Dry Aged Beef – You can taste the difference!


Can you remember the last delicious juicy, richly beefy tasting burger you had? Cooked to perfection. (our individual ideas of perfection may vary, but it was perfection none-the-less)

What was it that made that burger taste so good? At the end of the day, it comes down to three things:

  1. the breed of the beef (Angus isn’t hype, but not all Angus is equal) 
  2. fat content
  3. how the beef was aged & how long the beef was aged

If you want REALLY great tasting beef you’ll want to look beyond Angus and Shorthorn and more toward Heritage Breeds. Think Dexter, Randall Lineback or Galloway. The French will typically point you to Charolais. Do a little research, have a little fun, and most of all ask what breed of beef you are purchasing no matter where you choose to buy. You’ll probably be able to find Angus, Hereford or Holstein just about anywhere. We recommend finding a local rancher who will sell to you. (they can usually recommend a good honest butcher too!)

Chow Locally and Desert Roots Farm both have CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture programs) here in Arizona.  They source beef from three local Arizona ranchers, JH Grassfed Beef and Doublecheck Ranch and Southern Arizona Grass Fed Beef. All three are more than capable of educating you about the beef you are buying and working with you if you want specific cuts.

Once you are able to determine that you are purchasing good quality beef, you then need to make sure it’s well marbled. Fat content has a lot to do with the flavor profile, both during the aging process as well as when cooking!

Finally, how will you age it? Wet aging or dry aging? We’ve broached wet aging here.

The purpose of aging is to intensify and saturate the beefy flavor while increasing tenderness. Maximum tenderness is obtained at 34 days. No reason to age the beef any longer if you are only aging for the tenderness factor. So why go longer?

Your sub-primal cuts have four primary components. Fat, lean, bone and connective tissue. The aging process has no real effect on bone and almost no effect on connective tissue. The part of the sub-primal most greatly affected by dry aging is the lean. The lean is about 70% moisture by weight. So, the longer the dry aging process is carried on, the more loss occurs.

This moisture loss is what accounts for the intensification of flavor. The more moisture lost, the more intense the beefy flavor will be. But with the increase in flavor, you get the resulting decrease in total portions available. This loss or “shrinkage” is the biggest reason why you don’t see many supermarkets or butcher shops selling dry aged beef. Someone has to pay for the loss and it’s ALWAYS passed on the to consumer.

Dry aging beef using our sea salt assisted method typically results in lean moisture loss of about 30% over a 28-45 day period. That translates to a minimum price increase of about 60% without even factoring in the dedicated cooler space that was allocated for the 28+ day period of time. And as any good business manager knows it always about stock rotation. Moderately aged beef can be rotated out of the cooler and into the sales bins after just 7 days. So now you lose revenues on 4 stock rotations that someone has to pay for as well!

So, while you might be able to buy a 13-17 pound bone in rib eye roast for about $8 per pound, dry aged steaks cut from the same type roast will usually sell for $28-$32 per pound in a specialty meat shop – if you can find one. That same cut will run you about $65 for a 12 ounce rib eye at a nice white linen steakhouse.

Remember the burger we mentioned at the outset…someone cared enough to select good quality beef and aged it. This gave it the time and attention it needed to help develop the flavor profile that you now find so memorable. Best of all, you can recreate that at home! (dry aged beef burgers provide the same beefy deliciousness as a dry aged steak, but at a fraction of the cost – what could be better than that?!)

Of course, that’s only possible if you remember to properly season them too. So make sure you have some Sel Gris de Guerande, Applewood or Hickory Smoked sea salt, or even some Black Truffle salt on hand, as well as some good black or white pepper to finish the job right! (you know you can find all of them in our store)

But, let’s face it, not everyone want’s to keep $250+ worth of beef dry aging in their fridge just to be able to enjoy a great dry aged steak regularly. So, skip the rib roast sub-primals and move to the sirloin and the chuck. Dry age both of those, make your own ground beef blend, grill them to perfection and we promise you a mouth-watering burger experience unlike any other!

Why? Because when it comes to dry aged beef, no matter what cut you choose, you really CAN taste the difference!