Aging Adds Value
Like fine wine and cheese improve with time, so does properly aged beef. Aging improves beef tenderness and intensifies flavor. For the best results, substantial marbling is required like the amount present in top-Choice and Prime beef, such as the Certified Angus Beef ® brand.
Aged to perfection
During aging, beef is refrigerated, typically at 33-36° F, for an extended period of time. That’s when natural enzymes in the meat break down proteins within the muscle fibers. As a result, tenderness is improved and flavor is enhanced.
The enzymes start working after harvest, with improvement in tenderness largely occurring within 10 days. Most beef sold in supermarkets is aged 5-7 days. In foodservice, beef is usually aged 14-21 days for more intense flavor. Some cuts, such as top sirloin, benefit from more aging.
Making the best better
Aging is a science that takes the Certified Angus Beef ® brand’s unrivaled quality to its fullest potential. At the foodservice level, we require aging most cuts for 21 days, from date of pack, for robust flavor, juiciness and tenderness. Licensed distributors offer many options for wet and dry aging, as well as custom aging programs.
Not all beef is aged, but the clear majority of aged beef is wet aged. This beef is sealed in airtight vacuum packages and refrigerated at a carefully controlled temperature.
- Wet-aging beef improves tenderness similar to dry aging, but has less of an impact on flavor.
- Wet aging does not require as much trimming and minimizes yield loss.
- Some restaurants further differentiate their steaks through extensive aging programs.
This artisanal method of aging is a rare art today. Less than 1% of beef is dry aged.
- Fresh beef primals are stored, without packaging, on racks in open-air coolers. Temperature, airflow and humidity are controlled to develop a characteristic steakhouse flavor, often referred to as “nutty” or “oaky”. Temperature, humidity (typically between 70-80%) and ultraviolet light also inhibit bacterial growth.
- During dry aging, meat undergoes some dehydration. Moisture evaporates from the outer surface, concentrating the meat’s flavor inside – much like reducing a sauce.
- The meat is carefully trim med before cutting into steaks which, combined with dehydration, can result in 15% or higher yield loss. Beef with less fat typically loses more weight.
- Dry-aged beef is about 15-20% more expensive because of yield loss and the cost of maintaining a dedicated dry-aging cooler.