t

Tom34's Profile

Title Last Reply

Declining quality at Costco?

Costco Prime sub primals are definitely a good value, especially if someone isn't sure what to look for when evaluating a cryovaced sub primal.

On the other hand, if you know what to look for, have a good selection to pick from & are patient, a much cheaper Choice grade can be just as good.

Yeah, sky high feed prices with the ethanol debacle, harsh winters & droughts brought herds down to levels not seen since the 1950's.

On a positive note, beef crashed this week and if it stays down we could see a good price drop soon. Daily bid price for choice 180 0x1 striploin sub primals were in the high $8 to mid $9 range & dropped to about $6.25.......$6.25 x 1.20% = $7.50 for us.

about 1 hour ago
Tom34 in Chains

Declining quality at Costco?

>>> "My guess is based on the marbling that the costco steak may be "prime" but its at the lower end of prime. Just a hunch." <<<

Your guess is very much in line with what everyone in the business I know has told me and is also reflected in the products I have gotten from them. What Costco and others are selling is commodity prime which will usually be closer to the bottom of the prime grade. In many cases, the best Choice grade is just as good.

The very best of our meats and seafood are highly sought after and it follows the money overseas, most notably Japan and to a certain extent the Middle East. The fact is that after the exporting, there just is not enough of the very best high prime to be sold on the scale that the chains purchase/bid on. With few exceptions, the cost of the best high prime would not meet the price point for their customer base anyway.

The bulk of the best that doesn't get exported ends up in high end markets like NYC & San Fran and small independents who have developed a local customer base for it.

There is a little niche of Hounds, myself included, who age our own beef. Very simple to do. Lot of good info about dry aging at home in the thread below.

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/973332

about 2 hours ago
Tom34 in Chains

First time with grass-fed beef steaks

Kind of just the opposite. Cattle start off eating grass. Grass finished stay on grass right up to slaughter. Genetics, type of grass, maturity of grass, whats growing with the grass, time of year........all have a significant impact on the flavor profile of the meat which can vary greatly. It also takes much longer for the cattle to reach slaughter weight which can effect tenderness.

Feedlot cattle are taken off grass 3 to 6 months before slaughter and fed corn/grain products. With this diet they gain weight very quickly and put on a lot of fat. The consistency of the feed results in a more consistent mild flavor and the feed also produces more marbling which adds moisture / rich fatty flavor when melted during the cooking process. The younger age of the animals combined with the lack of exercise while on the feedlot results in more tender meat as well.

about 3 hours ago
Tom34 in Home Cooking

Chemical additives lurking in fresh cuts of meat

You and Paul are bringing back nightmares of Stoichiometry, a subject I have managed to forget for about 35 yrs thank you! :-)

about 17 hours ago
Tom34 in Food Media & News

First time with grass-fed beef steaks

From what I can see you also have steaks cut from each extreme end of the Rib Sub Primal. Photo #1 is the chuck end of the rib & #2 is the loin end. My GUESS is that the fattier Chuck end steak is going to cook a little faster. It is super marbled for grass finished and if the flavor is good (not off) that steak should have a huge WOW factor when you bite into it. Please let us know how it goes.

about 17 hours ago
Tom34 in Home Cooking

First time with grass-fed beef steaks

I thaw my own vacuum sealed steaks slowly in the spare fridge keeping them in the vacuum sealed package.

Once completely thawed, I cut open the package, rinse under cold water, pat dry, season and place them uncovered in the fridge on a wire cooling rack. After about 6 - 8 hrs, the surface is nice and dry which really speeds up the searing process. THIS IS FOR WET AGED BEEF. Not necessary for dry aged beef.

Normally I will take them out of the fridge a good hour or more before the cook (still on wire rack) but many including Kenji @ Serious Eats dispute the benefit of doing this. For me old habits die hard.

High temp sear over Lump Charcoal followed by indirect finish if necessary works for me. Again, old habits but I have perfected them.

For my family and I, no more than med rare. Animals finished on grass tend to be a bit more chewy so I wouldn't go more than M/R.

Which is best- Corn Fed or Grass Fed Beef?

>>> "We've been through this before" <<<

Yes we have & we should probably spare everyone the torment of doing it again.

