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Definition of "Overnight"


sadie4232
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When a recipe says to marinate/soak/leave in fridge, etc. "overnight", what does that really mean? Are there minimum or maximum times that should be considered? For instance, a chickpea soup recipe calls for soaking the beans overnight and a brioche recipe says to put the dough, after going through the first rise, into the refrigerator overnight. Does this mean eight hours? 24 hours? Would appreciate any guidance.

The Wright Table

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I'll be interested to see what others say, as I think that's a great question. There are certain things for which it's not a crucial matter -- soaking beans that you'll later cook, for example. But I've been making fresh masa a lot lately and the "overnight" soak in lime requires more attention.

Usually, I take "overnight" to mean 12-14 hours, only because I usually prepare things for their overnight journey in the early evening and get back to them in the morning. I've been soaking the corn, for example, for 12 hours. However, I'd judge a dough rise by volume as well. Of course, figuring out precisely what "doubled in volume" means isn't an exact science either!

Chris Amirault

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Without any science to back me up I have always assumed 8 hours to be overnight on the silly assumption that one gets 8 hours sleep. :hmmm: But I also tend to think that is a cop-out phrase to cover any eventuality. How can one take seriously a direction "to marinate for 2 hours or overnight"?

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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It's context based for me. Things like marinades & brines, I take overnight to mean the longer the better (within reason). Things like beans, overnight means until they've achieved their maximum size or longer. For dough rising, overnight means roughly 8 - 10 hours. Things like leaving meat unwrapped to dry out the surface, I take overnight to mean 24 hours and no more than 48 hours.

If you understand the chemistry, then all you're really concerned about is where the peak of flavor and texture occurs.

PS: I am a guy.

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I generally think it means 12-14 hours. I tend to think of it as something that gets prepped right before closing time and handled next after opening time the next day. Not too much longer. When you get to 24 hours, IMO, the instructions should read 'one day' -like say, for a sourdough starter procedure.

(edited for spelling)

Edited by Lisa Shock (log)
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When I was in baking school, back in the mid-'50s and in my mother's bakery, "overnight" was 8 to 12 hours.

"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

 

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If I go by the two ways I'd use something held overnight it'd be anywhere from 6-18 hours. For bread dough or similar items, I'll prep before bread, but then do the baking in the morning 6-8 hours later. For marinades or brines, I'll prep the night before and then cook the next night for dinner, upping the o'nite time to 18-ish. Of course, I guess there is a third option of prepping in the morning and cooking or baking around dinner time, which would make a range of 8-10 hours.

The only one I really worry about the timing on is baking. Marinades/brines just need at minimum of 4 and can go up to 24 (for most things, but I don't brine more than 10 hours, ever, so I don't end up with ham-like meats!).

"Life is a combination of magic and pasta." - Frederico Fellini

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I usually see it as 12 hours, I somewhat doubt it means "prepare this at 11pm before you go to bed". It's actually something I find a bit hard to schedule at times (with kids and all). I want to make the fried chicken from Ad Hoc at Home, needs to brine 12 hours and not longer. As I'm busy making dinner, eating dinner, and getting the kids to bed, I have yet to find the time (or energy) to butcher a chicken after all that and brine it. Hopefully today....

I might also just do this in the morning and brine it until I need it, so less than 12 hours, more like 8 to 10. Probably won't matter much in this case. Probably doesn't matter much in most other cases either. I just think it basically means no longer than 12 hours.

Now, if I only knew what a "medium" onion or a "large" clove of garlic is supposed to be.... :laugh:

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

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8-12, but I also assume that anything "overnight" involves a fairly forgiving recipe that just needs enough uninterrupted time to sit, so I've often ended up cooking an "overnight" dish more like 12-24 hours later.

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8-12, but I also assume that anything "overnight" involves a fairly forgiving recipe that just needs enough uninterrupted time to sit, so I've often ended up cooking an "overnight" dish more like 12-24 hours later.

I agree. If any recipe required, say, exactly 9.28 hours, it would say that.

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