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Dry Aging

The old method of aging meat is known as dry aging.  Dry aging is done by hanging meat in a controlled, closely watched, refrigerated environment.  The temperature needs to stay between 36 F and freezing.  Too warm and the meat will spoil, too cold and it will freeze, stopping the aging process.  You also need a humidity of about 85 percent to reduce water loss.  To control bacteria, you need a constant flow of air all around the meat, which means it needs to be hanging in a well-ventilated space.  The last and most important ingredient in this process is an experienced butcher to keep a close eye on the aging meat.

There are many reasons that butchers don't typically age meat these days.  First, the cost of aged beef can be very high.  Because of the weight loss of aged beef, the price per pound can be pretty outrageous.  If you add in the time, storage space, refrigeration, labor that price just keeps moving up.  For meat aging to properly improve the quality of a cut, it should contain substantial marbling.  This means that there is fat evenly distributed throughout the meat.  Only the highest grades have this kind of marbling and make aging worthwhile.