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Owly

Preserving steak medium rare room temp... 90 day experiment

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This is a truly mad experiment.......... and I'm doing "take 2"        The concept is that sous vide temp of 130F which corresponds to medium rare, is sufficient to pasteurize given time.... The charts show that an hour at 130F has the same effect as briefly raising to 160 as is done to pasteurize.   These are government charts, and I can find links if you want them.

 

Of course while these temps will kill all actual active bacteria, they will not kill bacterial spores such as the well known botulism and Clostridium.   Hence we have pressure canning for meats and low acid veggies and such.    These spores killed at the high temps achieved with pressure canning.

 

It is well known that bacteria live on the surface of meats primarily with the exception of a few systemic infectious microbes that actually come from the animal.  Salmonella in chicken being the classic example.

 

To  kill the spores, I briefly exposed the surface to very high temp, using a large propane torch in the first experiment.   The meat was three chuck steaks, which were then dropped into foodsaver bags, and cooked for 48 hours at 130F using Sous Vide.  This 130F of course was more than sufficient to kill all active bacteria, and at the same time turns chuck into perfect medium rare "rib eye" from edge to edge.  Just brown the surface on a smoking hot grill for about 20 seconds to the side, and it takes a back seat to no cut of meat you can buy.

 

The steaks were left for 90 days at room temperature near a heater, where the temps ranged in the 80's most of the time.   This was intended as an incubation period to bring to life any bacterial spores that had survived, and make their growth evident through the gasses they produce.    The result of contamination would be inflation, and odor, or evident discoloration, or more likely all three, as turned out to be the case with 2 out of the three test steaks.    A shorter or cooler period could not be counted on to expose "culprits".

 

At a 33% success ratio, I considered the experiment an unqualified success.  It demonstrated that the microbes would indeed expose themselves over time in a warm dark place.   Evidence showed up near the half way point.     The surviving steak was perfect in every way.  It looked, smelled, and tasted like a fresh cooked piece of beef steak......... The results could not have been better.  I knew that my theory was sound.....  that absent oxygen and microbes, (and light... as they were stored in a dark place).... spoilage cannot occur.    And that given a suitable environment, the microbes would reveal themselves if they existed.

 

.................... In hindsight my  misteak (mis spelling intended) was to use a torch on chuck, which tends to be loose and deeply fissured.   The heat did not penetrate into the fissures, and microbial spores survived..... I believe Clostridium.     For reasons I will not explain.

 

Take II      Same test, with two variations.    High heat from a brief exposure in a deep fat fryer.      Incubation temp of 95F for 5 days .......... 3 times throughout the 90 day test, which is the incubation temp and time used by microbiologists testing for botulinum and Clostridium when using a streak test on agar plates.      I'm about half way through the test, (day 43) and have completed 2. 5 day incubation periods, and everything looks perfect so far.

 

                                                        

                                                         H.W.

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I like it...It's people like you that make it easier on the rest of us in the World. Somebody has to be the one to eat the first berry to find out if it's edible or deadly. Sounds like a fun experiment.

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I moved this to the appropriate forum (I think.)

 

Quote

At a 33% success ratio, I considered the experiment an unqualified success.  It demonstrated that the microbes would indeed expose themselves over time in a warm dark place.

 

How do you know these microbes were present on the meat from the beginning and not on the meat after you placed them in a non-clean room environment?

 

n/m... i see that they were left in the bags.  So if you vacuum seal and pasteurize, decomposition will not occur?

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2 hours ago, Owly said:

The results could not have been better.  I knew that my theory was sound.....  that absent oxygen and microbes, (and light... as they were stored in a dark place).... spoilage cannot occur.    And that given a suitable environment, the microbes would reveal themselves if they existed.

This is a super interesting experiment, and it's awesome this is on a grilling message board, of all things.

 

But as someone who works with anaerobic bacteria, the quote above is....not exactly true. Microbes can and do respire when oxygen is absent, anaerobic respiration can occur. Drive past a marsh, that rotten egg smell is hydrogen sulfide produced by sulfate reducing bacteria present in the soil.

I'm sorry to be that guy, but I died a little inside when I read that.

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Just out of curiosity, where did you come up,with 130°F for medium rare?  I have always thought 135°F was medium rare and most documentation i find supports that. Some even indicates 140 but i have yet to find one showing 130.  The only reason i ask is because it makes a rather significant difference in your test parameters.

