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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...
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Original Post
Sounds interesting.

Also sounds like a bit of bother. Is it worth it? Would a casual observer know they were eating something "special"?

I doubt the places I shop would know a kill date. Is this a must?

Also - I only have one fridge. It is set on 37/38. Is this a deal breaker for wet aging beef?

I take it this is for whole cuts of meat - not for individual steaks or anything simular.

Thx
In General, this is NOT for the rookie or casual Q'er, this would be under the "advanced" section in the 101 lessons.

quote:
Originally posted by redoakNC:
Also sounds like a bit of bother. Is it worth it? Would a casual observer know they were eating something "special"?


Too subjective, it will completely depend on your own taste buds. Some people love a strip steak and don't see a difference between select and choice or even prime. If you don't taste a difference between choice and prime, I wouldn't bother.

quote:

I doubt the places I shop would know a kill date. Is this a must?
Yes, if you're going to go for very long. If you butcher doesn't know kill date (it was on the box when he unwrapped it out of the cryovac) he can't really set the "sell by date" and I'd buy my meat elsewhere, or MAYBE only try this for 21 days or less.

quote:
Also - I only have one fridge. It is set on 37/38. Is this a deal breaker for wet aging beef?


It's not what the fridge is set at, it's the temp at the level the meat is store and no more than 38 is an absolute.

quote:
I take it this is for whole cuts of meat - not for individual steaks or anything simular.


Primals, I mentioned are indeed whole cuts. They HAVE to be in their original cry-o-vacs, and not when you cut them up and vacuseal them.
OK - sorry for the dumb question but I really want to get this straight. Are you saying that I can wet age a whole packer brisket I get from WalMart as long as it's in the original, properly sealed cryovac by just putting it into the refrigerator and keeping it under 38 degrees for up to 50 days from the kill date? Also, would you have to cook it and eat it right after that or could you freeze the meat after the aging process?

Thanx for the help!
quote:
Originally posted by BBQTom:
OK - sorry for the dumb question but I really want to get this straight. Are you saying that I can wet age a whole packer brisket I get from WalMart as long as it's in the original, properly sealed cryovac by just putting it into the refrigerator and keeping it under 38 degrees for up to 50 days from the kill date? Also, would you have to cook it and eat it right after that or could you freeze the meat after the aging process?

Thanx for the help!


Yes, you could age it as you describe. Many comp teams do.

After aging, you could then freeze it if you wanted to.
I've got three prime whole briskets wet aging in the fridge right now. I age mine for three to four weeks. These will go in the freezer after they have been aged and will be used for a cooking class next month.

Now I will say that one point that Smokin made is very important. And that is that the meat is still in the sealed cryovac when you get it. When I got the case that these briskets came out of, one of the cryovacs had been broken somewhere as you could tell there was air in the cryo. That one got opened right away and checked for viability. It was fine and was cooked that weekend. So make sure the cryovac has not been broken or had a leak in it.
Another guy with, perhaps a silly question, but: I read a little on wet aging in a previous post a couple months back. I had just bought a choice brisked in a cryovac. I held it in my commercial fridge in my que trailer- un used and held at 36 degrees. Then I put it into a freezer. It's below zero. I keep forgetting about it till the day before I'm doing some smoking. My question is: About how long does it take to thaw the average size brisket back in the fridge? A couple days? three? Thanks in advance for the thoughts.

Jack
quote:
Originally posted by hayman:
My question is: About how long does it take to thaw the average size brisket back in the fridge? A couple days? three? Thanks in advance for the thoughts.

Jack


From a food safety standpoint, probably three days, think unfreezing turkey (in a fridge, it takes a while)
quote:
Originally posted by BBQTom:
... Are you saying that I can wet age a whole packer brisket I get from WalMart as long as it's in the original, properly sealed cryovac by just putting it into the refrigerator and keeping it under 38 degrees for up to 50 days from the kill date?


You missed the point about kill date. You need to know that if you're going for the extreme end of the range.

I wouldn't do one more than about 3 weeks (especially from WallyWorld) if I don't know the kill date. Stores that sell to the public will freeze meat and unfreeze for selling and do any number of things to keep meat for sale.

Also, I would keep in mind the grading comment I made. I wouldn't waste my time on a cheaper cut of meat, but if you want to try it you can.
Go with the most used one first.

A large packer may thaw in your refrig in 3-4 days.

You can place in a large sink,with slow running cold water,and speed it up to overnight.

I'd recommend folks google" thawing meats"and read about it.

We would be writing many pages,about many techniques.

As to a walmart packer in cryovac,it may be the only meat in the store that is not pumped with 10%-20% salt water. Mad

That said,is the starting quality of your product worth keeping a dedicated refrig and going thru the process and time.

You might get lucky and find some choice mixed in,and they will be the same price.

Also,since Carter was President and moved all grades up one level,the choice is very broad and many meats should be select.

Do we already know how to cook the product,correctly?

Often,wallyworld will have Excel brand,select/commercial/cutter that probaby should have been ground for burgers.

