Author Topic: Home butchering, dry aging  (Read 4386 times)

jba302

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Home butchering, dry aging
« on: February 01, 2014, 05:01:20 PM »
Just finished up a number of steps that resulted in a 35 day dry aged home butchered steak. Best steak I've ever had in my life, all at $2.50 / pound! Now that we've hit our proof of concept, green light has been given to invest in some butchering kit (butcher blade, etc) and turn a small section of basement into an at-home butcher shop :).

Exflyboy

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Re: Home butchering, dry aging
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2014, 07:43:39 PM »
Oooh.. would love to know more!

Where do you get the "raw material" etc?

Do you freeze or preserve in some other way?

Frank

jba302

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Re: Home butchering, dry aging
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2014, 11:47:23 AM »
A friend of a friend owns a hobby farm and sells a few head a year, very informally. We have found 2 connections like this (we live in MN) and one guy sells $1/pound live weight. I understand this is higher than a more formal butcher arrangement, but we get bones, head, skin, and anything we want out of it which enhances the value significantly since we like to use bones and weird stuff. They are also mostly grass and forage with a little sileage over the winter.

We buy in 6 sections (we took half and someone else took half) - front and rear legs, and the ribs split down the spine. The first butchering was an absolute mess, we cut it fresh with a zip saw, I'm surprised the neighbors didn't call the cops. Had all kinds of goofy cuts, but learned quite a bit. We ended up dry aging a random, very lean and tough cut of meat. 35 days in a cleaned mini fridge. It was better than any ribeye or any dry aged piece of meat I have had a restaurant, which I learned is due to the time spent - most dry aging is about 2 weeks (up to 28 days) which does not impart much umami-type flavors. We ended up losing quite a bit of the meat to dryness as well, but there was a sufficient piece to realize that the process works at home easily.

Things we learned -
1. Use BIG cuts. We're going to buy an old used fridge on CL and drill hangers into the top so we can hang full legs. This will reduce the lost meat (bigger volume to surface area is important for less loss)
2. Don't clean up the pieces before hand. All the sinew and shitty meat on the outside protects the good meat during aging.
3. Aging is a really simple process in a fridge. 34-39 degrees the whole time, just leave it be. Even the moisture takes care of itself. Nothing else in the fridge, just meat, otherwise you get cross contamination and nasty smells.
4. Dry aged meat is easier to cut, but you still need good tools. I need either a good table clamp and a bone saw or a band saw blade dedicated to bone.
5. Minimum aging time is 30 days to get a good flavor profile. I've read you can go much higher but we'll just be testing until we find the right match for our tastes.
6. After aging, we will be cutting the steaks and freezing with the use of a food saver. Well sealed meats last a while and we eat a lot of meat anyway so this is just a better purchasing system.

It seems like there's a lot of investment there, but fridge (50), we have a nice knife already, a bone saw (50), and a clamp (free, we just bought a house and the guy is leaving his). It's not too bad of a deal for the best steaks in town.

GuitarStv

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Re: Home butchering, dry aging
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2014, 06:33:12 AM »
I'm jealous.  Dry aged beef is probably the tastiest thing I've ever eaten.

mrsggrowsveg

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Re: Home butchering, dry aging
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2014, 07:21:36 AM »
Nice.  I have been wanting to try some charcuterie.  I am thinking about building some kind of refrigerator so we can make prosciutto.

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Re: Home butchering, dry aging
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2014, 07:41:22 AM »
Prosciutto di Parma is one of my favorite foods.  I'll be watching this thread closely for a cost analysis on doing it yourself...because I may jump on board!

jba302

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Re: Home butchering, dry aging
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2014, 09:50:20 AM »
Prosciutto di Parma is one of my favorite foods.  I'll be watching this thread closely for a cost analysis on doing it yourself...because I may jump on board!

So this is what I originally based my numbers off of. I'll update this in probably late April / early May when we actually go through with the entire purchase and aging. I figure I'll post it now and people who have done this / are interested can help whittling it down to something useful. Also, as a big warning, I like to type a lot so have a coffee on hand.

1000 lb live cow @ $1/pound = 400+ pound of meat = $2.50 per pound of actual beef. I'm going to continuously round down where I feel necessary to not end up with unrealistically cheap beef.

