Just bought my Anova and am excited to use it. I have been looking at recipes and I am confused at the cooking times. When the recipe says “cook for 24 - 36 hours”, which is it? When do I know when my meat is done? If I can’t overcook then why the maximum of 36 hours?
It is probably one of the hardest things to get your head around when first starting to play with sous vide. I’ve answered the question numerous times and I think others more experienced than I have probably done the same.
Here’s a link to one explanation…
I would also recommend you read some of Baldwin’s discoveries. It can get a bit technically heavy, but you should definitely read the parts on low temperature pasteurisation.
Look at @Ember’s response. There seems to be a continuously prevailing myth that you can’t overcook food using the sous vide method. I cannot stress this enough: this is not true. You absolutely CAN overcook food, it just takes a lot longer a time period. For tougher cuts of meat, which is what your time suggests, you need to get the internal temperature up high enough to cook the food to the level of doneness that is desired, but it needs to be held at that temperature for sufficient collagen and other connective tissue breakdown. However, if you keep it at that temperature for a lot longer, your meat will suffer detrimental affects to the texture. It will feel dried out (even though it will still be moist, it’s weird, i know), will be mushy, and somewhat unpleasant. Trust in the recipes: they have been tried by many folks. You may need to tweak it a bit to suit your own particular desires, but they are a good template to go off of.
The fact of the long time range reflects that the change in the meat over time is slow. On the cooktop, a couple of minutes is the difference between great food and over cooked. For lots of foods, beef particularly, that “moment of perfection” can be ten hours long.