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Meat (brisket) gone bad (spoiled) ??????

rabeb25rabeb25 Posts: 28
edited 7:28AM in EggHead Forum
So I purchased a 6lb flat last Friday (6 days ago) directly from the butcher and he wrapped it in wax paper. It has been in the fridge since. I pulled it tonight to prep it for the smoke overnight tonight. I was greeted by a brisket with a little brown on the edges and little different aroma. Now I am not really worried about the color, but the smell. It did not have the traditional meat smell it had a little "off" aroma to it. Not vomit inducing or anything, just enough to say...hmm thats odd.

I am now really nervous as I have a bunch of people coming tommorrow for this cook... what do we think? Do I have to tell them we are having ribs instead! :angry:



  • DynaGreaseballDynaGreaseball Posts: 1,409
    Scary. Don't know the sell by date, but 6 days is kinda pushing least around here. Not sure I'd chance it with guests--specially if it has an odor.
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    what's the temp of your fridge?

    this is why i always tell folks to buy a dry aged steak before trying to age at home.

    IF your temps are good, my guess (and it's only a guess) is that you are actually smelling a little aging. it's a faintly metallic, slightly sweet/sour smell. 'bad' meat will make you gag.

    what happens is that aging (and if your temps are good, you essentially aged it) creates esters (flavors) from the enzymes breaking it down. this tenderizes it too. thebrown dges are just due to moisture loss.

    now, i can't look at it or sniff it from here. but that's my GUESS.

    if your fridge is under 40 degrees, there should be no bacterial growth. lose paper wrapping would allow a little drying out and the six days would allow it to age.

    that said, i threw out a roast after a week or so because it smelled bad and was SLIMY. slime is the indicator that nefarious bacteria were at work. my fridge (a beer fridge in the basement) was at 45. bad move. check your fridge temps.

    honestly, i think you just dry aged it a bit, but you need to make the call.

    slippery is bad, temps over 40 are bad.

    left in the cryovac, you could go weeks (frikkin alton brown'll go SIX weeks ). but unwrapped, you are limited only by your nerves. keep in mind, correctly done, that meat could actually sit there for six weeks or so and be edible. but do you know what to look for? sorry i'm being obtuse, but it's an experience thing.

    would you eat this? it's professionally aged prime, 45 days. most wives run screaming, and most of the neighbor guys too. but this is the best you can get.

    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • rabeb25rabeb25 Posts: 28
    Thats funny.. thats exactly how I would describe the smell. Its the fridge in the kitchen and its notorious for freezing stuff. It certainly was not slimy, I would have noticed that right away. Thats what I was so confused about, the texture was fine it was just this "off" smell, which would exactly be a slight sour note.

    an NO I would not eat that ;)

  • ChefToneChefTone Posts: 42
    Not worth the risk.
  • Bob-OBob-O Posts: 211
    Thanks Stike, that was thoughtful and very informative. I have left cryovac ribeyes in the frig for 3 weeks past the sell by date, but I not gone beyond that. I will use you info to help go to the next level.
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    well, i submit that if someone actually knows what they are doing, there's very little risk.

    most people will freak at the thought of six days wrapped in wax paper, but they'll ooh and aah at a steak at a steak house which sat on a rack for 21 days, unwrapped.

    they cannot explain what to look for, what to avoid, etc. and end up wasting money and food. if his fridge is under 40 degrees, why would that meat might be bad?

    it has a better chance of picking up off flavors than it does going bad in that time (again, to beat a dead horse, if his fridge is under 40 degrees). FD suggested time limits for food storage assume the worst possible conditions, and include a safety factor.

    the best meat is not bright red.
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • RivermuteRivermute Posts: 35
    Most people have no idea about aging meat. Leaving meat to hang and dry out thus reducing its weight is a no no for most larg grocery stores. Sadly to get really good beef it should be aged as par for the course... the drier the meat the jucier it becomes after it is cooked (I know that seems counter intuitive. The fact that it was wrapped in paper is a plus.. vacume packing RUINS good meat imho (unless it is going straight into the freezer). Personally I wouldn't worry at all about the brisket.. first off it tends to be a pretty dense cut of meat. Secondly if it is starting to go off it will likely be on the surface. As was stated above if it feels slimy then I wouldn't risk it. You could always cut an end off to see what is going on below the surface.

