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Everything posted by e_monster

  1. I think there is a point that is worth mentioning. There is no advantage in terms of TENDERNESS for cooking below 131F. However, for people that like their steaks on the rare side of medium rare: one can cook reasonably tender cuts (ribeye, even filets) at 125F to 131F for SHORT periods of time to bring the core to the desired doneness for people that like rare to medium rare steaks. A steak prepared like this and then finished off for 15 to 30 seconds per side in a VERY hot pan yields a steak that has a lovely crust and desired "bloodiness" (misnomer I know) in everywhere else. Also, when prepared like this, the fat is softened throughout in a way that you don't get when pan-frying to the same doneness. When using this method, one needs to make sure that the beef is at this temperature only long enough to bring it to the desired temp as staying too long in the danger zone is risky. This is a method to use only with cuts where one is not trying to increase the tenderness. --E
  2. You can use a cheap aquarium air pump (less than $10) to provide circulation. Search this topic for "aquarium" for more details. (The 'search topic' field is found towards the bottom of the page). It should also be noted (for those without inexpensive access to an immersion heater) that there are many under $50 heat sources that when coupled with a $10 aquarium pump and a PID controller (around $100) make for an excellent sous-vide setup.
  3. I have a question about safe reheating of food cooked sous-vide then subsequently re-portioned and frozen. A month ago, I cooked a whole brisket sous-vide and knew that it was more than we would eat. So, I cut the brisket in half and served half. The other half was put in the fridge and then re-vacuum packed a couple of hours later. To reheat, should I defrost in the refrigerator and then re-heat. Or, is it safe to put it straight into a 135 F bath and brought to temp. I have no idea how long it would spend in the danger zone if put directly in the bath from the freezer.
  4. What is the lowest temperature that one can safely use for a 24 to 48 hour cook when cooking beef?
  5. Answering my own question about tri-tip. I cooked a 2.5 lb tri-tip at 135F for 22 hours bagged with a marinade of olive oil, soy sauce, a tiny amount of liquid smoke, sugar, a balsamic vinegar. After removing from the bath, I seared it for those lovely maillard reaction flavors at very high temp for 30 seconds per side. The result was extremely tender but perhaps slightly 'softer' than I'd like. My wife pointed out that the tenderness was perfect the next day for cold steak sandwiches. Next time, I will try it for 12 hours to see if the meat will be tender but a bit firmer. The result was judged very good by the people that shared the meal with us but I personally think that the result would be much better with different cooking parameters. The meat was a very good but not premium quality steak. Next time, I will also use a more premium source. (Question: anyone in the Bay Area know of somewhere where good Wagyu beef can be purchased?) Here are some pics: Fresh out of the bag: After searing: Sliced:
  6. You might well be correct about the relative uselessness of multi-stage cooling in the case under discussio, but I believe that your characterization of how heat transfer works is not quite correct. There are certainly cases where the temperature of the bath (and the bath's specific heat, and other factors) can influence the final core temperature. There are quite a few relevant variables. The size of the object being heated/cooled. The temperature differential between the exterior and the core. The relative specific heats of the cooling medium and the object being cooled (I.e. if you are cooking in a bath that is significantly higher than the desired core temperature there will be a larger differential between the exterior temp and the core temp and if the piece of meat is sufficiently large, the temperature and specific heat of the cooling bath might influence the final core temp). In practical terms, in this application, it may be true that the baths temperature won't have an impact on the core temperature. But the notion that the cooling bath's temperature is irrelevant does not seem right unless we are talking about either small pieces of meat or cooking in a bath only slightly warmer than the desired core temp. In which case, the core is going to be so close to the final temp that you are correct in practical terms. If you had a large piece of meat, where the core was at a considerably lower temperature than the outer part of the meat -- dropping it in liquid nitrogen would (or an ice-water bath for that matter) would result in a different maximum core temp than dropping it in a bath that was 1 degree cooler than the meat. Heat is kinetic energy. Hot and cold are just relative amounts of kinetic energy. Hot molecules are moving more than cold molecules. When the hot and cold molecules collide, the kinetic energy equalizes. So, a molecule at 150 degrees that bumps into a molecule that is 40 degrees is going to lose a lot more heat than if it had bumped into a 149 degree molecule. In turn, the hot molecules that the cooled molecule bumps into are going to cool down more too. If an object is dunked in an ice-water bath, its outer layers are going to cool off a lot more in a given period of time than if dunked in a bath that was warm. Those layers in turn are going to steal heat from the inner layers,etc. Anyway, I think that this is the case. Apologies if the squirming newborn in my arms has muddled my thinking.
