REVIEW – If you’ve ever eaten at a high-end steakhouse, one of the things they regularly tout is dry-aged beef. Dry-aging is a process to improve the quality of beef. It takes a long time and a serious space commitment in a refrigerator, and therefore, costs more. That’s why you typically only see it at expensive steakhouses and not at your neighbor’s barbeque party. SteakAger wants to change that by bringing dry-aging to anyone that can spare some space in their refrigerator for days to weeks. If you have a garage refrigerator, you’re really in the target market. I do, so I gave the SteakAger Pro 15 a try. Let’s get into the details.
What is it?
The SteakAger Pro 15 is a beef dry-aging device that can hold up to 15 pounds of beef. Here are the details of dry-aging from SteakAger’s website;
The keys to the perfect dry-age are airflow, humidity, temperature, and time. In the right environment (like your SteakAger), these variables are expertly regulated, resulting in the controlled deterioration we know as dry-aging. Each stage of the aging process brings about different changes in the scientific makeup of the beef, introducing new flavors and textures.
HOW LONG TO AGE
From Day 1 – 14 of the aging process, enzymatic changes start to occur, breaking down tough tissues and fibers. Although the beef’s flavor profile remains largely unchanged, the beef reaches high tenderness in this phase. Collagen in the beef is breaking down as well, releasing moisture. This evaporation is critical in the early stages of dry-aging to achieve the perfect steak.
From Day 14 – 28, evaporation continues, but at a slower rate. Enzymes begin to break down proteins, fats, and glycogens, transforming them into new, savory components including sugars, fatty acids, and amino acids. Beef starts to take on a more savory profile and reaches the height of its tenderness. At this point, it is normal to observe approx. 10% weight loss (the beef, of course).
Day 28 – 42 is the sweet spot for your run-of-the-mill dry-ager. You may see another 5% loss, made up for by maximum flavor concentration: the beef’s flavor profile is well-balanced, with deep complexity and robust flavor.
Beyond 42 days, new flavors begin to overtake the original steak. Sharp, pungent aromas and flavors develop, which many liken to blue cheese. And just like blue cheese, such an intense flavor isn’t for everyone – you’ll have to try it yourself.
Collagen breaks down during dry-aging. Collagen makes meat toughen as it cooks as it binds the meat fibers together. During dry-aging, some of the moisture is removed from the meat, deepening the flavors.
What’s in the box?
- SteakAger Pro 15 beef dry ager unit
- Door (it’s clear, so it’s hard to see – it’s under the handle)
- Door handle with mounting screws attached
- Butcher’s twine
- Power adapter with 12′ cord
- Dimensions : 16.9″ (H) x 11.2″ (D) x 9″ (W)
- Power: 12V DC, 12′ cord
- Connectivity: Bluetooth, WiFi
- Allowable orientations: vertical or horizontal
Design and features
At its core, the SteakAger Pro 15 beef dry ager is a box – a big box. At just under 17″ tall, you need a copious amount of space in your fridge for an extended time. The photo above shows the back of the unit. At the upper left corner, we see the power port.
On the side, there is an air inlet and fan. Sorry for the junky photo.
Inside the unit, we see the rack where you will truss the cut of beef.
The rack slide in place in a channel mounted to the top and bottom of the SteakAger.
The air inlets and sensors are on the top of the inside of the unit.
The clear plexiglass door slides into recessed channels on each side of the unit.
With the handle attached via the included screws and pre-drilled holes, the door slides up and down easily.
If you choose to use the optional app, you need to download and install it and set up an account. To use the SteakAger Pro 15 beef dry ager, clean the inside and the rack, attach the handle to the door with the supplied screws, place it in a refrigerator, and plug it in. Yes, you have to plug the SteakAger in. This means that for the duration of the aging process, you will have a thin power cord running out the door of your refrigerator. The cord is very thin and the door seals should seal adequately around it.
Once ready to go, you truss your selected cut of beef to the rack with the included butcher’s twine, slide the rack in, and set the aging parameters in the app. Then…you wait.
On their website, SteakAger recommends cuts of beef to age. They suggest ribeye (bone-in or boneless), striploin, sirloin, chuck roast, tenderloin, and porterhouse. 15 pounds of beef is a lot, especially for just the two of us. I looked at a large boneless ribeye that would produce 12 steaks but was unwilling to part with the $250 required to purchase it. In the end, I picked up a 4.55-pound tenderloin that still ran $115. The results had better be awesome!
