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Dry Aged Beef: Everything You Need To Know

Tom Pereira

You've probably seen dry-aged beef on the menu at your local butchers or favourite steak house, but what exactly is it and is the higher cost justified? We're here to settle the beef when it comes to dry-aged meat and explain how we dry-age, why we dry-age and what's in it for you!

Here’s what you NEED to know:

-                    Dry ageing uses airborne bacteria present all around us, meaning that it’s a super safe practice using the good old fashioned air that we breathe in every day!

-                    The dark crust on the outside of the beef carcass (as long as created in precise, dry conditions) is completely safe to eat and made by enzymatic build up…..minced down it has a wonderful flavour and is a bit of a secret ingredient!

-                    The reason it is not so widespread is that it isn’t commercially viable….vacuum packing ageless products makes far more money as you are literally selling blood and moisture that has not left the muscle. It’s also why commercial meat has no flavour!
-                    Read on for more!

dry-aged-wagyu

The Original Gangster of Superior Meat

 

With the rise of premium, artisan cuts of meat everywhere in recent years you could think that dry-aged beef was a recent culinary creation, but you'd be wrong! Far from the latest restaurant trend or fad, dry-aged meat has been on the menu for centuries – and there’s good reason why.

 

Dry-ageing meat is a long-established process which originated sometime in the 17th century - as we can see in this fine piece of art painted in 1655. It came about when butchers discovered that meat which had been hung and dry-aged developed a superior texture and deeper flavour compared with its fresh counterparts.

 

It's a trend with tradition and one of the oldest tricks in the book when it comes to butchery. Modern technology has since allowed for more efficient and controlled methods of ageing, but the basic principles and desired outcome remain the same as our ancestors would have experienced!

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The Dry-Ageing Process

 

Whether you’re a meat mastermind or a beef beginner, you’ve probably realised that the crucial part of the dry-ageing process is the ‘dry’ part! This means removing moisture from the air and the meat to let the dry-ageing do its magic.

 

Dry-ageing beef can be achieved by hanging meat in a temperature and humidity-controlled environment from anywhere between 4 weeks to many years! Our gold standard is in between the 35 to 60 day mark but on some parts of the carcass this can and may be tailored to a shorter or longer length of time.

 

Here’s a breakdown, pardon the pun, of what happens to the meat in this time:

 

·       The cold temperature (between 0-3 degrees) and lack of humidity (50 - 85%) preserve the meat to enable ‘controlled decomposition’ – doesn’t sound appetising but that’s what’s happening!

·       Airborne bacteria activate enzymes in the meat which breakdown connective tissues and muscle fibres, tenderising the meat

·       Water evaporates from the beef (something you don’t get with wet-ageing) and this moisture loss results in a reduced weight of meat but a more concentrated flavour – you end up buying all meat and no waste liquid!

·       Oxidation and evaporation create a protective crust around the exposed surface of the meat, under which enzymes and proteins work to mature the flavour

 

Think of dry-aged beef as the carnivorous equivalent of a fine wine or mature cheese – the yield isn’t as high, it costs a bit more but the taste and experience are incomparable to lower quality counterparts!

dry-aged-perfection

The Dry-Aged Difference

 

If by now you’re thinking “sounds great but I thoroughly enjoy the fresh meat I usually have” then read on to discover just how dry-aged beef delivers to all of the senses above and beyond your everyday meats.

 

Taste – Removing moisture from meat condenses its natural flavour, for a beefier taste with a deeper and richer flavour profile. The meaty process of getting our dry-aged beef just right is worth the effort from the very first forkful - there's no miss-steaking the superior taste of a dry-aged cut of beef!

 

Texture – Dry-aged beef is as tender as can be, giving a mouth-wateringly soft texture that's incredibly moreish. This tempting texture is all thanks to the enzymatic activity encouraged by dry-ageing, which breaks down muscle fibres and connective tissue to make them softer and easier to chew. This ease of eating paired with a superior flavour is a winning combination for any carnivore!

 

Appearance – Remember Rembradnt, our painter from earlier? Well we think he was right in recognising dry-aged beef as a piece of art. In fact, some say the dry-ageing process is more of an art than a science! You can expect your dry-aged beef to be darker in colour thanks to the maturation process, with lovely marbling all of the way through and a more robust shape.

 

Aroma – Meat mavericks and carnivore connoisseurs liken the aroma of a fine dry-aged beef to a rich and buttery popcorn, a nutty and earthy woodland, a sumptuous and decedent blue cheese and even freshly foraged truffles! We’re all for the theatrics of their descriptors but in our words dry-aged beef has the same appeal on the nostrils as a freshly carved roast joint – simply inviting and drool-inducing!

roja blanca dry aged beef

Thomas Joseph Dry-Aged Beef

 

·       Our beef is dry aged in-house using our purpose-built cold store with a dehumidifying system to filter, purify and dry the air to our specific requirements – we remove over a 1 and a half litres of water every day from our cold stores

·       We also use Himalayan salt blocks in the atmosphere to further dry and purify the air using their antibacterial properties. We feel the salt adds a depth of flavour to our meat along with seasoning it for a long as it takes!

