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Sous-vide cooking for totally tender meat

It's no wonder sous-vide cooking is so popular – in a sous-vide cooker meat of any sort becomes perfectly moist and tender. The meat is vacuum-sealed in a plastic bag and then cooked in water under precise temperature control. Closely controlling the cooking temperature, means perfect control of the result every time. This is the conclusion of a study by the Max-Planck Institute for Polymer Research.


Sous-vide is a cooking method used by professional chefs that has recently been discovered by ambitious hobby cooks. The food to be cooked is vacuum packed and sealed in a special plastic bag to be cooked in a water bath at a precisely set temperature. Fish, meat and vegetables are cooked to perfection without being overcooked or loosing too much water.

The science of sous-vide cooking

Heating meat changes the structure of the proteins in the muscles and connecting tissue – it is denaturized. Every protein has a precise denaturation temperature. The Max-Planck researchers studied the denaturation of the proteins in pork filets during sous-vide cooking. The varied the (10 minutes to 48 hours) and the cooking temperature (45 to 74 °C). They also measured the water content of the cooked meat (fresh meat has a water content of around 75 percent).


The researchers used dynamic differential calorimetry to show that various proteins gradually change their shape as the temperature rises from 48 to 71 °C. They shrink, form tight networks or coagulate. At the same time, characteristics of the meat – such as tenderness and juiciness – change too.

How to cook the perfect pork filet

Meat loses water as time passes and the temperature rises. Most of the water loss occurs within the first 20 minutes, especially at temperatures above 60 °C. If you have a medium-sized pork filet, you'll get the best result by sous-vide cooking for 20 minutes at 55 °C. A longer cooking time, even at a lower temperature results in denaturation of the protein, which makes the meat tough and dry. This is why cookery experts advise you to let cooked meat cool down and then reheat it rather than keeping it warm for a longer time.


Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de