Shopping Discussion

Creating a Grocery Meat Cheat Sheet

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  • Jun 9th, 2017 6:29 pm
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lecale wrote:
Apr 20th, 2017 11:04 pm
Hmmm, maybe that's why they always seem to offer a 3rd week kick. I'm hypothesizing why, but there seems to be something special about the 3rd week. Maybe it is the baby bonus, would make a lot of sense.

4/4 months just past (since I have been tracking) I have gotten a 7,500 pts on $75 PC Plus offer on the third week of the month. One hour to go to see if I get it again.
It's not really called Baby Bonus, I think Universal Childcare Benefit or something similar. I think it's paid quarterly though. I actually don't have a clue only going by what the WalMart cashiers told me about expecting a busy day.
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lecale wrote:
Apr 20th, 2017 8:36 pm
Now I don't know. However historically pickles and so forth were a heck of a lot saltier because they needed things to survive tougher conditions. There is a general trend in the industry to reduce salt now. Doesn't mean that ham isn't damn salty but the trend over the last decades has been less salt.
I couldn't imagine a ham with more salt.
Last time I cooked one and ate it straight it was damn near inedible.
And I like my salt. Like a lot. So much so that I buy in 50lb sacks.
I used to not salt my veg so I could use the water to fertilize my plants, honest. Salted after the houseplants were taken care of. With all the animals I grew up with...all the food scraps got sorted out, carrot and apple peels for the horses, just about everything for the chickens, some stuff for the bird feeder, leftovers for the dog, leftover leftovers (tea bags and citrus peels) to the compost. You had better believe the humans got the first cut, and that totally includes drippings!
That's actually really impressive.
I'm sure there's still people that do that today, but since I live in a condo I can't do basically any of that except for food waste to compost.
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death_hawk wrote:
Apr 21st, 2017 1:18 am
I couldn't imagine a ham with more salt.
It looks like the high concentration of salt and sodium phosphate dissolves and denatures meat proteins the most, thus providing for fast factory cooking while increasing the pieces weight by 10-15% due to water absorption, instead of loosing 30% of weight during more traditional ham cooking. That translates into much cheaper product in much bigger quantities. By eating it, we actually absorb all the "stuff" they pure into it, thus getting our own tissue affected the same way as the pork pieces. And the highest concentration of this stuff is in the water we prepare it in, since high temp binds proteins back together thus squeezing the absorbed water and chemicals out.
Last edited by arnycus on Apr 21st, 2017 1:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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arnycus wrote:
Apr 21st, 2017 1:57 pm
It looks like the high concentration of salt and sodium phosphate dissolves and denatures meat proteins the most, thus providing for fast factory cooking while increasing the pieces weight by 10-15% due to water absorption, instead of loosing 30% of weight during more traditional ham cooking. That translates into much cheaper product in much bigger quantities.
Naw, to go from raw to cooked a piece of meat typically loses 1/6 weight or about 15%.

There is a legal limit to how much phosphates can be used. Think, you have a ham in brine, osmosis is going to drive all the water out of the ham and into the saltier brine. The phosphates rebalance this. It's not about swelling the ham with water but retaining the water that is already there.
arnycus wrote:
Apr 21st, 2017 1:57 pm
By eating it, we actually absorb all the "stuff" they pure into it, thus getting our own tissue affected in the same way as the pork pieces. And the highest concentration of this stuff is in the water we prepare it in, since high temp binds proteins back together thus squeezing the absorbed water and chemicals out.
People often have the illusion that whatever liquid comes out of the ham contains 100% of the "poisons" but no, most are going to stay in the meat. Sodium phosphate is actually used as a drug/medication the odd occasion so it is not all bad for you. I think that honour falls on nitrates, which have been linked to bowel cancer.

I don't eat a lot of deli meat so I think a ham every so often is ok. I wouldn't make lunch/deli meat, hot dogs/sausages, ham, bacon etc. the backbone of my diet though. As well as the nitrates issue, most of that stuff has a lot of fat.