I'm short on the numbers but this is estimate for how it's split, I rounded off of http://www.ok.gov/~okag/food/fs-cowweight.pdf -
100 pounds round
40 pounds sirloin
35 pounds short loin
30 pounds ribeye
30 pounds short plate
110 pounds chuck
25 pounds brisket
15 pounds shank
17 pounds flank

So I'm not super sure what ages and what doesn't beyond the initial 2 weeks (anyone who eats fresh grass fed notes the gaminess and toughness of a piece of steak, this calms both down). Some of it is obvious - ribeye, sirloin. Some of it you don't age longer than the initial 2 weeks - flank, short plate, shank have, I believe, too low of a volume:surface area to benefit from aging due to the loss, you'd end up with a complete loss. Some of it I'm not sure about - Chuck? Round? Brisket? If you can make a steak maybe you do, or do you cut your losses (hah) and take some stew cubes instead of cutting down to steaks on everything? I'm tempted to try to hang everything possible for the longest logical duration and see what we end up with, god/wife willing.

So taking down the standard primal cuts with loss rates that I can find (using a 2008 Cattlemen's Beef Board article, www.beefresearch.org). Loss rates vary, but I think using a full leg / rack instead of primals will help reduce crust loss. Part of this is liquid so I think there's some bullshittery involved, since I'm eating the meat not the water. The crust has to be removed, that's real meat loss. 30% across the board seems like a good starting point.

So now I have -
70 pounds round
28 pounds sirloin
25 pounds short loin
21 pounds ribeye
27 pounds short plate (only 14 day, less crust)
80 pounds chuck
20 pounds brisket
13 pounds shank
14 pounds flank

So 298 pounds, a little under $3.50 per pound, so my ballpark modifier is 3.5x the per pound live weight to finished product. If that actually happens out correctly I'm going to be dancing my ass off. Given that the cheapest steak we can find at the local yuppie mart is $12/pound it would be a payback in the first cow purchase (if you ate it all).

GuitarStv

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Re: Home butchering, dry aging
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2014, 12:44:21 PM »
What are the costs of running the refrigeration units and storing the frozen meat?

jba302

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Re: Home butchering, dry aging
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2014, 06:58:12 AM »
What are the costs of running the refrigeration units and storing the frozen meat?

I hand-wavingly guessed $20 to hang it for up to 2 months, thinking a CL fridge that I drill holes through is not going to be great energy wise, but it's going to be opened maybe 3 times in 2 months. We already have an upright freezer and it is absolutely stuffed, so it would be hard to allocate the proportionate cost to the meat, maybe $5/month? That thing has paid for itself so many times over from bulk purchases it is ridiculous. Plus probably $10 in vac bags too now that I think of it.

Hedge_87

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Re: Home butchering, dry aging
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2014, 08:33:30 AM »
You could really cut down on the amount of bones you have to cut through by doing bone out steaks. Unless you want bone in steaks just peel the ribeye roll off the bone and slice to desired thickness. You can also make kc strips instead of T-bone steaks. My family has owned a small butcher shop since my great grandfather came over from Sweden. Another thing you might want to get is a good meat cleaver. They take a while to get the hang of but if you have ever seen anybody who has done it for a while it's a work of art.

ginastarke

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Re: Home butchering, dry aging
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2014, 01:19:54 AM »
Do you get to keep any of the offal?

I'm dying to hear more. I buy primals at the restaurant supply store and have been managing by trial and error ( The cutting, no space for aging)

jba302

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Re: Home butchering, dry aging
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2014, 09:30:14 AM »
You could really cut down on the amount of bones you have to cut through by doing bone out steaks. Unless you want bone in steaks just peel the ribeye roll off the bone and slice to desired thickness. You can also make kc strips instead of T-bone steaks. My family has owned a small butcher shop since my great grandfather came over from Sweden. Another thing you might want to get is a good meat cleaver. They take a while to get the hang of but if you have ever seen anybody who has done it for a while it's a work of art.

Doesn't bone protect the meat during aging? That was my thought process, I could peel after aging if it does. I'll definitely get the meat cleaver, thank you for suggesting that!

Gina - Yes we keep sweetbreads, head, heart, liver, kidneys. Our friends take the skin, intenstines, pancreas, and the gall bladder. I think it was the gall bladder, it was absolutely atrocious, one of those "acquired tastes" that I never expect to actually acquire.

5 weeks until we move in then the next round of aging starts! So excited :).

ginastarke

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Re: Home butchering, dry aging
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2014, 07:56:05 PM »
You're braver than I. Never made it to the kidneys. My family think I'm weird for cooking cheeks and bone marrow.

vern

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Re: Home butchering, dry aging
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2014, 08:25:40 PM »
Great stuff jba!  You should do a blog post with more details and pictures.

Damn, now I'm hungry.