The Art of Dry-Aged Beef

Crow Butte Beef steaks are all “dry-aged. Not only are they extremely tender and juicy, they provide an exceptional  flavor.  Why is this important? Why should anyone care? A steak is a steak is a steak, right? Wrong! Every steak you eat is unique in quality. Every steak you eat, if graded by the USDA, would fall under a select, choice or prime catgeogry; prime being the best, the top of the line. In addition, steaks are also dry-aged or wet-aged when processing and before they are actually cut in to steaks.

Dry-aged beef is beef that has been hung or placed on a rack to dry for several weeks. The beef can hang to dry for anywhere from 14 to 28 days or more. After the animal is killed and cleaned, it is hung as a full or half carcass. Dry aging uses primal cuts. A primal cut of meat is a piece of meat initially separated from the carcass of an animal during butchering. An example would be the entire tenderloin before being cut in to filets. Primal or sub primal cuts, such as strip loins, rib eyes, and sirloin, are placed in a refrigerator unit, also known as a "hot box".

Temperature, airflow and humidity in the cooler are controlled to develop a characteristic steakhouse flavor in the beef; often referred to as that “nutty or oaky” flavor. The temperature and humidity (typically set between 70-80%) and ultraviolet light also inhibit bacterial growth. During the dry aging process the beef undergoes some dehydration. Moisture evaporates from the outer surface of the beef, concentrating the meat’s flavor inside; much like reducing a sauce on the stovetop.  The beef is carefully trimmed before being cut in to steaks, which, combined with dehydration, can result in a 15% or higher yield loss. Beef with less fat, and aged longer, typically loses more weight.

The dry-aging process involves considerable expense, as the beef must be stored near freezing temperatures. Subprimal cuts can be dry aged on racks either in specially climate-controlled coolers or within a moisture-permeable drybag. Moreover, only the higher grades of meat  such as prime or choice beef,can be dry aged, as the process requires meat with a large, evenly distributed fat content known as marbling.  Because of this, dry-aged beef is rarely if ever available outside of high-end steakhouses and upscale butcher shops or grocery stores. It is also available at Crow Butte Beef. The key effect of dry aging is the concentration and saturation of the natural flavour, as well as the tenderization of the meat texture.

The dry aging process is an art and dry aged steaks are rare and difficult to find. This artisanal method of aging beef is truly an extraordinary art as less than 1% of all beef is dry aged.  Dry aged beef is about 15-20% more expensive than the more common wet-aged beef simply because of the yield loss, the cost of maintaining a dedicated dry-aging cooler and the time it takes to age.  In addition, because dry-aging is so rare, it’s more difficult to find a good quality, dry-aged steak. At Crow Butte Beef we offer USDA Prime, Dry-Aged steaks; the best of the best. You won’t find better quality any place else.