Author Topic: The Mad Experiment ( 90 day cupboard steak project)  (Read 3819 times)

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Offline Owly055

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The Mad Experiment ( 90 day cupboard steak project)
« on: November 17, 2016, 11:29:47 AM »
     Everywhere I've mentioned my  mad experiment, I've gotten nearly all negative input.  Nearly everybody says it won't work, it'll spoil.   I've started this thread to keep people informed about the experiment.   Here's a recap.     4 pieces of raw chuck steak were seared lightly / briefly in a approximate 3000F propane flame, while being held in a preheated set of tongs.    They were then dropped into vacuum seal bags, sealed with my food saver, and dropped into 133F water with the Annova Sous Vide to precisely maintain that temp for 48 hours.   This results in a medium rare product.    3 of these steaks went into a warm dark cupboard, where they will remain for 90 days (incubation period).   One went into the freezer.   At the end of 90 days, I will reheat both the frozen steak and one of the cupboard steaks.   I'll open the two, and eat the frozen one, and cut both up to compare appearance, texture, smell, etc.  One steak will go to the microbiology dept at the local university........... assuming this experiment reaches it's end, and appears successful.

     Today was day 3 in the cupboard, and all three steaks look perfect.  Appearance unchanged.   I'll report periodically for those who are interested.


                                       H.W.

ralay

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Re: The Mad Experiment ( 90 day cupboard steak project)
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2016, 04:08:11 PM »
I'm curious.

Did you give yourself an untreated control? 

Offline CapnK

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Re: The Mad Experiment ( 90 day cupboard steak project)
« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2016, 06:43:10 PM »
I've had unrefrigerated mayo make it out past 9 southern months, including summer. Some meat oughhta be all right if there are no baddies in the bag with it. :)
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Offline CharlieJ

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Re: The Mad Experiment ( 90 day cupboard steak project)
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2016, 07:22:20 PM »
me too on the mayo  never refrig on board I do buy the squeeze bottles so nothing ever goes inside. Many cruisers do the same
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Offline Owly055

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Re: The Mad Experiment ( 90 day cupboard steak project)
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2016, 07:38:17 PM »
"untreated control"?   Do you mean entirely raw?   My only control is the frozen one.

                                                                     H.W.



I'm curious.

Did you give yourself an untreated control?

ralay

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Re: The Mad Experiment ( 90 day cupboard steak project)
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2016, 08:40:27 AM »
Yes, I mean raw, but otherwise treated the same. 

There are two types of experimental controls.  Negative controls are there to detect false positives and positive controls are there to detect false negatives. 

You're piece of frozen meat is a negative control.  You definitely aren't expecting to find your pathogen of interest (let's say botulism) in there.  If you were to send it off to the lab and it tested positive for botulism, you'd have good reason to suspect that it was a false positive and that something was wrong with the test used.  This type of control probably isn't as important for your experiment, because if you were missing it, it would only cause you to throw out safe meat.  Also, any good lab is already going to be running their own positive and negative controls to check their assay for you.

What you're missing is a positive control that will help you detect false negatives.  This is the one that's most important, because it's going to help stop you from accidentally concluding that your treatment is effective when in fact it's not.  What you'd want here is to take a piece of your meat and treat it exactly the same as the others except in the one respect that you're testing (searing and waterbath treatment). 

Let's say your interested in botulism, but the steak you use doesn't have any viable botulism spores on it to begin with.  Maybe there are no spores.  Or maybe this steak came from a plant where all the steaks receive UV treatment.  Or whatever.  Or let's say that the conditions in your closet are just a little too warm or cold to get robust growth.  Or let's say that the reagents used in the university test have gone bad.  You might conclude that your treatment was effective.  Then, later on, when you got a steak that did have viable botulism on it or you went down to the tropics where it was a little warmer, you'd get sick.  It sounds like you've got world-travelling plans.  You might wind up with meat that has been much less conscientiously handled outside the US.  That's what the positive control is there to prevent. 

