Monday, March 21, 2011

Of meat and fridges...


The Intolerant Chef asks: "How long can raw meat be kept in the fridge before being harmful? I remember my mother washing slightly bluish looking chops in vinegar and water to remove the stickiness and smell before cooking them. They were then fed to my father, never us children or her."

I assume your father was well insured.

Generally, fresh meat can only be kept for a few days at refrigeration temperatures. It is hard to butcher meat without getting bacteria on its cut surface and bacteria love a warm, protein rich surface.

Note: these are bacteria introduced during the butchering process and not endemic to the meat as such. When the meat is 'hung' after slaughter, the surface of the carcass is dry and intact and no bacterial degradation takes place. Once the meat is sliced or minced, bacteria is introduced and all bets are off.

Chilling meat slows bacterial growth but doesn't stop it. Freezing it stops the growth. As does drying.

Bacterial growth results in the breakdown of proteins which in turn produce the unpleasant smells that we associate with 'off' meat. Rubbing the meat with vinegar may reduce the bacterial load and reduce the smell. Traditionally curry was also used to hide off meat.

It would be the thorough cooking afterwards that killed the bacteria and made it safe for your father to eat.

Probably with lots of sauce.


  1. Lee - how about trassi (

    I've heard some hideous stories about it, although I've eaten plenty of it in my time (both as a Dutchman and when in Indonesia/Malaysia).

  2. I use Shrimp paste in most, if not all, of my Thai Curry pastes. Mine is a solid reddish brown colour packaged in a plastic pot. I have a 500g size which has lasted several years. You don't need much of the stuff. What's so bad about it?

    When I worked cooking for a Pub in Chiswick, the Landlady insisted I 'freshen' the rather off fillet steaks by soaking them in white vinegar. That annoyed me to no end, but I liked my paycheck, so, I did it. I just made sure that those particular fillets were served to the people who ordered well-done steaks. Serves them right, anyway, for such malfeasance.

    I never killed anyone nor made anyone sick I am quick to point out. When the meat got too far 'beyond the pale' for my sensibilities, I made curry or steak pud. :)

    But then, you probably don't want to hear Kitty's London Kitchen Confidentials, do you?

    Kind regards, Kitty

  3. Thanks for that answer.I remember my mum scraping the fuzz off the dripping pan before cooking our meat too. She also still will leave cooked bolognaise sauce on the stovetop overnight and all the next day before reheating it to serve. Those are the nights I'm not hungry! I don't like leaving anything too long in my fridge, usually 3 days, and rice 1 day only.


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