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I have sous vide for a while with mixed success. Mostly good, but still mixed. One thing I question which I hoping to get opinion on is time to sous vide beef (steak specifically, e.g. ribeye or strip).

I have read and heard where people have left beef in the bath for 24+ hours and rave about it. All the Anovo guidelines say 4 hours or less. I have not tried more than four hours. What gives, and what is overdoing it with sous vide cooking?

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When cooking low temperature, over time the texture of the protein that you are cooking changes. For a tough cut, like a shank, or short rib, this is desirable, and where you would see cooking times of 12, 24, 48 hours...or longer. Most people want to enjoy a steak that chews like the traditionally cooked product. After 3 to 4 hours, the texture of your steak will change. It will become more mushy. That is why it is recommended that you only cook until done (1 to 2 hours). So, overdoing it, as you describe it, would be cooking it too long so that the texture becomes undesirable. For a steak, I think 4 hours would be pushing it.

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TLDR: Just like pork, steak cooked for an extended period of time starts to shred and get mushy. It's not what most would call a traditional steak, but if you're open minded, people like pulled pork as well as pork chops...

Pictures:

Serious Eats has very thorough sous vide guides on both steak and chicken.

Here's what they have on steak timing:

To figure out exactly what happens when you cook steak sous vide for extended periods, I cooked identical steaks at 130°F (54°C) for periods ranging from one hour all the way up to 48 hours. I found that the most important differences typically occurred between the four- and 24-hour marks.

Take a look at these slices of steak I've cut off and torn:

enter image description here As you can see, the steak cooked for just one hour stretches and pulls when you tear it. This gives the steak a pleasant amount of chew. It's still tender, but it tastes like a steak. By the time we hit four hours, that chew has been reduced a bit. Connective tissue has broken down, and individual muscle fibrils split apart easily instead of sticking together, though a four-hour steak is still pretty decent.

Head all the way over to the 24-hour mark or beyond, and your steak ends up nearly shredding as you pull it apart. It's a strange mouthfeel: The steak is still plenty juicy (a steak cooked 24 hours loses barely any more moisture than a steak cooked for one hour), but the meat shreds instead of offering resistance or chew.

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