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Lisa Shock

Botulism concerns re infused oils and confit

69 posts in this topic

. . . if (unlike most home cooks) you have a pressure cooking system that reliably meets the recommended guidelines then you certainly can kill off Claustridia spores.

Is it naive to think that a regular, home pressure cooker would work? Don't they get water to 250F, and keep it there?

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So, does anyone have a suggestion of how to safely make garlic oil, without cooking it?

Yes, just make it fresh as needed and either freeze it, or don't keep it (refrigerated) for more than a "few days."

I've seen those standard guidelines (for anaerobic food storage without pressure sterilization) throughout official advice (and mentioned earlier in this thread, and the related Garlic-Oil thread, and the sous-vide thread, quoted below).

The main point, on this and other botulism questions, is to read and follow official public-health advice about it, which is readily available, and mentions these things and more. Food forum postings are no substitute.

The three classic ways to prevent botulism poisoning in foods stored anaerobically without first pressure-cooking are: consume soon (before bacteria can develop much) -- recurrent phrase is "a few days" if refrigerated; stop bacterial growth chemically (preservatives or high acid); or stop the growth thermally (i.e., freeze it).

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You may have noticed that there isn't much garlic oil for sale in supermarkets.

Yes, and with "truffle oil" (truffles too grow in spore-bearing soil), which is widely available, the problem is solved simply if notoriously by using no truffles.

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Do the concerns here include herb infused oils like parsley, carrot tops or chives?

Thanks

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Yes, other fresh produce that is low in acid needs to be handed with care. They can all carry botulism spores. Some may have lower initial amounts than garlic, but, if you create a good environment for it to grow & multiply in, it will grow & multiply.

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Safety question redirected from the current July 2010 "Slow cooker duck confit" thread:

interesting! I wondered about the warm setting [circa 180 degrees F]. Any sense (MaxH?) of whether or not that would create additional food safety concerns?

There are multiple types of food safety concerns. 180 F (actually, anything above about 140 F [Note 1!]) kills bacteria and larger organisms such as trichinia parasites. From the viewpoint of preventing such diseases, specific cooking temperature is of concern mainly with very low temperature cooking like sous-vide, still safe if done right.

Botulism, topic of this thread, is a separate issue, independent of all that. As I mentioned before in your Slow-Cooker Confit thread, Daniel, it actually has little to do with appliance temperature settings and more to do with what happens after cooking. That's because, not to repeat this point endlessly, killing dormant botulinum spores requires 250 F at the food itself, and you can't reliably raise water-bearing foods to 250 F without the steam autoclaving mandatory in commercial canning (in metal cans, or temperature-tolerant soft containers like retort pouches and aseptic "brick" packs). The fatal 1971 US botulism outbreak happened through inadequate pressure sterilizing of canned potato-leek soup meant to be served cold. (That incident sharply raised US awareness of botulism, which has since faded.)

Any food, regardless of cooking details, can later germinate botulism spores (which in turn create the dangerous toxin) when stored anaerobically (e.g. sealed airtight or immersed or coated with fat), unless the food (1) has high enough acid content, (2) contains strong enough chemical preservatives, or (3) was properly steam-sterilized to 250 F [Note 1]. Some C. bot. strains grow at refrigerator temps., but they don't grow instantly, and the time factor works in your favor. These details are elaborated earlier in this thread and in the official link below. Botulinum spores are remarkably tough: One famous fatal US outbreak came from mushrooms boiled for hours in wine -- which would easily kill almost any other foodborne pathogen -- then stored, cool, under oil for several days.

As also detailed upthread, modern confit recipes satisfy none of those three preventive conditions. That's why standard authoritative advice (and instruction to professional cooks) is simply to refrigerate fresh confits and serve them within a few days, or freeze (which interrupts any C. bot. growth). Heating the food thoroughly for a few minutes before serving also destroys any accumulated botulinum toxin. That safety precaution is automatic if you oven-crisp your duck, or use it for further cooking like a stew (e.g., cassoulets).

Note 1: For specifics, check official public-health guidlines such as WHO Fact Sheet 270. Do not rely on offhand advice. Some published confit recipes also neglect this simple precautionary information.

