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Can You Dry-Age a Steak at Home?

dry ageing at home

Q: "I really love dry-aged rib eye steak. Can I do that at home?"

—Jeni Britton Bauer, Founder & Chief Creative Officer, Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream

A: "Yeah, you can. But there are certain things to keep in mind..."

—Rob Levitt, butcher and owner, The Butcher and Larder, Chicago

...or pay very close attention to, at least. Mainly temperature and humidity. The fact that most people only have one refrigerator makes dry-aging at home challenging. The more you open your fridge, the more you change the temperature and humidity. If you had a refrigerator that you didn’t open at all...if you dedicated a dorm fridge to dry-aging steaks, for could put the steak or roast on a nonreactive plastic or stainless steel rack, or right on the coated rack of the fridge. Close it up and leave it there for five days.

Go to Home Depot and get a temperature/humidity gauge. They're like twenty bucks. You don’t want it to be too dry and you certainly don’t want it to be too damp. I'd say around 60% humidity is going to be fine. And don’t buy a 1-inch ribeye and expect it to age in two weeks. That will just mold. If you’re going to go through the trouble of dry-aging at home, make it an event. Tell your butcher you want at least two bones worth, or more, of ribeye. And leave the fat cap on. The fat cap will protect the meat, and after aging, you can peel the cap off, and everything underneath will be nicely aged and preserved.

If you only have one fridge, do it in the crisper drawer and do it for a short period of time. Again, five days is good. Keep it on a nonreactive rack so air can circulate under it.

Make sure the entire fridge is super-duper clean and sanitized. If there's any mold, the meat will pick it up. Also, be aware that fat absorbs odors and flavors, so if you made soup and put it in the fridge, the steak might soak up all those onion and tomato flavors. Which sounds like it could be good but is actually just really gross.

For the first timer, if you really want to have some fun with it, go to your butcher shop, get a nice, thick 1-bone ribeye, put it on a nonreactive rack in your crisper drawer, and leave it for a few days. Then buy a new ribeye and cook the two side by side. You can see if there’s a difference. And if there is, and you like it, try 10 days next time.

If the meat gets any mold or funk or dryness on it, take a good look at it. If it’s white mold, or a very pale green, take a towel, dip it in white vinegar and wipe it off. It’s not anything to really worry about unless it’s very fuzzy or weird colors. If mold really creeps you out, you shouldn’t be aging steaks in the first place.

I would only do this if you have a good source for meat and a good butcher who can really help you along the way. You're welcome to call me anytime, Jeni. As long as you bring some ice cream.

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If you have a good butcher you don't need to dry age at home right?

Yeah, but this is also about the journey. I've always wanted to cure my own serrano ham, make my own jam... a little like this:

Ah, okay, if this is about the journey then dry age away!

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