Cells. Crystals. Freezing. And why fresh meat trumps frozen.
We have heard it all before from the best chefs, and we sometimes say it ourselves too. Frozen meat just does not taste as yummy as fresh meat when cooked. Is this just a perception of freshness, or is there more to it?
There is more, and it has everything to do with science cracking meat up. It all starts with the freezers found in supermarkets and at home that store the meats we buy. Their temperature settings typically cannot go lower than 0°F/-18°C , which are not low enough to quickly and thoroughly freeze the meats. The latter requires temperatures below -110°F/-79°C.
As a result, the fluids inside the cells of the frozen meat do not freeze slowly and thoroughly. The intra-cellular fluids stay liquid and crystals grow instead, becoming bigger and bigger. These crystals then pierce the frozen meat with holes, causing the cells to break.
When the frozen meat is defrosted, these crystals and holes become the channels out of which the meat’s juices flow out of the meat. This flowing out of juices – made of blood and water – is called the purge; if these juices had stayed in, they would have made the meat more flavorful when cooked.
That is why food aficionados will insist fresh meats are better. Frozen meat just is not the same because meats frozen and defrosted are really less juicy. To foodies around the world, it is simply less tasty.
By the way, how low is -110°F/-79°C? The lowest recorded temperature on Earth was -129 °F/-89°C in Antarctica. To get such incredibly low temperatures anywhere else on Earth, one would need a freezer like the ones often found in laboratories. Brrr…
What is the difference between the taste of frozen and fresh meat? What is the coldest place you have been to? Share your experiences with me!
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photos: in order – istockphoto/Radist; depositphotos/edesignua;yulia-zl18; kozzi2; londondeposit