  7. Has anyone done Tri-Tip sous-vide? Would this be a case where a long-cook would help tenderize it? I find tri-tip to be flavorful but also easy to turn into leather if one grills it too fast. I would love to hear temp/time from anyone that has had success. Or, perhaps this is a cut where sous-vide doesn't make a huge difference?
  8. I haven't had anything come out dried out when seasoning either. BUT, I have had some things come out much juicier than others. I think you have to cook both ways -- with similar pieces of meat -- and A/B them and see if there is a difference. My seasoned briskets didn't come out dry but the unseasoned briskets came out juicier. As I said, it is possible that the difference wasn't due to the seasoning -- I haven't been scientific enough -- but the difference has been consistent so far for me. I would be curious to know if anyone has experimented in this arena.
  9. What length cooks are you doing sous vide? My experience has been that seasoning is not at all problematic when cooking items that get cooked for a few hours. But on really long cooks (36 to 48 hours for example) that salt MAY (I am not certain yet) be influencing the texture of the final result in a way that it doesn't when cooking for a few hours. I haven't had time to do a scientific experiment yet to compare (i.e. by splitting a brisket and cooking one with seasoning and one without) but my anecdotal experience with brisket has been that the dry-rubbed briskets did not come out as juicy as the briskets that I cooked without salt. (Note that I would never ever ever bbq or braise a brisket that I hadn't seasoned -- but sous-vide for 48 hours at low temperatures is a very different process). I think that this is a great topic for discussion and experimentation. I will try to be a bit more scientific when I do my next brisket -- as the variations that I saw might have been due to variations in the pieces of meat rather than due to seasoning. Just my .02
  10. I haven't been seasoning the shortribs before bagging. I just put them into the bags by themselves. When I take them out I season with salt and pepper before searing. It might be co-incidence but it seems like when there is salt in the bag on a long cook that the meat doesn't come out quite as juicy.
  11. I have cooked them at 135F several times (followed by a quick sear) and people love them -- they are sure that it is some expensive cut of meat--very tender and very rich. and they look very much like what you posted. 135F softens the fat but it won't render all of it--so you need to start with well trimmed short ribs. When you sear some will render and some help form a nice crisp crust. I sous-vide with the bones and remove the bones before searing. I put the empty pan on a high burner for 10 minutes or so which gets the pan to about 700 F before doing the sear. The ribs get just 10 to 20 seconds per side (I sear the four sides). If you cook sous vide it at a high enough temperature to render the fat, you miss out on the wonderful texture that a medium short rib can have. The pictures look like what my short ribs look like at 135F. I will try to get my act together and post some pictures.
