You might have heard talk of dry aging around the braai fire or at a restaurant, but have you ever heard of wet aging? And do you know that the majority of meat you buy in South African supermarkets is wet-aged? While the idea is not to sway you one way or the other, here is some information to help you establish your own preference.
During the maturation process of beef, the muscle fibres become softer, which increases the tenderness and flavour of the beef. Whether you wet-age or dry-age, it is of utmost importance that the cold chain remains intact during the entire process to ensure the beef retains its optimal quality. It also goes without saying the better the quality of the beef that you startwith, the better the final product will be.
Wet aging occurs when meat is matured in special vacuum barrier bags while stored in a chilled facility. This process has become increasingly popular as the vacuum bag ensures minimal moisture loss and results in a juicier steak and the meat also matures much faster than during dry aging. Due to the shorter maturation time (about 10 days) and higher yield, the wet-aging method is more cost effective.
Dry aging is a slow process during which raw meat is kept unpackaged in a specially designed chilling facility for several weeks. The moisture that gets lost during the maturation process results in an intense beefy flavour in the final product. The meat that dries out on the outer sides of the carcass or meat primal cut needs to be trimmed off before cooking. The trimming, storage time and moisture loss drives up the price per kilogram of the final dry-aged product.
Both maturation options have their pros and cons. In the end the choice is determined by budget, availability and personal preference. Why not try both? Read more about Sparta’s wet-aging and meat maturation processes at https://www.sparta.co.za/angus/ .
– Miejon van Zyl