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Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques & Equipment, 2011


Qwerty
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I did some burgers at 145 F today (~63C). Can anybody explain why they came out totally gray, with no hint of pink?

See Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking, p. 152: at 145-155°F (Medium-well) "Pink fades to gray-brown".

Nathan Myhrvold in Modernist Cuisine, p. 3•86 and 3•234, recommends 52-56°C (126-133°F) for hamburgers.

How accurate (accuracy, not resolution of the display!) is your temperature control? Is your reference thermometer NIST-calibrated? Some SV-rigs have been reported to be several degrees off ex factory.

How long was your SV-cooking time? Post-searing method/temperature/time?

I think that your temperature is just too high to get the pink result you are after. I've been cooking SV for some years now and my preference for any beef which does not need tenderising is 52-53°C. Obviously I need to keep cooking times to <4hours at these temps but it works for already tender meat.

I only use higher temperatures for tenderising tough meat like beef ribs which I cook at the "food safety" low level of 55°C. I know that I can get them tender quicker at a higher temperature, but I like them to still be pink and 55°C will keep them pink. I have tried beef ribs at 58°C for 24 hours and while tender it was too well done for my taste. I much prefer 48 hours at 55°C where the meat is just as tender and the colour is still pink.

Just my $0.02

Regards,

Peter.

Edited by blackp (log)
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I did some burgers at 145 F today (~63C). Can anybody explain why they came out totally gray, with no hint of pink?

Did you use water immersion to evacuate the bag?

Was the patty tight or loose (with lots of entrained air)?

... and its at least a bit hot (if your temperature control is accurate).

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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I only use higher temperatures for tenderising tough meat like beef ribs which I cook at the "food safety" low level of 55°C. I know that I can get them tender quicker at a higher temperature, but I like them to still be pink and 55°C will keep them pink. I have tried beef ribs at 58°C for 24 hours and while tender it was too well done for my taste. I much prefer 48 hours at 55°C where the meat is just as tender and the colour is still pink.

Just my $0.02

Regards,

Peter.

Hi Peter,

For ground meat, you need to pasteurize the meat. Cooking at 52-53C is not safe for hamburger unless you ground it yourself from intact muscle meat whose external surfaces were pasteurized/sterilized before the meat was ground. If cooking ground meat that was not prepared as above, you need to pasteurize the burgers or else you risk pretty serious illness. At least in the U.S., there are strains of E. Coli that can cause severe long-term damage and/or death. So, I wouldn't recommend burgers that aren't pasteurized. Pasteurizing can be done at 55C if held for the appropriate time and the result is a delicious very pink juicy burger.

-E

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For ground meat, you need to pasteurize the meat. Cooking at 52-53C is not safe for hamburger unless you ground it yourself from intact muscle meat whose external surfaces were pasteurized/sterilized before the meat was ground.

Unlesse you have also got a problem eating beef tartare or carpaccio, I just don't see why you would do that. I'm with you for not cooking supermarket ground meat at such a low temperatures, though.

Edited by pep. (log)
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Perhaps in Austria, you don't have the strains of E. Coli that we have here. When making steak tartare and carpaccio, you are keeping the meat out of the danger zone up until the last minute. When cooking, the food is in the danger zone for a long enough time that you are essentially incubating potentially dangerous microbes. They multiply much faster at higher temperatures. To be safe, even for steak tartare and carpaccio some restaurants pasteurize the meat (it takes only a very brief dunk in very hot water).

For ground meat, you need to pasteurize the meat. Cooking at 52-53C is not safe for hamburger unless you ground it yourself from intact muscle meat whose external surfaces were pasteurized/sterilized before the meat was ground.

Unlesse you have also got a problem eating beef tartare or carpaccio, I just don't see why you would do that. I'm with you for not cooking supermarket ground meat at such a low temperatures, though.

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I'm ready to be shouted down on this - what is the obsession with ground beef? Is it really so interesting? Other than as a petri dish manqué for growing bugs?