On a better note have you tried Piedmontese beef. I had it cooked in a cheap George Foreman style grill at a US Foods show and was immediately struck by the beefy flavor. No hints of liver or other off flavors. Very good and pretty lean but pretty much an online product.

Next best runner up for beefy flavor was certified Hereford beef. Again, in your face flavor and pretty lean.

Jul 01, 2015
Tom34 in General Topics

Chemical additives lurking in fresh cuts of meat

I love salt!

Which is best- Corn Fed or Grass Fed Beef?

Just about everything we produce has a negative effect on the environment and that can certainly be said for most of our food supply.

There is much debate about the seriousness of the effects of low grade antibiotic use in food production. Of more concern in the medical community is the over prescribing of antibiotics, especially very powerful last resort ones.

I understand the trans fat issue but as time goes on it appears genetics play as much or even significantly more of a role than trans fat. Family history, regular blood work, exercise/weight control & moderation are key.

Jul 01, 2015
Tom34 in General Topics

Which is best- Corn Fed or Grass Fed Beef?

Fault could be found with just about anything you could stick in your mouth.

Grass fed/finished beef can be outstanding if that is the intent of the producer and if the producer has the knowledge both in terms of genetics and feed to pull it off. Nowhere near as simple as many would make it out to be.

Grain/corn fed generally has a more mild / consistent flavor and is more tender.

In moderation, neither will kill you and neither will keep you alive longer.

In moderation, choose the beef you enjoy eating!

Jun 30, 2015
Tom34 in General Topics

Our grass fed beef tastes like fish, why?

I would take it a step further and say that unless you have a really good local source with a "long" track record of specializing in grass fed beef, stick with Whole Food as in the long run its cheaper than throwing out a 1/4 or 1/2 side of miserable tasting beef.

Jun 30, 2015
Tom34 in General Topics
1

For a Better Steak, Cook Directly on Charcoal

Well, like the article said, Ike was doing it in the 1950's so its nothing new and it appears it never really caught on, probably for good reason. I have never done it, but if you must, I would suggest starting out with a cheaper Sirloin steak or even a Top Round London Broil which is on sale this week $1.99 @ S/R. Personally I would throw a couple of the $6.99 lb S/R whole live bugs on there before a steak. Just look both ways for PETA before you do!

Curent best vacuum sealer?

DONNA,

While dated, this is a pretty good article on the history of Foodsaver and the original Nozzle machine. I believe the Foodsaver II is the 1st channel style that came out in 1990 that is also discussed in the article below. I deleted the authors name and any advertising references to keep within Chow's policy.

TOM

This guide was written to give you the consumer some background on the Home Style Vacuum Packers. Where they originated and some vital information you should take into consideration before buying a home style Vacuum Packer. It will break down into categories, so you can read what interests you and what your focus on a particular area of question might be.

Home Style Vacuum Packers:

How and when they began:

In 1984 a gentleman named Hans Christian developed the first home-style vacuum packer. He called it the Foodsaver. The corporation was the Tilia Corporation.

Within a few short years of selling at Fairs and Expos's the product was a huge success. It was then picked up by retail outlets such as Costco and spread to retail connection world wide. The original machine was a nozzle style. New comers to the industry have adapted the name "snorkel" to this type of vacuum packer. The nozzle style machine was bullet proof. It was literally designed to compete with the commercial chamber style machines that had been out since the 1940's but for a home user. Hans and his engineers put extensive thought into the development of this vacuum packer. Still today 22 years later this machine can be found in excellent working condition in many homes. This same nozzle style machine is still sold today and has proven the engineering is still superior to any of the new models produced and sold. The drawbacks for store shelf retail with this machine is people do not clean their machines. They leave food and debris in the pump and nozzle. This is a simple problem to fix but surprisingly difficult to get people to do?

The Second Generation of Home Style Vacuum Packers:

In 1990 the original Tilia Corporation had a "designer" developed a new machine. This machine was not developed by the original "engineers". This new stylish machine was called a channel style machine. This channel style machine was quickly put into retail locations. The machine was easier to clean, and simpler to lay the bag into the channel. This style of machine is still today the most popular style of machine, on the retail market. Manufactured in many versions under different names. But they are all still the same "style" with the same inherit problems. This style requires very little explanation to operate, easy to see food and debris, thus lending it's self visually in need of cleaning. The draw back of this style of machine is it over heats very fast. As a result of the over heating it is not as consistent with the amount of air drawn from the bag. This problem still exists in all manufactures of this style of machine. To put it simply this design style of machine is not a high production machine able to rival, the smaller chamber style machines as the original nozzle style machine did and still does. What followed was a mass production and sales. With the simplicity problem solved the Tilia Corporation was able to secure a wide range of retail outlets. This was also very easy as there was absolutely no competition at that time.

