What exactly is Dry-Aged Beef?

Why is Beef Aged and what does hanging time have to do with the final product?

A lot actually.  The longer you hang/ Dry-age beef, the more tender it becomes as the enzymes that are in the meat break down resulting in a more tender piece of meat.

Meat has been hung and dry aged after butchers discovered that this method makes beef more tender and flavorful than beef eaten immediately after slaughter and butchering.

In the 1960s, a combination of meat hanging’s expense and the new process of wet-ageing caused meat hanging to almost stop entirely. 

Does this even matter? What is the difference between Dry & Wet-aging anyways?  Let me break it down for you.

Dry-aging

The process of 21 day, Dry-aging meat involves hanging the beef in a very specific, temperature controlled, environment. It is kept at just the right temp, so the meat doesn’t spoil.  If the room is too hot, the process of dry ageing stops if it is too cold the water in the meat freezes instead of evaporating and the process again stops.  To prevent bacteria developing on the meat, the room must be kept well ventilated.  The meat must be checked on in regularly to ensure that the meat does not spoil.  When the beef gets cut up more meat has to be trimmed off, but the result is so worth it.  This is a much more labour intensive process for the butcher, compared to a 10-14 day hang, or wet-aged beef.  We are very fortunate to have found a fantastic butcher who knows what they are doing and always meet our high standards which help to ensure you get the best meat. 

 

Is there an alternative to Dry-aging beef, so you don’t lose as much meat?

You bet there is.  The other process is called Wet-aging.

Wet-Aging

Wet-aging is a relatively recent technique that was developed in the 1960’s when advances in plastics and refrigeration made it possible. In this process, cuts of beef are vacuum-sealed in plastic and shipped to the market. The aging takes place in the 4-10 days between slaughter and sale if the meat if headed for the grocery store most of the wet aging process happens while the meat is in transit.  Most of the meat you find in the grocery store is wet-aged.  This has become a popular way of aging beef because it requires less space, and the temperature control isn’t a concern because of the plastic so there doesn’t need a special room just for hanging beef. 

Which is better?                                                                                                                                                                    

I can’t answer that it’s too tough, and it’s a matter of opinion depending on who you are and what your tastes are.  Some people (like us) love the dry aged taste, where other people prefer the taste of wet-aged meat.  All of the beef we sell by the cut or in our boxes are all Dry-aged because to us it’s just better!

Why I'm choosing to focus on gratitude

What would you do if you could do anything?  If money was not an issue, what would you do? Where would you go? How would you choose to make an impact? Who would you want to be? 

Me I’d choose to be a farmer.

I might choose to farm somewhere warmer, but I can’t imagine a more rewarding life than the one I already have.  Every day I get to wake up and get to do what I love. I get to live life on my terms.  I am so often not as grateful for it as I could be.  I sometimes choose to focus on what isn’t going right instead of what is. 

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The Pigs got out and rooted up my garden, at the time I was really upset when in reality I should have been grateful.  I didn’t have time to weed so they saved me a summer of frustration by eliminating the garden.  I ended up being very fortunate in having a neighbour who is a veggie farmer and who does a weekly CSA had room and agreed to grow veggies for us while I raised meat for her.

The free-range Chickens ate lots of my tomatoes while they were green and still on the vine and pooped all over my deck every day all summer. Frustrating yes, the end of the world, no.  They cut down on my bug population, and I had the best strawberry harvest I have in years as they ate all of the slugs from my strawberry patch but no strawberries. Plus, around the yard, there didn’t seem to be as many bugs, so we didn’t need to rely on the usual chemical filled bug sprays.

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The cows need to be moved daily to fresh pasture, time-consuming and sometimes chaotic when you feel like you are playing catch up.  In the end, it is so worth it when you see the quality of the land improve, the animals stay healthy, and you also know that the nutrition of the meat is improving as well. As a bonus, the cows will follow you when you call as they are used to being called and moved which makes it very helpful when you need to move them somewhere.

The kids always seem to drag their butts and have to stop and look at everything, and of course, ask a zillion question especially when you want to get chores done and get on with your day.  Out of the blue, your 4-year-old will tell you something about cattle confirmation or about the benefits of raising animals out on the land and you realize they are learning, always learning, about this crazy life I sometimes take for granted.  Farming is a family affair and we have always included the kids from the time they were babies and seeing them enjoy it as much as us always puts a smile on my face.