As is, you're experiment is only designed to disprove you're hypothesis (which I presume, is that searing and water bath treatment is sufficient to allow meat contaminated with pathogens to be rendered safe to store in conditions that would otherwise cause growth).  To be able to prove you're hypothesis, you need to be able to prove that you can effectively culture botulism (or whatever) at home under the conditions you're using for you're experiments. 

I might be bungling the definitions of positive and negative, as it really depends on what you define as your "effect."  But I hope I'm getting the idea across that most experiments require two types of controls. 

I could say that I think that sailing to windward cures HSV-2.  Then I'd get 4 sailfar'ers and we'd go bash around for a couple weeks.  When we get back, we'd give everyone a good visual once over and then send them to the doc for a blood test.  Everyone's negative!  Hooray, sailing cures herpes!  You're frozen meat would be analogous to me saying, "Well, I saved some of my blood from beforehand and I didn't have herpes even beforehand."  Yes, it's a control, but it's not the one that most people would be eager to see.  Everyone wants to see someone that you know without a doubt had herpes and now doesn't.

Likewise, folks came to a bunch of conclusions about chemicals in McDonald's hamburgers years ago after doing "experiments" in which they'd leave them out in the open.  For awhile the internet was full of 2 year old hamburgers on dressers.  When the didn't rot, it was concluded it was because they must be full of preservatives.  But no one added any positive controls for things they thought should rot (like a homemade hippyburger or similar size and moisture content), so they made erroneous assumptions.  Most of the burgers (fast food and otherwise) just dried out fast enough to preserve itself into a visually normal looking burger. 

Anyways, I'm definitely not trying to stomp on your idea or tell you that I know the outcome.  I think you're going to have fun experimenting either way.  I'm just trying to give you some ideas for future experiments if you want to kick it up a notch.  Obviously, it's harder to do this stuff at home.  A lab can order all the nasty dangerous stuff and roll their steaks in it.  Outside the lab, everyone is always trying to kill all your microbes!  Where can a person go to get a really dangerous steak these days?   ;D

Offline Owly055

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Re: The Mad Experiment ( 90 day cupboard steak project)
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2016, 09:49:26 AM »
     Basically a raw and untreated piece of meat is going to spoil in a vacuum bag through some agent or other.   This was never intended to be conducted as a scientific experiment for exactly the reason you state.   There can be no positive conclusion regardless of the outcome because each case will be different.   This is a far more casual experiment intended only to satisfy my own curiosity as to what will happen.  I don't really expect myself or others to use this process to preserve food.  It's more of a "lark" than anything.
     Today is day 4, and I'm seeing tiny indications that may indicate bacterial action..... or may not.   The appearance remains unchanged except that I can detect small "air bubbles" in two of them that I had not noticed before.  These could be indications of bacterial action, or simply air that was trapped by imperfect vacuum sealing, and has coalesced.   One has none at all, another has a significant amount, though it's not "inflating", and the third has just a tiny amount.    My tentative conclusion is that I probably have bacterial action in two of the packages.   Considering the rapid rate of bacterial reproduction, I placed all three packages in a secondary containment, and will check them every few hours for actual "inflation".
     This is exactly what I have been looking for as a positive or negative indication.  If I do get positive signs of "inflation", I will be looking for someone to examine the results under a microscope.

                                                                                 H.W.

Yes, I mean raw, but otherwise treated the same. 

There are two types of experimental controls.  Negative controls are there to detect false positives and positive controls are there to detect false negatives. 

You're piece of frozen meat is a negative control.  You definitely aren't expecting to find your pathogen of interest (let's say botulism) in there.  If you were to send it off to the lab and it tested positive for botulism, you'd have good reason to suspect that it was a false positive and that something was wrong with the test used.  This type of control probably isn't as important for your experiment, because if you were missing it, it would only cause you to throw out safe meat.  Also, any good lab is already going to be running their own positive and negative controls to check their assay for you.

