The roots of Dry Aged Beef – a trend with tradition

Dry aged beef is currently something everyone talks about. Not only Michelin-star chefs and gourmets swoon over the unique taste of dry aged meat. Hobby-cooks and grill-lovers reach for the dry aged steak more and more often, causing even supermarkets to offer grill meat with a dry aged label on it.

What is sold as a taste-revolution is actually an old traditional butcher handicraft. The English term “dry aged” means nothing more, than the maturing of meat – one of the oldest methods in the world to tenderize beef and make it more flavorful. 

The Roots of Dry Aged Beef

Only one glance at art history is sufficient to show that meat maturing is no new invention. Even in the 17th century the painter Rembrandt captured this theme in his painting “The Slaughtered Ox”. A cut open ox is hanging in a dark butchers chamber, the red meat is marbled with yellow fat. In the background, we see the curious stare of the butcher’s wife.

Back then, the procedure was simply called the “hanging” of meat, because the meat was hung up by a hook. The greatest malice were the unstable temperatures. Beef too can be contaminated with dangerous bacteria whilst the meat matures. Only due to further development of technical engineered cooling systems, the risk has been minimized.
Up until the 1970’s meat had been dry aged. Once, however, vacuum technology had been invented the food industry changed its course. So called wet aging was adopted. It enables a faster maturing process with the benefit of having less weight loss. Thereby more meat could be sold by weight and more profit could be made.

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