·       We’re experts in tailoring the ageing process to specific parts of the carcass, so that each cut can reach its full potential

·       We love to hear from you – if you have a specific dry-ageing request, drop us a line and we’ll see if we can make your dry-aged dreams come true! (Visitors MORE than welcome J)

Going Keto? Here's what you need to know 😃

Tom Pereira

The ketogenic diet has been shown to provide a whole spectrum of health benefits, but getting the balance right requires time and effort. Done well, going keto can have a long-term positive impact on your overall health and wellbeing. Read on to discover the basics and benefits of a ketogenic diet – and how to get started!

 

The Basics

The ketogenic – or ‘keto’ – diet follows three basic principles; high fat, low carbohydrate and adequate protein intake. It really is as simple as that!

This balance of macronutrients encourages the body to enter a metabolic state known as ‘ketosis’ – where it burns fat for fuel rather than carbohydrates.

The standard keto diet recommends getting 75% of your energy from fat, 20% from protein and no more than 5% from carbs. As we are all wonderfully different, we’d recommend using an online calculator to calculate your individual requirements.

So how does it work? Put simply, when your intake of carbs is really low you don’t have enough blood glucose for energy and so your body turns to fat for fuel – hey presto, ketosis!

 Tip: Not all fats are created equal, so choosing the right ones is crucial to nailing the keto diet in a way that optimises nutritional status. You can find out everything you need to know about healthy fats here.

fat_avocado

The Benefits

There’s no debating the evidence supporting the spectrum of health benefits associated with a low-carb, high -fat diet – from promoting weight loss to preventing disease.

Getting the bulk of your energy from fat and not carbs underpins most of the benefits of a ketogenic diet. In fact, the low-carb part is just as important as the high-fat part!

That’s because when we get most of our energy from carbs our body struggles to convert it to energy quick enough, so it stores it instead. Carbs are stored in the body as either glucose (in our blood) or glycogen (in our muscles). This causes the elevated blood sugars and increased insulin resistance that contribute to so many diseases.

The good news is that by adopting a ketogenic diet you can avoid this and even reverse the damage.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the proven benefits of a ketogenic diet…

·      Promote Weight Loss - A very low-carb diet is more effective than a low-fat diet for weight loss, especially in the long-term

·      Maintain Muscle Mass – Which in turns boosts metabolism and calories burned at rest – further promoting weight loss!

·      Prevent Disease – Linked with reduced risk of Parkinson’s Disease, Heart Disease, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), Diabetes, Alzheimer’s and even some Cancers 

·      Reduce Blood Sugar Levels – Which prevents things like stroke as well as nerve, kidney and vision problems

·      Balance Cholesterol – Increases HDL or “good” cholesterol and reduces LDL or “bad” cholesterol

·      Improve Blood Pressure – Reduces diastolic blood pressure and so prevents cardiovascular disease

Tip: It may take some time to get to know the ropes, but it’s most certainly worth the effort to reap these amazing benefits in the long-term! Don’t expect miracles straight away, going keto is a lifestyle change not a fad diet.

lamb leg meat

How Do I Know I’m Doing it Right?

Not only is ketosis something which we understand completely, but it’s also something which can be monitored and measured to ensure all your hard work is paying off!

You can find out if you’re in ketosis by testing ketone levels in your blood and urine. These handy urine strip tests are a convenient, reliable and minimally-invasive way to find out if you’re in ketosis!

Tip: Testing your blood or urine may sound extreme but it’s really useful to monitor your ketones every now and then– for peace of mind that the diet is working. Otherwise, it’s really hard to know either way.

 

Let’s Go Keto!

Now you know what it’s all about, here’s a guide to the types of food you should enjoy and avoid when following a ketogenic diet.

beautiful steak meat

Foods to Include

Lots of these please…

•                Good quality meat and dairy

•                Oily fish

•                Nuts and seeds

•                Low-carb vegetables

•                Avocados

•                Eggs

•                Healthy Oils

•                Herbs and Spices

Tip: The keto diet isn’t about eating as much meat and fat as possible, which you’ll find in abundance in many junk foods. Avoid trans fats and processed meat and opt for real foods as close to their whole food source as possible.

 

Foods to Avoid

No thanks, I’ll go without…

•                Starchy vegetables

•                Fruit juice and fizzy drinks

•                Starchy vegetables

•                Beans and legumes

•                Alcohol

•                Refined vegetable oil

•                ‘Low-fat’ foods (full of hidden sugars)

 

Tip: It makes sense to get to know which foods are high in carbohydrates when going keto, you can find out more here.

 

Doing Keto Well, in a Nut Shell…

  • Calculate your Macronutrient Requirements

  • Balance your Diet

  • Plan your Meals

  • Monitor your Ketone Levels

So there you have it! A simple, easy to follow, go-to guide on all things keto. As always, we appreciate your feedback and if this has helped you find out something new or encourage you into a new way of eating/thinking, let us know! Emails can be sent via the contact us page or follow us on instagram and send us a DM!

