What is Aged Beef?

Dee S.

Aged beef is more tender and flavorful than beef that has not undergone the aging process. Without the aging process, beef would not taste right to most people. Some have even described beef that has not been aged as tasting like metal. Generally, beef is aged commercially with tightly controlled and monitored temperatures and humidity levels. The aging process is defined and regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Although beef can be aged at home, it is not recommended.

Aging beef in order to develop the correct flavor can take as long as 45 days.
Aging beef in order to develop the correct flavor can take as long as 45 days.

Aged beef takes about 11 days to develop the beef flavor most people are accustomed to; however, in some cases the aging process can take anywhere from 10 to 45 days. The longer the beef ages, the greater the beef flavor is for those consuming it. In addition, as mentioned above, aged beef has increased tenderness because the muscle and collagen in the meat begins to change due to the work of certain enzymes. Maximum tenderness can be reached at around 11 days after the cow is slaughtered.

Interestingly, aged beef has a shorter shelf life. Ground beef that is comprised of aged beef will not last long in a home refrigerator because of an increase in bacteria due to the aging process. Consequently, aged beef should either be eaten shortly after purchase or frozen.

Beef can either be dry aged or wet aged. Dry aged beef is usually hung in a cooler for several weeks to dry. It is used in fine restaurants and gourmet butcher shops and is preferred by some people because moisture levels are reduced to give the piece of meat a “beefier” taste and increased tenderness. Some people prefer the rich taste of dry aging; however, others consider the beef to be musty in flavor.

In the alternative, wet aged beef is aged in a vacuum packed and sealed bag. It is a quicker method of aging and it keeps the moisture levels of the meat high. Since the weight of the beef is retained, it is more cost effective than dry aging. Wet aging has only been available to consumers since the 1960s. Consequently, it is yet to be considered the traditional aging process; in fact, many people consider the flavor of wet aged beef to be bland at best.

The USDA has strict regulations on the aging process. They also require information on the aging process of each cut of meat to be known to consumers. Consequently, consumers can easily see how long their beef was aged and by what process – wet or dry.

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Discussion Comments


@ Babalaas- Grass Fed beef is much healthier than grain fed beef. A recent study by Cal State-Chico analyzed thirty years of research on grass fed versus grain fed beef. You can find a review of the research in a New York Times article from last year.

Grass fed cattle has less dietary cholesterol, less bad fats, more good fatty acids, and far more antioxidants than grain fed cattle. The increase in Omega-3 fatty acids are the biggest benefit next to the reduction in the cholesterol rich fats in the cattle. Research has proven that Omega-3 fatty acids promote cardiovascular health and reduce bad cholesterol. The increased CLA in grass-fed cattle has cancer-fighting properties, and reduces the risk of certain cancers like colon cancer. CLA has also been shown to support a healthy weight.

All that being said, it does not mean that grass-fed beef is as healthy as fish, but it is almost as healthy as skinless chicken breast. The key is moderation, but you should be able to enjoy grass fed beef more often than grain fed beef.


Does anyone know if dry aged, grass fed beef and steak is healthier than corn fed steaks? I love my burgers and steaks, but my bad cholesterol is slightly above normal. I know I have to cut back on the amount of meat that I eat, but will I lower the cholesterol in my diet by eating premium grass fed meats?


I personally prefer the taste of dry aged beef, although it is not always affordable. The taste of wet aged beef that is so common in cheaper restaurants and at the average grocery store leaves a steak or grind that has no distinction in taste.

Every once in a while, my local grocery store sells New Zealand, organic, grass fed beef that is dry aged. The flavor of the meat is more complex, and the cuts tend to cook better. When the sale happens, I tend to stock my freezer. If you use a vacuum bag, the beef stays as fresh and tasty as the day it was bought.

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