Dry ageing

The low down on dry ageing beef

Dry ageing isn’t a new technique or trend. In fact, until the developments in chilling and vacuum packing in the early 1960s, dry ageing was the most common, and often, the only way to prepare meat for storage and transport. The process of dry ageing was traditionally carried out by hanging either the whole or cut pieces of the carcase in a cool room.


The secret to dry aged meat is the reduction in moisture.   Techniques in dry ageing can vary depending on the desired flavour outcome and the amount of the moisture that is lost, both related to how long the meat is aged for. 

The process is typically 7-14 days, but can be up to a month or longer. During this time, a protective ‘crust’ of bacteria forms over the meat, which helps to concentrate flavour and present a better end result. This crust is then removed before the meat can be safely prepared and served to customers.

During this time, key factors to consider are:

-   Duration of ageing

-   Storage temperature

-   Humidity and air flow

These elements are critical as they relate to flavour development, shelf life, product shrinkage and loss due to spoilage. Dry ageing can mean losing up to 8.5% of yield.  Therefore it is not an exact science, but one that requires an understanding of how these elements work together.   

Dry aged meat should be stored at around -0.5°C to 3°C, with humidity set between 75% and 85%. Master dry-agers will have a preference for specific settings to control the end flavour profile result.

Why dry age?

While it’s absolutely fine to eat meat as soon as it has been processed, it’s no question however that eating quality improves dramatically after it’s been left to hang for a few days.

While beef is technically dry aged after 7 days, it’s around day 11 that the crusting starts to properly form – an outward sign that the flavours are starting to concentrate and create the delicious result people know and love.