do you wash stew beef before cooking

However, washing raw poultry, beef, pork, lamb or veal before cooking it is not recommended. Bacteria in raw meat and poultry juices can be spread to other foods, utensils and surfaces. We call this cross-contamination.

It can be so tempting when you yank your glistening T-bone from its sealed plastic package with a snap, or unwrap that drippy lamb chop from the butcher paper like it’s a gift.

But no. Just no. Do not rinse your raw beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, or veal before cooking it, says the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

In fact, though you might (understandably) rinse meat to clean it, doing so can lead to the opposite-of-desired effect. According to the USDA, cooks who rinse raw animal proteins increase the risk of cross-contamination in their kitchens, boosting the likelihood of food-borne illness.

You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. Here are the deets on why washing meat isn’t a good idea.

Julia Child and other well-respected chefs were historically in favor of washing meat (especially poultry). But while the queen of French cooking may have been right about a lot of things (like mixing oil and butter for sautéing or squeezing the water out of cooked spinach), science shows that certain best practices have evolved since Julia’s time.

Though some folks throughout history — and even some cultures today — may consider washing meat an important step in sanitary food prep, it’s not considered necessary in the 21st-century U.S.

Washing packaged raw meat isn’t an effective way to reduce bacteria. It could even make you more likely to get food poisoning.

Wondering how washing something can make it more likely to make you sick? Here’s the quick version:

Proper cooking will kill any bad bacteria in the meat and make it safe for you to eat. Sadly, you can’t say the same for your sink, counters, utensils, or cutting board. Any surfaces that came into contact with the raw meat could still contain bacteria and should be washed with hot, soapy water, rinsed, and then air- or paper-towel-dried.

Another reason not to rinse: Excess moisture on meat’s surface thwarts the Maillard reaction. That’s the intricate chemical process that occurs when carbohydrate molecules react with amino acids, yielding the coveted sear on steak or other meats.

The interchange between carbs and amino acids produces hundreds of different chemicals, explains Harold McGee in his book On Food and Cooking — “pyrroles, pyridines, pyrazines, thiophenes, thiazoles, and oxazoles,” to name a few. These give a brown color to the meat along with rich, complex flavors.

The Maillard reaction begins at approximately 285°F (140°C). Water, which turns to vapor at 212°F, simply won’t get hot enough to allow the Maillard reaction to occur. That means a watery piece of meat won’t start browning until all the water is cooked off — but by that time your T-bone might already be well done.

Soaking meat in a highly seasoned brine is one thing (and is mostly all about adding flavor), but there are some who like soaking poultry, pork, and beef in salted or plain water for various other reasons. “This is a personal preference and serves no purpose for food safety,” the USDA says.

If you do choose to give your meat a bath as part of a recipe, keep it in the refrigerator until cooking time. This will help prevent cross-contamination when soaking and removing the meat from the water.

For people on a sodium-restricted diet, there isn’t any benefit to washing or soaking country ham, bacon, or salt pork, either. Very little salt is removed by washing, rinsing, or soaking a meat product. The USDA does not recommend it.

Another FYI: Some studies suggest that acidic solutions like vinegar or lemon juice may help reduce the number of bacteria on raw meat, but it’s not clear if they can kill food-borne viruses. Cooking your meat to the proper internal temperature is still the best way to kill harmful bacteria.

Cross contamination is bad news, folks. And washing meat isn’t the only way it happens. Here are our best tips to prepare meat safely.

Chill or freeze leftovers within 2 hours

Saving food for later? Make sure you put it in the fridge or freezer within 2 hours. Bacteria that causes food poisoning usually multiplies quicker at temps between 40°F and 140°F.

This means that to chill or freeze leftovers, you should keep your fridge at 40°F or below and your freezer at a max temperature of 0°F. While your freezer at home isn’t powerful enough to kill harmful germs, it can maintain that food’s safety until you cook it or heat it up.

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Wash your hands and kitchen tools

If you’re preparing meat, wash your hands really well after handling it. According to the CDC, this looks like 20 seconds of washing with soap and warm water.

Why is this so important? Because unwanted germs can survive and thrive on your hands, kitchen tools, and countertops.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we can all use a hand-washing tutorial. So if you’re still puzzled about how to properly wash your hands, check out our cheat sheet. And again, remember to wash cutting boards, cutlery, and any other utensils you’ve used with hot, soapy water.

Another helpful way to prevent cross contamination is to separate raw meat from other foods you’re storing or preparing. Here’s what that looks like:

  • When grocery shopping, when storing meat in the fridge, and while meal preppin’, keep raw meat (and its juices) away from foods that won’t be cooked.
  • If possible, use different cutting boards for raw and cooked foods (like one for veggies and fruit and another for meat and poultry).
  • Never put cooked foods back on an unwashed plate that held raw meat.

However, washing raw poultry, beef, pork, lamb or veal before cooking it is not recommended. Bacteria in raw meat and poultry juices can be spread to other foods, utensils and surfaces. We call this cross-contamination.


Do you rinse stew beef before cooking?

Don’t rinse meat before cooking. Many people believe you should wash or rinse raw poultry, beef, pork, lamb or veal before cooking, but it’s actually not necessary. Any bacteria that might be on it will be killed during the cooking process. In fact, rinsing meat before cooking it can actually do more harm than good.

Do chefs wash steak before cooking?

No, professional cooks or chefs generally do not wash meat before preparing it. In fact, washing meat can actually increase the risk of foodborne illness, as it can cause harmful bacteria to spread to other surfaces in the kitchen through splashing water droplets.

How do you wash meat before cooking?

The meat may be presoaked in a solution of water and acid — often white vinegar or lemon juice — then rinsed under running water prior to being seasoned with a dry rub or marinade, after which it’s cooked or frozen.

Should you rinse beef after cooking?

Rinsing raw ground beef could pose a health risk by splashing bacteria-filled juices all over your kitchen’s surfaces. After the beef has been cooked, you’re just rinsing away good flavor. If you want to get rid of some of the grease, drain the beef, but don’t rinse it. It’s just not necessary.

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