people's palates. Beef aged longer than this will tend to have a very strong "blue cheese" type flavor. 

You might be surprised to learn that beef can be safely dry-aged for up to 120 days. However, once a steak has reached this age, it will have a very strong cheese flavor that is not agreeable to most people.

Final Thoughts

Now that you understand how the dry-aging process makes more tender and flavorful steaks, you can order with confidence on your special date at a steakhouse like Prime 82 Restaurant & Bar. If you have additional questions about the steaks on the menu, then you should ask your server. They will be knowledgeable about the dry-aging process and can answer all of your questions.