  12. It looks like about 135F or so with a nice quick sear.
  13. For what it's worth. I have done briskets at 135F and 147F (several times at each temperature) and would say that to my taste, 135F was vastly preferable. The meat had better texture and was moister at 135 (for 40 to 48 hours) than at 147. No matter what you do, a lot of moisture will leave the meat. Also, you need a well-trimmed brisket (especially at 135F) that also has reasonable marbling. The flat of some briskets does not have enough marbling and will yield something that turns out "dry" no matter what temp. At 135F for 48 hrs, you end up with meat that is fork tender, deliciously pink and has its full visual integrity (it doesn't look stringy or fibrous at all). The picture doesn't do the meat justice (it was a lot pinker than it looks in the pic). --E
  14. Hi John, I think that you will find that for under $175 you can pick up a tabletop roaster and a PID and a cheap aquarium air pump that will give you results that will rival a much more expensive setup. (I would also throw in a $20 presto multicooker if you are ever going to be cooking thing like chicken breasts for 2 or 3 people). I have heard from two people that have both a setup like this and a more expensive setup with lab equipment and they have both said that only significant difference was that the lab circulator was more convenient. Now, if money is not an object, convenience is great. But if saving a few hundred dollars seems worthwhile, you won't be disappointed with a $100 PID plus appropriate heat source. I would expect that any large company that comes out with a sous-vide appliance will be aiming at a high-end home user. There isn't a mass-market in waiting for a sous-vide appliance and margins are pretty small for manufacturers of things that sell through big-box stores. --E
  15. That would leave a pretty small amount of water relative to what is being cooked which makes keeping the temps stable tricky when the food is first added. When I am cooking small amounts of food (i.e. one or two chicken breasts or a 12 oz. ribeye), I use a 6.5 quart cooker (three times the volume of a 2 liter cooker) and wouldn't really want to use less water than that -- otherwise there would be a pretty significant temperature drop as soon as you add the items. I would think that for anything other than eggs, one would want 6 or 7 quarts/liters minimum. Anyway, that is my take. And, I might be wrong. Anyone else have thoughts about this? 2L capacity is large enough for 2-4 individually packed 8oz portions, isn't it? ←
  16. What would the proposed application of the baths bet? Unless I am misreading the specs, the capacity seems to be only 2 liters which doesn't seem like it would be adequate volume for most sous vide application.
  17. The FoodSaver is strong enough to get most of the air out of a bag. If you are left with so much air that the bag floats, it may be that your FoodSaver is defective or old or that you are placing the food in a position that makes it difficult to get the last residual air bubbles. I recently replaced a four year-old FoodSaver because it was frequently leaving too much air in the bag. Since I replaced it, I haven't had any problems with floating bags. Pounce's check valve method is also useful for venting any air bubbles that expand during cooking. (Fortunately, I haven't needed to use that method since getting the new FoodSaver) Where you place the food in the bag can make a difference in whether too much air gets trapped in the bag. Also, the stiffness of the bags can be a factor. I have found that putting an empty bag under running hot water can soften the material so that the FS doesn't have to fight so much. I find that the models with the Pulse vac option work better than the old FoodSaver that I replaced. (But that might be because mine had become so long in the tooth).
  18. I am wondering: what is the relevance of this inquiry? A FoodSaver does a fine job of vac packing for sous vide cooking, AND it isn't strong enough to compress things like watermelon (though it does compress strawberries nicely). It also pulls enough of a vac that it does a very nice job of quick marinading/pickling in canisters. I am not sure what difference it makes whether or not a FoodSaver pulls enough vacuum to pull all the air bubbles out of a solution. There isn't really any question about compressing watermelon: it isn't strong enough to do it. But it is great for most sous vide applications and is MUCH less expensive than machines that pull enough vac to compress watermelon significantly. (Question: what about putting a weighted plate on top of the bagged watermelon when it is being vac'ed and then leaving the plate on? Note: I am thinking out loud without thinking it through -- so don't flame me if this is an idiotic idea.)
