A great steak is what we all aim for when we have that craving for red meat. Some of us like it nearly raw while others are not happy until there are no signs that it was ever red.
But I think we would all agree that a steak that has a real depth of flavour just can't be beaten. Apparently that only comes with Age!
Most of the red meat you buy from the supermarket has gone through a short period of aging, that is when the carcass has been hung in a cool room for a period of time before it is sliced up into the pieces that we recognise as roasts and steaks etc.
The Aging that we are talking about happens after the meat has been portioned and is quite often done as a wet age in a vacuum sealed plastic bag by professionals, we like most of us have no idea if it is something that we can do ourselves and if we did how would we do it.
So I went hunting for information on how to do it safely and found these Dry Aging Bags, the process sounded so simple and SAFE that I just had to try it out and the results were astounding. The Steaks were tender and most importantly so full of a real deep flavour that the next time I ate a steak straight from the butcher it was bland and could not hold a candle to the Dry Aged Steak that I had processed myself. And yes, I lived to tell the tale and there was never any point in the process that I thought "this does not look or smell right". Have a read of the overview of the process below and more details in the product page and the FAQ page.
The rest is history, we thought so much of the bags that we began importing them into Australia and we are now the distributor for our region. The bags are a result of European intelligence that developed the technology that is built into the bag that allows oxygen in and moisture out, all without spoiling. There is also a range of the Charcuterie Bags for safe air drying Hams, Salamis and Bacons including smoking. The bags come with detailed instructions and there is a lot of information on the internet if you want to understand more than what I have covered below.
You usually dry a full slab of meat and then portion it into steaks once the drying has completed. The drying time can be anywhere from 7 days to 21 days or even 30 days, our preference is around the 21 day time frame but of course it does depend on the cut of meat, the size of the piece and if it has a bone in it.
You choose the best bag size for the piece of meat making sure you have room to slide it in without it touching the sides too much as you want to make sure that you leave as much blood on the outside of the meat. This blood is what bonds with the bag so you need to make sure that you get as much contact between the meat and the bag as possible and no air pockets where possible. A commercial chamber type vacuum sealer is best but you can also use a snorkel type sealer and in some cases if you are patient you can use a chanel vacuum sealer with a little bit of fiddling**.
So once you have removed as much air as possible from the bag and have sealed it, you place it in your cool room or refrigerator and the process begins. We recomend that you place it on a rack or raise it somehow so that you get even air space around it, that way you won't get uneven drying. We also use some of the teflon coated Jerky mesh to eliminate ridges where the meat has dropped down in between the bars in the rack.
After the first 5-7 days you will see the meatchanging, darkening and the outer edge going harder, by the 15th day the change is most noticeable and it gets darker and harder from then on. Once you have reached a point where you feel that it is dry enough you remove it from the refrigerator, peel off the coating (single use bags only) and then sliceoff the outer dry skin that has developed. Some people take off a thick layer but I leave a small amount on as it goes crispy when you grill it anyway. Then you can refrigerate, cook or freeze your steaks.
**It is best to use a Vacuum sealer to evacuate the air out of these bags, this way you will achieve the close contact required easily. A Snorkel type vacuum sealer works best with the Banquet bags. A chamber type vacuum sealer is also suitable, Channel type vacuum sealers like the Food Saver can be used but it is a little more fiddly. If your vacuum sealer requires bags with either ribs or a pattern of some kind you will need to cut off a piece of this type of bag and insert it into the mouth of the Banquet bag, this will allow the air to be evacuated. If the bag does not heat seal effectively due to the thickness you may need to seal twice and perhaps turn it over to apply the heat to the other side. We are in the process of receiving a purpose made product to assist users without a snorkel type vacuum sealer.
(Customers in New Zealand will soon be able to buy thier own Banquet Bags to make their own Dry Aged Steak, if you would like to know when please send us an email and we will keep you informed)