Dry-Aging versus Wet-Aging Beef
Dry-Aging vs. Wet-Aging Beef
Wet-Aging is a fairly new process or aging meat, while Dry-Aging has been around for a very long time. However, all meat benefits from aging and typically beef can be aged up to 30 days in the process of being exported and then finally consumed.
Aging is a process where enzymes break down and tenderise muscle tissues. For meats such as pork or lamb this is serval days, and for poultry this is much shorter just a couple of days.
Dry ageing is a process whereby a slab of primal of beef is placed on a rack to dry in a controlled environment for a period of time above freezing with sufficient air circulation and left for several weeks. Why dry-aged beef tastes better? Dry ageing allows enzymes naturally present in the meat to break down the muscle tissue and dehydrate, resulting in improved texture and nuttier flavour.
There is a downside in that the weight loss from dehydration and trimming off the crust caused by that dehydration means the price per kilogram is higher.
Wet aged delivers the same taste and tenderisation, at a lot lower cost.
The meat remains in a vacuum sealed bag, no oxygen and only the meat juices, and is stored at refrigeration temperatures of around 2 degrees Celsius.
With regard to export beef which is shipped vacuum sealed to Hong Kong chilled, this can take up to approximately 30 days. During this period the enzymes tenderise the beef and increase the taste.
Wet-Aging is recent because it arose from advances in plastics to allow vacuum sealing and reliable refrigeration. Its lower cost is a result of not losing weight through dehydration, no need for trimming and special monitoring required for Dry-Aged beef.
Unless the beef is specifically labeled as dry-aged, the meat you buy in the store has almost definitely been wet-aged.
Freezing and Wet-Aged Beef
When Wet-Aged meat is then frozen the freezing process locks in the tenderisation and flavour of Wet-Aged meat at the time of freezing.