    Ultimatly if you are worried don't serve it to your guests.
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    remember that cryovac was designed to maximize shelf life. properly stored, you can go WAY past the sell by date.

    i'm not going to stick my neck out and tell you how or why. people are such pansies about meat, when there are far more dangerous things. it's ignorance that is the cause of most food being thrown out.
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • RivermuteRivermute Posts: 35
    I should add that when I say "most people don't know about aging meat" I don't mean the people on this forum.. I was refering to the general public and large chain stores.. didn't mean to sound like I was lecturing lol.
  • Bob-OBob-O Posts: 211
    I think Stike has given you an great response to your question. The easy answer to your question is to throw it that the right answer, I am not sure, but no one on this forum can make that call but you. Good luck
  • PyroPyro Posts: 101
    Stike has the right idea. The best way to age beef at home is to wrap it clean kitchen towels and set it on a rack over a tray. You change the towels daily. The aging can safely go on for three weeks before you need cut for large cuts such a whole tenderloin. Cooks Illustrated recommends aging individual steaks for three days using this method. The difference in taste is incredible.

    It's your call, but I would be confident cooking it and serving it to my family and guests. BTW - You can bet you sweet a-- that I would love to have a serving to the prime rib shown in the photo.
  • Big Easy EggBig Easy Egg Posts: 191
    In Cajun Country they call it Phais son Te' (not sure of the spelling). They Age all the meat and venison beyond what 90% of the population would eat if they saw it that way but that is exactly what you get in a fine steak house.
    Stike your explanation is right on but the call can't be made long distance.

    Come visit NOLA
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    actually, i wouldn't do the towels....

    that's a internet favorite. a home-grown misunderstanding of what the linen shrouds did when sides of beef were hung for weeks on end and aged.

    the linens butchers used weren't very absorbent. they were there for dust, mold, etc.

    there's no positive effect to trying to wick moisture to the surface using towels. you want a piece of meat with a fat layer all around it (like primals). the fat will quickly dry and harden, forming a protective barrier. the fat feels waxy and hard. the meat will continue to give of water through the fat, and the meat inside is protected from odors, mold, etc.

    using towels at home allows moisture to stay in contact with the meat. also, if there's any issue at all with temps (if they are borderline), the towels can breed bacteria. taking them off means the meat actually dessicates more quickly, the bacteria aren't provided with a nice moist growth medium, and the meat dries more quickly.

    instead, keep it in a perforated container (no perfs on the bottom). when i aged, i would keep it up on a rack, but drips were minimal. i just wanted air circulation.

    you'll notice on his shown. alton brown does NOT use towels. oddly, his online method describes using them. he specifically talks about why not to. towels (or clothes for drying) weren't a part of the aging process "way back when". the linen formed another layer of protection against mold. mold isn't bad, just unsightly. there's a mold which will work INTO the meat, and that's bad, but it's rare, too.

    i also don't want to lecture, but i find that people go more by "well, i have a feeling.." or "a guy told me" than they do by critical thinking and research. i know a guy who would throw out a frozen hotdog after a week, but drives without a seatbelt. not exactly a whiz at risk assesment.

    i no longer dry age at home. in the end, it's cheaper and less hassle for me to by 45 day prime than to do it at home.

    but knowing what's going on is what keeps me from wetting my pants when i see brown meat in my fridge. ..and what also lets me know when to toss it.
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • rabeb25rabeb25 Posts: 28
    First off let me say thanks for the responses.

    Second, what exactly can go wrong if you fully cook beef that is spoiled, I am curious? (not that I want to do it, but would love to know). I am just curious what the potential risk would be. It would certainly help my judgment. If it is between a hospital stay and not the best taste.. I may make a different call... you know.

  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    exactly. i can't tell him it's fine. you got that right. i tried to be clear on that... pussyfooting around, equivocating....
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • Bob-OBob-O Posts: 211
    I have been reading this forum for several years, and this discussion on aging meat is one of the best yet . Thanks Stike
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    this comes up every six months, and usually degenerates into people telling each other they don't know what they are talking about. hahaha

    i find that as in most things (especially the corporate world!) people can recite rules by which they operate, but they rarely have taken the time to understand the logic BEHIND the rules. ..and why the rules aren't always iron-clad, and what the rules are really there to do (which is usually to limit liability, and/or to allow people to operate simply without much need for stopping and thinking).

    you need a 36" handrail in your house. but on the way to gwet your building permit, you can stand on a subway platform as a train runs in at 40 mph, with no handrail, a five foot drop, and a crowd pushing behind you.

    please explain, mr. building inspector...

    standing on the deck of Wright's Fallingwater, i said to a friend of mine (another architect), "ever notice there's a thirty foot drop from this balcony straight down to bedrock, but the parapet/rail is maybe 24" high at best? "

    that place gets 100,000 visitors a year, most holding cameras and backing up as far as possible to take a pic. no one's ever fallen (that i have ever heard of). but you, you need a 36" rail if your porch is 18" off the ground.
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    toxins hang around long after you have killed the bacteria. at best, you'll be counting bathroom floor tiles all day. at worst, grandma kicks the bucket because she's too weak to fight it.

