According to the 17th-century art history record, dry-aging meat has been around for a very long time. However, it wasn't until the 1950s butchers learned curing meat using dry-aging techniques produced a more tender, succulent, and delicious steak. In the beginning, there was dry-aging now wet-aging has taken over the meat industry.
What is Wet Aging?
Wet-aging is a fairly new method birthed along with the rise of technological advancements in plastics and refrigeration. The process of wet-aging involves vacuum-sealing cuts of beef such as the ribeye or porterhouse in plastic before they are exported to merchants. The aging happens within the 4-10 days between slaughter and sale while the meat is being transported to its destination.
What is Dry-Aging?
With dry-aging, whole slabs of primal cuts are hung and exposed to oxygen in the air. The meat is stored at a temperature just above freezing and is left to age for many weeks. This process gradually dehydrates the meat while the enzymes penetrate the muscle tissues, compressing the meat and modifiying the texture as well as flavour.
Benefits of Wet-Aging?
Although the process seems short, the enzymes are still able to tenderize the meat enough that it meets quality standards. The biggest benefit of wet-aging is there is no weight-loss from dehydrating the meat. Furthermore, wet-aging is less expensive to produce, considering the meat does not require storage or observations periods. In the long run, this process results in cheaper consumer pricing which gives you more bang for your buck!
Benefits of Dry-Aging
The biggest benefit of this method is it creates an extremely tender product with an exceptional flavor. The drawback of this process is the meat loss due to the lack of moisture which ultimately lessens the quantity and raises the price per pound. Additionally, the exterior of the meat needs to be cut away before dividing the meat into portions to be sold which adds to the quantity loss.
What's the Difference Between Wet and Dry-Aged Beef?
The difference between wet and dry-aged beef lies in the taste. Wet-aged steaks have a strong fresh, somewhat metallic flavor, which may be preferable to steak enthusiasts who favor recently harvested meat. Wet-aged steak has better flavor than a leaner piece of beef like a top sirloin steak since the steak is very little marbling.
When seared, a dry-aged steak has an earthy and nutty tone that creates a steak with a strong meaty flavour, with a potent and rich aroma. Dry-aged beef is defined by an exceptionally tender steak due to the lengthy aging process, which causes the fibers inside of the muscle to become more moist and flavorful.
Whether it is dry or wet-aged both cuts of beef are worth trying. Although you have probably tasted wet-aged beef as it is common in stores, however, if you find wet-aged beef you should definitely give it a try!