There are two main ways that you can age your beef for even better eating. These are:
1. Dry age – in a humidity and temperature-controlled cabinet or environment with the beef allowed to ‘breathe’. Allows for more intense flavour. Very dry edges may need to cut off prior to eating. Mostly done in purpose build dry aging cabinets.
2. Wet age – in a cold fridge within a sealed container. Allows for increased tenderness and flavour development. This is what I will describe the necessary conditions of below.
Our farm-direct beef is already aged for up to 10 days in a commercial cold room prior to bone out, cutting and packing. From here wet aging can be easily undertaken at home, however there are just a few things to consider when planning to wet age your beef.
The first consideration is the temperature of the fridge. Ideally meat should be stored in a fridge (at the back if possible) held at a constant temperature of around 2°C. It should be noted that most kitchen fridges will sit at around 5°C and constant opening and closing of the door will see some fridges up around 8°C for much of the day. This will age your meat much more quickly than a constantly cold environment. Please be aware that in this circumstance, meat (and other items) will go off quite quickly and the below timelines will not apply. If you do not have a space to safely (coldly) store your beef, then the freezer is the best place to put it, probably within a week of purchase.
The second consideration is that our beef comes in commercial vacuum packaging. It is essentially a thick plastic bag (soon to be a compostable variety) with the air sucked out and heat sealed in a commercial packing machine. Sometimes there will be extra plastic or bone guard in the bag to prevent small holes from forming in the bag from sharp bones. When you buy meat from the supermarket or butcher it often is packaged in lightweight freezer bags or on Styrofoam trays with plastic wrap covering. In this instance the air contained with the meat is what will cause the meat to age more quickly.
For the purposes of beef storage, the best situation is for the vacuum bag to remain sealed with the air sucked out. In this condition, beef cuts with no bones (beef matures faster on the bone) will last in the fridge for up to three weeks*. Bone-in cuts, steaks, mince, diced steak will have a shorter fridge life due to processing (cutting) and the presence of a bone, probably 1-2 weeks.
Infrequently, small leaks will form in the packaging as a result of a small tear or incomplete heat seal. This may result in air leaking into the bag. We do our best to quality control for this and repack anything we find whilst packing boxes with a new bag and seal. Please note that, in this condition the meat is still perfectly fine, but will just need to frozen or eaten a little bit sooner. If there is air in the package, then the meat just needs to go in the freezer within a week of delivery.
Once you've wet aged your beef, you can get ready to cook it. When you open the pouch you may notice a slightly different (not off or too stinky) smell from your beef. Wash it off with fresh water, let it sit to get to room temperature before cooking and cook as you normally would.
Please note that other meats – pork, lamb & chicken store very differently to beef. They should all be frozen within a week of delivery as they do not age well in the fridge like beef does.
I hope this information helps with your next purchase and store of our beef. Please email me with any other questions or comments.
*stored in a constantly cold (2°C) fridge