The aging timing on SteakAger’s website is for larger cuts of meat. I called and spoke with a very helpful staff member and told him what I purchased. While the website says 15-21 days for a tenderloin, he recommended ten days, given the size and relatively low fat content in a tenderloin. I trussed it up with the twine, shoved it in the SteakAger, and closed the door.
The next step was to set up the aging in the app.
I entered the tenderloin and set it for ten days. I had originally set up for a different cut of beef and couldn’t figure out how to remove it in the app. Another call to SteakAger got me the answer. If you swipe left on the cut of meat, a sub-menu opens that allow you to edit or delete that cut. Nice feature, not obvious.
Now, all there was to do was wait.
A couple of days in, I stopped getting updates in the app. Nothing I tried resolved the issue. Another call to SteakAger resulted in a recommendation for the universal tech support fix: unplug it and plug it back in. I did, and that did the trick. I’m guessing that I might not have had the power cord fully plugged in. Oh well, back to waiting.
A few days later, this popped up on my phone:
I got another at three days as well. Finally, the day was here to finish the process. This notification showed up:
Checking the app, the green checkmark at the top confirmed that the aging was complete.
I opened up the SteakAger Pro 15 beef dry ager.
The meat looked noticeably darker and smaller. Removing the rack confirmed that.
A pellicle (hard, dry crust) formed around the tenderloin. The SteakAger folks said that many people just cut it away and toss it. They recommend saving it and blending it with ground beef for more flavorful burgers, taco, and chili. I pulled the meat off the rack and cut it into medallions.
Then, I got to cutting the pellicle from each piece of meat.
It took some time but cut away fairly easily. Here is the result.
I started with a 4.55lb tenderloin. That equals 72.8oz of meat. After trimming, I wound up with 15.4oz of pellicle and 30.4oz of steaks for a total remaining weight of 45.8oz. That means that the SteakAger Pro 15 beef dry-aging process removed 27oz of moisture from the tenderloin. Wow! That’s a 37% reduction in weight!
I put all the pellicle in the Magiccos food processor that I reviewed back in April 2021 and ground it up.
That is put away to add to some chili in a few days. It smelled good and beefy!
I fired up the grill to 350-degrees, lightly salted & peppered the tenderloin for tossed it all on the grill.
Everything looked pretty good. After letting it rest to tighten up the pores in the meat, we started eating.
The texture of the meat was, well, different. The meat wasn’t quite fork-tender but was very easy to cut. For lack of a better way to describe it, it sort of melted as we chewed it. One thing we noted was that there was usually a lot of juice on the plate when we eat beef. Not so this time. But even with that, the meat wasn’t dry. It was nicely moist and flavorful.
The next day, I added the ground pellicle to a pound of ground beef and made chili. It was super meaty since the 15 ounces of dry pellicle was more like 20-25 ounces of moisture-laden ground beef.
The texture had a touch more “chew” to it and we liked it.
What I like
- Easy to use
- Produced dense, flavorful beef with terrific texture
- Easy to clean
What I’d change
- It takes a lot of space in your fridge – be sure to check that you have the room
- It takes a lot of time, but I don’t know how you can avoid that
- It doesn’t age individual steaks – you have to age large cuts of beef
The SteakAger Pro 15 beef dry ager is not for folks that sort of like beef. This is designed for the beef aficionado – someone who savors their prime cuts of beef or wants to make slightly less expensive cuts take like more expensive ones. If that describes you, and you have the refrigerator space, then SteakAger can help bring steakhouse-quality dry-aged beef to your kitchen. It takes space and patience. You don’t decide on Monday that you’re eating aged steaks on Friday. It’s more like you decide in January that you want to serve aged steaks for Valentine’s Day. And, you’re going to serve a lot of them.
I think the sweet spot for something like this is to pair it with a vacuum sealer and a sous vide cooker. Dry-age a slab of great steaks, season them, and vacuum seal them individually and toss them in the freezer. Then, when you want an awesome steak, crank up the sous vide, plop in a vacuum bag or two for a few hours at 130 to145-degrees, give them a quick sear in a cast iron pan, and enjoy.
If you’re serious about all this, stop by SteakAger’s website. In addition to the Pro 15 that can age up to 15 pounds of beef at a time, they also sell the Pro 40. It can age two slabs for up to 40 pounds at a time, with staggered aging cycles. It also is a standalone unit with its own refrigeration, so you don’t dominate your other fridge.
These machines aren’t cheap. But, if you can dry-age your own $20 boneless ribeye at home rather than pay $60 at the steakhouse, SteakAger could pay for itself in short order. Their customer support line is terrific and they provide excellent advice. If beef is your thing, you might want to check SteakAger out.