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Oxidized Meats: What is it and how to prevent it?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

Hate to sound stupid but what exactly happens when a meat becomes oxidized and how can it be prevented? Stainless steel causes this and some marinades in my experience, but what are some others things that cause this? Is it just old meat that oxidizes?

 

I've worked in a place where steaks (and meats in general) were very expensive and we never wrapped or covered meats nor stored them in stainless steel pans. We left them out completely (poultry too) unwrapped on parchment lined sheet pans on a speed rack and they never oxidized, is it the free flowing air keeping these from oxidizing? Is this the preferred method for storing meats?

 

Someone please give me the 101 on the subject, I'm dieing to know. Thanks in advance!

post #2 of 21

When freshly slaughtered meat is cut into steaks, the muscle tissue comes into contact with oxygen in the air. The myoglobin in the meat binds this oxygen, forming oxymyoglobin and giving the meat a red color. However, if fresh meat sits for a period of time, generally over the course of several days, the structure of the myoglobin changes. The iron molecule in the middle is oxidized from its ferrous to ferric form and a different complex is formed called metmyoglobin. This compound turns the raw meat a brown color. The meat is usually still safe to eat when cooked, but the brown, unappealing color turns off most consumers. To avoid having your fresh meat turn brown, use it as soon as possible after purchasing it.

post #3 of 21

Good question.  How do you folks handle leftover raw steaks?  We have always used large deli sheets to separate and cover them, then wrapped the package in cling wrap.  We have to wipe dry and re-wrap fairly often as the moisture soon soaks the paper, and the moisture seems to lessen the quality of the meat.  Or is it something else going on.  I know cutting to order is the best way to go, but not always possible.

 

That moisture loss is not good, but don't know of any other way to handle the steaks.

post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Raibeaux View Post

Good question.  How do you folks handle leftover raw steaks?  We have always used large deli sheets to separate and cover them, then wrapped the package in cling wrap.  We have to wipe dry and re-wrap fairly often as the moisture soon soaks the paper, and the moisture seems to lessen the quality of the meat.  Or is it something else going on.  I know cutting to order is the best way to go, but not always possible.

 

That moisture loss is not good, but don't know of any other way to handle the steaks.

Usually we put steaks in parchment lined fish tubs with a lid snapped on stored in the walk-in (this is what I prefer). Other times we wrap each steak individually and keep them in 3rd pans (sometimes stainless which oxidizes the surface more, sometimes plastic which isn't as reactive).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefross View Post

When freshly slaughtered meat is cut into steaks, the muscle tissue comes into contact with oxygen in the air. The myoglobin in the meat binds this oxygen, forming oxymyoglobin and giving the meat a red color. However, if fresh meat sits for a period of time, generally over the course of several days, the structure of the myoglobin changes. The iron molecule in the middle is oxidized from its ferrous to ferric form and a different complex is formed called metmyoglobin. This compound turns the raw meat a brown color. The meat is usually still safe to eat when cooked, but the brown, unappealing color turns off most consumers. To avoid having your fresh meat turn brown, use it as soon as possible after purchasing it.

Thanks for the info. So oxygen is responsible for the red/purple color of meats. I would assume lack of oxygen hastens the oxidizing process? If I were to take a wet-aged sirloin and wrap in in cling-film wouldn't this give it less oxygen thus making it oxidize faster?

 

So I guess what this boils down to is what is the best overall method for storing meats taking oxidization, food safety, and quality control issues all into account?

post #5 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by linecook854 View Post

Hate to sound stupid but what exactly happens when a meat becomes oxidized and how can it be prevented? Stainless steel causes this and some marinades in my experience, but what are some others things that cause this? Is it just old meat that oxidizes?

 

I've worked in a place where steaks (and meats in general) were very expensive and we never wrapped or covered meats nor stored them in stainless steel pans. We left them out completely (poultry too) unwrapped on parchment lined sheet pans on a speed rack and they never oxidized, is it the free flowing air keeping these from oxidizing? Is this the preferred method for storing meats?

 

Someone please give me the 101 on the subject, I'm dieing to know. Thanks in advance!

 

I worked at a place where we did that too....that is, lined up our proteins on a speed rack in the walk in. We did this to give the meat a slight pellicle (that is, dry the outer layer) so that when we seared the protein in pans, we got a deep, rich, beautiful crust on them. Then we basted with herbs/garlic/butter. 

 

Even fish got this treatment, and it worked beautifully. Never had fish stick, always got a gorgeous golden brown crust on it. Great for skin on fish as well, since you store it skin side up and it dries and crisps beautifully. 

 

When I run my own kitchen someday I plan on incorporating this method into my practices. 

post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Someday View Post

 

I worked at a place where we did that too....that is, lined up our proteins on a speed rack in the walk in. We did this to give the meat a slight pellicle (that is, dry the outer layer) so that when we seared the protein in pans, we got a deep, rich, beautiful crust on them. Then we basted with herbs/garlic/butter. 