  19. I have the first generation Auber. The settings I used were: P/I/D 250 / 900 / 100 I have experimented with the settings for the roaster and am still experimenting. I found that there suggested settings for the Nesco gave me more overshoot than I wanted. So, I have played with them a fair amount. I start with water that is about 130 degrees and I let the temp stabilize for a few hours before adding the meat. With these settings, I get an initial overshoot of a degree or two that takes a while to settle down. I get another overshoot of a degree or so after I add the meat as it compensates for the temperature drop. But it settles down pretty quickly after that and stays stable for the rest of the cooking. (Note: with the default settings my Presto Multicooker -- too small for brisket -- has no overshoot. So, I use the multicooker whenever the items to be cooked will fit in it). I plan to experiment a bit more with settings. The small overshoot is not a problem with a big piece of meat since the temperature re-stabilizes fairly quickly for me (long before the temperature of the meat will have approached the bath temperature). I have considered setting it to PD or PI (rather than PID) mode based on something that I read to see how that works with the roaster. The main issue with the roaster is that there is a fair amount of intertia/latency in the heating element. Someone suggested that setting I to 0 can result in less overshoot. Unfortunately, I haven't had much time to experiment lately. It would be worth setting the D exaggeratedly higher and lower to see what impact that has on overshoot. Mmmmmm.... Brisket.... e_monster, I have the same setup, Nesco instead of Hamilton Beach roaster. Just wondering what settings you're using for your P, I and D. If I remember correctly,you have the "old style" Auber controller (blue case)? Using the numbers Auber provides, mine seems to overshoot 5+ degrees on the initial heat up, and when I add the cold food, I'm getting closer, but not there yet. Thanx ←
  20. After many attempts, I finally managed to get brisket to come out the way that I wanted. I've done quite a few of them in the past six months and while many were tasty, they didn't quite capture what I was after. The brisket was done at 135F for 48 hrs. The result was pink and fork tender with a nice meaty texture and not dry at all. The main reason that this one turned out so much better than my last couple of attempts was the sourcing of the meat. Most of my experiments were with supermarket briskets. This time, I purchase a couple of smallish (3 lbs) flats from a high-quality butcher. They were trimmed of most of the external fat and had nice marbling. Here are a couple of pictures (which don't do justice to the meat -- the exposure wasn't right --so the color is a bit washed out). The color was a nice bright pink. It was great with either sour cream/horseradish (like what I would use for roast beef) or barbecue sauce. I am looking forward to making hash with it for breakfast on Saturday. Equipment: Auber PID, Hamilton Beach tabletop roaster, FoodSaver, cheap aquarium air pump for circulation, cheap propane torch for browning
  21. It doesn't seem to be strong enough to significantly compress watermelon from my experience. From what I've read (from others that have moved from FoodSaver to much more expensive units), it requires a much more expensive sealer to compress watermelon.
  22. Mike, I think that you are conflating several meanings of 'vacuum'. You are conflating the sense of vacuum as 'void of oxygen' with the sense of 'at 0 pressure'. In common parlance, 'vacuum' is generally used pretty loosely -- and these meanings are commonly interchanged even though they are not the same. (Vacuum-packed, as an aside, means PACKED in a vacuum. A chamber sealer does have low pressure while sealing, but that condition ends when the chamber is opened and air rushes back in to the chamber.) If you void air from a rigid container that contained only air, you would approach a vacuum inside. (You would not get a true vacuum however.) However voiding air from a plastic bag does not result in a less than atmospheric pressure inside the bag once the bag is exposed to atmospheric pressure. Even if one has a vacuum bagging machine capable of voiding all the air from the bag, as soon as the bag is exposed to atmospheric pressure, the contents are also exposed to atmospheric pressure. The bag provides 0 protection from pressure. If Roca claims otherwise (and it is NOT clear that he does claim otherwise from the quotes you provided), he is mistaken. (The quotes from page 85 are reasonably explicit in stating that the contents of the bag are exposed to pressure. He says there that it "stop aromas from volatilizing". At low pressure, aromas volatize more easily because vaporization points are lowered. I find some of the quotes you provided to be either poorly written, translated or edited (no way of knowing which) as they do seem to confuse a few issues, but that isn't really germane to the question at hand.) Here are a few tests that I believe demonstrate that the bag does protect the contents from external pressure: 1) Vacuum pack your meat. Now, press the bag and watch the meat deform in response to the pressure. The reason that it deforms when pressed is because the bag provides no protection from external pressure. 