WHAT IS DRY AGEING, AND WHY DO WE DO IT?
Dry Ageing is the traditional and ultimate way of storing and maturing beef on the bone.
The whole carcass is typically quartered and hung in our state of the art fridge for 28 to 35 days.
For the optimum aged steak, the meat must have a good covering of fat and an even distribution of intramuscular fat (known as marbling) - qualities for which our chosen cattle breeds, Ruby Red and British White, are famed.
WHY OPT FOR DRY AGEING OVER WET AGEING?
Dry ageing takes considerable space, time and labour, thus making it a costly process. Our butchers have worked tirelessly to perfect the atmosphere in the refrigerator in order to maintain a consistent TEMPERATURE, AIR FLOW, and HUMIDITY - The trivium of factors that help give Ruby & White Beef its outstanding taste and texture.
By contrast, 'Wet Ageing', as is often seen in supermarkets is a wholly different matter. Although stickers and labels may contain the word "aged", this simply means that it has sat in its packaging for a number of days, having been processed soon after slaughter.
So, although the packaging may state "aged for 21 days" - it won't have any of the colour, texture or flavour of a dry aged piece of meat.
INSIDE THE FRIDGE
The optimum temperature to hold stock is between 2º and 4º.
Any cooler and the meat may become frosty or even freeze; and any warmer, the rate at which enzymes break the protein in the muscle fibres down may be too rapid - causing the meat to become sticky and tainted.
CONTROLLED AIR FLOW
There needs to be a gentle flow of air circulating the refrigerated area at all times, with the meat hanging and not resting against any surfaces.
Not enough air, and the meat cannot release the necessary moisture to achieve the dry ageing process. Too much air, and the meat will dry out too quickly. The constant air flow also keeps the bacteria on the meat at an acceptable level.
The ideal humidity is at and above 85%
By controlling the humidity, we ensure the correct amount of moisture is drawn from the meat. If the humidity is too high, the meat can 'sweat' - creating an unpleasant sticky surface.
All these variables must be kept as consistent as possible.
This is achieved by keeping the fridge doors closed and monitoring any changes in the quality of the meat and adjusting as necessary.