Read up on home refrig/freezers ,as compared to commercial.

Do even dedicated "home" units,go thru defrost stages,and disrupt the process?

The 34º-38º is for a unit that gets opened,maybe once a week to rotate meats.

Have Ribdog and I ruined many large pieces of meat?

Yes.

Do some smell funny,or feel a little strange?

Yes.

Do we spend an inordinate amount of time,and effort,and often the results not pan out?

Yes.

Do we make arrangements to ship half way across the country,at really high prices for purchase and shipping,and drive hundreds of miles for pickups?

Yes?


Do they ship the wrong product,or too large,or too small?

Yes.

Do we go thru 50 + days,only to open up and find three slashes all the way thru the flat,and have to junk them?

Yes.

Does the cryovac ever have a small leak,and we have to cook/eat right away?

Yes.

Do we ever drive 1500 miles roundtrip,spend 4-5 days on the road,in motels,etc,500$ in entry fees,pulling a 30+ ft trailer,a couple hundred dollars in meats,and that much more in supplies.

Do we ever get beat by the local guy,with his walmart meats,his pickup,a popup canopy,and a $100 grill / smoker,setting next to our three FEC s?

Yep.

Are the results worth it?

Probably not.

Will we do it again?

Probably.

Well,I'll get off-before they accuse me of making a Smokin'Okie post. Big Grin
My point is,most of the folks will get far more benefit from learning their cooker,and how to cook the specific product.

The Cookshack,when learned, will cook a better product,than all the tricks will contribute.

Seems like dry aging is something to try once,to say we did it.

We can always purchase a piece,gulp at the price,and see if it is really worth it to us.

Wet aging could be beneficial,to a small segment of the cooks,that might have that specific need and are willing to go to any length to achieve it.

Most of us won't have the product,that is worth the effort to go through the whole process.

The process can have its pitfalls,if we are not prepared to see it through.

My "shorter" $0.02 Smiler
Thanx for all the replies. I probably should not have used the WalMart example. My son is a salesman for Sysco Foods so I actually get any quality I want and, although I've never asked before, I'm guessing that I can get the kill date. I have a spare refrigerator with a precise controller that I use in making beer. I believe that I know my cooker quite well, having turned out some excellent briskets, pork butts, chicken, turkey, etc. All that being said, now that I know more about this process, I'm not really sure that it's worth the effort. However, I do feel that I've learned quite a bit and it is always worth the effort to learn!

Thanx again,
That is the purpose of my long,some folks call them "Smokin'Okie posts.

At the high end of comp cooks,there can be a total max score of 720.

We have won,and lost,thousands of dollars,on a couple thousands of a point.

Will we stretch the extremes,to get that 1/000 of a point?

We all do!!!!

The judging can be subjective.

Can your diners tell the difference?

Think about it. Roll Eyes
Well, I haven't posted much since I am no expert like so many of you but I have been reading the forum since long before I actually registered. From my standpoint, I like your long posts. The longer the post, the more possibility that I'll learn something.

Regarding subjectivity, although I have never entered my BBQ in competition, I have competed in wine competitions several times and it always amazes me how one judge will love a wine and another will hate it. Oh well, isn't it better for all of us that we don't all like exactly the same things?

Have an EXCELLENT evening,
Well,you have one of our favorite comps near you in Tryon,NC.

The judges do go to school ,to sample and discuss the parameters they should judge each of four categories on, in appearance,tenderness,and taste.

Many major contests,you send a resume of your many contests,and types of contests,Master Judge,and Certified Table Captain,and cook team membership.

Some folks try for years to get selected to judge a particular contest.

As always,taste can be fairly subjective,but the worst of your six scores are thrown out.

In THEORY,with many well traveled judges,you "could be judged,similarly,whether in Kansas City,Mo, or Tryon,NC.

Certainly not perfect,but over the year,the cream does seem to rise to the top.
I like about 30 days from kill date on my briskets. I have gone up to 45, but I personally did not like the end result. Either did the judges.

I bought cheap box freezer from Lowe's (about 100 bucks) to age and store my comp meats. I use an old brewers trick with an external Thermostat that I plug into the wall and then plug the freezer into.

Basically, it is a Johnson Control unit that I run the Thermo into the freezer and I can set the temp, which I set to 35. The freezer turns on as normal, but when the desired temp is reached it cuts all power to the freezer. So it is really efficient as far as energy usage, casue it is off for most of the time.

I did learn that you can not really dry age well, as there is no moving air like there is in a traditional fridge. Live and learn, but is Wet ages very well.
In the same vein,there are top cooks that may go 80 days.

The IBP reps in Tx say 14 days is the most you get a benefit from.

Some top Tx cooks say 14 days and freeze at least a month.

There are more stories than how to date the right spouse.

Our team,being a group of them infamous "Master Judges",we never use some judges' opinion of the"correct time".

Maybe,2-4 weeks,wet aged don't hurt none?

Good meat,cooked good,lucky table,don't hurt ,either. Wink

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