Friday, July 9, 2010

Does Never-Frozen Dry-Aged Steak Taste Different?

Saturday 7/10/10 at 1:00 pm Update.

One of the Tweet community's most-respected beef experts says that there is no detectible difference whatsoever, as long as the steak is properly vacuum packed and flash-frozen.

No one, she says, no matter how fine a palate, can differentiate, in a blind taste test, between previously-frozen and never-frozen high quality, dry-aged steak, as long as the previously-frozen steak was properly handled (i.e., vacuum-packed, flash-frozen and properly stored and thawed).

Saturday 7/10/10 at 11:00 am Update.

One Tweep recently claimed that freezing a steak would cause it to lose its juices when it thaws.

Another Tweep challenged the claim, analogizing to an ice cube: the ice cube doesn't lose the water when it thaws.

We tweeted a third analogy (of unknown scientific validity): a bottle filled with water. When it freezes, the glass bottle breaks. Then, when it thaws, the water leaks away.

This analogy is to the cell structure within meat. When frozen, the water contained within each cell causes the cell walls to break. Then when thawed, the water which was previously contained within each cell leaks into the inter-cellular meat tissue. During cooking, the water not contained within the cell walls evaporates, leaving the meat dry (less juicy).

We need facts to know whether any of these analogies is valid. We'll continue to post updates to this Blog, so subscribe to keep up.

Saturday 7/10/10 at 10:00 am Update.

Two experts have so far weighed in on this Blog's question about whether never-frozen dry-aged steak tastes different from previously-frozen.

A meat scientist reports that previously-frozen meat would be tenderer than never-frozen with an estimated difference of 0.5kg. That's correct: previously-frozen is tenderer! Since tenderer steak is usually better, this finding could open up a new method to enhance the quality of dry-aged steak: freeze-thaw before cooking.

A New York grass-fed cattle farmer reports that frozen meat is wonderful and convenient for both farmers and home cooks. She reports that freezing helps #gassfed farmers harvest at best time.

This is becoming for interesting, because I have always assumed that freezing would harm the palatability of high quality, dry-aged steak. My assumption arises because of freezing's negative affect on fish and other food. Maybe I'm wrong!

We're going to discuss this topic on Twitter at #steakchat this coming Wednesday, 7/14/10, at 8:00 pm ET (5:00 pm PT).

Please join #steakchat on Wednesday
to discuss this important topic!

And please keep sending your information!


Do you think that _some_ steak experts can consistently identify previously-frozen vs never-frozen 28-day dry-aged USDA Prime Grade steak?


We require a valid, blind "taste" test.

We are defining a "taste" test to include flavor, juiciness and tenderness -- that is, all the sensory attributes, including sight. The "blind" in our blind taste test refers to the fact that the subject of the test has no information about which steak was previously-frozen and which was never-frozen. For simplicity, we call this a "blind taste test".

We're not talking about the average eater but the small minority of people (maybe 5%) who have a fine, educated palate. This is similar to a "Nose" who can identify wine, perfume, cheese, etc. These are people who have the ability -- the 'mouth' -- to separate the previously-frozen from the never-frozen in a blind taste test consistently, repeatedly, any day. That is, they are not just making a lucky guess but must consistently demonstrate their ability to differentiate between the two.

In addition, of course, the two steaks in each blind taste test -- one previously frozen and the other never-frozen -- must be exactly the same cut, from the same carcass and cooked exactly the same way.

To make the question relevant (since dry-aging is usually used only for the best steak), the test specifies that the steaks in each test be USDA Prime Grade (i.e. the steaks are from young steers and are reasonably well-marbled).

We welcome information about the results of the same bling taste test applied to frozen vs never-frozen grass-fed steak, where all other variables are exactly the same.


This survey does not test the question of whether never-frozen tastes better than previously-frozen. (Remember, as described above, that "taste" includes all sensory elements, including flavor, juiciness, tenderness and even sight.)

Instead, the survey focuses only on whether or not each has a different taste from the other than can be identified consistently by at least some tasters.


If you think that some can pass the test, what is the scientific reason? Do so many beef cells explode that the cooked steak comes out mushy?


Please post your information by comment below, by email, or by tweeting tweet us @SteakPerfection.

If you have any more questions, send them by DM, tweet or other way (see below).


When we obtain and analyze the scientific data, we shall update this blog with the results of this survey. Until this blog is updated with the final results, follow the progress of this survey:



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  1. I heard from my butcher that freezing dry aged beef has less of an impact since your losing water during the dry aging process so when freezing and thawing less water will leech. I will be serving a Holstein dry aged rib eye aged 120 days so likely with have a different result.

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