Ham is important in cooking because it is a concentrated source of umami/savoury flavour. When I went vegan for a while ham (as well as cheese) were two of the totally irreplaceable flavours I missed most.
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lecale wrote:
Apr 21st, 2017 2:31 pm
There is a legal limit to how much phosphates can be used. Think, you have a ham in brine, osmosis is going to drive all the water out of the ham and into the saltier brine. The phosphates rebalance this. It's not about swelling the ham with water but retaining the water that is already there.

Sodium phosphate is actually used as a drug/medication the odd occasion so it is not all bad for you. I think that honour falls on nitrates, which have been linked to bowel cancer.
Are you kidding - "legal limit"? We all know well big money control legislature, especially in the US. This means - forget about ordinary humans protection once and for all. After pouring millions of tons of highly toxic carcinogenic chemicals into drinking water supply all across the US to squeeze natural gas out, you still talk about "legal limits"? And who were benefiting from this or even using it - US people - NO, just a small group of billionaire owners in the oil sector, selling liquid gas to Latin America and the rest of the world, and even running some proxy wars for "democracy" (or whatever the cause was at hand) to enlarge and compete on that market. Tell then, what European country's legislation would allow to do that to its own citizens, including even poor Eastern Europe? And "NO", using drugs is not the same as eating food, we don't need phosphates, animal hormones, herbicides, and antibiotics on daily basis just to get by. May be you should read a little, how meat brining works.

One may say "I don't care about this "chemicals" stuff at all, I just assume that everything for sale in the food chains is good for me, responsibility is on "them" ". And that would be lie, because we are the only people responsible for our lives and well-being, and noone else. And people don't eat just any stuff found in toilets or garbage containers like animals do. So we DO care - each and everyone - what we eat. Its just a matter how much we know about the products we assume are safely eatable by humans, and how much we can pay for the food we need to survive. In this respect, cheap vegetables if clean offer good alternative. Again the same challenge - "if clean".
Last edited by arnycus on Apr 21st, 2017 2:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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arnycus wrote:
Apr 21st, 2017 2:47 pm
Are you kidding - "legal limit"? We all know well big money control legislature, especially in the US. This means - forget about ordinary humans protection once and for all. After pouring millions of tons of highly carcinogenic chemicals into drinking water supply all across the US to squeeze natural gas out, you still talk about "legal limits"? And who were benefiting from this - US people - NO, just a small group of billionaire owners in the oil sector, selling liquid gas to Latin America and the rest of the world, and even running some "wars for democracy" to enlarge that market. Tell then, what European country's legislation would allow to do that to its own citizens, including even pure Eastern Europe? And "NO", using drugs is not the same as eating food, we don't need phosphates, animal hormones, herbicides, and antibiotics on daily basis just to get by.
We are actually living better than before and with much less in the way of "toxins" in our food than in prior generations.