    it's no joke. but most warnings are hysterial, rather than rational.

    keep the meat as an experiment for yourself if you want, but buy a new one for peace of mind.
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • crawdadcrawdad Posts: 115
    "When in doubt, throw it out"
    That's the motto I use with any food product. It isn't worth the risk.
  • emillucaemilluca Posts: 673
    Need to understand why it happened. 6 days is a little too long to keep any flesh unless it is a controled age process. Age process usually is done with cool DRY air moving across the surface. Just as drying the skin on the chicken in the fridge. I have an extra fridge in the laundry room that I use to store meats. It is not opened numerous times daily like a family fridge is. The package could not breathe and each time you opened the fridge the hot air from the room entered and caused condensation to form between the package material and the flesh.
    Brown does not mean bad. I agree with most if serving to guest don't do it. You could still cook and then use it for beef hash or add to chilli or beans or etc...
    I see nothing wrong in a wash off on any flesh of dead animals to remove that funny stuff that forms on the surface.
    Anyway I guess the answer is to buy it closer to the time you need it.
  • lowercasebilllowercasebill Posts: 5,218
    i would take it back to the butcher and ask him...he should be the local expert? yes? if he is not sure get a new one for your guests and cook the old one for yourself tomorrow. and thanks to stike for sharing his expertise. since he eats the stuff he finds in the back of the fridge, the stuff the rest of us would give to the kids to use in a science fair experiment, and has lived to tell about it, it is safe to say he knows what he is talking about
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    don't let my laxity (is that a word?) be a model for your dietary health guidelines!
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 22,885
    i usually rinse it off, leave the house for 15 minutes, then come back and smell it. if it doesnt make me gag at that time it goes on the cooker. my tolerance level may just be higher than most.
  • GunnarGunnar Posts: 2,305
    What a great thread. Some really good insight leading me to do some more thinking about what constitutes a really good steak. Back to the original question...what's wrong with ribs? :whistle: Anything cooked well is still "good eats".
    LBGE      Katy (Houston) TX
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    mkaybe new englanders are just tougher?
    >ducks multiple thrown objects<

    (hahaha. holy cr^p, let's see if that starts anything!)
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • rabeb25rabeb25 Posts: 28
    Well, Thanks again guys!

    Here is what I found/figured out:

    The smell was really faint, I had to go about an inch away with my nose to even pick it up.

    I called the butcher today and he said the use heavy duty freezer paper, and he thought it would have no problem being in the fridge for 7 days. He said if I was worried bring it to him after I smoke it and he will dispose of it.. (HAR HAR) He basically said the exact same things as you guys, did it smell horrid?.. faint tart/sour smell?.. He said "sounds like a little aging to me."

    So I ended up putting on the smoker at 4 am, its in plateau right now at about 157, smells fantastic right now, and I think I am alright.
  • crghc98crghc98 Posts: 1,006
    Thanks for the posts Stike. Great commentary and info. I used to work for a food distributor in college during the summers driving a truck, and they co-owned a meat packing facility. You should of seen the stuff the butchers would grab and prepare/give away to the employees, all because they couldn't sell it on the retail side. Most people would think it was spoiled....

    I ate better those two summers than any other time...(got fatter too!). Wish I had an egg then.
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    nice knowing you!
    (kidding, of course).

    i once cooked a 45 day rib eye. wife and i didn't eat it all (it was that monster in the pic i posted). it went into my fridge as leftovers, in a ziploc, for two weeks after that. i scarfed it for lunch one day. dialed 9-1-... and held my finger ion the last "1", just in case. ok, that part's not true.

    and it didn't kill me.

    now that sucker was old. haha
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • RivermuteRivermute Posts: 35
    Everything in the grocery stores these days is just too sterile and picture perfect. I think alot of us forget what real food looks like. I have been doing a lot of meat curing and cheese making so have picked up on what is an acceptable risk and what is likely to kill me. I remember the first time I made dry cured salami being freaked out by sheer amount of white fuzzy stuff growing on the casings.. the first few attempts at blue cheese were even scarier!!

    Here are a few books that some of you may find enlightening if you are curious about meat in general. I won't post the links but you can look them up on Amazon.

    - The River Cottage Meat Book: I don't like his recipies so much (better ways out there to cure meat) but his philosophies on ethics, quality, aging and drying meat are well worth the read.

    - Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Ruhlman, Brian Polcyn: Excellent book on the science behind curing and drying meat

    - The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating: Really fun read about meat and the so called nasty bits which shamefully we can't even get in North America.

    BTW!! If anyone here happens to know of a company that sells and ships freeze dried pigs blood let me know!!
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