I'm not sure I understand your question. Are you asking me/us why we eat it?

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Indeed. The burger is a vernacular classic, perhaps just an out-and-out classic, and nailing the perfect burger is something that many of us -- perhaps mainly located in the US -- are excited about.

Of course, one could ask the same question about nearly any dish, be it scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, lemonade: why bother trying to perfect it? Because... because.

Chris Amirault

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Last night we ate my best batch of beef cheeks yet. I'm indebted to nickrey for the time/temp recommendation some months back, but the following recipe is of my own devising.

First, cut the cheeks into rough chunks - around 2-3cm works for me. You don't have to be too elegant about this; if there are any really nasty-looking bits of fat or gristle get rid of them, but leave in the layers of tough stuff. They'll go away in the cooking.

Dice some vegetables of your choice, a similar quantity to the meat. I use carrots, celery and onion with a chopped clove or two of garlic.

Heat some oil and cook the vegetables until they begin to soften - don't let them go too far. Some browning is nice, but the heat shouldn't be fierce. Remove and set them aside.

Increase the heat, add a little more oil and briefly brown the beef cheeks. Season with salt/black pepper. As soon as you've got a nice brown thing happening, dump in some red wine and let it boil partly away. Turn the heat off, mix the vegetables back with the meat and let the lot cool a little before you bag it. There'll be quite a bit of liquid in the mix, so FoodSaver users (like me) have to be careful.

Once it's bagged, cook at 70°C for 30 hours - these are Nick's magic numbers and work really well for cheeks; the meat should be almost melting (in a good way). At the end of cooking pour off most of the liquid and thicken it. I used flour; use a more exotic thickener if you wish! Pour the thickened juices back into the bag, massage it to mix and serve over very buttery mashed potatoes with a drip of truffle oil. Lovely.

There were some juices left in the bag after serving. After an hour or two sitting out on the bench I had the most fantastic jelly. That's where all the funny layers in the raw cheeks go!

Sorry, no photos of this batch. Maybe next time ...

Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
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I wanted to report on an experiment that I consider to have been a big success. I am a fan of slow smoked brisket -- but I hate having to wake up at 5 o'clock in the morning to get it started in time to ready for a late dinner. So, I decided to try an experiment: smoking the brisket for a fraction of the time that I normally would and finishing the cooking sous-vide. I dry-rubbed my brisket (a flat since my butcher didn't have any whole briskets that day) and smoked it over hickory at about 190F for just under 2 hours. I then bagged the brisket using my FoodSaver an put the bag into a 135F bath where it stayed for about 48 hours. The result was succulent and every bit as smoky as my usual 15 hour smoked brisket.

If you have a smoker and love brisket, I recommend trying this out.

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I wanted to report on an experiment that I consider to have been a big success. I am a fan of slow smoked brisket -- but I hate having to wake up at 5 o'clock in the morning to get it started in time to ready for a late dinner. So, I decided to try an experiment: smoking the brisket for a fraction of the time that I normally would and finishing the cooking sous-vide. I dry-rubbed my brisket (a flat since my butcher didn't have any whole briskets that day) and smoked it over hickory at about 190F for just under 2 hours. I then bagged the brisket using my FoodSaver an put the bag into a 135F bath where it stayed for about 48 hours. The result was succulent and every bit as smoky as my usual 15 hour smoked brisket.

If you have a smoker and love brisket, I recommend trying this out.

I've read that meat stops accepting smoke once it gets hot; I suppose this validates that adage, then?

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  • 2 weeks later...

I did some burgers at 145 F today (~63C). Can anybody explain why they came out totally gray, with no hint of pink?

Follow-up: I recently calibrated the sensor using boiling water (I figure, as a standard, it's closer to cooking temps than ice water is), and my sensor was under-reading by about 2.3F. Huge deal? Maybe.

I'll have to do more to see.