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Thanks for the info, Max. Could you describe a duck leg confit recipe that you think contains sufficient salting to make the product reasonably safe long-term in a refrigerator? And also, do you think such a product could be used the same way most of us are used to using confit (e.g., crisped in the oven with potatoes) without being horribly salty?

For my sous vide confit, I've always liberally salted the duck legs for around 24 hours, then rinsed them off, patted dry, bagged and cooked.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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what about oil pickles? I have made and eaten these for most of my adult life, as have lots and lots of Indian people, and any one who buys a jar of mango pickle at the Indian store. I have usually used green mango or lime, which both have a certain amount of acidity, but there are many pickles that do not have that... i have made carrot and garlic and drumstick.

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Sam, as a general reminder, most of this thread's existing content is in earlier postings (what I wrote yesterday just re-summarizes, answering a request on another thread). What I have about salt preservation appeared around this post and contrasts old, pre-refrigeration French confit recipes (I have some, and an example is in the linked posting) and modern recipes; Harold McGee also emphasized this difference.

With the disclaimer that I'm not a source of any of this information, just a messenger, the buzzword for your specific question is "curing." As I recall the history, the main reason saltpeter cures (nitrates, nitrates) came into use originally, hundreds of years ago, was to prevent botulism; I believe plain salt works too, but at a higher concentration (and with more degradation of the meat over time from other factors). For real information I refer you again away from any offhand advice whatever, and to the Usual Sources (public advisories). In a brief check, I found a useful-looking overview with data, assembled by the University of Georgia (US), Here, and other authoritative info is surely abundant. I began checking US FDA, but a major revision to its useful CFSAN central site has broken external links to it. But you can search countless food topics directly at http://www.fda.gov/Food and especially http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/default.htm .

Yajna, all I can offer to your comment is that one condition I quoted above that prevents C. botulinum growth is moderate food acidity (pH 4.6 or below is the standard official number), which occurs automatically with many fruits. It's done artificially with some processed foods (pesto sauce, some preserved vegetables) by adding fruit-type acids, and the amount needed is small enough that many foods can tolerate it without changing flavor much. That too I believe appears earlier in this thread. Proper pressure sterilization as described above will also eliminate the issue. Please read the (international, multilingual) WHO Botulism Fact Sheet linked in my previous posting. Processed foods not meeting listed conditions can develop botulinum toxin (people in the US have died from various homemade preserved vegetables) and would bring health department enforcement if done commercially. ("I've done it many times without harm" is a distracting false comfort ignoring the reality of the situation. The Italian-immigrant patriarch who died from his oil-preserved mushrooms, mentioned earlier, and sickened his relatives, had also served them often before without ill effect; he finally drew the loaded chamber in the metaphoric Russian Roulette.)

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saltpeter cures (nitrates, nitrates)

Sorry, meant to write (nitrates, nitrites). N.B., Nitrates convert biochemically into nitrites anyway, when used as preservatives. After data emerged in the 1970s about carcinogenic nitrosamines forming in meats preserved this way, standard practice changed to (1) limit the nitrite amount, (2) stop using nitrates entirely, and (3) add antioxidants like erithrytol or ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). It seems that some of the same chemistry happens naturally in certain well-established safe vegetables too (like lettuce), but there the natural presence of antioxidants like ascorbic acid counters the harmful effect.

In recipes and older general writing, "salt beef" or "salt pork" means beef or pork cured with nitrites/nitrates, because that worked much better than plain salt. "Corned" beef is another term for salt beef (but with more specific connotations).

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...Could you describe a duck leg confit recipe that you think contains sufficient salting to make the product reasonably safe long-term in a refrigerator?

I didn't ask before, but why are you interested specifically in long-term refrigerator storage?

Why not just salt your confit for flavor as the modern recipes routinely do, refrigerate for brief storage and freeze for longer storage? Those are the instructions for storing commercially made fresh confits also.

Without any anti-botulism steps, refrigeration is still reliably safe for a few days (the upper limit seems to be two weeks, anyway that's a legal limit in US regulations for commercial food -- I think it's in Title 9 CFR 424.21, which has many such details).