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I have always wanted to farm, although I did think it was much more romantic and much less work than reality.  This is what I have always wanted to do, and I feel so lucky that we have people like you who have put your trust in our family, to raise food for your family.  What a privilege.  I am so honoured and humbled every time someone places an order saying that they love seeing how we raise our animals and how they feel like they know what went into raising their food.  I’m not perfect, but I have come to realize that when we choose to focus on the positive, we have a better happier life and after all isn’t that what we are all after in the first place? Happiness.  It comes from within, not the material things. No matter what it is, that brings you joy you have to follow your heart, look for the best in every situation and give thanks. Even if it is tough, even if it feels like there is no end in sight, the sun will always come up again tomorrow, and you get another chance to make something incredible happen.

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Meet Your Farmers

Hi, I’m Ash! Welcome to the Farm. My husband Clay and I own a 160-acre mixed farm in northern Alberta.  Over the years we have learned A LOT most of it the hard way.

Have you ever wanted to live on a farm or grow your own veggies or raise your own animals? Don’t know where to start because you didn’t grow up on a farm? What does it take to start a farm without previous farming experience 1000 km's away from family? It takes a lot of chick flick cowboy movies, romance novels and very unrealistic expectations.

When we bought our farm 8 years ago, neither of us had been on a farm before, but people have farmed for millions of years, and I’ve read plenty of books about ranches, watched lots of western movies (minus the gunfights), how hard could it be?

We thought we knew what we were getting into... boy were we wrong!

Everything I knew about farming sounded so romantic. With the handsome cowboy doing all the farm work single-handedly while riding miles and miles of fence line on horseback. Roping & branding cows, cattle drives, and breaking horses too wild to be ridden, camping out under the stars with not a soul around.

Meanwhile, the beautiful heroine would be lounging around the mansion, before she would roll out of bed around 11, then set off to ride her horse. Dressed in her expensive boots, fancy clothes. with immaculate hair and make-up, of course always looking gorgeous. When her handsome rugged cowboy with his tight Wranglers, sauntered in for a beautiful dinner harvested off their land & prepared by the staff, (who also wash the dishes, clean the house, watch the kids and do all the laundry). After dinner is for relaxing for the rest evening on the front porch of their huge mansion, sipping a glass of wine.

What a life! Sign me up!!

 You can imagine my shock when I realized that was not how it actually goes.  In real life, things are a bit different from what I had imagined. The handsome cowboy rides an ATV to go check cattle, not a horse. He smells like a man who has been out working hard all day with a mixture of cow manure thrown in, not sweet like he just stepped out of a rose garden. The beautiful heroine has not been on a horse since before she had kids, as she is now a chicken and scared to get hurt! Her hair probably hasn’t been brushed today, and makeup is used as a tool when necessary to cover up the bags under her eyes from lack of sleep, & too many early mornings. Designer boots and fancy clothes are a thing of the past. Mud boots without leaks are the new designer.

The dinner part is true. You will never have a better meal than one that comes from the land that you have planted and harvested yourself. An animal that you have raised, and you have complete knowledge of how it got to your dinner plate, somehow makes the meal taste far superior. Unfortunately, the staff and mansion are a few years and a few million dollars away, so I try my best to cook healthy meals for my family using as many things grown close to home as I can. I am not a chef, I am a busy mom who wants to know where my food comes from so I can cook healthy meals for my family, while still not spending a lot of time in the kitchen... after all, I still have the laundry to do.

Porch swing? Relaxing? Is the hay baled? Is that fence fixed? Did you check that Heifer? Is that same pig out again? Did the chickens get moved? Have the kids been fed? Did the garden get weeded? Does anyone have clean socks for tomorrow?

Without both people actually working on the farm, there is no way the cowboy would have enough hours in a day to do all the work alone. I’m also sure the beautiful heroine would be the beautiful divorcee’ if she just laid around all day allowing him to do all the work!

Although it's not always easy, or fun. We, like everyone else, have bad days, we have really bad days, we have days we ask ourselves why we are doing this.... Then we have dinner. We know without a doubt everything about the animal we are eating, whether it is beef, pork, chicken, or turkey. We love this life we have chosen for ourselves and we are excited for the future as we continue to evolve into a more sustainable life.

We started this out of passion for knowing where our food comes from, and we hope to ignite the same passion in you. Get to know your food. Get to know your farmers.

Ash