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2 hours ago, John Setzler said:

The only reason i ask is because it makes a rather significant difference in your test parameters.

Indeed it does. Someone posted an FDA draft that specified pasteurization time as a function of temperature. 130F is the lowest temperature listed, at 121 min. At 135F, it's 37 min. to achieve a 10^-7 kill level. 

 

The concern is that the data predicts ~6 hrs is OK at 125F... at some point, it's going to be the right temperature to grow things. I'd be using 140F for this sort of thing, given it's the upper limit of the 40-140F avoidance range.  

 

Neat experiment, though. 

 

Have fun,

Frank

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20 hours ago, John Setzler said:

Just out of curiosity, where did you come up,with 130°F for medium rare?  I have always thought 135°F was medium rare and most documentation i find supports that. Some even indicates 140 but i have yet to find one showing 130.  The only reason i ask is because it makes a rather significant difference in your test parameters.

 

You  misunderstand me.    The extended pasteurization temp kills all non-spore forming microbes.  I'm well aware that Botulinum is anerobic, and that it does respire.    That is the reason for the extended time at room temp (90 days), and the 15 days total at 95F.  This is to encourage bacterial growth  if viable spores or other microbes are present.   That growth results in respiration, and in the clear food saver bags, this is instantly visible.  

 

     Because of the desire to preserve the meat in a medium rare state... cooked at 130F (I use Annova Sous Vide temp chart and get perfect medium rare.... 135 is far too done in my experience), there is a minimum incubation period at suitable temperatures for bacterial growth.   This makes bacterial respiration  products........ gasses and smell, evident if spoilage is taking place.   A lesser time period or lower temperature would likely mask these indicators.  

 

      As I wrote before, I use three periods of 5 days each at a controlled temp of 95F to enhance this.   This is based on lab temp and time when incubating botulinum on agar plates when streaking........   Normally 5 days at 95F.  

 

    I'm neither blind, nor stupid, nor do I suffer from hyposmia (lack of a sense of smell).   I also have a strong biology background, and have played with various microbes since I was a child (age 64  now).   I didn't enter into this experiment in ignorance.,

 

                                                                              H.W.

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17 hours ago, fbov said:

Indeed it does. Someone posted an FDA draft that specified pasteurization time as a function of temperature. 130F is the lowest temperature listed, at 121 min. At 135F, it's 37 min. to achieve a 10^-7 kill level. 

 

The concern is that the data predicts ~6 hrs is OK at 125F... at some point, it's going to be the right temperature to grow things. I'd be using 140F for this sort of thing, given it's the upper limit of the 40-140F avoidance range.  

 

Neat experiment, though. 

 

Have fun,

Frank

  Frank:

        The proof they say is in the pudding........... Microbes are not visible to the naked eye, but when they are active and growing the signs are visible.   I would not store these in a cool place like a cellar, which would retard growth, but rather I am storing them in incubation temperatures for a LONG period of time.   Encouraging them to reveal themselves.  

                                                                                                                             H.W.

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20 hours ago, John Setzler said:

Just out of curiosity, where did you come up,with 130°F for medium rare?  I have always thought 135°F was medium rare and most documentation i find supports that. Some even indicates 140 but i have yet to find one showing 130.  The only reason i ask is because it makes a rather significant difference in your test parameters.

 

The Annova chart is found here ............ and there are others:

https://anovaculinary.com/anova-sous-vide-time-temperature-guide/

Screenshot at 2019-10-10 09-31-44.png

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1 hour ago, Owly said:

 

The Annova chart is found here ............ and there are others:

https://anovaculinary.com/anova-sous-vide-time-temperature-guide/

Screenshot at 2019-10-10 09-31-44.png

 

That's the first time I have seen medium-rare defined as a temp that low.  General charts show you 125/135/145/155/165 for the doneness scale on meats...  I wonder if they are stopping on the low side to give you room for searing or additional finishing cooks?

 

 

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1 hour ago, Owly said:

 

 

 

    I'm neither blind, nor stupid, nor do I suffer from hyposmia (lack of a sense of smell).   I also have a strong biology background, and have played with various microbes since I was a child (age 64  now).   I didn't enter into this experiment in ignorance.,

 

                                                                              H.W.

 

I am not trying to insinuate that at all.