Refrigeration is still safer than storage at higher temperatures because fewer C. botulinum strains can grow at refrigerator temperatures, and those are more associated with seafood and marine soils.

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I was thinking about this today and had a question - on garlic infused oil, what about infusing with garlic and then removing the garlic and ensuring that the oil goes to a sufficiently high temperature after removal (say 300 degrees). You could use whole cloves to ensure adequate removal.

I am not planning to eat any garlic infused oil that wasn't freshly prepared (don't use much in the first place), but was curious about this from a theoretical perspective.

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on garlic infused oil, what about infusing with garlic and then removing the garlic and ensuring that the oil goes to a sufficiently high temperature after removal (say 300 degrees).

Sounds reasonable to me -- essentially an improvised ultrahigh-temperature (UHT) sterilization. (Applied industrially for very short intervals to liquid foods piped through small tubes, if I recall, so the temperature can be raised and lowered fast, though I think it's aimed mainly at bacterial pathogens; sporeborne Claustridia might require longer heating as well as higher temps. -- I'm just speculating here.)

A downside would be a factor that brings criticism to UHT foods even at lower temps.: Not just pathogens but flavors and aromas are vulnerable to heat. Water departs as the oil temp. rises above its boiling point, but the same also happens at various temperatures to the organic components that make up flavor and aroma, and they'll also tend to react more, and oil rancidity (oxidation) accelerates at higher temps. That's actually how they make the "drying" vegetable oils that are the basis of traditional oil paints and printer's inks.

But as you indicated, bmdaniel, it's theoretical, because either fresh preparation or freezing addresses the spore hazard without throwing out the flavor.

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I know this post will cause some backlash but here goes.

There are usually 20-30 cases of Botulism a year in a country of 300 million (and a large number of these cases seem to occur in a very specific part of the country).

Is this really something we want to worry about? Frankly, I'm not going to make a bunch of herb and garlic oils if I have to throw them out soon after making them (I don't use them enough to run through a whole batch within the guidelined period and it's not worth making the effort to make micro batches). Is the risk significant enough to give these things up? I really don't think it is.

Before anybody starts in with the "but it's deadly and it just requires timely disposal\proper procedures\ etc..." I would like to compare it to something most of us do everyday, namely driving. Wearing a helmet while driving has been shown to significantly improve survivablity of high speed automobile crashes. Does this mean I'm going to start wearing a helmet when I drive on the interstate? Of course not, because it is a PITA and the probability of having a high speed accident is fairly low and an accepted risk.

In addition, there are certain things that are materially changed by the procedures needed to make them 100% safe. Pesto is a considerably different product if it's pressure canned or acidulated. The same can be said of garlic oils.

People have kept pestos and the like for long past FDA guidelines (and sans refrigeration) for generations. It seems ridiculous that in the modern age so much time, effort, and fear is invested in something that occurs so seldom.

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I know this post will cause some backlash but here goes.

Bad rabbit. Bad, bad rabbit. :raz:

I think in a previous thread I got freaked out about this and did some googling and found a similar statistic. While I don't intend to repeat this practice after that, I've often used room temp infused garlic oils after six months or more (although always heated to frying temps when used), I don't think it's a necessarily bad thing to put the problem into perspective.

Given the fact that I'm still alive, and that I hear more about salmonella problems than botulism, I can't help but feeling that there might be a Douglas Baldwin-esque (in reference to his conviction that lower cooking temps can be proven safe) admonition lurking in the wings.

I am making no claims, just acknowledging a data point that seems oddly out of place.

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By the way, even this food Web site has carried reckless advice to take Acetaminophen (a drug lately in the news) when you have a partially impaired liver!

Actually they are correct, in the majority (If a person has not been drinking heavily) of cases Acetaminophen is one of the safest drugs to take with a partially or even seriously impaired liver. Provided the body has enough glutathione then Acetaminophen is broken down into harmless metabolites however if the body runs out of glutathione then a diferent metabolic path is taken and one of the metabolites is toxic and kills liver cells. Glutathione can be depleted by ethanol consumption, excessive doses of Acetaminophen and or malnutrition. So provided that a person is well nourished, no more than 1g four times a day taken 4 hours apart and for several days and not drinking alcohol to excess then Acetaminophen is the way to go. The other pain killers Aspirin Ibuprofen etc are NSAIDS, these can thin the blood, cause bleeding and in people with partially or seriously impaired liver cause a lot more problems.

