If you’re preparing a steak at home, you might choose to marinate it for a few hours or overnight before cooking. The idea is to create a more flavorful, more tender cut of meat. However, you’re likely not going to do any steak aging at home. That sounds a little more complicated, and it might be best left to the pros. That’s why you see aged steaks in high-end steakhouses. That said, from a purely scientific standpoint, aging and marinating aren’t that different. They serve the same function.
Both marinating and aging call upon chemical processes to tenderize a cut of meat. The processes just differ slightly. In aging, over a short period of time, enzymes, fats, and bacteria begin to change within the meat, breaking down collagen and muscle, which makes for a more tender steak. Marinating does the same work in a shorter time period, using acids. Rather than let the steak do its own thing over several weeks, when you marinate a steak, you add in some extra helpers, like vinegar or fruit juice, to speed up the collagen and muscle breakdown.