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Some thoughts:

For some semblance of pink you want the meat to be down around 59°C (or below), so you need to take into account the effects of thermal soak back after you take it out of the bath (assuming you are cooking in a tank that is above 60°C), and the effect of torching it (if you are in fact browning it after you take it out).

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Thermal soak? The meat is cooked for a long period of time - in fact one of the principles of SV is that the entirety of the food is at a uniform temp.

Also, I should note that when I removed the meat from the bath, there was a LOT of juice. Didn't measure it, but I would say the patties were [uncooked] ~5oz and released more than 1/4 cup of juice.

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How long are you cooking it for and at what bath temperature?

The juice doesn't surprise me, just a byproduct of the protein denaturing and releasing liquid (I think).

If you are expecting the core temperature of the meat to come out at the temperature of the bath, you need to allow at least 3 thermal time constants and preferably 5 (see Doug Baldwin's book for the tables or maybe Nathanm's tables are still around this forum someplace from 5 yrs ago). In addition the decimation time for the heat tolerant strains of ecoli O157:H7 at 55°C is over an hour and you want at least 5 decimation times at temperature to assure food safety. So for a 1" thick piece of meat and a 59°C bath, you need to cook it for an hour to get it close, then 5 hrs to get the bacterial kill so the food safety timing will assure that the core temp is where you want it to be. If it is a steak, where the concern is surface bacteria the time requirements can be somewhat relaxed since you are dealing with surface bacteria rather than bacteria that got incorporated at grinding time and has been multiplying ever since - which is the case for ground beef - unless you home grind it just before you cook it.

Edited by DocDougherty (log)
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I did some burgers at 145 F today (~63C). Can anybody explain why they came out totally gray, with no hint of pink?

Follow-up: I recently calibrated the sensor using boiling water (I figure, as a standard, it's closer to cooking temps than ice water is), and my sensor was under-reading by about 2.3F. Huge deal? Maybe.

I'll have to do more to see.

Inaccuracy of 2.3°F/1.3°C is not quite what we desire. If you do not have an ISO- or NIST-calibrated reference thermometer, you might calibrate your sensor or thermometer in ice-water (no need for distilled water, tap water will do, molecular freezing point depression in tap water is neglectable for our purposes) and in boiling water (taking into account altitude above sea level and barometric pressure; a difference of 40 mBar makes a 1°C difference) and against an ovulation thermometer at 100°F/37.8°C. With temperature stability of ±0.1°C in a PID-controlled water bath (SousVideMagic or immersion circulator) inaccuracy of more than 0.2°C is absurd.

See the Wikia article Importance of temperature control on pasteurizing times (0.5°C inaccuracy makes a significant difference in pasteurizing times) and the Wikia article on thermometer calibration: sensors and thermometers are not guaranteed to be linear and equally accurate over the whole range from 0°C to 100°C; 50k thermistors (SVM 1500C and 1500D) are better than 5k thermistors (SVM or Auber 1500A and 1500B).

See also the sous vide page in wikiGullet (the sum of accuracy and stability should be ±0.25°C or better for long-time cooking and pasteurizing).

Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

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Has anyone else had corrosion issues with their Sous Vide Supreme Demi? I got mine about four months ago when it was on sale for $199, and the aluminum "grill" that sits on the bottom of the water chamber has been picking up more and more corrosion spots. I recently noticed a spot on the floor of the actual chamber itself. Another user on a different forum I post on had the same problem. They were sent a replacement grill, then an entire replacement Demi, but it re-occurred in the same time frame.

IMG_1238a.JPG

IMG_1243a.JPG

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Has anyone else had corrosion issues with their Sous Vide Supreme Demi? I got mine about four months ago when it was on sale for $199, and the aluminum "grill" that sits on the bottom of the water chamber has been picking up more and more corrosion spots. I recently noticed a spot on the floor of the actual chamber itself. Another user on a different forum I post on had the same problem. They were sent a replacement grill, then an entire replacement Demi, but it re-occurred in the same time frame.