What you're missing is a positive control that will help you detect false negatives.  This is the one that's most important, because it's going to help stop you from accidentally concluding that your treatment is effective when in fact it's not.  What you'd want here is to take a piece of your meat and treat it exactly the same as the others except in the one respect that you're testing (searing and waterbath treatment). 

Let's say your interested in botulism, but the steak you use doesn't have any viable botulism spores on it to begin with.  Maybe there are no spores.  Or maybe this steak came from a plant where all the steaks receive UV treatment.  Or whatever.  Or let's say that the conditions in your closet are just a little too warm or cold to get robust growth.  Or let's say that the reagents used in the university test have gone bad.  You might conclude that your treatment was effective.  Then, later on, when you got a steak that did have viable botulism on it or you went down to the tropics where it was a little warmer, you'd get sick.  It sounds like you've got world-travelling plans.  You might wind up with meat that has been much less conscientiously handled outside the US.  That's what the positive control is there to prevent. 

As is, you're experiment is only designed to disprove you're hypothesis (which I presume, is that searing and water bath treatment is sufficient to allow meat contaminated with pathogens to be rendered safe to store in conditions that would otherwise cause growth).  To be able to prove you're hypothesis, you need to be able to prove that you can effectively culture botulism (or whatever) at home under the conditions you're using for you're experiments. 

I might be bungling the definitions of positive and negative, as it really depends on what you define as your "effect."  But I hope I'm getting the idea across that most experiments require two types of controls. 

I could say that I think that sailing to windward cures HSV-2.  Then I'd get 4 sailfar'ers and we'd go bash around for a couple weeks.  When we get back, we'd give everyone a good visual once over and then send them to the doc for a blood test.  Everyone's negative!  Hooray, sailing cures herpes!  You're frozen meat would be analogous to me saying, "Well, I saved some of my blood from beforehand and I didn't have herpes even beforehand."  Yes, it's a control, but it's not the one that most people would be eager to see.  Everyone wants to see someone that you know without a doubt had herpes and now doesn't.

Likewise, folks came to a bunch of conclusions about chemicals in McDonald's hamburgers years ago after doing "experiments" in which they'd leave them out in the open.  For awhile the internet was full of 2 year old hamburgers on dressers.  When the didn't rot, it was concluded it was because they must be full of preservatives.  But no one added any positive controls for things they thought should rot (like a homemade hippyburger or similar size and moisture content), so they made erroneous assumptions.  Most of the burgers (fast food and otherwise) just dried out fast enough to preserve itself into a visually normal looking burger. 

Anyways, I'm definitely not trying to stomp on your idea or tell you that I know the outcome.  I think you're going to have fun experimenting either way.  I'm just trying to give you some ideas for future experiments if you want to kick it up a notch.  Obviously, it's harder to do this stuff at home.  A lab can order all the nasty dangerous stuff and roll their steaks in it.  Outside the lab, everyone is always trying to kill all your microbes!  Where can a person go to get a really dangerous steak these days?   ;D

Offline Owly055

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Re: The Mad Experiment ( 90 day cupboard steak project)
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2016, 09:44:24 AM »
There is now no doubt whatsoever that two of the three steaks kept at room temp are spoiling. They look like meat just dropped in a zip lock bag with no serious attempt to exhaust much of the air. The third steak kept at room temp looks perfect so far.

The real question is what the spoilage agent is. Is it a spore forming microbe like botulism, or did I fail to achieve a full kill of ordinary bacteria with 48 hours at 133??

The third steak will remain at room temp for 90 days, or until it shows spoilage signs.

I'm finding the results interesting, and actually kind of encouraging.   My procedure was less than perfect in a number of respects, and considering that fact, 1 out of 3 is pretty impressive really for a first attempt, and I can see ways I could greatly increase the success rate.

I fired off a letter to the microbiology department, hoping to elicit some interest.

H.W.

ralay

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Re: The Mad Experiment ( 90 day cupboard steak project)
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2016, 09:19:31 PM »
There is a differential staining technique (malachite green + safranin) that will allow you to see endospores with a microscope.  Not exactly things most folks would have at home, though.  Maybe you'll be able to find a bored graduate student to solve your mystery. 


