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Science Technology

Using Infrared Cameras To Find Tastiness of Beef 108

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 arielCo ( 995647 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:11PM (#30971788)

    to try and determine

    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. If you "try and determine" (conjunction), you succeed at it and the "try" part is rather redundant. If you "try to determine" (preposition), "to determine" becomes the object of "try".

    You can start modding this down now, or making fun if you haven't the points.

  • Silly scientists. ^^ (Score:4, Informative)

    by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <deleted AT slashdot DOT org> on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:27PM (#30971936)

    From personal experience:
    A medium-grade piece of meat, prepared the right way, beats the best meat, prepared the wrong way.
    The wrong way, is what most people think is normal.

    The right way goes like this:
    Think about the actual chemistry.
    1. Fat does make it tastier! Marbling is a good thing! (Also if you stuff yourself with pure starch and sugars [including what is called “bread”] it’s not the fat that’s making you fat.)
    2. The higher the temperature, the more you wreck the meat. That’s a no-brainer. So the lower, the better. Which takes a really long time, but does not really cost more in energy. The optimal temperature is the lowest one, which still allows protein coagulation, but as little “sweating” / water evaporation as possible. So from 50 to a maximum of 80 degrees celsius. For a big roast, this can easily take from 4 to 12 hours! But remember that at 50 degrees, you could practically leave it in there forever, witout any negative effects.
    3. Now of course you get a problem, since this will not lead to much browning. But the browning creates important flavors! So you have to fry it just as much, to get the Maillard reaction to brown enough of the outer crust, for it to be like you want it. And here lies the problem: This overheats the core too, you lose water, and the meat becomes tough as leather. But I found a nice hack, to prevent that: Right before frying, cool the meat as close to the freezing point as possible (but not actually freezing, since the ice crystals are bad). Do it slowly, since you want the core to be cold! Which protects it from the heat.
    4. Always first fry, then put it in the oven. Not the other way around. Because else, the cooling method does not work, and you also will not know when to take it out, so that it’s perfect after the following frying. When you can check it in the oven, it’s much easier, because it’s a matter of half an hour to an hour between good and bad. Not a matter of seconds!

    So in short:
    1. Cool close to freezing point.
    2. Fry as short as possible. Always stop, as soon as the core gets over 50-80 degrees Celsius.
    3. Put in the oven at those 50-80 degrees. (Buy a oven thermometer, or even better: A roast thermometer with a needle. Because your oven can be off by up to 20 degrees Celsius!)
    4. Wait until you think it’s good. This is a matter of experience and temperature. But at 80 degrees, a 2-person roast can take 4 hours. The same one an 55-60 degrees, can take 6-8 hours! Check every half hour. While doing something else (I work from home in parallel.)
    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. Like that concentrated meat juice & co you can buy in the supermarket. Add a bit whine perhaps, a bit mixed pepper, real butter, spring onions if you like them... you know the drill.
    6. Enjoy your 5€/kg meat which tastes like >10€/kg meat! And the feeling of having done cool science/chemistry at the same time!

  • by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <deleted AT slashdot DOT org> on Sunday January 31, 2010 @02:35PM (#30972038)

    Duration is next to irrelevant by the way. Temperature is the only important thing. You can leave a steak in the oven at 50-60 degrees Celsius for 12 hours, and it will still be perfect!

    Or an egg. Try 55 degrees Celsius for a perfect egg. The time does not matter. It’s the lowest temperature that the protein (in fact only a part of it, just like you like it) does coagulate at.

    Slow cooking is the new trend for the best cooks in the world. (Well actually it’s not that new anymore.)

  • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <fairwaterNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday January 31, 2010 @03:15PM (#30972484) Homepage

    Duration is next to irrelevant by the way. Temperature is the only important thing. You can leave a steak in the oven at 50-60 degrees Celsius for 12 hours, and it will still be perfect!

    Other than the fact that you are flirting with the upper edge of the 'danger zone' (that range of temperatures at which bacteria grow fastest), sure. You're also flirting with meat that will be extremely dry even though it appears to be in the 'medium' range, as those temperatures are sufficient for the water in the meat to depart, but insufficient to melt the fats and collagen/connective tissue.

    Slow cooking is the new trend for the best cooks in the world. (Well actually it's not that new anymore.)

    It sounds like you are talking about sous vide, which isn't slow cooking but is cooking at the intended final temperature until the meat reaches that temperature. (Slow cooking isn't actually a professional culinary term, though colloquial use is roughly analogous to what is professionally known as braising and is done at 80-100 degrees.)

