Got a PM asking about Wet Aging and so thought I'd bring it here to discuss as we've got a thread going for Dry Aging.
Aging ONLY applies to beef, not chicken or pork
Wet aging has really grown in use by Restaurants over the last 10 years for one reason; less waste.
WHY? Aging is supposed to intensify the flavors
SHOULD I AGE? Ah, good question grasshopper. I find, that the more complicated the recipe the less important it is. If you're going to cover the beef in complicated rubs and sauces and goop, don't waste your time. If you're going to make the meat the centerpoint of the plate, go for it. I wet age my briskets, tenderloins and prime ribs (rib roasts).
With dry aging, you have to cut off the external portion and thus waste it
With wet aging, you don't.
What is aging?
In general, both allow the moisture inside the beef to leach outside the meat, obviously the amount varies. In wet aging, it's very obvious when I wet age my briskets, the amount of liquid in the bag increases as it ages. Less liquid in the beef means more intense meat flavor. Also the enzymes in the meat break down, increasing tenderness. One point of content is that many sites say you don't get moisture loss, but I beg to differ. In almost all cases when I wet age, the amount of liquid does decrease in the meat and more shows up inside the bag. I've seen as much as a cup increase, even more.
But, BOTH methods should only be done under controlled conditions.
I have a dedicated fridge for just that. I keep the temp below 38 and even have a temp alarm if it goes above.
For wet aging, I only go with Primal cuts and those in the original bag.
I also want to know the kill date, as the clock is ticking from that day to a maximum of about 50 days or so. I shoot for about that.
ANY exposure to air changes the whole process and could introduce new problems, that's why the dry bag process could be an issue for me.
Original cry-o-vacs need to be sealed and when I buy them I check (just see if you can pull the bag away from the meat easy -- if there is an air pocket you'll be able to tell) don't use a cryo with the seal broken.
I learned the wet age process from a major meat supplier in KC who supplies all the restaurants in that town, he actually ages it in his space as a service for many of his customers.
I'm sure there are bunches of questions, so ask away...