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Science Technology

Using Infrared Cameras To Find Tastiness of Beef 108

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-use-a-fork dept.
JoshuaInNippon writes "Might we one day be able to use our cell phone cameras to pick out the best piece of meat on display at the market? Some Japanese researchers seem to hope so. A team of scientists is using infrared camera technology to try and determine the tastiest slices of high-grade Japanese beef. The researchers believe that the levels of Oleic acid found within the beef strongly affect the beef's tenderness, smell, and overall taste. The infrared camera can be tuned to pick out the Oleic acid levels through a whole slab, a process that would be impossible to do with the human eye. While the accuracy is still relatively low — a taste test this month resulted in only 60% of participants preferring beef that was believed to have had a higher level of Oleic acid — the researchers hope to fine tune the process for market testing by next year."
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Using Infrared Cameras To Find Tastiness of Beef

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  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Sunday January 31, 2010 @12:38PM (#30971534)

    Having had Japanese beef of all price levels, I can safely say that most of it is overrated and overpriced. It reminds me of the Japanese' impression of American workers, actually.

    Good beef should be marbled. This gives it a good tenderness and provides flavor. However Japanese beef is all too often over-marbled leading to a greasy mess that tastes less like beef than a mouthful of fat.

    The best beef cows are in the US and have far lower levels of marbling than the famed "Kobe beef". It's not a matter of how coddled the cows are until they are slaughtered, it's all about breeding stock.

    So while the Japanese may find a way to rank their beef using IR, they are still stuck with the same old greasy, mushy slabs of fat.

  • Re:Oleic acid. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DrMrLordX (559371) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:22PM (#30971874)
    Seriously. Oleic acid marinades may be the next big thing if they aren't already.
  • Re:Yay (Score:2, Interesting)

    by davester666 (731373) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:27PM (#30971930) Journal

    Yes. Now they will develop a method to inject this fat throughout all cuts of meat, so any test would indicate all the meat at the grocery store is 'best'....

  • by obarthelemy (160321) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:33PM (#30972004)

    It is great fun to eat steak tartare or carpaccio with americans or english people at the table. their faces get actually bluer than the meat !

    In my experience, there seems to be a correlation between tender, juicy, and good. there must be a cause for all 3 to be linked... I'm happy if we can pinpoint it, though leery of the ensuing artificial manipulation we can trust meat producers to engage in.

  • by DerekLyons (302214) <(fairwater) (at) (gmail.com)> on Sunday January 31, 2010 @01:47PM (#30972204) Homepage

    So while the Japanese may find a way to rank their beef using IR, they are still stuck with the same old greasy, mushy slabs of fat.

    It's sounds more like what you've had is Japanese beef that's been ill prepared. The heavily marbled Japanese beef is meant to be served thinly sliced rather that en slab as is American/European beef.
     

    Good beef should be marbled. This gives it a good tenderness and provides flavor. However Japanese beef is all too often over-marbled leading to a greasy mess that tastes less like beef than a mouthful of fat.

    An interesting claim considering that the marbling levels in American beef have been dropping for decades in response to customer demand for lower fat meats.
     
    Even worse is American pork! I literally cannot cook from a 1970's cookbook without heavily modifying the preparation process and cooking times because there has been such a drop in fat levels and the pieces are so closely trimmed. This is why brining has become so popular, to replace the natural moisture and juices that have been bred/trimmed out of the meat.
     
    I suspect the [American] fascination with Japanese beef comes from changes in our grading standards. Much of the beef graded Prime (top tier) today would have barely been Choice (second tier) forty or fifty years ago as beef is being bred for lower fat and slaughtered ever younger.

  • by DerekLyons (302214) <(fairwater) (at) (gmail.com)> on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:08PM (#30972418) Homepage

    The right way goes like this

    The 'right way' depends entirely on the cut of beef and the intended final product. A chuck is treated differently from the round which is treated differently from the sirloin. Roasting produces one result (depending on the cut you are using), braising a different result, browning yet another... etc. etc.
     

    5. Notice that it has lost no juice. This is an indicator that you did it right. But since you can't make any gravy without that juice, you have to use something else.