McGee in On Food and Cooking:
First, salt-cured meats are a familiar, traditional part of our diet. Bacon and ham, unlike diet sodas and cheese spreads, existed long before big business. And second is thanks to advances in food technology, we are probably now consuming minuscule amounts of nitrate and nitrite compared to our ancestors. We eat more fresh and less cured meats, and the meat packers put much less nitrite into cured meats than housewives used to in centuries past.
McGee points out that salt has been used to preserve meat for thousands of years and nitrite for hundreds. And that's LOADS of salt and nitrites. It used to be you had to boil a ham, changing the water a couple of times, before roasting it just to get the salt down to a level that it was edible. Now a ham can go straight in the oven. Thank you, refrigeration. You have to take the long view and realize that things were worse not better back in the good old days.
arnycus wrote:
Apr 21st, 2017 2:47 pm
May be you should read a little, how meat brining works.
Well I don't think that article was very well written, and here's why:
Normally, meat loses about 30 percent of its weight during cooking.
One day I took the USDA nutrient database and compared the weights of different cuts of meat, poultry and fish - yield raw and yield cooked. All kinds of cooked meats weigh 15% less unless you literally cook the f out of them (super well done Trump style, just add ketchup). I do NOT believe that meats lose a full third of their size on cooking because I have eyes and a scale and a load of data.
But if you soak the meat in a brine first, you can reduce this moisture loss during cooking to as little as 15 percent, according to Dr. Estes Reynolds, a brining expert at the University of Georgia.
In other words, brined meats cook normally just like everything else. The writer cites a commercial brining expert that deals in phosphates but then goes on to describe home brining with salt only. She should have got help from a chef then not a commercial professional that uses different brines.
First of all, muscle fibers simply absorb liquid during the brining period.
Not a clever statement because salt is dehydrating. Nope, it doesn't "simply" happen without phosphates.
In fact, any meat that's brined for too long will dry out and start to taste salty as the salt ends up pulling liquid out of the muscle fibers.
...but the writer just said, "muscle fibers simply absorb liquid during the brining period". Now they say the opposite (but at least they agree with me now).
Brined meats typically weigh six to eight percent more than they did before brining—clear proof of the water uptake.
...which is not 15%. Anyway if meat gains an average 7 g on brining and loses 30% on cooking the net yield is 25% less. I think it is 10%. I think all the writer's numbers are off.
arnycus wrote:
Apr 21st, 2017 2:47 pm
One may say "I don't care about this "chemicals" stuff at all, I just assume that everything for sale in the food chains is good for me, responsibility is on "them" ". And that would be lie, because we are the only people responsible for our lives and well-being, and noone else. And people don't eat just any stuff found in toilets or garbage containers like animals do. So we DO care - each and everyone - what we eat. Its just a matter how much we know about the products we assume are eatable by humans, and how much we can pay for the food we need to survive. In this respect, cheap vegetables if clean offer good alternative. Again the same challenge - "if clean".
I think people can get too upset about trace amounts of additives. I also think that they can get upset for no reason if something seems odd to them (e.g., the war against carageenan, a natural seaweed that is used to provide a silky mouthfeel in stuff like ice cream and non-dairy beverage). I refuse to develop a food phobia and eat only "special" foods that are "uncontaminated" because there is no way I can verify this and it's just too expensive. I do make an effort to avoid processed foods including many condiments and the deli department...but I still eat the stuff.
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For me it's not a phobia about additives, it just makes the texture like garbage.

Take a look at seafood.
A nice large plump scallop for example. Simply seared.
Take a phosphate scallop. That's not going to sear even if you paid it.

Chicken too. I bought a box of phosphate chicken once and I swear I couldn't sear it. Or overcook it for that matter.
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$2.88/lb for lean ground beef at Food Basics. Bought a few packs, they'll cover my burgers and chili for the next several months.
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death_hawk wrote:
Apr 21st, 2017 1:18 am
I couldn't imagine a ham with more salt.
lecale wrote:
Apr 21st, 2017 3:41 pm
I think people can get too upset about trace amounts of additives. People often have the illusion that whatever liquid comes out of the ham contains 100% of the "poisons" but no, most are going to stay in the meat.
Are we on the same page? Pour boiled water from the pan with ham and taste it - does it taste salty or remains the same as original clean water? It tastes way too salty to me, and definitely contains excessive phosphates too. Btw, people dried meats under sunlight for centuries too without any nitrates, or subsequent fridges use. Not traces but excess amounts of additives are found in cheap foodstuff. And they accumulate in human bodies over the lifespan without being removed since we don't have natural mechanism to do that. Its like radiation - you can accumulate enough dose over time to make irreparable harm to your body, even if each exposure is small.
lecale wrote:
Apr 21st, 2017 3:41 pm
I do NOT believe that meats lose a full third of their size on cooking because I have eyes and a scale and a load of data.
Measure the original ham size & volume, boil it in the pan, pour water from it, and leave it to cool down. Then open the pan and measure meat volume again. Any difference? For me it shrinks more than 30%, I'd say 50% in some cases depending on boiling time.
lecale wrote:
Apr 21st, 2017 3:41 pm
Not a clever statement because salt is dehydrating. Nope, it doesn't "simply" happen without phosphates.
I brine chicken for an hour every time before grilling it. It always happens without phosphates - each and every time it gets more weight and keeps a lot more moisture after being grilled.
"Saline, also known as saline solution, is a mixture of sodium chloride in water. By injection into a vein it is used to treat dehydration" - as opposed to "brine is dehydrating" as you say. Smiling Face With Open Mouth And Smiling Eyes
Last edited by arnycus on Apr 21st, 2017 7:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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death_hawk wrote:
Apr 21st, 2017 5:41 pm
I bought a box of phosphate chicken once and I swear I couldn't sear it. Or overcook it for that matter.
How do you determine the chicken were held in phosphate brine? I ask because Chinese stores nearby seems to always get chicken defrost and put into water overnight before sale to look "fresh" and raise weight. But I don't think they use phosphates or even strong salt solution, since the chicken easily dry when grilled.
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death_hawk wrote:
Apr 21st, 2017 1:18 am
I couldn't imagine a ham with more salt.
It's pronounced Throat Wobbler Mangrove
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arnycus wrote:
Apr 21st, 2017 8:25 pm
How do you determine the chicken were held in phosphate brine? I ask because Chinese stores nearby seems to always get chicken defrost and put into water overnight before sale to look "fresh" and raise weight. But I don't think they use phosphates or even strong salt solution, since the chicken easily dry when grilled.
It's usually the frozen stuff that has it, because freezing and defrosting causes meat to lose some moisture...e.g., this week Giant Tiger has Giant Value (house brand) seasoned frozen skinless boneless breasts for $15/2kg which is $3.41/lb...can't say for sure but this is the sort of product that usually has phosphates added. If it's soaked in fresh water it might lose some of its seasoning/phosphates.

