NICK SOLARES CORNER
#2 - ADVENTURES IN DRY AGING: THE ARRIVAL
I am proud to announce that I am a brand ambassador and partner with DRYAGER™ - The original home dry-aging refrigerator. All DRYAGER™ cabinets are designed and manufactured in Germany and include temperature and humidity regulation as well as an innovative sterilization system. DRYAGER™ manufactures a number of units for both residential and professional use. I opted to test out the compact UX 500 Dry Aging Fridge which can hold up to 44 lbs. of meat. I knew that dry-aging at home, especially with a resilient/commercial unit is possible, having previously used several different refrigerators, including a dorm room style mini-fridge with a computer fan, to successfully age beef. But those setups, despite the results, were hackneyed. I wanted to know what a dedicated device and probably the best product in the market in that field could really achieve.
DRYAGER™ ships via freight, so expect a large package with the unit delivered on a palate. While somewhat bulky, it’s not especially heavy as it's mostly empty space! I was concerned when my accessories box had a big dent in it, but it was only due to empty space in the box. The cabinet and the accessories all arrived in perfect working order. Unpacking the UX 500 was a straightforward affair, the unit is packaged snuggly in cardboard and polystyrene, all stainless-steel surfaces are wrapped in plastic and the internal shelving in padding. The only assembly required is attaching the door handle (I opted to leave mine off due to the location of my unit near a hallway, I was worried about walking into it). Finally, depending on the configuration you opt for, you can install the shelves and/or the hanging rail with hooks.
I live in a rather cramped Manhattan apartment with a galley kitchen, so I had to set up my DRYAGER cabinet in the living room next to a bookshelf. Appropriately, it sits next to my books about meat. While the unit should fit into most kitchen environments easily, my UX 500 is situated on the floor, but ideally I’d like it higher up by a few feet. I am considering installing it on a shelf. But then again, I am also considering getting a bigger unit. More on that later. Set-up is almost as easy as a standard refrigerator, except that after you plug it in you need to set temperature and humidity, as well as activating the UV filtration system. The instructions for beef, which I followed, recommend setting the Humidity to 82% and the temperature to 1.5 °C. The controls are situated behind the door, which is not ideal, as you need to open it to monitor the temp, and turn the light on or off. On the other hand, it does make the unit completely disappear with no lights or controls visible. My unit was up and running within an hour of unpacking.
The UX 500 does produce a low humming sound from the transformer, but it's quieter than my refrigerator (which is admittedly larger than the DRYAGER cabinet) and is certainly masked by my air conditioner, let alone the stereo that I am usually cranking on 11.
I let the unit run for a few days just to make sure everything was copacetic. The temperature and humidity held steady during the initial run in period. I was surprised at how cool the unit is externally, it’s barely warm to the touch. I must say the UX 500 is quite handsome, even without being loaded with meat, and even in a somewhat discordant setting like a living room! The fit and finish is commiserate with its price. It feels like professional equipment and would be right at home in a luxury kitchen.
As for accessories I received a “taste and operations” package which includes two slabs of SALTAIR salt blocks intended to help regulate humidity and season the meat. It also includes some nifty tags and skewers to help you label your meat and record the date, weight etc. as well as a special cleaning solution they recommend used between batches.
Next time find out what I decided to age to test out my DRYAGER™ UX 500!
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