Dry Aging Origins

You may or may not have heard of dry aged beef, so if you haven’t, or if you're not too sure what it is, you’ve come to the right place. Dry aging is the process of storing meat (typically beef), in a temperature and humidity controlled environment for a long period of time. 

Dry Aging Origins

This controlled decomposition of meat may not seem appealing but don’t let it put you off. Dry aging is entirely unique in its ability to naturally amplify the flavors of meat and tenderize its texture. The growing trend of dry aging has an interesting tradition and in this article we are going to explore it. 

Where did dry aging originate from? 

It is unclear exactly where dry aging originated from, however, meat preservation spans back thousands of years through many different cultures using a variety of methods. The concept of meat preservation may seem simple now, but its history is not something that should be overlooked. Meat preservation played a significant role in paving the way for human development. 

Mesopotamia 3000 BC 

Some of the first recordings show that in Mesopotamia around 3000 BC, meat and fish were preserved in oil, salt and dried to store them for later use. By the time of the ancient Greeks and Roman empire, salt curing had become a common practice. 

Ancient Greece 850 BC 

As time went on, during the time of Homer-(ancient Greek author), the curing process was becoming more and more refined. This is the first instance where we can be sure that nitrates were used during the preservation process. Nitrates are still used today when curing to preserve the color and flavor of meat but to also deter certain bacteria from forming. 

Roman Empire 600 BC 

The Romans had their own unique way of preserving meat, firstly, they would sprinkle boned meat with salt and leave it to dry. The salt would draw out moisture from the meat which helps to preserve the meat and concentrate the flavor. Once this step was finished, the meat would be carefully placed into containers which had previously been used for vinegar or oil. They would then cover the jarred meats in sweet wine and straw and then place the jar in a cool, dry place. 

Italian cured meats 

One of the most popular types of cured meats today is salami which originates from italy. We can’t be sure exactly when it was first invented but it is said to date as far back as the Romans. Popular types of salami we eat today include:

● Prosciutto 

● Pancetta 

● Nduja 

● Pepperoni 

● Chorizo 

The French Renaissance 1400 AD 

Another form of meat preservation which is still used today is charcuterie curing. French Charcuterie was first developed in the 15th century around the time of the early renaissance period. It is said that Charcuterie was invented because shop owners needed to draw customers in as back then it was prohibited to sell uncooked pork. So, shop owners would hang charcuterie meat in the window, pulling customers in whilst preserving the meat. Here are some examples of French Charcuterie: 

● Jambon 

● Pate 

● Mousse 

● Boudin 

Dry aging today 

You might be wondering how we got to where we are today. What was once used as a method of meat preservation dating back to when civilization began is now regarded as a high end product. Originally, caves and cellars would have been used to store and age meats, whereas today, the development of refrigeration means aging meat as a preservative method is no longer a necessity. Instead, it is used to naturally enhance flavors and textures. 

In recent years, dry aging has become increasingly popular, in particular dry aged steak. This cut of meat is transformed through dry aging leaving you with a richer, beefier and considerably more tender steak. It has become so popular that we have in fact seen the development of fridges dedicated to the dry aging and curing of meats such as the Steak Locker

Whilst it is possible to dry age a cut of meat using any standard refrigerator, we highly recommend investing in a dedicated dry age fridge. This is because when using a standard refrigerator, the risk of spoilage is significantly increased, firstly due to the lack of germicidal UV light, air flow, temperature and humidity control. What’s more, dry aging in a normal fridge comes with the risk of cross contamination of flavors. For instance, your dry aged meat might end up tasting like gone off milk, or your milk might start tasting meaty. To avoid these issues, it's best to invest in a specially designed dry aging fridge. 

About dry age fridges 

A dry age fridge is a specially designed refrigerator that is humidity controlled, temperature controlled and sterilized. It works by controlling the climate which draws the moisture from meat, concentrating the flavor whilst ensuring the safe decomposition of meat without the risk of spoilage. The longer you leave a piece of meat to age in the dry aging fridge, the more intense the flavors become. Here is an example of the timescale of dry aging beef: 

21 days- this is the minimum amount of time you can age beef before it becomes classed as ‘dry aged’, however the changes will be minimal with a subtle nutty taste.

30 days- if you are new to dry aging, this is the recommended time to take your aged meat out of the refrigerator. At this stage it will have developed a more intense and noticeable flavor typical of dry aged steak. Many describe the taste to be rich with umami flavors. 

45 days- the beef will have lost more weight as the moisture has been drawn out and concentrated leaving a much more pungent flavor. 

90 days- if you leave your meat for 90 days expect bold notes of blue cheese and to see the development of a white crust around the meat. Beyond this point, flavors will become more and more funky. 


The recorded history of dry aged meat dates back to 3000 BC, although we suspect it has been around even longer than that. Some historians claim that aging could have developed as far back as when civilization began as a way to preserve meat. It is truly interesting to see how this method has changed over the years, but even more interesting that we still apply some of these ancient methods today.