 

Even fish got this treatment, and it worked beautifully. Never had fish stick, always got a gorgeous golden brown crust on it. Great for skin on fish as well, since you store it skin side up and it dries and crisps beautifully. 

 

When I run my own kitchen someday I plan on incorporating this method into my practices. 


I'm glad someone else believes this is good for the steaks! I did this at my current job and the head chef was mortified and said to never do that again as they "were all dried out and unsafe to eat since they're not wrapped in plastic". Never tried it on fish before but I imagine it works well since it did great on poultry as well.

 

Does this method of storing steaks actually make wet-aged beef's shelf life shortened? I mean we are not actually aging the steaks we are just not wrapping them in plastic (as is the standard method at the places I've worked in at least).

post #7 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by linecook854 View Post


I'm glad someone else believes this is good for the steaks! I did this at my current job and the head chef was mortified and said to never do that again as they "were all dried out and unsafe to eat since they're not wrapped in plastic". Never tried it on fish before but I imagine it works well since it did great on poultry as well.

 

Does this method of storing steaks actually make wet-aged beef's shelf life shortened? I mean we are not actually aging the steaks we are just not wrapping them in plastic (as is the standard method at the places I've worked in at least).

 

Well, I don't know about shortening the shelf life. If you treat the product properly from butchering, handling, storing, etc, then I don't think that plastic wrap makes much of a difference in terms of sanitation or safety. The only issue that might arise is physical contamination from, say, something dripping on it or whatever. If you dedicate a speed rack to the purpose of storing portioned meat, then this risk is minimal. 

 

We also had a dedicated meat/protein walk in, so there was little to no risk of cross-contamination with veggies/fruit. I would think that, even in a multi-use walk in, risk could be minimized with careful layout design and planning. 

 

We used this method on both wet aged and dry aged steaks, both with great results. As far as I know, the idea isn't to do any aging or flavor development with this method, its more to provide a dry surface in which to sear in a hot pan. 

 

The idea that you are somehow going to turn the steak into beef jerky by leaving it uncovered is unfounded. The steaks at this place I worked were the best I've ever had. Pan roasted, basted with butter and herbs, properly rested. 

 

We used to change out the sheetpans and paper every night as well. 

 

If you store the meat on the sheetpan for an extended amount of time (several days, etc) then it might have an effect on the shelf life, I honestly don't know. We had high enough turnover that nothing hung around for more than a couple days, max. 

 

I've discussed this method with other cooks/chefs before and they mostly had a similar reaction to your current chef. I'm sure people on this forum will tell you the same thing...all I can tell you is that from my experience, when done correctly and handled safely, it produces a superior steak to any that I've had before or since. 

post #8 of 21

Try dipping the steaks in oil as it forms a seal against outside oxygen whih in turn causes steak to age and discolor. The seal that is formed is closer then paper or for that matter even cling wrap.

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post #9 of 21

I've been wondering about that, Ed.  I know that if you thaw frozen steaks submerged in oil under refrigeration,  it will keep most of the juices inside.  Years ago found those directions in a box of mail order steaks we got for Christmas.  When thawed, there is only a few drops of red in the oil.  And supposedly the oil can be re-used if kept refrigerated.  Wouldn't know how long, though.

 

The only thing about oiling for storage, would that interfere with the seasoning process, or just go ahead and season after turning on the grill.

 

Also, what oil would you use?  I would think you'd need to use a very high quality of something.  Canola?  Wesson salad oil?

 

Whatever, I've been thinking of trying this for a long time and I am going to start the experiment today.

post #10 of 21

Going back to the 60s at all the NYC Hotels, this is the way the steks were kept onnce they went from the butcher shop to the line. We used regular salad oil. When the steak hits the extrem heat the oil comes off.

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post #11 of 21

Well, Edward, the deed is done.  For the time being we are oiling our cut steaks.  What I did, wuz, I took the cut steaks and dipped them into the pan of oil, then stacked them by size in a stainless pan.  Then covered the pan (not each steak) with cling wrap.

 

Questions:

Will the stainless pans react with the steaks that have been oiled?  If so I can get some plastic pans.

 

Is wrapping the pan itself rather than individual steaks gonna work?  Or should the steaks be wrapped individually

.

I had about a four-pound piece of ribeye, and about 70% of a top butt left over.  I oiled them and panned them like the steaks.  ?????

 

I can see it's gonna be messy with the large pieces, but if it works we'll figger it out.  Been oiling the cut surfaces anyhow.

 

Any thoughts?  And thanks for your help.  Appreciate it !

post #12 of 21

Should work fine, have done it exactly that way many times and places. The stainless won't react at all, also makes it easy to move from the walk-in to line lowboys.

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post #13 of 21

I have left steaks totaly submerged in oil overnight and never encountered a problem. As stainless is non pourous, I prefer either it or for home a glass pie pan. If you do submerge overnight, you need not wrap the steaks. This method was used well before cryovac or visking, or vacuem methods.  In fact first try at cryovac we took steak but in plastic bag then  took a shop vac to pull most of air out. They lasted longer then the oes we did not do. I am going back here a good 40 to 5o years. I don't think health dept would approve of shop vac methods.