Offline Owly055

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Re: The Mad Experiment ( 90 day cupboard steak project)
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2016, 12:22:08 PM »
There is a differential staining technique (malachite green + safranin) that will allow you to see endospores with a microscope.  Not exactly things most folks would have at home, though.  Maybe you'll be able to find a bored graduate student to solve your mystery.

I'm hoping to..........

     The fact that is exciting is that one steak has been in an 80F dark environment since the 14'th and shows no signs of decomposition.   One out of 3 is not bad at all considering my procedure was far from sterile.   If it lasts the 90 days, it will show that my premise was sound, though my procedure was flawed (which of course I know).   Refining the procedure will steadily reduce the failure rate.  Refinement will entail changing the procedure for searing the meat, using an oven at very high heat, rather than a torch, and perhaps keeping the vacuum bags in a solution of acid sanitizer (starsan), and doing the transfer within the hot environment (quickly).   Perhaps examining the temp / time range for the bags, to effect a sterile transfer.   I expect that with some R&D, I should be able to exceed 90%.
     The fact that spoilage is obvious is important, and it was anticipated.  The vacuum bagging and long incubation period, are "insurance".      It'll never be a procedure for the "ordinary joe".  It's too iffy, and humans are too stupid. 

                                                                                            H.W.

lastgreatgeneration

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Re: The Mad Experiment ( 90 day cupboard steak project)
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2016, 08:09:42 PM »
I have had some luck with my own version of salt junk. It is way too salty to eat on it's own, but a few strips added to a pot of soup works wonders. Your project is interesting. Are you going to eat it as part of the experiment?

Offline SeaHusky

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Re: The Mad Experiment ( 90 day cupboard steak project)
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2016, 06:21:09 AM »
In this day and age were last years "new word" was fact resistant and this years is post truth I love the fact that SailFar has gone scientific!
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Offline maxiSwede

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Re: The Mad Experiment ( 90 day cupboard steak project)
« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2016, 12:48:35 PM »
Love this thread! ;D

Hope you'll come to a conclusion that's satisfying.

I am too cheap to risk chunks of good meat like that.  :o

Would just go with ancient wisdom -  cut it up, salt it, hang it to dry! Or alternatively smoke it ( I love smoked foods) bit hat would be a challenge on a boat
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Offline Owly055

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Re: The Mad Experiment ( 90 day cupboard steak project)
« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2016, 11:03:53 AM »
    I've hit the 30 day mark, and the one steak that survived has remained completely visibly unchanged.       Note that I plan a repeat of the same experiment using a deep fat fryer cranked to max.   I'll drop the steak in briefly, just to brown the surface, then drop it in a bag filled with a no rinse acid sanitizer, which I will immediately dump out, and seal the bag.   The theory is that the hot grease will penetrate all the crevices far more effectively than the flame.   The starsan will be used to rinse the bags, and to exclude microbes from the rinse until the fill and seal, leaving very little opportunity for contamination.   I'm hoping to achieve a success rate of 90% or better.

                                    H.W.

Offline Owly055

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Re: The Mad Experiment ( 90 day cupboard steak project)
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2017, 01:03:07 PM »
The Electric Koolaid Acid Test:

     Today was the 90 day mark, and I removed the frozen "control" steak, and the single surviving steak from the cupboard which had been sitting at about 80F in a cupboard over the heater for 90 days.  Each went into the sous vide at 132F for an hour.  I took them over to a friend's place in my pressure cooker which is what I did the sous vide in, in order to keep everything warm.   We emptied both steaks from their vacuum seal bags, and sliced them up.   We ate the one that had been frozen.