Often Acetaminophen poisoning is accidental, by taking 4g a day for to long, mixing medications without reading the ingredients and so going over the 4g per day limit, drinking alcohol and taking paracetamol and by the time the damage is done it's to late. In known overdose situations get to a hospital ASAP.

You can replenish glutathione levels by taking NAC (N-Acetyl-Cystene), and this is the antidote, given IV quickly enough to Acetaminophen poisoning. Unfortunately NAC smells of rotten eggs so it's not a popular supplement but perhaps one to consider if you know you will be drinking more than a few drinks.

All that said, if you have a partially impaired liver then you should follow your doctors advice.


Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

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Taking some recent points in order (I split off ermintrude's in a separate posting):

BadRabbit raised excellent point (going way beyond botulism, by the way) of reasonable response to unlikely risks. I've confronted these too. E.g., driving over steep hills to the ocean for waveriding in Northern California where Great White sharks attack rarely but occasionally, our talk is of those -- not the far more frequent violent crashes on the highway we're driving, with mountain-clueless drivers demonstrating reckless behavior daily. Yet we recognize both perils, and avoid needless risks with either.

IMO the question was never whether to "worry about" anything. It's whether to follow safe practices already mandatory for US restaurants (flowing from updated FDA "Food Code") after garlic-in-oil moved from a niche to a frequent restaurant practice, and botulism cases followed. BadRabbit cited botulism infrequency, not mentioning that those are numbers with enforcement of the same food-prep regulations that BadRabbit prefers to overlook. (Also I don't run into any problem myself making fresh batches as needed, and freezing extra, which also inhibits hazards as described upthread, and I've done it anyway for many years simply to preserve flavors.)

Also, please read practical details in related Pickles thread re actual taste of acid level pH 4.6 which inhibits C. bot. A food pH of 4.6 is only slightly into perceptible sour range. Quantitatively equivalent to 400:1 dilution of pH 2.0 lemon juice, about one lemon's juice (50ml) in five gallons (20 liters) water, or around "100x less acid than the market-leading Cola drink" [dougal]. This acid level occurs naturally in many foods (including, I'm guessing, many pestos with fresh basil). Commercial products strongly over-acidify for large safety margin -- again a separate issue, which shouldn't distort our notions of how "sour" these foods actually need to be for safety.

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By the way, even this food Web site has carried reckless advice to take Acetaminophen (a drug lately in the news) when you have a partially impaired liver!

Actually they are correct ... (If a person has not been drinking heavily)

ermintrude: Whole context of my comment that you quoted was specifically the perennial armchair advice to use acetaminophen ("APAP") after heavy drinking. You can find this in past eG "hangover cure" discussions if you look.

APAP as a "cure" for heavy drinking is one of those persistent misinformation points (often shortly before New Year's Eve) despite ample public cautions, obvious e.g. on googling word pair acetaminophen + alcohol. Two accomplished (and food-engaged) professor friends, a biochemist in the US Northeast whose textbook you might know, and an organic chemist in the Midwest, have joined me in posting warnings in past Decembers to US food-drink Web sites (and newspaper food editors). Further from the same biochemist:

The lethal dose of a drug divided by its effective therapeutic dose is the Therapeutic Index (formerly Therapeutic Ratio). We are happy if that number is something like 1000. We are not happy if it's 2 or less, a narrow T.R. means people are going to get hurt. With Acetaminophen, if someone has a bit of liver impairment, the T.R. can approach 1. Drinking uses up certain cofactors in the liver and makes the problem worse. I've almost completely stopped taking Tylenol because of the probable temporal proximity to alcohol. / In fact I wrote a rather strongly worded Q and A in the Companion book ...

