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Fluids coming from meat when cooking

Meats too! I bought some name branded diced chicken that was ~20% water! I complained and it certainly went into the bin because the water is apparently required to keep diced chicken moist and fresh. It was not like the water laden chicken was priced differently to the deli-case chicken :expressionless: I got a once off “for my concerns” but nothing changed about the way the product was packaged or weighed or priced.

“The law” might serve us well if it mandated showing the net weight of product, not the gross weight with “the water”.

FWIW when I relocated to Australia I was and remain amazed how much liquid is tolerated in meats. It is a common problem for us that meats get boiled from the excess water as it builds up, not fried, unless we use a grill pan or BBQ or keep draining the liquids whilst cooking. I would not be surprised if one of the “production steps” involves significant “extra” water injection to make meats plump and juicy looking.

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Totally agree about water in chicken. I used to bake chicken breast with sliced of lemon and artichokes - the lemon and chicken caramalised and were tasty amd tender. Now the cup of water seepes out and the chicken stews in it, the lemon just goes sloppy and it is a revolting mess. Water doesn;t make meat tender - it makes it stew. It just gives the supermarket a greater margin.

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Hi @catherinemfic, welcome to the community.

It isn’t the supermarket margin.

I suspect that chicken processing the abattoir has sped up over recent decades meaning that where once meat hung for a long time before cutting and packing, the meat is no longer hung as long causing potentially for more fluid to be retained in the meat. This is actually makes it better to eat if cooked correctly.

The other factor is cooking temperature, if chicken is seared/sealed and cooked quickly at a higher temperature , it remains succulent. If it is cooked at lower temperatures and not seared/sealed, it tends to stew causing the meat to be dry and less tender. Also avoid using salt/salty sauces when cooking as these also draw out moisture from meat as well. If you need to add salt/salty sauce, do this after sealing the meat and/of after it is cooked.

I would be checking the temperature you cook/bake at and ensure that the meat is seared/sealed to retain the moisture in the meat rather than it coming out of the meat and causing the meat to stew.

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An alternative is to to use Sous Vide to cook chicken or other proteins. Supposedly the realm of Master Chefs, but simple enough watching them on TV.

It’s important to manage the handling of the raw product and cooking with care.

I prefer to cook mine more directly, because.

https://www.abc.net.au/health/thepulse/stories/2014/12/04/4142326.htm

P.S. - off topic of course.

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We do not experience this problem.

Yesterday, we cooked a 500gm pack of Lilydale free range chicken breast slices, which had been marked down from $10.90 to a mere $1.50 as they had reached their Best Before date, by browning them first in our Analon casserole dish before making a curry, and there was no excess liquid either in the pack or in the casserole pot.

Coles prepacked beef and lamb steaks and roasts are no problem.

Coles prepacked mince never seems to have any excessive water in the packs, or in the pot when browning it.

Even the loose chicken necks I buy at Woollies for our little dog’s afternoon treat have very little liquid in the bag.

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Couldn’t agree more!

When starting with a high heat setting moisture evaporates quickly.
Then the setting can be changed to suit the cooking method.

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This is a commonly held belief, that high heat seals in moisture. From “On Food and Cooking” Harold McGee

Here is another reference which deal with several techniques as well as the searing myth.

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The searing/sealing comment related to the statement that the chicken was a sloppy and revolting mess. Searing/sealing provides a ‘crust’ or browning on the meat surface which keeps the meat surface firmer and adds flavour. It reduces a piece of meat becoming a ‘sloppy and revolting mess’.

Cooking at high temperature until such time the chicken is just cooked ensures moisture is retained. Cooking with salt at low temperature allowing the ‘meat to stew in its juices’ will potentially result in a sloppy and revolting mess as the salt will draw out moisture from the meat and the low temperature will reduce the moisture being burnt/boiler off in the cooking process.

The other point I failed to make above is not to overload the pot/tray/pan as the more meat added will reduce the initial cooking temperature making it more likely the meat will stew.

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So what you meant was it dries the meat out not that it keeps it moist. Yes it adds flavour and that is why you should sear some meats.

Comments about searing notwithstanding, reality is modern non-stick frypans that so many of us use work at medium to lower temperatures, and high temperatures can affect them by breaking down the non-stick as well as causing vapours.

My original post was about the amount of water in a tray of chicken that I felt was excessive. My follow-on comment was because I was used to much less liquid in my chicken in the US.

