Steak was overcooked

Hey everybody, i have a problem i bought ribeyes and picnha. I have anova nano. the steaks were 1.5+ inch thick there was about 3.5 kg of cuts. I cooked all of them together in 134 degrees f° for 4 hours and it Wasn’t consistent, half the steak were well-Done the other half medium-medium well. I was very disappointed.
the first time i tried the anova i cooked ribeys for 3 houre in 133 f° and it turnee out great. what went wrong why were they overcooked?

Some more information about your setup would be helpful to try to diagnose the problem. How did you pack the steaks? How big is the vessel that you’re cooking in? Was there enough water to circulate freely around the items being cooked? How did you determine that the meat was overcooked? Was it by probe or just by visual appearance?

Visual appearance is not a useful indicator of doneness as there are many things that can impact the colour appearance of meat.

There was a lot of steaks compared to the pot,How can i know if the water Circulate freely around the items? And does it matter if the device says that the temperature is 134 f° and all the steaks are inside the water?
The steaks was packed with zip lock plastic bags and i rook all the air out with the regular sinking in water method .the inside of the steak was almost grey no color kind of dry@Ember

Ok. I would suggest that there may not have been room for water circulation. It’s hard to access from a description, but if you ever need to check circulation you can drop a bit of food colouring (or soy sauce, or dark vinegar) into the pot on the opposite side to your circulator and watch how it distributes into the water. You don’t ever want to overcrowd the pot and block circulation because it is the heated water that cooked your food.

I think this is the most likely cause of your problem.

Thank you for your help! Do i need to change containers for better results and space? And i see a lot of people cook with a lid? How can i do it with a ziplock bag or do i have to get a vacuum sealer?

A larger container would probably be a good idea if you are cooking many items at once. Again, it’s a little difficult to be certain without seeing your setup.

Using a lid is recommended to reduce water loss through evaporation during long cooks (8 hours and more) and decrease the risk of steam damage to the device during hot cooks. If you’re using a stockpot or similar you can cover the top with cling film or foil.

Dekel, - Please.
That’s enough questions.
To help you solve your steak cooking problem Community need more details and complete answers to all of Ember’s questions. Your asking more questions without revealing all of the requested information isn’t helpful.

For example, when you say, “I cooked all of them together . . .”.
How many bags did you use?
How many steaks per bag?
Were they side by each or stacked?
We need answers with details, please.

Dekel, problem solving always begins with, “What was wrong?”
That we know, - somewhat.
Next step is, "What did you do?
No more questions please, - just detailed answers.

Problems are caused by changes.
Exactly what did you differently from your first rib eye cook that had the great
When you have a significant problem, consider what you did differently.
Solutions are revealed by differences.

What volume of water does your container hold when filled to the MAX line on your Nano?
Exactly how do you know half the steaks were “well-Done” and the others “medium-medium well”?

Only work on solving one problem at a time.
Please don’t ask about lids and vacuum sealers when you haven’t solved your overcooked steak problem. In the fullness of time we’ll get to those questions later.

You are right I won’t get out of topic I will try answering all of the questions- (and also will attach a photo )
“How many bags did you use?”-there were 5 bags
“How many steaks per bag?”- 2 bags- 3 picanha each, another bag- 2 ribeyes, and the last 2 bags – one ribeye each
“Were they side by each or stacked?”-the steaks inside the bags were side by side, the bags were both side by side and stacked
“Exactly what did you differently from your first rib eye cook that had the great
results”-the difference was with the quantity of the meat and the time- the first time was 2.5 kg of ribeyes for 3 hours, now it was 3.5 kg of both ribeyes and picnha for 4 hours. And had to tightly organize them for them to fit in the pot.
“What volume of water does your container hold when filled to the MAX line on your Nano?”-its not possible for the nano to get to the max line when the pot is filled to the max capacity in only gets to the middle of the nano.
“Exactly how do you know half the steaks were “well-Done” and the others “medium-medium well”?”- by colorization, hardness\texture and years of experience in meat making and eating. (the photo was taken when the temperature dropped because I just put the meat inside) @chatnoir

Dekel, thank you for the speedy and detailed response with a most helpful picture that reveals the following:

  1. It appears that all of the air was not expressed from the 5 bags causing the upper surface of some meat to be at water level. Air is a poor conductor of heat and the enemy of successful SV cooking, but that would tend to cause undercooking.