On some food-drink sites I added background on the further issue of the controversially uniform alcohol warnings that US FDA added to NSAID labeling in 1998 (21 CFR Part 201, all public in the US Federal Register):

A number of comments said the established risks of acetaminophen use by heavy alcohol users far outweigh the risks of aspirin use by the same consumers. One comment submitted data from a comparative risk analysis of aspirin and acetaminophen (Ref. 66). Based on this analysis, the comment maintained that the number of expected deaths from acetaminophen toxicity when used for the short-term treatment of fever and pain is 12 times higher than that expected with aspirin. / Several comments complained that despite the much greater risk for acetaminophen, the proposed alcohol warning conveys the impression that for heavy alcohol users, the hazards of acetaminophen use and aspirin (or NSAID) use is essentially the same. Thus, consumers may be led to believe that they face a comparable risk with either analgesic. The comments said the proposed warning minimizes the essential messages.

I'm responding to your remarks here, ermintrude, but please start a separate thread (and first review past eG discussions in the Spirits forum) if you wish to pursue this side topic further.

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Long ago I posted about the oven-roasted garlic in oil that I prepare in large amounts and can in jars so it can be stored at room temp.

I only use the peeled garlic cloves sold in the big containers at Sam's or Costco or Smart & Final, not garlic from my garden.

I stab one of the largest garlic cloves with the probe of my thermometer/timer with it set for 250° F.

I cover it with two liters of olive oil and put it in the oven at 325°to 350°F. It will take quite a while for the thermometer to sound the alarm, meanwhile the entire house (or neighborhood) will have the "aroma" of garlic.

I have also tried doing this in a deep fryer but did not like the texture of the garlic, it cooked too rapidly and was hard on the outside. The longer oven cooking produces a much nicer result.

I have also tried speeding up the process by heating the oil partially before pouring it into the deep roaster but I think that can be a bit chancy unless one has a very steady hand. (I no longer do.)

When the alarm sounds, I set the timer for 15 minutes and at the end of this I turn the oven off and allow the stuff to cool a bit.

I then transfer it to pint jars, some garlic and some oil in each one, cap them and let them cool completely.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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andiesnji, you can also do this reliably and rapidly in the type of pressure cooker designed for home-canning botulism prevention. Same type used routinely for safe canning of non-acid foods. It's distinct from the more common home pressure cookers that simply speed up ordinary boiling or steaming. Friends have been doing this, and are happy with the flavors.

Your thermometer method may achieve the result, but only if the garlic loses all its moisture. As I mentioned after your earlier posting on this, the thermodynamically powerful self-regulation that water imposes prevents food from reliably going above 212°F, regardless of cooking method, at normal atmospheric pressure until all water is expelled. Raising the pressure gets around this problem.

Though I've not seen your set-up, as a longtime user of many kinds of thermometers for sometimes critical technical measurements, and for cooking, I'm concerned that a reassuring reading of probed garlic could possibly do what I've seen food thermometers do in some other situations: conduct heat to the actual sensor point from parts of the probe outside the garlic. In other words, the spot in the clove where the thermometer is may be reliably 250 °F (120 °C) but the thermometer probe itself distorts this picture, and other garlic cloves remain below 250. That (which by the way has counterparts in all sorts of other temperature measurement situations) is difficult to rule out, unless it's a small point probe enclosed entirely within the garlic, connected only by well thermally-insulated wires to the rest of the electronics in the thermometer. As a consulting engineer I could not conscientiously "sign off" to the system as described, which is not to say it may not still work with luck. I'm confident of the pressure cookers though, that's also how commercial canners routinely prevent botulism.

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IMO the question was never whether to "worry about" anything. It's whether to follow safe practices already mandatory for US restaurants (flowing from updated FDA "Food Code") after garlic-in-oil moved from a niche to a frequent restaurant practice, and botulism cases followed. BadRabbit cited botulism infrequency, not mentioning that those are numbers with enforcement of the same food-prep regulations that BadRabbit prefers to overlook. (Also I don't run into any problem myself making fresh batches as needed, and freezing extra, which also inhibits hazards as described upthread, and I've done it anyway for many years simply to preserve flavors.)