2) Vacuum seal some ice cubes in a bag. Place the bag in some water that is below boiling point but still hot. Let's say 190F if you are near sea level. Does the water inside the bag boil/vaporise? If not, then you don't have a situation anywhere near approaching 0 atmospheric pressure. (Water vaporizes at a VERY low temperature in a real vacuum). You can more or less measure the pressure to which water is subject by measuring the temperature at which it boils. If you perform those same experiments with a rigid container, you will get very different results. The container will prevent you from deforming the meat and the water will boil at a lower temperature. (By measuring the temperature at which it boils you can also learn what the pressure is inside the container) Here is another test. Vacuum pack a marshmallow in a rigid container. Vacuum pack a marshmallow in a bag. The marshmallow vacuum packed in the rigid container will expand. The vacuum packed one will be crushed. (If you have a chamber sealer you would see that the marshmallow expands while the vacuum condition exists and then is crushed as pressure equalizes.) (As an aside, someone has pointed out to me "if one were able to reduce the pressure to, say 0.5 psi, the boiling point of water would be only around 27C/80F. Lower pressure than that, and the water inside the meat would boil at room temperature. This would not generally be a good thing if one were cooking a steak.") Hopefully Prof. Kinsey will give us the final word soon.
  23. Hi Mike, I am fairly certain that your assertion about the pressure is mistaken. As long as the bag is exposed to atmospheric pressure, the pressure is the same inside and outside the bag. If the bag is exposed to atmospheric pressure, the contents are at atmospheric pressure. It is that simple. If you were dealing with a rigid container, the inside and outside would be at different pressures. But that isn't the case. If you have a cookbook that says otherwise, then the author is mistaken. Perhaps you are mis-reading the text. --e
  24. I have used the FoodSaver hundreds of times and have never had a good seal break BUT it is possible to create a less than optimal seal if you aren't paying close attention and either get the area where the seal will be too wet OR have a tiny tiny little wrinkle that keeps the bag from being sealed well. I think if you inspect the seal after it is done, you won't have any problems. When vac-packing moist foods, it is possible to have an improperly sealed bag without realizing it. It is also possible to have a little wrinkle that interferes with sealing. A few weeks ago, I was a little careless and vac-packed a porkloin with a wee bit of marinade. The seal seemed fine (i.e. the bag shrunk down and didn't expand when the FoodSaver was opened. I put the bag in the fridge and when I took it out half an hour later, the bag was no longer tight around the food. Upon close inspection, there was a small area where the bag had not really sealed well. It was pretty obvious when I looked at it. Does anyone know why this happens? I know Food Saver says you can put their bags in boiling water so the 130-140 F water shouldn't have mattered. ←
  25. I disagree with Mike about the Ribeye. Ribeye can be absolutely amazing cooked sous vide and quite different from grilling if using a good cut of meat and remembering that you are only cooking to bring it up to temp--there is no reason to subject the ribeye to long cooking times -- you aren't trying to tenderize it -- you are trying to get a uniform texture -- medium rare, for instance, all the way throughy. A ribeye cooked at 130F for an hour and then seared for 20 seconds a side in a VERY hot pan is a wonderful treat. I have never had one fall apart. Contrary to Mike's statement low pressure does not raise the boiling point. Also (as noted below) the influence of pressure on temperature isn't relevant -- because everything is at atmospheric pressure when cooking in bags: 1) Low pressure REDUCES the boiling point a liquid. It DOES NOT raise the boiling point of water. (This is also irrelevant to sous vide cooking as noted in #2). Boiling point increases with pressure which is why a pressure cooker reduces cooking times when compared to steaming at atmospheric pressure. 2) when you are cooking things that have been vacuum sealed in a bag they are not under low-pressure. They are at atmospheric pressure. They are at the same pressure they would be at if they weren't in a bag because the walls of the bag collapse as air is pumped out. (To have low pressure inside of a container, you need to have a rigid container that does not collapse when the air is pumped out.)
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