at what temperature does beef connective tissue breakdown

In this installment of Meat Cooking 101, we’re going in the opposite direction of our previous post on cooking Hot and Fast: we’re going Low and Slow.

We’ve spilled a lot of digital ink on this blog talking about cooking low/slow, but in this piece, we want to talk about the why as well as the what and the how. Low and slow cooking is key to things like BBQ and classic braises, but why is that? We’ll discuss why, as well as the tools you need to perfect your low-and-slow cookery.

Connective tissue won’t start breaking down until it’s reached 140°F and even then won’t fully break down until it’s peaked at 200°F. If you’re looking for a moist and tender piece of BBQ, you’re going to have to go way past USDA recommended temps to get to ready.
at what temperature does beef connective tissue breakdown

Size of slow-cooking cuts

Ok, we get it. Tough cuts are the thing for low and slow cooking (even small ones). But there is another class of meats that we want to cook slowly at lower temps: large tender cuts.

Cooking at high heat, a whole ribeye or even an eye or round just can’t get the heat to the center of the meat to cook it before the exterior dries out completely. And because these steak-like cuts are naturally poor in connective tissue, there will be no collagen/gelatin transformation in those outer areas to mask the dryness. Cook large tender cuts slowly and you’ll be rewarded with juicy, rosy-pink meat.

at what temperature does beef connective tissue breakdown

Low heat cooking methods

First, we should define what we mean by cooking low and slow. “Low” temperature cooking—if we have to draw a line—is pretty much anything at or below 325°F (163°C). At these temperatures, there is no Maillard browning, so the flavor of the meat is the flavor of the meat … or we have to season it more aggressively. This is one of the reasons why BBQ meats are so heavily seasoned, and why we use smoke as a further seasoning. It’s also why braises are done in such flavorful liquids.

at what temperature does beef connective tissue breakdown

Cooking methods that count as low-heat include smoking, BBQ (a fine difference, but one that some people make), steaming, poaching, sous vide cooking, and braising. You may notice that most of those methods are high-moisture. The moisture helps to carry heat and flavor into the meat, and helps to prevent any stalling that may occur in the cook. In fact, when we wrap BBQ meats in foil, we technically switch from smoking to steaming or braising!

at what temperature does beef connective tissue breakdown

The Importance of Connective Tissue


What temperature does beef collagen break down?

Collagen dissolution really gets going starting at about 170°F (79°C). But as it takes a long time for those helixes of protein to unwind, it’s better to get the temperature a little higher.

How do you break down connective tissue in meat?

You see, collagen will soften and melt when cooked low and slow, between 160 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. It is usually done this way using a smoker or a technique called braising. After being cooked, collagen turns into gelatin, which is the jiggling, translucent substance you see on a prepared cut of meat.

What temp does beef fat break down?

Beef fat renders at 130-140°F (54-60°C). This is a process you want to take slow, so maintain this temperature while cooking for several hours.

What temp does connective tissue melt?

Melting of collagen starts to accelerate at 160F and continues rapidly up to 180F. Well Done Slow Cooked Meats: Falling apart tenderness collagen turns to gelatin at 160/70. The meat gets dryer, but at 160F the connective tissues containing collagen begins to dissolve into gelatin.

What happens when meat is cooked at 140°C?

Water then collects around the solidifyed protein core and is squeezed out of the cell by connective tissue. At this temperature meat is considered rare and when sliced juices will break through weak spots in the connective tissue. 140°F/60°C — Red myoglobin begins to denature into tan colored hemichrome. Meat turns from pink to brown-grey color.

Is bone broth eaten hot or cold?

It is better to take bone broth hot or warm. The heat is shown to promote proper digestion as it enters the gastrointestinal tract. Also, hot beverages are shown to relax better than cold ones.

What temperature does fat dissolve in meat?

Fat Breakdown —Intramuscular fat dissolves in the temperature range of 125-130°F (52-54°C), giving meat a succulent mouthfeel. Myoglobin in meat is what gives it its pink/red hue. Myoglobin denaturation is responsible for the color change between raw and cooked meat. This change occurs at 140°F (60°C).

What temperature should meat be cooked at?

Since enzyme activity increases up to those temperatures, slow cooking can provide a significant aging effect during cooking. Meat should however be quickly seared or blanched first to kill surface microbes. 120°F/50°C — Meat develops a white opacity as heat sensitive myosin denatures. Coagulation produces large enough clumps to scatter light.

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