Even before pressure canning was available to the home cook in the US(the first home pressure canners were introduced in the US in 1917 and it was much later before it was widely used in homes), botulism was a fairly rare food borne illness. CDC numbers show very little change in the number of cases per year from 1899-preset day. The population was less than a third of today's poulation in 1900 but the incidence of home canning was MUCH more prevelant that it is today. I can't find exact numbers on canning prevalence but I would be willing to bet it easily offsets the difference.

In 1900 the actual incidence rate was 1.18421053 × 10-7 or roughly 1 in every 8.5 million people would get botulism per year in a time where home canning was being done at many times the rate it is now (1). That doesn't seem to be a big concern to me. Couple that with the fact that more than half of the cases are from the west coast and it doesn't seem a very likely danger to me in Alabama.

I am not suggesting that commercial food producers should ignore these guidelines. It would be disastrous if they did and there was a problem because it would possibly infect huge numbers of people. I just think it can be mostly ignored by your typical person at home making an occasional flavored oil or pesto.

http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/files/botulism.PDF

Edit: Added footnote

(1) To give an idea of a similarly dangerous activity, an automobile occupant's odds of fatality during a 30-minute drive are 1 in 8.5 million (and most of us engage in this activity 2-3 times a day).


Edited by BadRabbit (log)

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Again BadRabbit you cite valid information, but a selective, rhetorical picture. And again, I'm not arguing that anyone is going to get botulism, rather to be aware of risks and precautions. Sensible precautions that many of us have found easy to incorporate reduce the small chance to essentially zero which (since you like such numbers) constitutes a near-infinite risk reduction ratio.

I've noticed for years that public information on any aspect of this topic on any food form, even with far narrower and more moderate information than in this thread, always generates responses confidently rationalizing familiar practices. Fine, that's individual choice. But make it an informed choice, and be aware that all of the episodes I know in detail of US botulism outbreaks were first-time surprises to people who previously "did it this way many times" without problems.

Historically, botulism has been a threat as long as people have canned foods and it was a major factor in the popularization of "salt" (i.e. nitrite or nitrate, which is a nitrite precursor in this application) curing of meats hundreds of years ago. Until dedicated home pressure cookers were available, people were much more selective about what and how they preserved foods! Countless fruits and many vegetables (I mentioned pesto sauce as possibly another case) were empirically known safe to can with only boiling-water sterilization. I have more cookbooks than most people reading this, and as already mentioned in this or a related thread, the point about selective home canning has been explicit in cookbooks for generations. The situation is different now, when it's fashionable to store things like garlic or duck under fat, without the nitrite or extremely heavy saline preservatives common in old traditional confit recipes. The internet now carries some recipes much riskier than anything I've seen on eG, posted by people who appear utterly unaware of any food safety issues at all and it's those recipes that spur threads like this one.

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andiesnji, you can also do this reliably and rapidly in the type of pressure cooker designed for home-canning botulism prevention. Same type used routinely for safe canning of non-acid foods. It's distinct from the more common home pressure cookers that simply speed up ordinary boiling or steaming. Friends have been doing this, and are happy with the flavors.

Thanks for the advice but I really do know a bit about it.

I'm almost 72 years old and have been canning since my twenties, having grown up on a farm where everything was canned, including meats.

Even pressure canned foods can be affected by botulism if care is not taken.

Many years ago when the possibility of irradiation of foods immediately after harvest became available I spent a lot of time writing to the various government agencies because this would certainly remove completely the possibility of botulism.

Unfortunately some people believe that this is bad and they have a lot of political clout so we are still in the dark ages on this subject.

I have the largest pressure canner made by All American (41 quart) but I need help when using it and no longer have a live-in housekeeper. I also have a smaller one that holds 7 pint jars and this is the one I use when canning the garlic in oil.

Just canning it does not give the "roasted" flavor that I want.

I don't like the flavor of raw garlic infused in oil which is why I roast it to begin with.

I consulted the Farm Bureau office in my city when I first moved up here in '88 and was given a stack of printed materials about all facets of canning, including botulism and etc.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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IMO the question was never whether to "worry about" anything. It's whether to follow safe practices already mandatory for US restaurants (flowing from updated FDA "Food Code") after garlic-in-oil moved from a niche to a frequent restaurant practice, and botulism cases followed. BadRabbit cited botulism infrequency, not mentioning that those are numbers with enforcement of the same food-prep regulations that BadRabbit prefers to overlook. (Also I don't run into any problem myself making fresh batches as needed, and freezing extra, which also inhibits hazards as described upthread, and I've done it anyway for many years simply to preserve flavors.)

