Who knew? (or: What happens if the temperature dropped mid-cooking?)

In the Getting Started with Sous Vide Forum
Hi,

This is my very first time cooking sous-vide. Actually, the food is still cooking, and should do so for 30 more hours.

I have a large 1.2 Gallon rice cooker connected to an Auber Instruments PID. I connected everything, and set the device to 59 degrees (yeah, Celsius). I inserted two sealed pieces of pot roast, and went to sleep.
When I woke up, the device was beeping, the display showing 'END'. Fortunately, this only happened 10-15 minutes before I got up, and not sooner.

I quickly rifled through the manual, and learned that even though I did not set it myself, the Auber Instruments device has a default 600 minutes timer (note to other first-time users) and that it shut itself off. I immediately reset the PID and started it again. So, the whole thing was disconnected for about 15 minutes, and the temperature dropped in that time from 59 to 55. The food is now back on 59 degrees, for 30 more hours at 59.

The big question is: what will this do to my roast? Will it change the texture or end result? What about the safety of the food?

Thank you,
Michael.


10 Replies So Far

Because it only dropped to 55C things should be just fine (since you could cook it the entire time at that temperature).

If it would have dropped much lower than that then it would depend on how long it was at the lower temperature. If it was only the 15 minutes like in your case then it would probably be fine. If it was several hours then you'd probably want to toss the meat due to safety concerns. And for a time in-between there it would have to be a judgment call about what you personally felt safe with.

Hope that helps, enjoy your meat!
Thank yoy Jason!
Is there any way to write to you something personally...?
Sure Michael, you can use the "Contact" button at the top or write me directly at jason@afmeasy.com.
Update:

The two bags of pot roast were in the water at 59 degrees for 48 hours. The meat was very very tender, BUT it was overcooked, something between medium-well and well-done..... What happened?

I now have 4 pieces of rump steak (3/4 inch thick) cooking at 55 degrees. I took one out after 24 hours (I'll let the other 3 pieces cook 'till tomorrow), and it was very tender but about medium to medium-well... better but not perfect. Am I doing something wrong here? I was aiming for a nice, red medium-rare to medium....

Michael.
Hi Michael, was it "overcooked" because of the color of the meat? Sometimes the meat will not stay bright red, especially after very long cooking times but it is still medium-rare. I forget where I read about the color change, probably from McGee or Ideas in Food. It has to do with the proteins cooking and actually isn't an indication of the doneness of food (unless cooked for a short time like with most traditional methods).

To keep the medium-rare red you'll have to cook it for a shorter amount of time, but it might not be fully tenderized then and will most likely be tough (depending on the cut).

I hope this helps, and anyone that might know a little more please let me know.

Thanks,
Jason
I also believe this changes some based on the cut of meat and the fat content in it.
Hi Jason,

I did judge the doneness of the food by the color, maybe that's the wrong way to go about it, but to my feeling it was also slightly dry. It might have been the cut of meat I chose (pot roast and then rump steak).

I did try the remaining 3 rump steaks (that were cooked for 48 hours), they were much more tender than the one I took out after 24 hours, they had a reddish tinge throughout, marvelously tender, yet still somewhat dry.

I can't seem to shut my rice cooker off, I now plan on chucking four sirloin steaks in. They are already seasoned and vacuum-sealed. Any suggestion on temperature and cooking times seeing as I want to have them bright red? I was thinking along the lines of 52 degrees, 6 hours (they are about 3/4" thick).

Michael.
Here's a good article about 8 Hour Sirloin Steaks. They did at 55C for 8 hours and it looks really tasty.
Back with the results:

Ever since the 'overcooked' pot roast and rumpsteaks, I've been cooking SV almost every day. You were right, judging the meat by its color after 24-48 hours of cooking is very misleading. The instruments seem to work fine, and the Sirloin and Ribeye steaks I cooked since for 6-7 hours at 54-55 were bright beautiful red.

Thanks for all the help!

Now for another question. While the chicken breasts are cooking, I've been thinking of something I heard last night in a tapas restaurant. They cook octopus for 10-12 hours SV, then finish it off on a hot plate with chili oil and coriander. The only thing I couldn't get from them is the temperature. Any suggestions for that time period?
I'm glad things have been working out well for you! It took me some time to realize that things that weren't red were still perfectly cooked!

I have very little experience with octopus but the numbers we came up with for Beginning Sous Vide were the following:
Slow Cook: 170°F for 4 to 7 Hours (76.7°C)
Fast Cook: 180°F for 2 to 3 Hours (82.2°C)

Hope that helps! And if you have a sous vide recipe you enjoy be sure to add it to the recipes forum so you'll be entered in the drawing for the books!


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