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Vac Pac versus Butcher Paper [General]
2012 Jun 12
Been saying this for years ... Butcher's paper wins!
The greatest invention in modern butchery is the vacuum packing machine as it can extend the shelf life of nearly all freshly cut products. But here at Olliffe, we wondered what happens to meat in terms of tenderness and flavour when all of the atmospheric oxygen is sucked out of the plastic envelope encasing meat.
Specifically, we were interested in how vacuum packaging affects the taste, mouth feel and tenderness of our most popular selling steaks, the New York striploin. We initiated an investigation on the affects of five days of age on vacuum packaged steaks. We then tested these striploin steaks against the traditional method of wrapping the steaks in peach paper and then traditional brown butcher paper (a.k.a. freezer wrap).
To set up the investigation we had to make sure it was a fair sample of four striploins of which four centre-cut steaks were cut in succession of each other down the loin. We vacuum packaged eight, four for the freezer and the other four for a refrigerator meat box with a temperature of 0-2 degrees Celsius.
We wrapped the other eight strip steaks in peach paper and wrapped again in brown butcher paper (the standard wrapping at most butcher shops). Four went in the freezer, the others in a regular refrigerator meat box. We allowed a period of five days to elapse, then opened each package and took visual and smell tests of each NY strip steak.
Full story :
2012 Jun 12
Being a Butcher for 16 years, I can state that I prefer the butcher paper over Vac Pac, any day. There is nothing worse than the smell of a New York Strip or Rib Loin once you open the Vac Pac that it came shipped in. I also much prefer hanging beef over the vac sealed, boxed beef.
2012 Jun 12
With the non-vac packed meat stored in a fridge you're getting a bit of a dry-age effect. Not as much as if they were unwrapped on a grate, or hung, but still, it has an effect on flavor. Different storage for different purposes. If you want to age it, don't vac it. Vac is for longer term safe storage, or prep for sous-vide. You're also getting some compression when you vac pack anything, even on low settings the chamber sealers do change the texture of the food. The vac bag meat smell is awful, I agree.
2012 Jun 15
My computer won't load the article, so I haven't read it all, but I also prefer my meat to be in butcher paper (I don't like plastic!), and so do our customers who purchase our meat by the side or whole hog. The only exception we have found is most customers will always ask to have their sausage, bacon, and ham vac sealed.
However, we do vac seal meat for the farmers market. Most people like to see what they are getting. If someone wants a butt roast, I pull out three or four, and the customers will look at each roast, I mean take a REAL good look, then pick one or two over the others. They will often even say what it was about the roasts that they chose compared to the ones they left behind. Like the fat cap, or the one that didn't have the fat cap, or the way one is shaped, or the marbling, or whatever. Same goes with chops or any other cut.
People like to see their food before they buy it.
I have also heard about this smell that some vac meats have (in particular from a certain butcher shop in Ottawa), but haven't actually experienced it with our own meats. The way the smell was described, I almost suspected boar taint.
Could part of it be the thawing process? If we are eating some of our meat that has been vac sealed, we always take the meat out of the vac bag and thaw it in a bowl or on a plate. No smell, no slime, just tasty meat. We've also never had a customer mention the problem either. Doesn't mean it's never happened, but if it has, I've not been made aware of it!
Unfortunately, we have had some freezer burn problems with paper, which I would guess may have to do with how it was wrapped?
, you worked at a butcher, how do you wrap the odd shaped bits to avoid ice crystals or freezer burn? Or is freezer burn more to do with what type/quality of freezer the meat is in?
Our meat is never in the freezer for longer than 5 or 6 months, so I shouldn't think freezer burn would be an issue, but I have seen a bit here and there on meat in butcher paper. :-(