Meat storage is challenging when you have no refrigerator or freezer. This should not limit you from enjoying some properly stored steak that is rich in flavors as well as dry-aged.
You can use dry-age storage bags to attain a prolonged lifespan for your cuts. Not only are they effective, but also easy to acquire and use. They are known to turn a normal steak into beef that is both richly flavored and smooth in texture.
There are many things to learn in regards to dry-aging as evident in the following context.
What Does Dry-aging Mean?
When meat is stored for a while, an enzymatic layer starts forming over it. This is a protective measure for the meat to prevent external factors such as bacteria, from damaging it. The collagen present in the fibers, holding muscles in place, starts acting on them, impacting more tenderness in the meat and adding flavor to it.
Dry aging refers to a meat-storage process that involves leaving the meat uncovered under a certain temperature. After a given period, a hard crust starts developing over its surface. The new toughened layer is hard and has to be sliced skinned before the meat can be cooked.
This storage method is highly preferred over wet-aging because of the nutty and concentrated flavors developed by the cuts over time.
Do Dry-aging Bags Really Work?
After the statement issued above highlighting that dry-aging involves storing the meat in an uncovered state, you may be wondering how vacuum sealer bags are capable of providing a similar effect.
In their defense, Umai, a dry-age sealer bags manufacturing company, says that their products are created using a semi-permeable material that makes it possible for both moisture and oxygen to penetrate.
On the other hand, some people argue that the membrane of this dry-aging bag is the exact opposite of how the process should be executed, given its ability to allow moisture and oxygen inside it.
This leads to the question, “Do dry aging bags really meet their intended purpose?”
The company in charge of manufacturing these bags, UMAi, assures its customers that they are tried, tested, and proven to be effective. Similarly, the people who have used them hold a similar opinion concerning their effectiveness.
The company backs up its idea of a semi-permeable bag, stating that it is important for air and moisture to circulate freely around the meat, to create a natural aerobic process that allows its crust to form biochemically.
Compared to bare refrigeration or other types of storage methods, users have aired their contentment with dry-aging.
These bags are sold to size, depending on the type of cuts that will be stored in them. Some are made for ribeye, striploin among others.
The semi-permeability of their membrane regulates the penetration of oxygen and moisture to a given measure.
These dry-aging bags give your meat an intense and juicy flavor within the 28 to 45 days storage period.
After storage, the meat comes out dry, with a soft texture and buttery richness.
You can store your dry-aged beef cut in a refrigerator under the suggested temperature. The meat is free from contamination and bad odor owing to the top-notch technology applied in the making of these bags.
Special instructions and guidelines have been issued to help you with using the bags correctly.
Which Types of Meat Can be Dry-aged in a Bag?
Beef is the main type of meat recommended for storage in a dry-age bag. This is because pork, lamb, and other meats are unlikely to respond well to the process due to their soft and/or fatty nature.
Most lamb and pork meat is cut from younger animals as compared to beef. Adding to the unsaturated fats present in them, the two gather undesirable flavors and unpleasant odors, instead of a dry crust, while stored in dry-aging bags.
The bags come treated with salts that act as curing agents that make the dry-aging process more flavorful.
Steps on Dry-aging Beef in a Bag
There is a specific procedure to follow if you want your beef to get that crusty, richly flavored appearance after dry-aging.
The steps covered in this context also help in preventing the meat from bad odor, contamination and bar it from other unwanted factors that may affect it.
Select Your Cut
When choosing the meat to dry-age, go for cuts that are well-marbled, thick, and less fatty. An example of this is the porterhouse steak. The process is designed to suck moisture out of the meat, which is why a cut with good marbling is recommended since it prevents the total dryness of the meat during cooking.
The meat’s thickness is important so that you’ll be left with a reasonable chunk to cook after slicing the dry crust off. Another reason to consider this factor is that lean meat may not be able to store all the accumulated flavors properly.
Cuts attached to a bone are not suitable for dry-aging since they can pierce through the bag and limit the process.
2. Vacuum Seal the Bag
For this step, a vacuum sealer is a must-have. It locks up the bag and turns it into a vacuum pack, preventing any direct fluids or other foods from getting into direct contact with the dry-aged beef.
After placing your chosen cuts inside the bag, clump it using a sealer and put it on a bowl or tray inside the refrigerator. It is advisable to pick a specific shelf for dry-aging the meat. This separates it from other foods and prevents other foods’ juices from dripping on the bag, to avoid their absorption through its breathable cover.
3. Refrigerate Your Meat
The recommended temperature for this process ranges between 36 to 41° F. At this stage, make sure that your fridge is maintained around this temperature range. For maximum results, keep turning the sealed bags from one side to the other regularly. This ensures uniformity of the process.
4. Remove the Crust
The time limit set for dry-aging ranges between 3 to 4 weeks. When you are ready to savor your dry-aged beef, start by skinning the hard and dark layer formed over its external surface. If it’s not trimmed, the crust prolongs your cooking time as well as prevents the meat from gathering the desired flavors during seasoning, smoking, or grilling.
How Long Should the Dry-aging Last
For meat to retain its beefy flavors and taste, it should be dry-aged for about 3 to 4 weeks. A longer period than that will take away the steak’s signature taste and smell due to fermentation.
Some people dry-age their meat for up to 200 days or more, depending on their mode of storage and preferred tastes.
In this case, the standard measures of storage suggest that pre-packaged meat or that which is bought from a store should not last more than 30 days in a dry-age bag. At this point, it has attained the additional tenderness and flavors that are bearable to eat. Storage beyond 28 days may start reversing the beef’s tenderness and result in a pungent smell that is not appealing to most people.
Despite this, dry-aging is limited to personal preferences and can be carried on for as long as you deem necessary.
Dry-aged meat has been embraced since time immemorial. Some people prefer their beef dried for a long time while others prefer to do it over a short period.
Using dry-aging bags for this process is the modern-day form of storage and it has turned out to be more convenient and easier in comparison to other methods.
Ensure that you pick a suitable beef cut that will not damage the bag. Follow the steps listed and dry for as long as you prefer. Before cooking, remember to skin the crust of the meat to create exposure to the inner flesh. This also enables heat and flavors to penetrate it for perfect cooking.
Related: Find out what’s the difference between dry and wet aging