  2. It can be observed the bags do overlap impeding water flow and energy transfer. However that to would lead to undercooking.
    Another hmmm.
    With that amount of meat and water volume i would have processed two separate batches.

  3. You state the meat occupied about half the capacity of your container which may have left too little water for your Nano to successfully circulate, but that would also result in undercooking.
    Yet another hmmm.

As to the doneness factor i trust your expertise. I can only suggest that the Nano circulated over heated water unevenly towards some of the bags something i have never experienced. A Medium to Medium-Well doneness suggests a temperature of 150ᴼF or higher was maintained. Well-Done would have been even higher, far above the set point. It might be useful to verify the water bath temperature display with an accurate thermometer. There have been reports here of faulty sensors causing similar malfunctions with new circulators.

Why did you change the cook time to 4 hours from 3, not that in normal circumstances it would make any significant difference? However, under abnormal circumstances it could.

Many cooks clip bags to the side of the container. I don’t. If you do clip i recommend rotating each bag during the cook to ensure even heating, particularly when bags overlap.

No post-cooking searing was mentioned. Was any performed before you assessed quality? New users frequently report outcomes similar to yours that were the result of extended searing times. Might that be a cause of the overcooking you experienced?

3.5 kg of meat displaces about 3.5l of water which can be a substantial amount in a small (to me) stock pot. i think you do need a larger container if you are likely to cook such large amounts of meat, but first check the Nano’s recommened maximum water capacity limit.

I have used both heat sealed and mechanically closed SV cooking bags for many years with few problems. Occaisionally i have also used the Zip-Loc bags without cliping them to the side of a container without a problem.

I make it a practice to cover the water surface with ping-pong balls for anything but the briefest cooks. I slightly sink them using a metal rack on top. The balls both supress evaporation and permit water flow over the upper surface of cooking bags. During multi-hour cooks i occasionally stir the cooking bags to further ensure even cooking. I know i don’t have to but it’s a carryover habit from SV cooking without a circulator.

I look forward to your response to this puzzling and challenging event.

hey thank you for your response,
about the air in the bags- the steak is fully underwater and is not floating I think it looks like it because there was a steak directly underneath him (I don’t know it for certain, but I do know it looked like the first time I made it).

and about the searing method, I used a really hot gas grill and seared the steaks for less than a minute each side.

I forgot to mention a few things,

  1. the picanha cuts were in the first bags I put inside the pot and then I put the ribeyes on them. and when I took all of the steaks out I knew something was wrong- the ribeyes were really hard compared to the picanha ( eventually the picnha was in better doneness- not perfect but better) the ribeyes felt well-done and most of them were well done.
  2. as I said the pot was crowded because of the meat quantity so I kind of pushed the bags forcefully to fit in atop each other that could have interrupted the circulation
  3. the water wasn’t simmering the anova showed 134 degrees but the water was completely still
  4. it took about an hour and a half from the moment I took the steaks out of the ANOVA and grilled them. and they were drying with paper towels the whole time ( so I can get a better sear but maybe it was a mistake)

I changed the cooking time because I wanted the steaks to be more tender- to my understanding, the time affects the texture while maintaining the doneness you want and therefore gives you the perfect results every time.

Update- I don’t know about yesterday but i checked the anova now and set it to 134 degrees and checked with two diffrenent thermometers and it showed the same temperture as the anova.

Dekel, thank you for revealing more details. Unfortunately they don’t add much clarity to identifying the cause of the observed overdonesness. Most of the evidence you present leads to the expectation that you would have had undercooked steaks as your result.

You appear to have a good understanding of the essentials of SV cooking as demonstrated by your awareness of temperature as it relates to doneness, thickness being a critical factor, and how time affects tenderness.

There is one particularly glaring earlier omission, - “completely still water”. Does your Nano circulate the water when operating?
It must.
To ensure even heat penetration, particularly in an overcrowded container, water must circulate continuously throughtout while cooking.

