Aging Gracefully: Your Guide to Dry-Aging Steak

To achieve a perfectly cooked steak at home, there are a few important factors. Of course, the quality of the steak you select is a top priority. You'll need the right ingredients, equipment and a familiarity with good searing techniques. But beyond that, what can you do to make your steak taste even better?

Dry-aging is a simple and inexpensive way to make your home-cooked steak taste as mouth-wateringly delicious as one from the finest steakhouse. The process is easy to master, and you'll get to enjoy the flavorful benefits of dry-aging. Learn more about how to dry-age a steak at home and why you may want to try this classic technique.

What Is Dry-Aging?

Dry-aging is the process of placing beef in a temperature-controlled environment for a period of time before cooking it. The beef's exposure to open air changes the flavor and texture of the steak, with many finding a dry-aged steak preferable to that of a regular steak.

After a steak is dry-aged, the steak needs to be trimmed. This involves more extensive cuts than would be required to trim a fresh steak. In addition, the volume will be somewhat reduced due to moisture loss. As a result, the steak will be smaller after the dry-aging process is complete.

Benefits of Dry-Aging Steak

Dry-aging helps to intensify the flavors of beef. As a steak is dry-aged, the moisture levels are reduced significantly. In fact, a dry-aged piece of beef may lose around a third of its initial volume due to moisture loss. This helps to concentrate the flavors to make every bite even more impactful on the palate.

Dry-aging imparts a bit of a rich, nutty flavor to the steak as it is oxidized and enzymatic and bacterial actions take place. The longer a steak is dry-aged, the more of a "funky" flavor and aroma can develop. This has been compared to the funk of blue cheese, which can make the steak even more appealing to some.

The process of dry-aging also helps to tenderize a steak. The enzymes in the steak start to break down the muscle fibers and connective tissue as the steak is dry-aged. This makes the finished result far more tender and delicate than a typical steak.

Another important benefit of dry-aging is that it can elevate the quality of any steak.