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I've been meaning to do a write up on my experimentation into dry aging. I just completed my first experiment this past weekend. I got a lot of ideas from this website. I'll share what I did, learned, and what I intend to do in the future.

 

I'm a lover of dry aged beef. Pappas Bro. Steakhouse in Houston is my favorite steak. I believe they age their steaks for 28 days. However, at $56 a steak (at minimum), it is limited to special occasions. I had done some research on aging beef. As you know, you need the larger cuts of beef. I was always too cheap to buy these cuts. Plus, I never could find those nice cuts of beef to try. That changed.

 

A new Costco opened near my house. Sam's was closer, but I was never amazed at their meat selections. Our Sam's Club card was lapsing soon. I told my wife we needed to check out Costco. We did. I was really amazed at the meat selections at Costco. I thought I'd do some research on dry aging before jumping in.

 

Thoughts on dry aging beef seem to be like arguments over the best kind of oil in a car. Everyone seems to have their own thoughts on how to do this without killing yourself. Humidity, UV lights, meat hovering over a pan of salt, air circulation, temperature, stability of temperature/humidity--everyone has a sure fire method of working. At the end of the day, you are controlling the break down of tissue on the beef. You want to prevent nasty stuff from happening. It seemed the most important thing was temperature. You can throw everything else out, but you need a temperature above freezing and below 40 to make this work. Temperature was the constant in all of the arguments. Controlled decay? Is that what we are doing?

 

Back to Costco I go with my shiny new membership. Right before Christmas, they had prime strip loin on sale for $25 off a package. (Thanks Guru for the head's up!)  I grabbed 2 packages. The small package was 11.51 pounds and the large was 14.89 pounds. At this point, I'm in this project $174.14 or $6.49 per pound. I can live with that. However, I'm going to be mad if I screw this up. The wife will probably never let me hear the end of it.

 

My setup was an empty full size fridge in the garage. If you have the room, folks almost give these things away on craigslist, etc. I took all of the racks out. I made my own racks with wire storage drawers from Lowe's. I bought a wireless thermometer from Amazon so I wouldn't have to open the door to check the temp. It recorded the high and low temp. I monitored the temp for a day before placing the meat in the fridge to make sure I was keeping temp above 32 and below 40. The temp would swing but primarily stay at 33 to 36. I put the meat on the wire racks. I spaced them about 2 inches apart to let air flow between them. Again, temps would swing. Over the next 28 days, the memory showed 31 to 41 degrees. I never physically noticed it at 31 or 41 degrees. The memory indicated from time-to-time this would happen. I assumed these were brief encounters. Most of the time I looked at the thermometer, the temp was around 34 to 38.

 

A few days into the process, I made a post here. I was strongly urged to monitor humidity. I bought a small reptile hydrometer. I placed a pan of water and small desk fan on the floor of the fridge (under the meat). This was cheap insurance. Although, I had read from several sources that humidity was overrated. During the process, humidity ranged from 30% to 80%. I really don't think the water and fan had anything to do with it. My fridge is older. This may have something to do with the humidity swings.

 

Just a few days in, the meat starts to get the hard outer layer. I started to notice a cheese smell around 18 days. It wasn't overpowering. I'd say a faint smell. By 28 days, the smell was more pronounced. I wouldn't say strong at all though.

 

The results--The large piece aged for 21 days. Overall, I lost a little over 40% in waste and weight loss. I did a lot of trimming. That evening, I cooked up a steak. I was very impressed. The meat had a lot more flavor and was noticeably more tender than a "fresh" steak. On the other hand, the smaller piece aged for 28 days. Wow! While cutting, I noticed it cut like butter. Again, I cooked up a steak. It was awesome. This one realized about 36% waste and weight loss. After the 21 aged portion, I had read some recommendations to not trim so much. I paid attention to this advice which resulted in less waste.  (I had all of this documented--trimming loss, weight loss, etc. I can't seem to find that paper. If I find it, I will update with specific results.) At the end of the day, for less than $11 a pound processed, I have some nice dry aged prime beef. I've eaten 2 steaks, and I'm still alive so I think the process went well.

 

What did I learn?

-This is pretty easy.

-I really believe temperature is the main component to success.

-Minimize trimming

-I think the fan and pan of water was probably overkill

-I like 28 days for a taste

 

In the future, I'll take my meat out to at least 28 days. I'm going to try not using the pan of water and fan. I want to try ribeye next. Call me crazy, but I love chewing that dry aged fat. It has a crunch.

 

Note: I'm not an expert. This was my first time. I may have had beginner's luck. YMMV...yada..yada...

 

Billy

 

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Not beginners luck at all - Success.

Dry aging is really easy. Hardest part is getting over the trimming loss. I don't weigh it and I don't want to know. If I got a primal for $140 and cut out 14 steaks than each steak was $10 - that's all I care to know. Keeps my sanity since I'm a cheap a.........

I've recently come to the conclusion that humidity is not a big factor especially after that first week. I would skip the bowl but keep the fan. The extra circulation can only help and it's not costing you anything except a few pennies of electricity.

Next time we would like to see pictures please.

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I don't have an inexpensive source for the proper cuts of primals for doing this.  I will be suffering a lot of shrinkage from trims in most cases.  I'm not too worried about it because at the worst case, I'm still turning $6-$10/lb meat into $25-$30/lb meat by doing this :)

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Ok, this thread has finally sparked a REAL interest to give dry aging a shot. 

 

Can someone please explain the fan recommendation?  Are you simply using a small fan, running the power cord out the fridge door, and making sure the door is completely shut with the cord hanging out?  Having not tried this, it seems you run the possibility of creating an air leak, which seems it could create bigger temps swings inside the fridge??

 

And this next question could probably be answered with a simple search... but, is there a good "ready to go" setup already on the market?  One that I could look into buying, plug it in and be up and running?  I should probably already know this, but I just haven't been following these dry aging threads very closely.

 

And lastly, can a few of you post a pic or 2 of your setup in this thread (with and without meat)?  Would love to see it.

 

Thanks!!!!

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The SteakAger: - http://www.kamadoguru.com/topic/25766-first-look-review-the-steakager/

 

The Steak Locker - https://www.steaklocker.com/

 

I'm hoping that my build project is going to come in at under $250.

 

Yes.. you need to run the power cord out the door of the fridge.  For a fan cord it might be best to cut a small notch in the insulation strip.  This is what I plan to do on my mini fridge.  

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Like John said out the door. For setup pictures take a look at some of the other threads in the dry ageing Sub-Forum.

Mine is a 6" USB desktop fan so it's just a 5v cord (about the size of a maverick probe wire). Wasn't a big enough cord to worry about.

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Hi. I'm new to this site. and new to dry aging...so I'm in search of info and maybe some tricks/tips?  I own a SteakLocker. I got it for Christmas. I put a 12 pound ribeye roast in 5 days ago and anxiously awaiting results! I used a boneless roast because i got a killer deal on it. i will try bone in next. I looked at building my own, or using the bags, or buying a steakager, but ended up with steaklocker standalone unit as my choice. i don't have the space in my daily fridge for the steakager and I was a little worried about temp/humidity control if it wasn't in a fridge by itself, So I'll see how the steaklocker works out and post back. For anyone that has used a Steakager unit, what was your beginning weight before you started and what was your end weight yield after trimming it out (before cooking). ?

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@JP Cooking my one suggestion - being boneless I wouldn't go too long. The bones protect one side of the meat so without bones you'll be trimming off meat instead of bones. If it was me I'd go 21 days, 28 at the very most. 

 

The steak locker should be a good option for all the available options out there. Please start a new thread and post some pictures of the steak locker. 

 

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