PART 5: Let’s Discuss The Difference Between Wet And Dry Aging With Chris Fourie

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Today, we're going to talk about the difference between wet and dry aging your venison and other cuts of meat in the fascinating world of meat maturation.

Meat maturation is a process that involves allowing meat to age for a certain period of time before being cooked or consumed. This process can be done using wet or dry aging techniques, and it is often used to enhance the flavour, tenderness, and overall quality of the meat.

Both wet and dry aging can be used on many types of meats, including beef, pork, and venison. However, dry aging is most commonly used for beef, as it produces a distinct flavour that is highly sought after by meat lovers. Wet aged meat does not carry the same flavour or texture as dry aged meat and therefore should cost considerably less when making your purchase. 

Wet aged meat has a limited time in which it can age in its own juices, while dry aged meat can be aged for extended periods of time depending on the desired result.

The biggest difference between the wet and dry aging methods is while both have an effect on tenderness, only dry aging intensifies the flavour of the meat.


Wet aging involves vacuum-sealing the meat and allowing it to age in its own juices. This method is faster and less expensive than dry aging, but it does not produce the same depth of flavour and tenderness that dry aging does. With the discovery of the vacuum packing machine in the 1960’s, wet ageing became far more commonly practiced. Although this became the preferred method of meat maturation, customers still had to contend with a somewhat ‘metallic taste’ in the mouth, which in due course became the accepted norm. 

The term ‘wet aging’ simply refers to product that is vacuum packed, and therefore ‘wet’ from sitting in its own liquids. So think about it… any piece of vacuum sealed meat you see is technically being wet aged right in front of your eyes! In addition, it’s the more popular method because you don’t lose any of the product to shrinkage. It’s a faster process than dry aging and is also cheaper because all you really need is a vacuum sealable bag.

Wet aged meat can have a pale, unappealing appearance when first de-bagged, but when exposed to air oxymyoglobin is allowed to form, and the meat will start to return to its signature red colour. The downside to wet aging is that because the product sits in its own ‘juices’ (FYI, technically speaking these ‘juices’ are not blood, but rather a mix of water and myoglobin), it retains a strong minerally/serum(y)/metallic taste.


Dry aging is the traditional method of meat maturation, where the meat is hung on-the-bone in a temperature-controlled room with a controlled level of humidity, and left to age for several weeks. During this time, the meat will lose moisture, which concentrates the flavours and tenderizes the meat. This process also allows natural enzymes to break down the connective tissue, resulting in the meat becoming more tender.

Dry aging works by exposing the naked meat in an environment with precise temperature and relative humidity levels allowing the meat to age gradually in a controlled environment. In addition to an increase in tenderness, the flavour of the meat is altered during this process from a combination of bacteria, enzyme breakdown and oxidation (yup, the same process we try to stop in our own bodies by consuming antioxidant-rich foods!).

The length of time that meat is aged can vary depending on the desired outcome and the type of meat being used. Beef is typically aged for 21-28 days, but some high-end restaurants and specialty butchers will age their beef for up to 90 days. Pork is usually aged for 7-14 days, while game meats can be aged for several weeks. Additionally, the surfaces which are exposed to air develop a gnarly dark appearance which is dryer than old leather, and must be cut away before cooking. Sometimes if you have a particularly funky-tasting dry aged cut, it may be because the outer layers were not trimmed back far enough.

There’s also a theory that the water loss concentrates the flavour, too. The conditions necessary for dry aging require expensive refrigeration equipment, DRY AGER® South Africa imports the award winning, number 1 worldwide refrigeration cabinets with SmartAging® technology from Germany. These cabinets have been pre-programmed with settings to assist you, and you will have the right parameters at hand for the aging process of any food: at the touch of a button. You just select the appropriate dry aging program via the control system directly on the Dry Ager cabinet, and off you go!

One important thing to note about meat maturation is that it requires strict temperature and humidity controls to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. Because you care about what you eat: With the new generation of DRY AGER® Dry Aging Cabinets, you can easily refine your food. With results that impress even the pros. No more risk of destroying valuable pieces of meat due to operating errors – thanks to the perfectly coordinated aging programs your meat, venison, sausage, cheese, fish, and more will always turn out absolutely perfectly.

In conclusion, meat maturation is a fascinating technique that can enhance the flavour, tenderness, and overall quality of meat.

Whether you prefer wet or dry aging, there’s no denying the delicious results that can be achieved with the meat maturation process.

So next time you’re at the butcher shop or restaurant, consider trying some aged meat and experience the unique flavours and textures for yourself.

For more information or to book a small-group seminar contact Chris Fourie on +27 64 684 9666 or email

Keep a look out for Part 6 on 16 August 2023 where we focus on the Dry Ager SmartAging® technology from Germany

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