For those new to the process of dry-aging steaks at home, one of the most commonly asked questions is “How long does the dry-aging process take”? First, it’s important to understand just what the process entails, and why so many fine restaurants and steakhouses utilize it. In short, dry-aging is a temperature-controlled process that causes larger cuts of meat to lose moisture at a steady, controlled pace, to achieve the desired moisture levels and flavor profile. Because when moisture is lost, natural flavors become more concentrated.

During the dry-aging process, and more specifically around days 30-40, the beef’s protein profile begins to physically change as a result of a chemical process called the milliard reaction. It’s this process which results in steaks that are super tender and teeming with natural flavors. Understanding this, it’s worth noting that steaks with a higher fat content and deep marbling will typically produce more desirable results during the aging process.

Keep in mind, however, that dry-aging is only intended for larger cuts of beef, which are more commonly known as subprimals. If you tried to age a single steak from the grocery store, it would dry-out too much and you would essentially be left with expensive beef jerky. Subprimals, on the other hand, are typically sold in the 15-17 lb range, and can handle much longer periods of dry-aging.

Let’s review the various phases of steak aging, to help you better understand what to expect when embarking on the process for the first time.

Small Cuts of Beef, Dry-aged Up to 20 Days

When dry-aged for a period of 15 to 20 days, smaller subprimals will have a deeper concentration of flavors, more noticeable tenderness and an all-around improvement in taste and texture. Beef loses a greater amount of moisture at the beginning of the process, so when working with smaller cuts or those without much fat, most people tend to limit the process to no more than 15 days to avoid over-drying.

Large Cuts of Beef, Dry-aged Up to 30 Days

If you’re planning on dry-aging a larger roast, somewhere in the 10-12 lb range, you can age your beef anywhere from 15-30 days with great results. At this duration, you’ll notice a much richer concentration of flavors and the formation of a crust, which helps protect the beef and prevent it from completely drying out. Larger cuts of beef, including roasts, can dry age for up to a year, though we recommend getting familiar with the process before going long the first time.

Large Cuts of Beef, Dry-aged 30-45 Days

At 30 -45 days, the flavors and tenderness of your steaks are on an entirely new level, and this is really where you start to bring out the perfection of your cuts. Flavors are intense but not overpowering, and the tenderness and texture that results allows many steaks to cut easily with just a fork. Many individuals who age steaks end the process at the 45 day mark, in order to prevent their cuts from taking on flavors that are too intense for their desired palate.

Large Cuts of Beef, Dry-aged 45-60 Days

After the 45 day mark and depending on the size of your subprimal, things really start to get interesting. The milliard effect, at this stage, has taken full effect resulting in mouthwatering steaks that rival even the finest steakhouses. As the aging process continues past 45 days, flavors and aromas become almost exotic, and for some, it’s just a bit too much. But if you’re looking for something completely new, it may be worth trying to see if you like it.

Large Cuts of Beef, Dry-aged 60+ Days

Going beyond the two-month period, simply put, is not for everyone. The flavors are almost too intense to describe in words, with a texture and tenderness that’s unlike anything most people have or will ever experience.

At the end of the day, aging steaks at home can be a fun, rewarding and money-saving way to enjoy restaurant quality beef at a fraction of the cost. For more information on the best ways to age steak at home and choosing the right unit for your needs, visit our products section or get in touch with the SteakAger team to speak with one of our staff experts.