     Both steaks looked identical in the bag coming out of the sous vide.   Color, juices, etc

     Cut up, the frozen steak had more medium rare color, the one from the cupboard still had some pink, but not much

     Smell was OK on both, but not quite identical

     The frozen steak was melt in your mouth tender and delicious

     The cupboard steak which we did not eat, was even more tender, coming apart easily in your fingers, suggesting that there was what amounted to a continuing cooking
      process at 80F


     Conclusion:   Both steaks were completely edible, though neither of us had the never to eat the cupboard steak.  Cooking continues at 80F, so keeping the steak at a
                           somewhat cooler temp would be better.

      I plan to repeat the experiment with a refined procedure.   The steaks will be frozen solid, and deep fried to produce a browned surface and kill any organisms.   The
 hot oil will penetrate the cracks in the meat, killing what the torch missed before, and I expect a far better success rate.   I will thaw the steaks completely, and give them the sous vide treatment at 130F instead of 133, but only for 2 hours.   I will use 5 steaks this time, and one will not be cooked at all other than the deep frying when frozen.  One will go in the freezer as before, and 4 in the cupboard including the uncooked one.   The idea is to achieve enough cooking ONLY to kill organisms, and to discover if the raw one will "cook".    It is also to reduce the tenderizing effect of the sous vide, tenderizing instead using the 90 day aging.   


                                       H.W.

Offline Owly055

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Re: The Mad Experiment ( 90 day cupboard steak project)
« Reply #15 on: September 26, 2019, 08:21:42 PM »
     This thread is quite dated........ but I am repeating the experiment, and about 1/3 of the way through.  The differences are  that I used a deep fryer so the hot grease would penetrate cracks... A very brief period in very hot grease to brown and kill anything... perhaps 2 minutes total......    In addition I am doing a forced incubation so to speak, of 5 days at 95F... three times during the 90 days....... I just completed the second of these.   This incubation period is based on lab procedure with cultures streaked on agar, looking for botulinum,  So far all three steaks look perfect, zero sign of bacterial action.   It looks like I might hit 100% this time through.
   Again the 90 day time period is intended to incubate, and thus expose the existence of pathogens.  I consider my previous experiment an unqualified success as it DID expose the presence of spoilage bacteria in 2 out of 3 samples... the third being perfect (apparently).  Scared by dire warnings of pathogens that were undetectable....... conventional thinking, I was uncomfortable with risking life and health by consuming a perfectly wholesome product.    The fact is that I did everything possible to encourage such growth, and that microorganisms DO always leave signs....... OVER TIME..... and I gave them time, and a fairly ideal incubation environment.  It DID result in the exposure of two samples that had microorganisms in them.   
      This time the use of a deep fryer with oil at max, allowed a kill of organisms and spored deep in cracks.  The optimal temp for incubation (95F) for a total of 15 days, should tell the tale.    I consider an inflated bag a success.........exposure of a possible pathogen.........  Not a failure.  It shows that the logic of this experiment works.  If all had passed the first experiment, it's validity would have been questionable..... this trial will be completed about 22 nov.

                                                                                                                H.W.

Offline Owly055

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Re: The Mad Experiment ( 90 day cupboard steak project)
« Reply #16 on: January 24, 2020, 10:34:54 AM »
     I kind  of let things slide, and  just tested the product........... 5 months, not 3.    I opened 2 out of the three, and they were fine.   No swelling, no odor, the flavor was  not what I had hoped for.   The steaks were pink all the way through, except the outer surface where they were briefly grilled.   The third steak I threw back into the cupboard planning to give it a full year.

     This was a 100% success in terms of preservation without excessive cooking.    The deep fryer exposed all surfaces to high heat, killing any microbes or spores, and the sous vide at 130 dealt with any possible pathogens  inside the meat.

     In retrospect, the aging process in a warm dark environment resulted  in a slow natural  breakdown, not involving microbes or oxygen / oxidizing.     The product would have been better if kept cool but not refrigerated.    The third experiment will be slightly different.   I will cut the sous vide time down to about 2 hours, and of course I will again drop it in hot oil before sealing it in the sous vide bag.   Rather than storing it at room temp for  many months, I will do incubation periods as I did on this test, but otherwise store in the pump house that remains in the 50's

                                                                   H.W.