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Phillip, welcome to the forum
Those are some good questions. Dry aging of beef has been around for centuries and obviously it was done without UMAi Dry bags.
We can liken the function of UMAi Dry as sort of packaging – a protective layer.
If all the foods in a grocery store just sat on racks without any packaging or just in bins. The shopping experience would be entirely different, from the time you walk into a store and smell the decaying foods until the time you examine the food you bought and use it.
You can definitely dry age without the use of UMAi Dry bags, provided that you don’t mind the following:
1. A rather strong smell in the fridge being emitted by the aging meat that can permeate other foods that are nearby
2. A trim loss that is quite a bit higher due to oxidation permeating the meat deeper
3. Possible mold growing on the meat and migrating to other items in the fridge
4. The taste and smell of the meat that depends on what else was in close proximity to it.
As for the use of a fan, it’s use is much more important if you were to dry age in open air, rather than in UMAi Dry. We found no need for a fan when dry aging in UMAi Dry. The salt in the open air method acts as a desiccant removing the moisture from the air, the fan circulates the air around the meat to keep the surface dry in order to prevent nasty things from starting to grow on the surface.