Sand off the corrosion, all of it, until raw metal is exposed, and make sure any grease or oil is completely washed off. Let air-dry. This will allow the natural protective aluminum oxide layer to re-form. Finish with a coat of shellac (not cut with anything else - needs to be food-safe) over the abraded aluminum.

If this still doesn't fix it, find a chunk of zinc and attach it with a screw with a star washer. If you can get a good electrical connection between the zinc and the aluminum, the zinc will act as a sacrificial anode to protect the aluminum.

EDIT: The melting point of shellac varies but it's good for at least 75C.

Edited by HowardLi (log)
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I know I could sand it down and re-seal it, but the grill is covered in corrosion spots, so I'd basically have to re-finish the entire thing. Also, the bottom of the water chamber itself is starting to show spots, and I certainly don't want to sand that down too.

I suspected it might be a galvanic issue, but wouldn't that mean the stainless rack is causing it?

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It looks to me like the "corroded" areas are raised up like they are a deposit, not corrosion. Try soaking in some strong white vinegar or better yet some citric acid (common ingredient in coffee pot descalers which would also work.

Edited by mgaretz (log)

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It looks to me like the "corroded" areas are raised up like they are a deposit, not corrosion.

I already confirmed that the marks are corrosion rather than mineral deposits, as did the other owner I mentioned. If you examine it closely it is obvious the surface is corroded and there is material missing. In some parts on the bottom it's very easy to spot because the edge of the metal is thinned.

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Sure looks like galvanic corrosion. Try a marine outfitter (e.g., West Marine) for a zinc anode. Changing the water in the tank might help some too.

The vendor could put in a back-bias that counteracts the corrosion potential, but probably won't.

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I did some burgers at 145 F today (~63C). Can anybody explain why they came out totally gray, with no hint of pink?

Follow-up: I recently calibrated the sensor using boiling water (I figure, as a standard, it's closer to cooking temps than ice water is), and my sensor was under-reading by about 2.3F. Huge deal? Maybe.

I'll have to do more to see.

Inaccuracy of 2.3°F/1.3°C is not quite what we desire. If you do not have an ISO- or NIST-calibrated reference thermometer, you might calibrate your sensor or thermometer in ice-water (no need for distilled water, tap water will do, molecular freezing point depression in tap water is neglectable for our purposes) and in boiling water (taking into account altitude above sea level and barometric pressure; a difference of 40 mBar makes a 1°C difference) and against an ovulation thermometer at 100°F/37.8°C. With temperature stability of ±0.1°C in a PID-controlled water bath (SousVideMagic or immersion circulator) inaccuracy of more than 0.2°C is absurd.

See the Wikia article Importance of temperature control on pasteurizing times (0.5°C inaccuracy makes a significant difference in pasteurizing times) and the Wikia article on thermometer calibration: sensors and thermometers are not guaranteed to be linear and equally accurate over the whole range from 0°C to 100°C; 50k thermistors (SVM 1500C and 1500D) are better than 5k thermistors (SVM or Auber 1500A and 1500B).

See also the sous vide page in wikiGullet (the sum of accuracy and stability should be ±0.25°C or better for long-time cooking and pasteurizing).

Pedro's point is a good one.

But I do wonder if we can achieve accuracy within ±0.25C unless we all have expensive ISO- or NIST- calibrated thermometers, which clearly most of us do not have.

Unless you can absolutely guarantee the accuracy of your set up, it is extremely inadvisable to play around at the lower limits of sous vide temperature for long cooking times. After our discussion on this forum, I believe this is why Merredith went to a much more accurate, and expensive, setup than her Sous Vide Supreme.

It is better to add a few degrees on to the temperature and to extend the cooking time to incorporate a margin of error than to risk the health of either you or your customers. If you want to work on the edge, make sure you are appropriately equipped to do so, including having all equipment in the process calibrated and functioning within a ±0.25C error rate.

Edited by nickrey (log)

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

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