Wet-Aged vs. Dry-Aged Beef. What Tastes Better?

09/20/2018

A Cut For Every Occasion

Snake River Farms offers a wide variety of both wet-aged and dry-aged beef for every kind of occasion or get together. Because of this, one of the most commonly asked questions we receive from our customers is, “Wet-aged vs. dry-aged beef. What tastes better?” To us, it’s kind of like being asked which kid we love most. They’re both fantastic! But for many customers, that answer is usually considered the easy way out. Honestly, it depends on the occasion, the cut of beef and your personal taste preferences.

Aged Beef Is Delicious Beef

Most of us have been conditioned to think that the bright tomato-red steaks  we’re used to seeing in the grocery store meat section is what we should be shooting for. They may look delicious, but they’re probably a little dull in the taste department. The fact is that most of this supermarket meat has not been aged at all. So it lacks the benefit of the aging process, both wet or dry.

Aging meat is an art form. Similar to wine, cheese and other delicacies that get better with age, meat begins to break down over time to become more tender and more flavorful. In a properly controlled environment, aged meat – especially dry-aged cuts, can take beef to a completely new level of taste.

The Dry-Age Process

Historically, people have been dry-aging beef forever. Literally. When beef is dry-aged, cuts are exposed to air in a controlled environment. This exposure breaks down fat and muscle fibers making them more tender. In addition, much of the moisture in the beef dissipates during the process. Dry-aged beef is described to have a more robust and intense beefy flavor because of the reduction of moisture in combination with the breakdown of fat and muscle.   The longer the beef is dry-aged, the more tender and bold the flavor will be.

The best cuts that work well with the dry-aging process are cuts that are naturally well marbled and traditionally thick-cut. Ribeye steaks and New York steaks would be examples of dry-aged cuts of beef that typically age well and taste incredible after going through this process.

Wagyu filet mignon with Chef's Gold

SRF American Wagyu Filet Mignon with Chef’s Gold

Interestingly, a familiar cut like filet mignon does not typically dry-age well because it’s too lean to dry-age successfully. However, if you’re looking for dry-aged intensity in this wildly popular cut, Snake River Farms has partnered with Prime Food Distributor, our dry-aging partner, to  carefully isolate USDA Prime tenderloin fat which has a unique brittle composition. This fat is hand-trimmed, ultra-fine ground, formed into even-sized cylinders and is dry-aged. Use Chef’s Gold in the final stage of cooking to add a rich, buttery aroma and a concentrated beef flavor. American Wagyu Filet Mignon with Chef’s Gold elevates the flavor profile of our filet mignon to an exceptional eating experience.

What About Wet-Aged Beef?

Wet-aging is relatively new in comparison to it’s dry-age counterpart. In recent decades, the development of the air-tight cryovac process has allowed beef producers to more efficiently process and store meat. The benefit of aging still occurs within the cryovac (thick plastic packaging) whereby the the beef fibers are broken down over time making them more tender and flavorful. Wet aging can also be used to successfully age leaner or cuts of meat that are more thin, where dry-aging can’t be used. So, the benefits of aging beef can be used across cuts including the tender filet mignon or the thinly cut skirt steak or other similar cuts.

In the end, both dry-aged and wet-aged beef from Snake River Farms is some of the best meat available anywhere. But, depending on the cut, your taste preferences or the occasion, one aging method over another might better suite your needs. Our suggestion is to try them both!