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Storing raw meat in grain

Grunde Sep 15, 2013 03:05 PM

Hi. I bought a large chunk of short loin cheap because it was "nearing the best before date", wich only demonstrates that local supermarket staff being totally ignorant about the foods they are selling can be a good ting. We have a good deal left, even after a large steak dinner, two rounds of Pho.
I recall reading something about storing raw meat in rice or cereal, but googling that just gives me several pages of baby food recipes.

Anyone here that have any experience on the subject? Will this prevent the meat from going bad or drying out, or is it just a relict from the pre/refridgerator era?

I'm currently storing it wrapped in linen cloth, but the cut tends to dry out around the edges.

  1. g
    Grunde Sep 17, 2013 02:01 AM

    Although this is going seriously off topic now: Of course I put it on a plate!
    Look, it's not a difficult concept: You dry off the cut, wrap it in a CLEAN, DRY, CLEAN and CLEAN tea napkin/musseline/cheese cloth, put it on a plate in the fridge and possibly cover the whole thing with a bowl or plastic.
    The point is to create an environment around the meat that is similar to what the butcher achieves by hanging the cut in his cool and CLEAN storage.
    By this you achieve two things: 1) The fabric drains away the meat juices that otherwise forms a perfect bacteria incubator at the plate. 2) You create semi-dry environment around the cut, which helps keep the surface of the meat relatively dry (and thereby unfriendly to micro organisms), but not so dry that the sufrace actually dries out.

    If the cloth gets dirty, damp or in any way smelly - you change it for a CLEAN one right away!
    The cloth also keeps the cut off the plate which helps eliminate an anaerobic environment for bacteria between the meat and the plate.

    I've used plastic film for years myself, but stopped because the meat often turned funky after just a few days in the fridge, even when the meat was well within the expiration date.
    You should try it. Maybe you'll discover that you can keep meat in the fridge longer than you thunk.

    Oh, and I'm talking about beef or game here. I would never keep pork or chicken open in the fridge for more than a day.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Grunde
      sunshine842 Sep 17, 2013 03:58 AM

      because it's just too hard to buy a nice piece of well-aged beef from a reputable butcher in quantities small enough to not worry about contamination.

      1. re: sunshine842
        Grunde Sep 17, 2013 04:04 AM

        Sadly, I live in a city of 500.000 souls and just one reputable butcher left.

    2. g
      Grunde Sep 16, 2013 02:05 AM

      Hi! Yeah, I forgot to mention that I do have a refridgerator, in which the meat is indeed stored…
      The reasons why I don’t put the cut in the freezer/cling foil/air tight plastic container/open plate are all the same: I want it to stay as fresh and tasty as possible.
      Freezing both degrades the quality and taste, and stops the maturing process. Plus, I plan on using it again tomorrow so freezing the chunk overnight makes no sense anywho.

      The best alternative would of course be hanging the cut in a cool storage room, which I don’t have.
      I too used to store my beef in sealed plastic containers/cling film, resulting in condensation collecting at the bottom making the whole container works as a perfect petri dish for bacterial growth. It also results in funky grey goo all over the surface of the cut after a couple of days, eventually stinking up my whole kitchen. Putting it in the fridge on a plate without cover is also an alternative, but allows for contamination and makes it dry out too fast around the edges.

      Wrapping it in a fresh, clean linen cloth is an old trick (just ask your grandma), and does much of the same job as hanging: It allows some air circulation around the whole cut, the cloth absorbs condensation and excess moisture that harbors bacteria, AND it allows for some evaporation but at the same time hinders it from drying out too rapidly and unevenly. Plus, I want the meat to continue maturing in the fridge until the expiration date.
      The same logic that lies behind storing cured hams in a clean kitchen towel in the fridge. Try wrapping your next Italian Parma ham in plastic film for a couple of weeks, and see what happens.

      So anyway, I read somewhere that keeping meat in barrels of grain was how they stored meat in the old days. The interest was mostly of theoretical interest. I don’t actually plan on buying a barrel of rye for meat storage anytime soon.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Grunde
        sunshine842 Sep 16, 2013 03:51 AM

        Plastic wrap IS the best way to keep it fresh and tasty.

        If it's going grey and slimy, then you're either trying to keep it too long, or your refrigerator is too warm.

        If you expose it to air, it's going to dry out. No way around it.

        There are important differences between raw meat (wet, not preserved) and a Parma ham (dry-cured). You simply can't say that because you don't wrap the ham it's okay not not wrap a steak -- different products altogether.

        Either buy smaller pieces of meat or accept that freezing really wont hurt the meat (no, it really won't) -- but keeping a half a cow in the fridge until you get around to eating it is going to leave you with nasty mess.