Anytime in the future should you have a reoccurance of this apparant overcooking problem please immediately use a probe thermometer to ascertain the meat’s internal temperature. We humans can often be mislead by our senses, but thermometers are rarely very wrong.

To simplify future problem solving opportunities you may have i recommend cooking significantly different cuts of meat separately. To my taste the Picanha requires about double the cooking time of a rib eye steak of equal thickness.

In your transition to SV cooking you will achieve greater succees if you break with much of your prior experience and knowledge of conventional cooking techniques. SV cooking presents you with different observable outcomes that may lead you to making errors.
Some examples are:
Meat coloration can be an unreliable indicator of doeness when cooked in the absence of air. Verify internal temperature with a thermometer.
Low temperature cooking results in significantly less moisture loss in meat giving it a more solid feel to the touch than conventionally cooked meat. I think of it being more plump. Many cooks use the somewhat subjective pinch test to monitor doneness. I prefer the precision of a thermometer.

So we still have your mystery cook that apparently defies logic and the laws of thermodynamics. Steaks cooked at 134ᴼF, at the high end of Medium-Rare, resulted in steaks that appeared to be cooked at a much higher temperature.
It is a mystery.

Have you experienced any other potentially para-normal events in your kitchen.

Frank you beat me to it! Your most recent post came while I was writing a comment that essentially parrots your response! lol Glad I looked up and saw your post!

@Dekel_Faruhi, if you could run a check on the actual temperature of your water bath using an accurate thermometer and let us know what you find out asap it would be most helpful! Thanks!

i did it and it was and it was the same temperture as the anova

The completely still water remains a concern to be resolved.

If a mass of cold meat sits on one side of the container and on the other side the Nano only heats the water inside its case effective cooking can’t occur resulting in undercooked meat.

Eventially all the water will reach the set point through conduction, but over a long time as the temperature of the entire water bath is not being correctly monitored.

I regret my front running you like that and monopolizing the post like a dog with a meaty new bone. I owe you my silence on the next good one.

There is still a substantial inconsistency to be discovered in Dekel’s puzzle. Do you think it deserves a place in the soon to be announced Anova Fooid Nerds Hall of Fame questions? I do.

I’m beginning to believe in as yet undiscovered external forces at play here. After all, it is that special time of the year.

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Don’t you dare go silent! lol

As for “Dekel’s puzzle”, it simply doesn’t seem possible without paranormal intervention…unless perhaps the unit has an intermittent problem that somehow allowed a temporary temperature spike. If that could occur it might have raised the bath temp up for a time during that cook… I don’t know how it might happen but without a temperature higher than 134F it shouldn’t be possible to overcook as @Dekel_Faruhi has described.

(Cue X-Files theme)

so I’m still without an answer except paranormal activity, to tell you the truth it was a big disappointment due to the fact the meat cost 130$ and many friends came by after i was bragging that i bought the ANOVA and it turned out bad and my guests thought so also.

I’ve gone through all the messages above, but I’m missing how the meat was finished. Did you pop it right out of the bag And put it on the plate, or did you sear it first? How long did you sear? Did you chill the meat prior to searing? Was the meat dried before searing?

I mentioned that i finished it on a really hot gas grill for less than a minute on each side. Beforehand i let the meat rest for an hour after it finished in the sous vide, and i dried it with paper towels

Resting an hour prior to finishing is a no-no. Firstly, there is no need. Theoretically, there is no massive heat gradient within the meat cooked sous vide due to the low temperatures and long times. Secondly, if it’s resting at ambient temperature for an hour it’s not good food safe practice. And thirdly it’s cooling for the whole time frame.

When you seared it did you do it for long enough to get the meat back up to mouth hot? This could potentially explain the excess moisture loss.

This one is becoming quite the interesting mystery.

But let’s recap on ‘best practice’ for the next attempt. Pack the steaks singly or, if packing several to the bag, side by side with no overlap. Add the bags to the water when up to the desired temperature. Drop the bagged steak into the pot making sure there is plenty of room for water to circulate. When the time is up, remove steaks, dry surface well, season and sear quickly.