Perhaps I need to learn a new style of cooking chicken, but still there is the ‘care and feeding and use’ of non-stick pans. I guess it remains an ongoing skill for me to learn with chicken although I have no trouble with red meats.

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Can anybody shed light on why this would be so? We have all had the experience of a flood of water coming out of the packet when opening packaged chicken but this is in the flesh.

This article describes ‘plumping’ where water is injected and this one describes a number of factors that determine the amount of water in meat but admits it can be injected. I get the feeling that readers are happier about natural variation than artificial addition of water. Both references seem US centric.

Is injection permitted in Oz? How much water can be added and how must it be labelled? Anybody?

We often get frozen whole Chooks with some and up to great lumps of ice in the cavity. I have never measured the amount but on roasting even after a defrost and drain beforehand the amount of juices in the tray can be quite a lot.

Pumped, not drained as well of bodily fluids before packaging, I don’t know. The chickens from our butcher that are fresh do not produce the same level of fluids so I agree with the surmising re the possibility of pumping. That’s of course different in expectation when it comes to corned beef or pickled pork.

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Yes.
From the supermarket whole frozen chooks or fresh in plastic bag both seem to have some juices, as the wise one calls them.

Prepackaged from Woolies? Memory is that if there is any excess liquid it’s trapped in that little pad under the product.

From the local butcher there’s no evidence of excess liquid when fresh from the counter. The product may leave a minute amount of liquid in a bowl of left in the fridge over night.

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The fluid captured in those pads from memory is possibly considered part of the net weight of the bird, or other meat. I think that is covered in the weight standards. Hard to locate specific info on whether the liquid in the pads is considered, previous discussion on this site has indicated it could or could not be the case…in other words very unclear. Though the legislation indicates that loss of fluid needs to be taken into account when labelling a weight on a product (pre-packaged).

Plumping/pumping are not legal practices other than in Corning or curing (such as as in Hams) and similar practices.

I don’t like Round steak for the reason it easily loses a lot of it’s moisture when grilled, other meat such as Rump tends not to do the same as Round and remain moist, Chicken I don’t think should be swimming in juice/fluid/liquid straight out of a packet or if grilled.

That is a good point…

The surface temperature range to aim for when searing is 400-450°F (204-232°C) (source)

Do not use nonstick cookware and bakeware in ovens hotter than 260°C (500°F). Higher temperatures can discolor the surface of coating or cause it to lose some of its nonstick properties. (source)

It is a small temperature difference between optimum searing and damaging the non-stick surface. A home cook would not be able to easily tell when either temperature is reached, and it is likely 260°C could easily be exceeded when heating a pan to sear meat.

Maybe for searing meat, one shouldn’t use a non-stick pan but choose a well oiled metal pan.

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I agree that we the consumers are being shafted again. They’re pumping all the meat with excess water. Just throw a few bits of bacon in a smokey fry pan wait for the splatter to stop and watch the water come out. Funny though, I haven’t heard anything about the price of meat going up about 100% + in record time of about 6 months. But price gouging by the retailers seems to be quite an acceptable practice for our government to tolerate. I mean what’s a mere $4. for skinny leek or $28. for a kg of steak!! Greedy bunch!

Hi @Richard4, welcome to the community.

This is a internet myth. Meat naturally contains a high moisture content and is mostly water…

https://meatscience.org/TheMeatWeEat/topics/fresh-meat/article/2015/12/14/water-in-meat-and-poultry

When meat is cooked, it releases water during the cooking process. The amount of water released is often dependent on how the meat is cooked, the cooking temperature and cooking duration.

The only meat products where water is added is processed and marinated meat products. Water will be included in the ingredients list in such cases.

The ABC recently covered why meat prices have increased in recent times…

It has little to do with

The current price increases are due to supply and demand, and directly relates to farm gate prices.

Without comment on their products, customers or legislation this Brisbane company is ‘in the business’ and has some interesting to read ‘rationale’ (hot link)

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My old grandad used to talk of beef being injected with pawpaw extract to help to tenderise it.

I don’t know if it still happens but back then when we only got Braham cross rubbish in NQ, it certainly needed it.

As my old grandad used to say about Braham cross cattle. “Tick resistant and tooth resistant”.

Of supplying liquid products for injection into meats.

Food Standards Aust NZ does provide some guidelines.

If one reads on to Section 6.1 or for compound ingredients, less than 5% added water appears to be exempt from requiring declaration.

There is a formula where adding back water to restore lost or previously removed moisture allows more than 5% to be added without declaration. It’s not evident when this might apply. Speculation might be misleading, without first hand knowledge.

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