        1. re: sunshine842
          Grunde Sep 16, 2013 06:15 AM

          No it's not. And bacteria grow because they find a suitable medium to grow in.

          I used to store my meat in plastic film too. I just happened to notice that it stayed fresh, nice and problem free MUCH longer when wrapped in a clean kitchen towel. Te only backdraw is that it gets a little bit drier (not dry).

          This isn't a difficult concept. If you don't like the cloth, think wrapping paper, paper lunch bags, or some other clean, semi-permeable material. The point is to have a material that breaths to some extent, so that moisture doesn't collect at the inside but at the same time the produce doesn't dry out. This prevents mold and bacterial growth, and if it gets a little dry around the edges, that just slows down the bacterial activity further.

          This is why the butcher wraps your meat in waxed paper and not plastic film. This is why bread come in a paper bag or perforated plastic. Supermarkets sells their meat in tight plastic containers, which is also why have to put that little disgusting diaper underneath to absorb the excess moisture.

          Try wrapping your next cut of meat in a tea towel next time, and maybe you'll discover how long meat can REALLY be stored in a fridge.

          1. re: Grunde
            sunshine842 Sep 16, 2013 06:16 PM

            no. thank. you.

            1. re: sunshine842
              cheesecake17 Sep 16, 2013 06:27 PM

              Oh no. I can only picture meat juices dripping down the shelves of the fridge

            2. re: Grunde
              Hobbert Sep 16, 2013 06:35 PM

              You do put the towel wrapped meat on a plate, right?

              1. re: Hobbert
                sunshine842 Sep 16, 2013 07:25 PM

                which then holds the juices next to the meat, and....yeah.

                1. re: sunshine842
                  Hobbert Sep 17, 2013 03:26 AM

                  Well, the concept is obviously weird. I was just wondering if the meat was dripping all over the place. I'm starting to think I should do a little refrigerator recon if I go to someone's house for the first time...

                  1. re: Hobbert
                    Grunde Sep 17, 2013 03:47 AM

                    No it's not. It's known as "dry-aging". But yes, you do have to know what you're doing.

        2. s
          seamunky Sep 15, 2013 10:32 PM

          Storing raw fish in fermented rice led to sushi. Is this what you're thinking of?

          1. v
            Violatp Sep 15, 2013 09:35 PM

            Is there a reason you can't just freeze it?

            1. t
              tardigrade Sep 15, 2013 06:05 PM

              I've read a fair amount about the history of food preparation and cooking methods in general, but I've never come across storing raw meat in grains: it would seem like all that would do is speed up the spoilage of both the meat and the grain. Wrapping in linen sounds like something one might do if one's only food storage options were a spring house or a pie safe (or a handy snow bank): it might keep insects off, but that's about all.

              Plastic wrap or a tightly covered dish in the fridge would work much better.

              3 Replies
              1. re: tardigrade
                Veggo Sep 15, 2013 06:11 PM

                A linen wrap is better suited for an occupant of a sarcophagus. Or a young cowboy in Laredo, as cold as the clay. (The poem is older than Buck Owens' song).

                1. re: Veggo
                  tardigrade Sep 15, 2013 09:23 PM

                  I see by your outfit that you are a cowboy!

                  Just to stay on topic: I've come across references to wrapping cheese in cheesecloth soaked in vinegar or wine as late as 1960, but cheese is already preserved milk. But nothing else.

                  1. re: tardigrade
                    sunshine842 Sep 16, 2013 03:48 AM

                    I still wrap cheese that way if I have a big chunk that I know we're not going to manage to eat quickly. It works...but just that -- it's already preserved, and the vinegar and cheesecloth serve to raise the acidity on the surface of the cheese, thus inhibiting mold growth.

              2. C. Hamster Sep 15, 2013 03:59 PM

                This is why God invented freezers.

                2 Replies
                1. re: C. Hamster
                  Veggo Sep 15, 2013 04:12 PM

                  Carl Von Linde invented freezers....:)

                  1. re: C. Hamster
                    hankstramm Sep 15, 2013 10:35 PM

                    Thus, Carl Von Linde must be God.

                  2. sunshine842 Sep 15, 2013 03:54 PM

                    why would you store it in linen? that only serves to let it dry out. Please tell me it's at least in the refrigerator in its flaxen wrapping.

                    Wrap it tightly in plastic or butcher paper, or put it into an airtight container, and put it into the fridge or freezer.

                    I cannot come up with any way that storing it in rice or cereal would do anything but pack wet rice or cereal next to the meat, which is a high-speed, one-way ticket to complete spoilage of both.

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