  • Grass Fed Beef (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 31, 2010 @03:15PM (#30972488)

    As a rancher (and a geek) I've done some research into this, including raising and feeding different breeds of cattle different feeds. The result? All marbling does is add extra fat. If you overcook your meat, the fat keeps it from drying out, and makes it more tender. If you don't overcook your meat, even the leanest cut can be tender and juicy.

    As for flavor, yes the flavor is in the fat, but more fat doesn't mean more flavor. What the cow is fed determines the flavor MUCH more than how much intramuscular fat is present. When growing grapes to make wine, grapes often have the best flavor in poor soil. In the same way, grass-fed beef has the best flavor. I've had the best of prime beefs, and it often has all the flavor of tofu, because they feed-lot their carefully raise high-intramuscular-fat breeds on corn. Zero flavor. But a grass fed steer, even with a lot less fat, has much better flavor.

    Get grass fed beef, cook it correctly so you don't make it tough, and you'll save money and eat better steak than the richest of Japanese.

    Don't just take my word for it. http://www.slate.com/id/2152674/ [slate.com]

  • by Huntr ( 951770 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @04:59PM (#30973618)
    To go even further, it's not necessarily WHERE the beef is from, but what they eat while they're there. Beef from Argentina is more likely to be grass-fed than corn-fed, as is common in the US (although more Argentinian ranchers are turning to feed lots and corn because of money issues). Grass-fed beef has a lot of advantages, but economy of scale isn't one of them.
  • by arielCo ( 995647 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @06:55PM (#30974806)

    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...

    Yes - I have this silly tendency to think that if it "parses" better it must be better. To me, the preposition + infinitive means try(action) while the conjunction + simple form means try();action, where the action is the implied object (argument) of try(). But then again, natural languages don't always make sense. My native tongue is Spanish, which is a shining example with its double negation.

    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".

    Thanks for the info. Fun thing, I have been schooled and I my opinion (about what we should be using now) stays valid ;)

    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.

    Correct, if you assume the "hopefully" clause in the middle is implicit.

    The short answer is: you're fighting the losing side of a 300-year-old battle,

    *sigh* And yet, I will not go gentle ;)

    and isn't it fun what you can find when you actually take the time to look in a dictionary?

    Hmm... good old m-w.com [merriam-webster.com] says nothing beyond "to make an attempt at — often used with an infinitive <try to fix the car>". Then I went to dictionary.com [reference.com] and found:

    Usage note:
    10. "Try" followed by and instead of to has been in standard use since the 17th century: The Justice Department has decided to try and regulate jury-selection practices. The construction occurs only with the base form "try", not with "tries" or "tried" or "trying". Although some believe that "try and" is less formal than "try to", both patterns occur in all types of speech and writing.

    ... which somehow contradicts your information. Funny things, these human languages.

  • by TempeTerra ( 83076 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @08:19PM (#30975618)

    Searing your steak doesn't actually 'seal' anything in, it just caramelises the outside.Random Google cite. [about.com] It does still make your steak tastier just like everyone believes, so who cares about the details?

    Re: bacteria, not too much of a problem with beef. Chicken and pork tend to be covered in salmonella which is bad news if you don't cook it properly, but beef bacteria are relatively benign and aging beef (see: growing bacteria) is a common way to develop its flavour. I don't know if it's common practice in the USA though, it sounds like something the FDA would have strong words about.

    From talking to chefs and chemists, beef is just getting better as it goes grey and slightly smelly but once it goes green or shiny you're looking at trouble. The bacteria start to break down the proteins in the meat the same way a marinade does. Yes, I deliberately keep steak until after its 'use by' date; no, I've never got food poisoning from it; no, I'm not brave enough to serve it to guests ;)

    Disclaimer: double check your facts before eating mouldy cow

  • by TempeTerra ( 83076 ) on Sunday January 31, 2010 @08:31PM (#30975722)

    I'm just guessing here, but your problem might not be low fat content in the pork. Factory farmed animals tend to be pumped full of growth hormones which will make them mature fast and put on weight at the expense of tasting like... anything, really. I don't know how it works in America, but if you have farmers markets or some other access to a more rustic style of pig you might get a better meal and support your local food producers too.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 31, 2010 @10:32PM (#30976656)

    Or buy a slow cooker, stick the meat in there and leave on "Auto" for 8 hours. Do it before you go to work, and come home to the softest, tastiest meat you've ever had. I swear you could cook old saddlebags this way.

BLISS is ignorance.