Would You Pay Big Bucks to Dry-Age Steak at Home?

Alex Van Buren
Food Features Editor
June 17, 2014

Credit: Steaklocker

Father’s Day has come and gone, and with it, your opportunity to get Dad a thousand-dollar, 34-inch stainless steel and fiberglass cabinet for dry-aging his own steaks

What, you got him a tie? Oof. Next year.

A few former employees of the Prime 1000 steakhouse in St. Louis, Missouri have dreamt up a way for you to dry-age steak at home. Their product has (of course) a Kickstarter, where if you’re an early bird you can snag it for as little as $555. (If you wait until it’s funded, you pay a cool $950.)

The “Steaklocker,” as they’re calling it, functions primarily using ”fan forced air flow and constant low temperature,” which its website states ”are critical to the safe dry-aging process.” As the host in the Steaklocker video intones stoically, “dry-aging does for red meat what cave-aging does for cheese and cellaring does for Bordeaux: It improves the taste greatly with time.” Within 21 days, she promises, you could have your own dry-aged slab of beef, ready for the grill

Steaklocker consultant Claus Schmitz, a chef and butcher who has worked in Switzerland, Bermuda, Holland, and London, says butchering was “part of our training in Europe.” He told us the project was inspired in part because “a lot of people are trying to do it themselves, and they really don’t know how bacteria can multiply rapidly.”

It’s true that more and more folks are taking the DIY approach, which publications with serious cred—from Serious Eats to Cook’s Illustrated—are endorsing. But Schmitz is not alone in feeling skittish: Brenda Crow of renowned Portland, Oregon charcuterie company Olympic Provisions laughed, “Every restaurant in Manhattan ages beef in their cooler. I’m just like, ‘what are you doing?!”’ Safety concerns are a real thing, said Crow, when it comes to bacteria. “We have a USDA officer in the building five days a week. He records a log for everything—Ph, temperature, it’s serious.”

Crow wasn’t alarmed off the bat when she saw the credentials of the team involved. Although she primarily works with pork, not beef, she remarked, “It seems like they have enough technology involved and enough on-the-ground knowledge to pull that off.” Claus & Co. are using a spectrum light in order to kill off bacteria in the Steaklocker, which your regular old fridge does not have, and the forced air flow keeps air moving, which as Crow points out is crucial: “Stagnant air is a killer.” 

But Crow notes warily that the Steaklocker is not regulated by the USDA unless it’s resold (to restaurants, for example). “Who regulates [it]? Nobody. We do it because we have to.”

Keep that in mind if you help this particular Kickstarter off the ground. It might be better than your own fridge, but you’d have to take its founders at their word. 

[via The Los Angeles Times]