Can You Eat The Bark Of Dry Aged Beef? What You Need To Know

Dry-aged beef is a delicacy that many meat lovers swear by.

The process of dry aging involves leaving a cut of beef to rest in a controlled environment for several weeks, allowing it to develop a rich, concentrated flavor.

During this time, a crust or “bark” forms on the outside of the meat, which can leave some people wondering what to do with it. Is it safe to eat? Should you trim it off before cooking?

In this article, we’ll explore the topic of dry-aged beef bark and whether or not it’s something you can (and should) consume.

So sit back, grab a drink, and let’s dive in!

Can You Eat The Bark Of Dry Aged Beef?

The short answer is yes, you can eat the bark of dry-aged beef. In fact, many people consider it a delicacy.

The bark, also known as the pellicle, forms during the dry aging process as a hard outer layer containing almost no moisture. This means that the flavor of the beef is very concentrated and intense.

While some people may choose to trim off the bark before cooking, it is completely safe to eat. Due to the UVC/UV light used in the dry aging process, the pellicle is completely bacteria and mold-free.

One popular use for the pellicle is to make dry-aged burgers. To do this, you will need to grind up the pellicle and combine it with ground chuck in a 4:1 ratio. The resulting burgers will have a dark, rich color and a flavor that is out of this world.

The pellicle can also be used in stocks and sauces to enhance their flavor.

It’s important to note that while the pellicle is safe to eat, it may not be for everyone. Some people may find its intense flavor and texture unappealing. It’s all a matter of personal preference.

What Is Dry-aged Beef And How Is It Made?

Dry-aged beef is a process that involves hanging freshly slaughtered beef in a temperature and humidity-controlled environment for several weeks to several months before being trimmed and cut into steaks. The process of dry aging allows naturally occurring chemical changes, including bacterial, enzymatic breakdown, and oxidation, to occur, causing the meat to become more tender and flavorful. The depth of flavor and tenderness created by the dry aging process sets dry-aged beef apart from what is found in the average grocery store.

During the dry aging process, meat hangs in a humidity-controlled environment in a way that exposes all of its sides with unimpeded airflow around the entire cut. The natural enzymes in the beef break the muscles down slowly over time, making it more tender. When the surface of the beef dries, it creates a crust over the muscle, but what’s inside stays moist and red. The meat is also subjected to other environmental impacts during the aging process — various molds and yeasts that land on it — all of which play a role in the final flavor profile of the beef. The longer you age it, the stronger it gets.

Dry aging is a time-honored technique that both enhances the flavor and tenderness of meat. Before the invention of refrigeration, dry aging was one of the only methods of keeping meat fresh, other than smoking, brining or pickling. It is a controlled decay process where you take a piece of meat and put it into a controlled open-air environment to go through a flavor transformation. By exposing the meat to air, moisture is pulled out, and natural enzymes in the beef break down the muscles slowly over time, making it more tender.

The dry aging process can take anywhere from 21 to 120 days depending on how intense you want the flavor to be. It requires large amounts of space and precise monitoring of temperature and humidity for proper dry aging. This is why it remains largely the realm of fancy steakhouses or specialty meat purveyors.

What Is The Bark Of Dry-aged Beef?

The bark of dry-aged beef is the hard outer layer that forms during the dry aging process. It is also known as the pellicle and ranges in depth depending on the dry aging environment, from about 1/8 inch to a full 1/4 inch. This outer layer of the beef is constantly exposed to a substantial flow of air, which causes the moisture to evaporate and the pellicle to form. The pellicle contains almost no moisture, which makes the flavor of the beef very concentrated and intense.

The pellicle is a natural part of the dry aging process and is completely safe to eat. Due to the UVC/UV light used in the dry aging process, the pellicle is completely bacteria and mold-free. Some people choose to trim off the bark before cooking, while others consider it a delicacy and use it in various ways.

What Are The Benefits Of Eating The Bark?

While the idea of eating bark may seem odd to some, it’s important to note that many types of bark have been used as a food source throughout history. In fact, most inner bark contains a surprising amount of digestible starches, some sugar, vitamins, minerals, and tons of fiber, making it a nutritious addition to any diet.

For example, oak bark has a long list of benefits and uses, ranging from treating digestive disorders to curing acne. The inner layer of the bark, known as the cambium, is both tender and nutritious, and can be dried and ground into a type of flour or made into a medicinal tea.

Pine bark extract is also a popular supplement due to its potent antioxidant support, as well as its added support for blood flow, blood sugar, inflammation, immunity, brain function and skin support. Pycnogenol is a standardized supplement formula guaranteed to contain at least 65-75% proanthocyanidins, the active ingredient that triggers all these benefits.

In addition to these specific benefits, inner tree bark is also rich in fiber and other nutrients that are good for your stomach. While it may not be the tastiest food ever, it can provide sustenance and keep you alive in survival situations.

Are There Any Risks To Eating The Bark?

While it is safe to eat the bark of dry-aged beef, there are some potential risks to be aware of. One concern is the possibility of choking, as the bark can be quite tough and difficult to chew. It’s important to take small bites and chew thoroughly to avoid any issues.

Another consideration is the high concentration of flavor in the bark. While many people enjoy the intense taste, some may find it overwhelming or even unpleasant. It’s a good idea to try a small amount of the bark before consuming a larger portion to see if it’s to your liking.

Finally, it’s important to ensure that the dry-aged beef has been properly stored and handled to prevent any contamination or spoilage. Always purchase from a reputable source and follow safe food handling practices when preparing and cooking the meat.

How Should You Prepare And Cook The Bark Of Dry-aged Beef?

If you choose to cook with the bark of dry-aged beef, it’s important to prepare it properly. First, you will need to remove any excess fat around the outside of the meat until there is clean, visible red meat.

The outer layer of the meat can be quite thick and hard, so you will need a very sharp knife to trim it. Once the bark is removed, you can use it in a variety of ways.

One popular method is to grind it up and use it in burgers or meatballs. To do this, soak the pellicle in a bowl of cold water for about an hour to soften it up before grinding. Double grind the pellicle until it’s nice and smooth, and then combine it with ground chuck in a 4:1 ratio. The resulting burgers or meatballs will have a rich, intense flavor that is sure to impress.

The pellicle can also be used in stocks and sauces to add depth of flavor. Simply add it to your stock or sauce and let it simmer for a few hours to infuse the flavor.

When cooking with the bark of dry-aged beef, it’s important to keep an eye on it as it can burn easily. Roast in the oven for about 30-45 minutes, turning the bones and pellicle pieces halfway through the cooking, until nicely browned. If bones begin to char at all during this cooking process, lower the heat. They should brown, not burn.