    It sounds like you are making a roast of some kind... (but I can't really tell as you've failed to specify the cut and intended final product), but you've badly botched the chemistry. The reason the meat appears to have 'lost' no juice is that you haven't produced any in the first place. The primary source of 'juice' isn't the water you expend so much effort in not losing, but is the collagen and other connective tissue in the roast, which doesn't start to melt until roughly 82 degrees. (Which is why a sirloin roast, high in fat but low in connective tissue, can be dry roasted and served rare, but chuck roasts which are filled with connective tissue are braised and always served well done.)
     
    Further, you're cooking cycle [near freeze - browning - cooking at too low a temperature] is a method precisely designed to produce an outer layer of meat that is overcooked with the bulk of the interior badly undercooked.
     
     

    Enjoy your 5/kg meat which tastes like >10/kg meat!

    I can't think of a single cut of beef that would be 'improved' by your faulty method. From your description it sounds like you are covering the faults in your cooking method with store bought flavor additives rather than not inducing the fault in the first place.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:26PM (#30972592)

    For #3.

    Try lightly coating both sides of the beef in sugar before browning. It will make the beef brown at least twice as fast which will save the core temperature

  • by uncqual (836337) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @04:35PM (#30974040)

    Even worse is American pork! ... because there has been such a drop in fat levels and the pieces are so closely trimmed.

    Agreed.

    Back in the 70's, I loved pork (roast, chops, anything) and even Mom's guiding principle of "Anything worth cooking is worth overcooking" left Porky the Supermarket Pig quite tasty. Indeed, pork was probably my favorite meat (a juicy pork roast - yum, yum).

    Now, I rarely eat pork -- Porky the Skinny Supermarket Pig is nearly tasteless and one has to "do something" with it other than just toss it in the oven or on the grill to make it tasty -- and even then it doesn't have that nice flavor I remember because it tastes like whatever it was seasoned with, coated with, marinated in, or stuffed with.

    I wish the hog and pig farming industry would figure out that there are some of us who eat fatty stuff because we like it, don't have cholesterol problems, work out, and limit our caloric intake -- and want "good pork" rather than "skinny tasteless pork". Perhaps introduce a "choice" vs. "prime" type of grading system for pork - "prime" beef costs a bit more but is widely available and much better -- why not the same for pork? Until the pork agribusiness figures this out, they won't get much of my business.

    (I was so thrilled when my local CostCo started routinely having a couple of cuts of prime stakes at about $11/lb -- there's better steaks out there, but these are a great price performer).

  • Re:Yay (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 31, 2010 @05:19PM (#30974504)

    Unfortunately for your opinion, I and 100,000 years of human existence must disagree. While tastes in things can be very subjective, from a biological standpoint, humans are wired to selectively prefer foods containing fat, sugar and salt.

    If we can check for these in food samples via technological means, than we can infer that foods that meet these requirements can be considered tasty or alternatively preferable to foods that fail to meet these requirements.

    This technology can only benefit our species as we can now use this to develop foods that are high in caloric content, nutrient, minerals and amino acids while making them taste "delicious".

    This is a step towards fully synthetic foods, available cheaply, that the masses will adopt.

  • by Petrushka (815171) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @05:20PM (#30974510)

    Can we please stop using "try and" when we mean "try to"? Many say it's non-standard in written speech, but it's worse - it means something entirely different.

    "Try and" is in fact the older expression, and is closer to the core meaning of "try". Here's the earliest usage --

    They try and express their love to God by their thankfulness to him. -- J. Sergeant, 1686

    "Try" taking an infinitive only goes back to a 1697 poem of Dryden's (though there's a cognate usage of "trial" that goes back to 1683).

    Age isn't the main indicator of which is better, of course. The point is that once upon a time "try" didn't mean "attempt"; that's a secondary meaning that it was gaining in the late 17th century. The original meaning, which it still has, is "test, prove, experiment", as in "Try before you buy", or "I shall try this infrared camera technology and, I hope, thereby determine the tastiest slices of beef".

    In that sense "try and" makes considerably more sense than "try to": the implication of "try and determine" is that two intents are behind the one action, i.e. "I will conduct an experiment" and also "I shall (I hope!) determine". It's not actually being used as a modal verb, in other words.

    The short answer is: you're fighting the losing side of a 300-year-old battle, and isn't it fun what you can find when you actually take the time to look in a dictionary?

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.

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