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The History & Process of Dry Aging Meat

Meat aging experiences got a surge of popularity in the 1980s and highly demanded in high-end restaurants around the world. 

 

But meat has been hung and dry aged throughout history of antiquities for the purpose of preservation.

 

Growing up in Ethiopia in the 50s, depending on the season, we used to have leftover meat hanging up in the kitchen (yeah! All out - open air) for days, while fresh slaughtered meat was pushing its way in.

 

That was the good old days, when you kill a lamb three days ago with some left over Leg of lamb hanging dry and also fresh slaughtered cow beef on the side. (ለቁርጥና ክትፎ)

 

We even had a saying የስጋ ትል፡ የዘመድ ጥል noting that a few worms on the aged meat is not a deal breaker.

 

That was then, but now thank God for technology, no need to sacrifice wellbeing for flavor. 

Comparing color and flavor concentration

The popular methods of dry aging meat for personal use in your fridge are:

  1. The open air with the presence of salt-blocks.
  2. The use of a moisture permeable dry bag to protect the meat while it is aging.

I used the second one, which I have satisfied with the result.

 

While using the moisture permeable dry bag for about a month:

  • Surface mold growth was not present.
  • Flavor and scent exchange within the refrigerated environment was not a concern.

 

The moisture permeable dry bag, which is intended for this purpose has allowed the meat to age and still achieve the same bold, beefy flavor and tender texture as traditional open-air dry aging.

When processing meat to age, two major changes take place in a duration of two weeks to one month.

  1. The dehydration process creates a greater concentration of meat flavor and taste.
  2. The meat natural enzymes break down the connective tissues in the muscle, which leads to more tender – melt in your mouth meat.

The process of dry-aging promotes growth of certain fungal (mold) species on the external surface of the meat forming an external crest to protect from spoilage, which would be trimmed off later for cooking.

 

These fungal species complement the natural enzymes in the meat by helping to tenderize and increase the flavor of the meat.

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