What Does Aging Do?
Aging allows enzymes that are naturally present in meat to break down connective tissue. The longer the meat is aged for, whether it be days or months, the more concentrated and saturated the beef becomes. Ultimately, this allows for meat to present a texture and taste much more tender than that of a freshly cut piece of meat.
The breakdown of connective tissue allows for dry aging to produce very tender meat with a very concentrated flavor. This technique has become increasingly popular for creating a robust, earthy, and slightly nutty taste. Although dry aging does cause a significant amount of moisture to be lost throughout the process, the flavor created makes a variety of dishes unique.
Wet aging is a newer process and seems to be increasing in popularity as well. When wet aging, beef is sealed into an air tight plastic bag, often a Cryovac sealed bag, and aged for weeks at a time. This process allows for meat to not lose moisture throughout the aging period and does not require being trimmed prior to serving it. Therefore, the yield lost through dry aging is not apparent in wet aging-essentially making this process much more time and cost efficient.
Although the flavors produced by wet and dry aged steaks differs greatly, both processes enhance the taste and texture of the meat. Essentially, it is a matter of personal preference when choosing to dry or wet age steaks as the flavors produced is the most noticeable difference.