 

I am just curious because I don't understand the experiment or what the objective is with the 90 day experiment.  What is your hypothesis and prediction with the test?  

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5 hours ago, Owly said:

The proof they say is in the pudding........... 


Actually, the proof is not so much in the pudding as “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”!

 

As an professional-level emetophobic, I’ll leave it to others to any further experimentation. :mrgreen:

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8 hours ago, John Setzler said:

 

That's the first time I have seen medium-rare defined as a temp that low.  General charts show you 125/135/145/155/165 for the doneness scale on meats...  I wonder if they are stopping on the low side to give you room for searing or additional finishing cooks?

 

If you try 130 you will find that it is the perfect temp where the ropy red is gone, but still has lots of rich pink color.    There are differences of opinion on what is medium rare, probably due to differing tastes.  Of course if I am doing a roast at a higher temp, using a meat thermometer such as in an oven or komodo, I want to pull the roast well before that temperature, as it will keep on cooking, as I discovered long ago.   130 is where I want to end up..... 135 is the upper limit before it begins to take on a "medium" character.   I love Sous Vide cooking as I can get that perfect pink all the way through, rather than the graduation from char to well done, to medium done to medium, and just the center at medium rare.  A quick very hot sear on a grill or in a pan leaves me with exactly what I want.  Here are three links to temp charts..... 130 to 135  is pretty much the range they call for:

https://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/cooking-tips-techniques/grilling/meat-cooking-temperatures

https://www.certifiedangusbeef.com/kitchen/doneness.php

https://whatscookingamerica.net/Information/MeatTemperatureChart.htm

     When doing a burger sous vide then on the grill, I will often go 125F, because they cook so much faster than a steak on the grill or pan.  The result is so spectacular that I never cook ground beef or lamb any other way.  Moisture retained, no shrink from fat loss, rich moist full flavor.

                                                                                          H.W.

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8 hours ago, John Setzler said:

 

I am not trying to insinuate that at all.

 

I am just curious because I don't understand the experiment or what the objective is with the 90 day experiment.  What is your hypothesis and prediction with the test?  

 

     I didn't mean to suggest that you had..... I'm just a bit "head shy", having been attacked by others in the past over the supposed foolishness of this undertaking.   I entered into it after a great deal of thought, and on the strength of a biology background, and messing about with microbes of various types since I was a child with my first microscope.   A big thrill for an 8 year old!    I've always brewed and cultured various things, currently kombucha, kefir, a batch of wine, and two kinds of home made vinegar made by pre-fermenting, then culturing with the complex culture from kombucha to get a more interesting and richer / mellower array of acids... primarily acetic (regular acid in vinegar) and gluconic.   Currently using my version of apple cider vinegar, and aging a batch of pomegranate / blueberry (2 gallons), and I have a neutral wash fermenting for making gin.

 

      My hypothesis I think I explained, was that  if I could kill the microbial spores with the hot grease (very brief exposure), and ensure that all living microbes were killed in the sous vide, as well as eliminating oxygen  (not to prevent growth of microbes {as KJ implied) but to prevent oxidation), the meat would keep indefinitely in the medium rare state, just as pressure canned meat will in it's grotesquely overcooked state.

    Again, the 90 day incubation period with 3 periods of 5 days each at a perfect incubation temp of 95F, virtually guarantees that any microbial action will be obvious, and unlike a canning jar with head space, the vacuum sealed clear bag will betray any respiration very quickly.

     The technology to do this exists in the form of gamma rays, which are widely used, but involve millions of dollars worth of equipment and very dangerous equipment at that.  I cannot do that myself realistically.

 

     The original purpose was to see if it would be possible to dine on beautiful "fresh" beef steak at medium rare on an extended ocean sailing voyage, (circumnavigation) without having the ability to store in a deep freeze.   I think that I've already proven that the process is viable if done properly in advance.  

 

                                                                                                  H.W.

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3 minutes ago, Owly said:

 

    

 

     The original purpose was to see if it would be possible to dine on beautiful "fresh" beef steak at medium rare on an extended ocean sailing voyage, (circumnavigation) without having the ability to store in a deep freeze.   I think that I've already proven that the process is viable if done properly in advance.  

 

                                                                                                  H.W.

 

THIS is where I was lost... i coudln't figure out why you would want to go for that length of time :)

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