How Do You Pasteurize Ground Beef With Sous Vide

I get a lot of great questions from my readers. In order to help out everyone else I'm answering some of the most popular ones here on the blog. Have something you need help with? You can ask me on Facebook, contact me directly, or view all of the Ask Jason questions!

Your article talks about calculating pasteurization times for slabs, but what about ground meat? Can you go over how to read your timing ruler? I want to understand pasteurization better. Sometimes I just need to pasteurize the meat and not tenderize it, other times I want to do both. Is the pasteurization only without factoring in time for tenderizing that I don't understand?

-Cherry Handzel

Note: The following article is an edited transcript from the video.

It's a very good question. With the ground beef it's considered a slab. If you're doing meatballs, it's a sphere, and if you're doing a meatloaf, it's a cylinder. So you use the same pasteurization and timing like you would for whole pieces of meat. In general, they heat up at close enough to the same speed, that it should work fine.

Pasteurization Times - Tender Cuts

For tender cuts of meat, use the Sous Vide Timing Ruler to determine the cooking time according to the thickness of the meat. So this includes filet mignon, chicken breasts and things that only need to be heated through, or heated through and pasteurized. For my timing ruler, books, and website articles, all pasteurization times include both the amount of time it will take for the center of the meat to reach the desired temperature and the length of time it needs to be held at that temperature for the meat to fully pasteurize.

  • Sous vide thickness ruler 1
  • Sous vide thickness ruler 2

Note: For a more in depth look at cooking tender cuts, check out my Sous Vide Cooking Times by Thickness blog post.

Pasteurization Times - Tough Cuts

For tougher cuts of meat, it takes a lot longer to tenderize so you need to use the Sous Vide Time and Temperature charts. These include cuts like pork shoulder, flank steak and things that require extra time (12, 24, 36 or perhaps even 48 hours in some cases) to ensure the meat has reached its desired tenderness. The longer the meat is cooked, the more tender it becomes. On the charts, first locate the type of cut, then depending on the end resulting tenderness you are trying to achieve, find the time it needs to sous vide.

You will notice that tougher cuts of meat do not have pasteurization times listed because they are really quick compared to very long tenderization times. For pasteurization to occur, once you heat it all the way through to the center, depending on the temperature it normally takes 15 to 40 minutes to kill everything that's on it. Once the meat is pasteurized, you still have many hours of tenderization time left before it's ready to eat.

If you're cooking by tenderness or cooking long enough to tenderize something, by definition you're going to pasteurize it. As long as the temperature is out of the danger zone of 127, 130 or above you'll kill everything. So that's why pasteurization for something like a pork shoulder is not discussed.

Note: Discover more information about How Sous Vide Times Work


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All tags for this article: Ask Jason, Sous Vide

Jason logsdon headshot This article is by me, Jason Logsdon. I'm an adventurous home cook and professional blogger who loves to try new things, especially when it comes to cooking. I've explored everything from sous vide and whipping siphons to pressure cookers and blow torches; created foams, gels and spheres; made barrel aged cocktails and brewed beer. I have also written 10 cookbooks on modernist cooking and sous vide and I run the website.
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