Does Searing Meat Seal In The Juices?
The Simple Answer
No searing meat doesn’t seal in anything at all, it just makes the meat look browner.
Proof That Searing Meat Doesn’t Seal In The Juices
The sizzling sound when your ‘searing’ comes from the constant flow of moisture from the meat onto the hot pan.
And when you turn the meat over to cook the other side, you can see juices seep through the seared side.
And when you rest the meat afterwards, it leaks juices onto the plate.
The Myth About Searing And Sealing
The searing and sealing myth has been debunked many times but a great many restaurants still advertise such nonsense as,
"Our USDA Prime steaks are prepared in a special 1,800º broiler to seal in the juices and lock in that delicious flavor".
How Did The Searing Myth Get Started?
The first known person to propagate the idea was a leading German chemist named Justus von Liebig, author of the book "Researches on the The Chemistry of Food" published in 1847. Liebig hypothesized that, in the words of his biographer W.A. Shenstone, 1901.
"In roasting, the escape of the juices should be retarded by heating as strongly as possible at first; the juice then hardens on the outside and protecting surface, which prevents subsequent loss’.
The Fact About Searing Meat
Meat is about 75% water and most of that is locked in thousands of long thin muscle fibers.
Heating meat will always force out the juices and nothing can stop the process.
Some juices drip off during cooking and some evaporate.
Food scientist Harold McGee says in his landmark book, ‘On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen‘.
"The crust that forms around the surface of the meat is not waterproof, as any cook has experienced: the continuing sizzle of meat in the pan or oven or on the grill is the sound of moisture continually escaping and vaporizing".
Searing Meat Causes More Loss Of Juices
FoodNetwork personality Alton Brown attempted to get the truth out in 2008.
He took two steaks of about the same size, seared one in a pan, and left the other alone.
He then put them both in the oven on a wire rack and cooked them to his target temperature.
When he removed them he weighed them again.
The unseared steak lost 13% of its weight, but the seared steak lost 19%!
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