Can you age your steak at home? Yes. Well, can you do it with any steak? Probably, yes. So, does this mean that the setup of steak aging is easy and cheap? Well, no, not the steak locker at least.
But if you don’t know about aged meat, then maybe thinking about old steak or any other meat like beef might disgust you. But mind you, just like an aged wine, a piece of meat also attains a bomb of flavors when aged but under controlled conditions.
What is aging a steak in a dedicated steak locker, and what are the different types of aging?
Aging is nothing but a decomposition process, carefully controlled to not spoil the steak and also to enhance its taste, flavors, and tenderness.
- Dry aging is all about exposing the piece of meat to a carefully controlled environment of temperature and humidity, letting the natural enzymes break down its muscle tissues to make it more tender. It’s like allowing the bacteria and other environmental elements to have a flavoring impact on your meat and is thus expensive.
- Wet aging is a lot cheaper requiring just a vacuum-sealable bag and machine to keep your steak in for the enzymes to tenderize it.
- Lastly, butter-aging is the best of both worlds. After keeping the steak in the refrigerator for some days, it is enveloped in some unsalted butter and left to age.
Why age a steak in a steak locker?
The two main advantages of using a steak locker for dry-aging steak and other meats like beef are to introduce excessive tenderness in it when cooking later and also to enhance its flavors.
Aged meat is always better than fresh meat because it’s packed with a lot of flavors, due to its denser profile.
Also, using a steak locker is like an advanced modern technology over traditional methods of aging involving hanging the meat out and letting it lose its water to shrink and become tender, juicier, and extra tasty!
But why and how do you use a steak locker for aging steak?
Well, for the why part, the answer is pretty easy. You need a dedicated space where there’s a controlled and dedicated temperature and humidity level to age the meat, while still not worrying about steak getting spoiled!
Now for the how part, yet again, you just need to put your cut meat in the steak locker with requisite temperature (36-39 degrees Fahrenheit) and humidity (75-85%) levels. Leave it there for a few weeks to months, with a minimum of four weeks, and then take it out for an extreme flavor profile! But don’t forget to not put anything else in the steak locker refrigerator for cross-contamination of flavor profiles.
Note: Too high of a temperature and humidity can result in a piece of rancid meat, a spoiled flavor, and even a nasty odor. While too little of a temperature and humidity can lead to excessive drying and shrinkage, compromising the integrity of the meat’s muscle structure, thus creating gaps and introducing air pockets!
What should one look out for when buying a steak locker? Any good steak locker suggestions as well?
There are many steak lockers available in the market these days. So getting confused about which one to go with is pretty common. But let’s break it down for you!
- An attractive control panel for controlling the interior conditions manually and a smartphone app for automated control or even in-refrigerator control with dedicated info of current humidity and temperature levels is a must.
- An efficient digital inverter compressor for consistent temperatures to tenderize the meat efficiently helps in quiet temperature regulation.
- UV-tinted glass doors allow you to look at the meat on how well it’s aging and an independent UV germicidal disinfection system stops bacterial growth and protects the food’s quality.
- The considerable size of the refrigerator for you to keep at a designated place is something you need to pay close attention to. The bigger the size, the more will be the price!
- A sleek and aesthetic 304-grade stainless steel interior chamber provides great strength and also conforms to most of the safety requirements to be used at home!
- Lastly, a fan to ensure continuous airflow is essential. If the steak locker you’re going with has one, then great! Else, it’s pretty cheap to buy it for yourself. Like your home, air circulation is vital in your steak locker refrigerator as well.
If all these features seem classic and must-haves to you, your ideal steak locker is here.
How to finally dry-age steak?
Finally, here comes the part on how to do it all.
- Purchase one of the mentioned steak cuts from your nearby butcher’s shop – thick marbled cut, bone-in ribeye, and bone-in strip steak.
Note: Though any cut steak would work, because of aging, as you’ll need to remove the rind, you’ll already be left with lesser meat. So, pay attention to that when going with your desired cut steak.
- Unwrap it, rinse it well and pat dry with some paper towels. There is no need to trim the meat. Simply, roast it loosely in cheesecloth and set it on a rack in the fridge.
- Refrigerate for a few weeks. After the first day, unwrap the meat and rewrap it in the same cloth to not let the cloth fibers stick to the outer layer of the steak.
- Finally, unwrap and shave off the rinds. Leave as much good fat as possible.
Note: You can roast it whole or cut it into smaller sizes.
And here we are at the end of this extensive guide on the flavourful meat dry-aging process in a steak locker. The locker might be a heavy investment, but it’s one of a kind. Whether home edition or commercial, it serves the purpose!
Happy meat day with aged meat!