John Wayne ate aged steak. You probably see Aged 14 days/Aged 21 days/Aged 60 days all the time. But what does it mean? Well. It’s how long a piece of meat has been hanging around under refrigeration in a controlled environment.

I can hear all the geniuses already: “EWWW! 60 DAYS?!?!??! It’ll be ROTTEN!”
That’s why I said “controlled environment”
If you’ve eaten beef at all in your life, know that it’s been sitting around in the fridge for a least a week or two.
“So why can’t I store that steak I bought for 2 months?”
You’re holding it… er… aging it wrong.

There’s two types of Aging: Wet and Dry.
Let’s cover wet aging first.

Wet aging: Sealing large cuts of meat in a vacuum sealed bag. The enzymes break down the meat, but the moisture stays since it’s sealed in plastic. It breaks down the meat sufficiently to tenderize the meat.
The problem is that moisture has no where to go. Water isn’t known for it’s flavor.
Why is this a popular method? It’s fast. In as little as a few (ok a bunch of) days the meat is “good to go”. I use that term lightly since it’s not really good to go, but it’s acceptable.

Dry aging: Large cuts (or an entire critter) is hung under refrigeration for X amount of time.
This “X” varies from two weeks to a couple months. This obviously adds significant cost already since Wet Aging gets beef in and out the door within days. Time = Money.
Since the meat isn’t wrapped in plastic, moisture is free to leave the meat. This concentrates the beef flavor. However, in the retail market, weight also equals money. Dry aging makes a crusty outside that has to be trimmed off. This increases the raw cost of the finished steak since there’s A LOT of wastage.
You’re literally losing 30% of the steak from trim/evaporation.

Wet aged beef is available damn near everywhere. Dry aged isn’t. In fact… outside a specialty butcher shop, you probably won’t ever find a dry aged steak.
Some top steakhouses do have dry aged steaks, but they won’t be cheap.

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