It's sort of like frying pressed tofu which is a lot less wet vs. trying to fry tofu straight from the water. Hard to get a crust or a sear...you get more of a poached effect.
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arnycus wrote:
Apr 21st, 2017 7:55 pm

Are we on the same page?
Kind of. I agree with you that ham is salty.
Pour boiled water from the pan with ham and taste it - does it taste salty or remains the same as original clean water?

Here's where I disagree.
For one, why are you boiling anything?
For two, even if boiling means simmering, why are you simmering a ham?
For three, of course the water is going to be salty. You're describing the process of making stock. Water is a solvent. Plus osmosis will draw some of the salt out of the ham.
Btw, people dried meats under sunlight for centuries too without any nitrates, or subsequent fridges use.

I'd rather not die of botulism.
Just because people have done it, doesn't mean it's the right way of doing it.
You can literally kill someone this way.
Measure the original ham size & volume, boil it in the pan, pour water from it, and leave it to cool down. Then open the pan and measure meat volume again. Any difference? For me it shrinks more than 30%, I'd say 50% in some cases depending on boiling time.
How long are you cooking it for?
Cook anything long enough and it'll shrink.
Meat contains water. Heat it high enough and you'll squeeze all the water out.
There's a reason I'm a huge advocate of cooking things to the correct internal temperature.
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arnycus wrote:
Apr 21st, 2017 8:25 pm
How do you determine the chicken were held in phosphate brine? I ask because Chinese stores nearby seems to always get chicken defrost and put into water overnight before sale to look "fresh" and raise weight. But I don't think they use phosphates or even strong salt solution, since the chicken easily dry when grilled.
You can taste it. It's soapy.
Plus when you cook it, it won't ever be dry like I described above because water is now chemically bonded to the meat.

Adding phosphates isn't something that's (usually) done at the retail level.

Also as lecale mentioned, anything with "seasoned" in the name is usually has phosphate.
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Its good to know "seasoned" means phosphates treatment. I was assuming its more about spices. Smiling Face With Open Mouth And Smiling Eyes I boil it to get rid of excess chemicals in it including added salt. When I brine chicken, it never acquires salty taste. From this its easy to envision the ham is treated with extreme concentration of salt and phosphates probably overnight, and its not geared towards preserving freshness, but primarily for gaining its weight and faster factory cooking "from within" by transferring heat to cells through accumulated water and dissolving proteins. Anyway, I don't really care about "shared opinions" and such, and more curious in acquiring common knowledge bits. Agree though, this ham should not be used as daily food or kids breakfast, as accumulated over time body damage will likely exceed its value as protein source.

Wildlife... natural protein source. :)

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