Bessie Box

Dry-Aged vs. Wet-Aged. What's the Beef?

bessie box dry aged steak

Dry-aged beef sure sounds interesting, but what does it even mean?


"Dry-aged" beef and "wet-aged" beef are terms used by our favourite restaurants and grocers. One has been used for generations and one is much newer, but does aging beef impact taste?

It depends on what you like! The flavour profile of dry-aged beef is very different from wet-aged beef.

Bessie 21 days dry-aged beef for perfect tenderness
Bessie Beef is dry-aged for 21 days for tenderized perfection

DRY-AGED BEEF WITH ALBERTA BEEF

Dry-aged beef is hung or placed on a rack in a specialized room of constant temperature and humidity for weeks. Only higher grades of meat can be dry-aged because of the concentration of fat needed to carry out the process. Over 15-28 days, natural enzymes in the meat slowly break down the connective tissue (tenderizing the meat), and dehydrates the meat so all of its delicious flavour is concentrated.

There is ~15% volume loss because of dehydration and because of the crust that grows on the outside which is later trimmed off. This long process usually leads to a significant increase in price (but not with Bessie).

Dry-aged beef has been described as "deeper" and intense. This is the premium beef taste that you get at a steakhouse, or delivered to your door by us

wet-aged beef found in big box grocery stores
Wet-aged beef is typically found in big box grocery stores. (image: Marty Seymour)

WET-AGED BEEF

Wet-aged beef is a modern way to age meat by vacuum sealing and letting the meat age for 4 to 10 days—in its own juices. This wet-aging is even done while the meat is being shipped from the slaughterhouse to the wholesaler and then to grocer! Hyper-efficient.

Since there is such a short-aging process and the volume is kept—mostly—intact, the price is lower than dry-aged beef.

Wet aging is used to age thinner cuts with less fat, expediting the maturation process. The flavour quality and marbling are unmistakably reduced, but it is still better than not aging at all. Grocery stores like to labels meat cuts as "Aged." This doesn't mean dry-aged, it actually means wet-aged.

Dry-aged beef sounds a luxury and wet-aged beef sounds like a good compromise...so what works best for my table?

THE WINNER IS...

It comes done to personal taste! The difference in tenderness for a steak will be apparent between a dry-aged and a wet-aged steak.

Ground beef is whole other story however! Buying wet-aged (or not aged at all) ground beef will result in shrink due to the cooked-off water weight. The meatier flavour of dry-aged ground beef will pop (plus it doesn't shrink as much in the pan).

It might take a taste test...but don't take our word for it. Give it a try today! Figure out what you like better. Bessie will happily get you some dry-aged beef for the same price or less as the wet-aged beef in the grocery store.


Learn more:
Watch | Eater - Dry and Wet Aged Steaks At NYC's Most Famous Steakhouse
Read | The Kitchn - What’s the Difference? Dry-Aging vs. Wet-Aging Beef