One of the most important things in the dry-aging process is creating the right environment for meat to age properly. A controlled environment is provided by a proper dry-aging chamber with a ventilation system and advanced temperature and humidity control. When properly dry-aged, meat will have rich flavour and tenderness that people be willing to buy even for a premium price.
Characteristics of a good dry-aging chamber
The ventilation system of a dry-aging chamber includes advanced temperature control that will ensure a perfect dry-aged meat. Meat is a temperature-sensitive food that must be properly stored and controlled from the moment it is purchased from the butcher. To achieve the flavourful and tender profile of meat, it needs to be stored in a chamber with a climate between 34.7 to 35.6 degrees Fahrenheit. To achieve the tight temperature window, the dry-aging chamber must have the right technology to maintain the required levels.
Oxygen is a very important factor in the dry-aging process. It will allow a crust to develop that will increase the meat’s flavour. Inside the controlled environment of a dry-aging chamber, meat will undergo a flavour transformation. When moisture is pulled out, naturally-occurring enzymes will break the muscles and connective tissues, making the meat more tender.
The extremely precise conditions of the dry-aging chamber do not exist in most kitchens. It is possible to control exact temperature and humidity but a large of piece of meat is required to compensate for the loss in weight due to moisture loss and the trimming of the crust. Dry-aging at home requires a dedicated refrigerator to prevent the meat from absorbing the flavours of other foods. It does not make good economic sense to try the dry-aging process at home.
When looking for a dry-aging chamber that you can use in a restaurant or steakhouse, it is important to get a perfect system that can manage temperature and climate efficiently.
- The volume of the chamber’s interior must be designed to maximize the effectiveness of the dry-aging process with enough space to allow air to circulate and prevent mould build up.
- It must have adequate space to properly store a large cut of top-grade prime beef with a thick cap of fat on the exterior.
- All of the systems in the chamber must create and circulate a salty cold and humid microclimate that will ensure optimal drying and ripening of meat. Salt plays an important role in the dry-aging process because it adds an additional element of flavour to the meat.
- Lighting in the chamber and behind the salt must be calibrated to create an interesting and exciting visual experience for a customer.
- All steel fittings and insulation must have undergone testing to ensure that they can withstand the salt environment and high humidity.
Next time you have a fancy dinner, why not try dry-aged steak to appreciate the time and efforts invested in making the beef more tender and flavourful. You will no longer be surprised why your steak is priced higher than the traditional fresh steaks you always order.