Much Love,

Team CGF x

Protein: Animal vs. Plant-Based

Tom Pereira

Protein is protein right? Does it really matter where it comes from? Or is it more important that your overall requirements are met? Well, not all protein is created equal after all – there are actually many differences between animal and plant-based proteins. Knowing which to include more of in your diet can promote health and prevent deficiency. Let’s talk animal vs plant protein!

 

The Pros of Protein

It’s hard to be even remotely interested in health and fitness without hearing the hype about protein. It’s high protein this and added protein that, but is protein the wonder-nutrient it’s made out to be? Well yeah, it is!

Protein is a macronutrient, macro meaning we need it in high amounts, just like fat and carbs. Here’s just a few reasons why we all need lots of protein from our diet:

 

·      Source of Energy – Provides 4 calories for every 1g consumed, that’s the same amount of kcals/g as carbs!

·      Essential Nutrient – We must get it from our food because we can’t make it in the body

·      Provides structure – Protein is the building block for almost every cell in the body – including hair, skin, nail, bone, muscle, cartilage and blood cells

·      Creates Biochemical Reactions – That produce hormones and enzymes needed for digestion, blood clotting and muscle contraction

·      Supports Growth and Maintenance – Repairs damage to cells caused by injury and illness, as well as replenishing protein stores post-workout

 

So, there’s much more to protein than just gains bro! Whether you’re a Greek god (or Goddess) or a couch potato, meeting your protein requirements is vital. Lucky for us, there’s a whole host of foods to choose from when it comes to boosting protein intake.

But does it matter whether these foods are animal or plant-based? In short, yes it does. Let’s explore further.

grass fed ribeye steak yummy

Not all Proteins are Created Equal!

Proteins are made up of individual amino acids, which join together in a sort of biochemical daisy chain! The order and length of these chains varies from food to food. When protein from food is consumed, it is broken back down into separate amino acids. These are then absorbed and utilised to remake whole proteins which the body can use – and so the circle of life continues!

A protein can be complete or incomplete depending on which amino acids it contains in the chain. There are nine essential amino acids (EAAs), which can’t be made in the body and so must come from food. If a food contains all nine EAAs, it is classed as complete – and is a better match for the human body. Most complete proteins are derived from animal sources.

 

Animal vs. Plant-Based Protein

There are pro’s and cons to both animal- and plant-based diets. But when it comes to protein as a standalone nutrient, you’d be hard pushed to back team plant over team animal.

There are very few complete proteins that are entirely plant-based. This means that the majority of plant proteins are lacking one or more of the essential amino acids needed to build cells.

With modern lifestyles, convenience foods and hectic schedules – balancing your veggies to gain a spectrum of amino acids is likely going to fall down your list of priorities pretty fast!

Whilst it’s possible to hit your EAA targets by including a variety of plant-based proteins, it’s likely easier and more reliable to consume a complete protein. What’s more, some ‘complete’ plant-proteins only contain tiny amounts of some amino acids, making it debatable as to just how complete they are.

meat protein tasty

Animal-Based: The Pinnacle of Proteins

Foods derived from an animal source almost always contain a favourable balance of amino acids. That doesn’t just mean meat – single-source complete proteins include fish, poultry, cheese, yoghurt, milk, eggs and meat.

So whether you’re veggie, pescatarian or meat-mad – there’s heaps of choice when it comes to meeting protein requirements. Including just one of these foods with every meal is usually enough to give your body the daily EAAs it needs.

What’s more, animal-based proteins tend to be rich sources of the following nutrients, often lacking in a plant-based diet:

·      Vitamin B12 – Most people who follow a plant-based diet are deficient in Vit B12. That’s because the best sources are meat, fish, poultry and dairy. B12 is important for producing red blood cells and boosting energy levels. 

·      Haem Iron – Iron can be haem or non-haem – haem iron found predominantly in red meat is much more easily absorbed than non-haem iron you’d find in plants -  which is why many veggies and vegans develop iron-deficiency anaemia.

·      Zinc – Studies have shown that we absorb zinc from animal foods more so than from plant-based. Zinc is needed for wound-healing, fighting off infections and also for our senses of taste and smell.

·      Vitamin D – The active form of Vit D – D3 – is found in fish, eggs and dairy produce and raises circulating levels of Vitamin D almost twice as high as that from plant sources.

·      Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Found in abundance in oily fish, Omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA have been shown to promote brain, eye and heart health as well as having mood-boosting properties.

galician beef fillet

Getting your protein from animal-based foods has the added bonus of avoiding refined grains that are commonly used as a protein source in plant-based diets. Grain-free diets have been shown to reduce inflammation, promote gut health and alleviate allergies.

For the best of both worlds, pair your animal-based protein with some fresh, seasonal and organic veggies for an overall protein, vitamin and antioxidant boost!

 

Meat-ing Your Requirements with Premium Animal Protein

As with all foods, there’s going to be cheaper, less healthful and poorer quality alternatives out there when it comes to animal produce.

Avoiding foods which are heavily processed and choosing those which are as natural and as close to their whole-food origins as possible will help to boost your intake of protein whilst supporting overall health.

  •  Support your local butcher

  • Reduce food waste by choosing less-common cuts

  • Choose organic and free-range

  • Go grass-fed and look out for Pasture for Life certification