Even before pressure canning was available to the home cook in the US(the first home pressure canners were introduced in the US in 1917 and it was much later before it was widely used in homes), botulism was a fairly rare food borne illness. CDC numbers show very little change in the number of cases per year from 1899-preset day. The population was less than a third of today's poulation in 1900 but the incidence of home canning was MUCH more prevelant that it is today. I can't find exact numbers on canning prevalence but I would be willing to bet it easily offsets the difference.

In 1900 the actual incidence rate was 1.18421053 × 10-7 or roughly 1 in every 8.5 million people would get botulism per year in a time where home canning was being done at many times the rate it is now (1). That doesn't seem to be a big concern to me. Couple that with the fact that more than half of the cases are from the west coast and it doesn't seem a very likely danger to me in Alabama.

I am not suggesting that commercial food producers should ignore these guidelines. It would be disastrous if they did and there was a problem because it would possibly infect huge numbers of people. I just think it can be mostly ignored by your typical person at home making an occasional flavored oil or pesto.

http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/files/botulism.PDF

Edit: Added footnote

(1) To give an idea of a similarly dangerous activity, an automobile occupant's odds of fatality during a 30-minute drive are 1 in 8.5 million (and most of us engage in this activity 2-3 times a day).

But, in 1900 the average lifespan was under 50 years. Diagnostic tools were not well developed at that time, meaning that deaths were often mis-diagnosed and undocumented. Garlic oil and pesto were not commonly produced in American households in 1900.


Edited by Lisa Shock (log)

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      The first one I used the over-salting technique. What I didn't expect was that the salt would all turn into brine in a day, and I expected that I could scrape away the excess salt at the end. Instead, I left it on the brine for too long, and the result was too salty. The meat firmed up in 2 days so I should've taken it out then.
       
      For my second one, which is currently in the fridge, I used the equilibrium salting technique. I added about 100g salt for 3.5kg meat. The problem now is that it's not firming up seemingly at all! It has been 9 days in the fridge, and flipping it every day or 2. After 6 days, however, there was no pool of brine left. I put the meat in a folded over but unsealed bag. Did the brine evaporate or resoak into the meat?
       
      Any advice on how to continue would be appreciated.
    • By davidcross
      I made some Lonza and cured it for 2 weeks.
       
      In the drying chamber (70% humidity and 55F with gentle air flow) it's only been 4 days but it's already lost 30% of its pre-drying chamber weight. Normally that can take weeks.
       
      Is that normal, and is the meat ready?
       
      Thank you
    • By davidcross
      My first Guanciale is looking good. It smells clean, fresh, and is firming up nicely after about 3 weeks in the curing chamber at 65% humidity and 55F. First piece slices nicely and it seems great.
       
      I've a question…
       
      On the outside are some tiny white/straw-colored flecks (ignore darker flecks - this is some remaining Thyme from the cure).
       
      They do not penetrate the skin and I am not sure whether it's mold or salt coming out or fat or what.
       
      Thoughts? Likely safe?
       
      Thank you



    • By liuzhou
      I have received a wonderful gift from a lovely friend.
       

       
      A whole home cured, dried pig face. I call her Cameron.
       
      This will be used slowly over the winter. I'm dribbling thinking about the ears stir-fried with chilies Hunan style. The cheeks! The snout!  I'm ecstatic. 
       

      Snout
       

      I'm watching!
       
      I'll follow up with with how I use it, but for the moment I'm just content watching her watching me as she hangs in the wind on my balcony. It's love!
    • By davidcross
      This is elk bresaola 3 weeks after hanging in the drying chamber, and losing weight as expected.
       
      The growth on the outside seems mainly green on the outside of the netting.
       
      Probably safe... or pitch it?
       
      And if safe, wash or spray with anything? Strip the netting off, or...?
       
      Thank you


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