"Grass fed beef is just tough. It's like chewing leather!" - Most Ranchers.
Sometimes I get this push back both from customers and ranchers alike. I don't know if it's the mentality that something healthy can't also taste great or if they haven't really tried properly prepared grass fed & finished beef.
What is dry aging?
It is the time a carcass hangs in a large refrigerator called a 'cooler' after it's been butchered. This could be as few as 48 hours or up to 30 days. If you were on my email list you heard me compare hunting to our grass fed & finished beef.
The dry aging process will slowly break down the muscle and connective tissues in a controlled environment. This will calm even the toughest meat into a more cuddly tender version of itself!
Our family has hunted for our meat as a primary source for decades now. Both the whitetail deer and the cattle we harvest come straight from pasture and we control the whole process. The only difference is my family processes deer ourselves, while we take beef to a USDA butcher shop and give the instructions.
Most incorrectly assume it is the fat that makes an animal tender or not. Let me get this straight fat = flavor adhesion. It is what soaks in our spices. An important role, but it has little to do with tenderness.
Muscles are the primary factor in tenderness. When an animal uses a muscle for everyday use it has little fat, which is where the assumption comes from, but that isn't what makes it tough. It is well honed and rock hard because the muscle fibers have been grown effectively. Think of a body builder who does squats every day.
A steak like a ribeye is a muscle that hasn't been used much. Thus it has some fat and the muscle fibers are not honed and rock hard.
What the dry aging does is to take every muscle and let it break down in a slow and controlled manner. This means even your tough cuts get broken down, and your naturally tender cuts become oh so good!
Yes, you can over do it Tim the toolman! Any 90's kids out there?
30 days is way too much!
Our beef at Mesquite Acres is dry aged at least 7 days to give an ideal tenderness level. We haven't over aged a slab of beef yet, but we have done it to deer and hogs. It's not a pretty picture, the meat isn't rancid, but much of it just dries up and is unusable.
You can't beat the tenderness of our steaks!
Until Next Time,