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post #14 of 21

I found this thread and tried it out on my steaks. Worked great and saved me a lot of money. Thanks, Ed

post #15 of 21

I've been using it the past month or so, Ed.  Good stuff.

post #16 of 21

have used the submerge in oil in a stainless steel container covered with cling wrap (the clingwrap sits directly on the oil). The restaurant i was working in at the time only opened from friday night to sunday lunch so any unused protein was stored in this way and was fine for next weeks service. The oil we used was a cheap vegetable oil, and was thrown out after use. Interesting to know that it can be reused if refridgerated
 

post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Someday View Post

 

Well, I don't know about shortening the shelf life. If you treat the product properly from butchering, handling, storing, etc, then I don't think that plastic wrap makes much of a difference in terms of sanitation or safety. The only issue that might arise is physical contamination from, say, something dripping on it or whatever. If you dedicate a speed rack to the purpose of storing portioned meat, then this risk is minimal. 

 

We also had a dedicated meat/protein walk in, so there was little to no risk of cross-contamination with veggies/fruit. I would think that, even in a multi-use walk in, risk could be minimized with careful layout design and planning. 

 

We used this method on both wet aged and dry aged steaks, both with great results. As far as I know, the idea isn't to do any aging or flavor development with this method, its more to provide a dry surface in which to sear in a hot pan. 

 

The idea that you are somehow going to turn the steak into beef jerky by leaving it uncovered is unfounded. The steaks at this place I worked were the best I've ever had. Pan roasted, basted with butter and herbs, properly rested. 

 

We used to change out the sheetpans and paper every night as well. 

 

If you store the meat on the sheetpan for an extended amount of time (several days, etc) then it might have an effect on the shelf life, I honestly don't know. We had high enough turnover that nothing hung around for more than a couple days, max. 

 

I've discussed this method with other cooks/chefs before and they mostly had a similar reaction to your current chef. I'm sure people on this forum will tell you the same thing...all I can tell you is that from my experience, when done correctly and handled safely, it produces a superior steak to any that I've had before or since. 

 

I've worked in a similar place, and I agree, the meat was fantastic.  As long as you dont butcher too much at a time, parchment paper works great for all meat including lamb and pork.

 

In contrast I worked in a place that would constantly cryovac all steaks.  It was possible that a batch of new yorks could have been cryovac'd up to 3 times if we didnt sell the 20 or so we needed to, fast enough.  This was torturous to me, and the steaks, which would oxidize fast and the texture would turn mealy.  I'll never to that in my kitchen.

 

In my opinion, using oil to inhibit oxidation is simply a cheap trick to cover up bad meat or over portioning.

 

Last thought; we used to get whole dry aged new yorks (NOT at the cryovac restaurant) and butcher them into steaks, saving all the trim.  We would grind the delicious aged fat and render it down.  Before service we would gently warm the fat with a garlic clove and maybe a branch of thyme or rosemary, and put it in a 3rd pan.  After we cooked a steak it would get rested in the aged fat.  The juices would not leech out as much, plus you would get the additional flavor boost.  Slice and plate.

post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by cacioEpepe View Post

 

I've worked in a similar place, and I agree, the meat was fantastic.  As long as you dont butcher too much at a time, parchment paper works great for all meat including lamb and pork.

 

In contrast I worked in a place that would constantly cryovac all steaks.  It was possible that a batch of new yorks could have been cryovac'd up to 3 times if we didnt sell the 20 or so we needed to, fast enough.  This was torturous to me, and the steaks, which would oxidize fast and the texture would turn mealy.  I'll never to that in my kitchen.

 

In my opinion, using oil to inhibit oxidation is simply a cheap trick to cover up bad meat or over portioning.

 

Last thought; we used to get whole dry aged new yorks (NOT at the cryovac restaurant) and butcher them into steaks, saving all the trim.  We would grind the delicious aged fat and render it down.  Before service we would gently warm the fat with a garlic clove and maybe a branch of thyme or rosemary, and put it in a 3rd pan.  After we cooked a steak it would get rested in the aged fat.  The juices would not leech out as much, plus you would get the additional flavor boost.  Slice and plate.

 

Nice. I agree about cryovacing steaks. I much prefer the parchment/speedrack method. 

 

We did something similar at a place I worked with the dry aged fat. We would grind and render, add garlic and rosemary, and use it to baste while in the oven. We didn't rest in it, but along the same lines. 

post #19 of 21

My questions is " how do I reduce the amount of oxidization when I i'm making Steak Tartare"? anyone?

post #20 of 21
Cut it to order?
post #21 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by linecook854 View Post

(sometimes stainless which oxidizes the surface more, sometimes plastic which isn't as reactive).
Those NSF inserts are surgical grade stainless meaning they are non-reactive to any and all foodstuffs. this is something that persists from a time when materials used to make the inserts weren't as refined, and would actually react with certain foods.
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