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July 16, 2017 at 7:37 pm #2935
The stars aligned and I received a free mini-fridge while a decent sale on boneless ribeye was taking place at our local butcher. I had always wanted to try my hand at dry aging meat so I put a Wireless Tag Sensor (http://wirelesstag.net) in the fridge to monitor the temperature and humidity before putting anything in it. There was quite a bit of tinkering with the fridge’s thermostat but after ~2 days I had a very consistent temperature between 35-38F.
After I felt confident the fridge could keep the temperature I bought the ribeye and sealed it up. When I put the meat in the fridge I closely monitored the temperature and humidity. The temperature jumped up to ~45F and hovered between 40-45F for about 3 hours before the fridge could finally catch up and get the temperature back to 35-38F range.
So long story short the meat was in an above 40F environment for ~3hrs. Technically if any parishable food is in an above 40F environment for > 2hrs it should be tossed. I’m going to keep aging the meat, but any thoughts on whether or not it will be safe to eat? Honestly, I would have never noticed the temperature if I wasn’t monitoring it so closely, but I did so now I’m concerned.
Moral of the story cool the fridge lower initially and warm it up after everything settles.
Thanks!!July 16, 2017 at 8:47 pm #11189
Hey Umhelp, welcome to the forum. Just an FYI – A mini fridge is not a good environment for dry aging because those fridges don’t have a fan that circulates cold air between the fridge and freezer compartment like your regular home fridge would. The result is moisture evaporating from the meat (and there is a lot of it…16 lbs ribeye will give off up to 4 lbs of water – yes like a gallon) has no place to go and will condense on the walls and create a super humid environment thereby preventing the meat surface from drying. Result of this will be spoiled meat. So you might want to move that meat into a regular full size fridge.
BTW. the UMAi instructions contain similar advice.
As for the little initial temp swing, not sure where the info comes from that “any perishable food kept at >40F for more than two hours needs to be tossed” comes from but I have never heard anything like that.July 16, 2017 at 10:03 pm #11191
I have been closely monitoring the humidity as well as temperature. Currently, the humidity is hovering around 65%. If it gets to much higher then I can attempt to move it elsewhere. What would be considered the danger zone for humidity?
As for the 2hrs over 40F that comes from the USDA: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/refrigeration-and-food-safety/ct_index
Thanks!July 16, 2017 at 10:20 pm #11192
There are no hard set humidity recommendations, but I would say 65% is the very upper limit. You may see it go up very quickly now. The surface of the meat drying and forming “the bark” is guarantee that you will have successful dry aging. If the surface does not harden in the first 5 days, you will may have spoilage issues.
As for the 40F for 2 hours. Wow! I think that is such a broad statement, I don’t know what to think of it. Different kinds of foods spoil at different rates I think.July 17, 2017 at 1:35 am #11195
I added a tray of salt and a small fan right below the meat and now it looks like the humidity is settling towards 56% which is fairly close to ambient. I turned on the dehumidifier in the basement also to bring ambient down to ~45%. I’ll keep a close eye on it though and see how things settle.
I moved the temperature sensor around to different areas of the fridge and it seems I’m getting a +/-4F temperature differential from the middle to the bottom. I added the fan to hopefully average the temperature a bit better.
If nothing else this has been a fun exercise in how to babysit a mini-fridge 🙂July 17, 2017 at 1:58 am #11196
Well keep us updated. You might find that salt doesn’t have enough capacity to absorb all the moisture coming out of that meat. Temperature is usually not the issue with mini fridges it’s the humidity build up that will prevent the bark from forming.July 19, 2017 at 10:29 am #11200
So after a few days things have settled down and become more consistent. The humidity hovers between 50-55% (ambient is 50% /w dehumidifier in basement) and the temperature is hovering between 35-38F. There is a really thick layer of frost build up on the freezer compartment from all the moisture, however no moisture build up and where else in the fridge. I may have to scrape some of that off throughout the aging process. Overall, the meat is turning a nice deep red and the mini-fridge is keeping up. I can definitely tell that the frost build up on the freezer unit is causing the fridge to work harder, longer cycle times, and warmer temperatures. I’ve had to turn the fridge up once so it wouldn’t go over 40F, so the humidity/frost is definitely an impact. No humidity spikes and good safe temperatures so I’m still hopeful for a good end result.
Thanks!July 19, 2017 at 4:18 pm #11201
Sounds like you have the situation under control. Once the bark forms then humidity issues will subside.August 26, 2017 at 1:50 pm #11248
Day 42: I trimmed and cut the ribeye up today. It had a very nice hard leathery bark. My one concern is the smell, it wasn’t strong but it was noticable. I also did a 35 day aged NY Strip that came out with no smell at all, I had zero hesitation with it. The smell on this ribeye wasn’t necessarily bad but it wasn’t good either. It was a unique smell to say the least, not sure I’d call it meaty. I’ve got a smaller piece I was going to cook up to see if it tasted alright. I figure if it was rotten it would be a very strong smell, this was nothing over powering. I guess if it tastes bad I’ll pitch it and try again.
I very closely monitored temperature and humidity throughout, everything was in range with less than 4-5 degree temp swings.
I’ll post some pictures once I figure out how to get them uploaded. Thanks! This has certainly been an experience 🙂August 26, 2017 at 1:53 pm #11249Ron PrattMember
The smell to most people is an earthy, nutty smell. If the meat was bad the smell would knock you over! Enjoy your aged beef!!! Ron
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