The Corporation's First Sell Out:

In 1993 the Tilia Foodsaver Corporation original founders sold. The Tilia Corporation has been sold multiple times since then. The original machines both nozzle and channels were built in Italy. These machines in good working order still have a decent resale value. They are quite highly sot after and are a gem to find. There is an independent web site not run by Tilia to repair these old machines & supply parts. The new owners of Tilia quit supplying parts for them in 1993 when they moved all production of machines from Italy to the Orient.

Manufacturing and Repair Parts:

In today's market there are many players manufacturing and marketing vacuum packing machines. Most home style machines now a day are produced in the Orient. Production in the Orient offers less expensive labor but also for reasons of less costly regulations in productions. Be this good or bad this is a huge controversy that I care not to get into with this information page. Nonetheless there are differences in current quality. A product can be made anywhere in the world with quality parts or cheap disposable parts. It is not the origin of the product but the intent of the manufacturing company the quality they order to be manufactured. I have products from the Orient that are superb high quality items that last years. I have also purchased products from the same region that break and are in the garbage in just a few uses. This same goes for USA, Italian, German, and all other countries that manufacture products.

So the question comes how do I know if a product is top quality or not? Ask yourself, are you purchasing a product and you can return it for a new one, or a full refund after a year of use? This is a great clue: You are buying a lot of hype and very little quality! Remember it is not the store that gives you a refund or exchange it is ultimately the manufacture that stands behind their products. In order to offer you this type of supposed value the cost of that exchange is factored into the manufacturing of your product. A company that can offer this has very low cost of goods. There is a thought in manufacturing to put a lot of cheap product on the market and hope a percentage will stick. Lots of time and energy goes into color, advertising, presentation of the product but very little into the actual product it's self. All in hopes you will not use it much and it will last just long enough to pass their exchange refund warranty. With most people that is just what happens, or with our busy lives it is to much hassle to get a return authorization number & send it back. So you are now prime to buy their new version, as they do not fix your old machine of just last year, past it's warranty.

The Core Issues You Really Need To Know:

Vacuum packers unlike other small kitchen appliances are simple in nature. Vacuum Packers or as the new comers say Vacuum Sealers have a pump that pulls or moves air, a transformer that runs a heat-sealing bar and the heat-sealing bar itself. This varies widely with each machine. A large pump and transformer to run a heavy-duty heat bar is the expensive part of the machine. But you don't see that! What you see is pretty packaging. That is what mass production is hoping for. They hope you are swoon by their wonderful advertising and don't look at their actual products abilities or durability. Since the original two versions came onto the market in the 80's and early 90's there have been no other improvements on performance. Remember the "design" has not changed only the cosmetic appearances, and extra bells and whistles and automation. Hans Christian started out with a very heavy-duty pump, transformer and steel heat bar. In the move for mass production and cheaper prices these features were removed. They do however come out every year or so with "New Styles" "New Looks" New Packaging" but same old light weight operating parts.

As Americans insist on cheaper prices the quality is becoming cheaper also. Telling you that paying more is going to get you a better machine would not be accurate. Instead be armed with the information of mass marketing, and the three quality parts of a home-style vacuum packer that you must have. 1) A large pump that pulls at least 23 hg prefer 26 hg 2) Large transformers to allow enough electrical current to operate the heat bar to seal a wet bag each and every bag. 3) A solid heat bar of steel or aluminum for wet sealing. If a machine you are thinking of buying does not seal a bag when it is wet and all kinds of excuses are made as to why but "buy it anyway". Run the other way! Do not buy a machine that cannot seal a wet bag at least 30 to 60 times in a row. It takes a bigger pump, heat bar and transformer to seal wet items. This gives you better sealing and much better vacuuming with the large pump. The cheapened models no matter the manufacture have taken this feature out of the machines. They are thus disposable machines not worth your money, and remember the design issues. Channel-style vacuum packers are slow production machines, they require cooling off periods, however easy to clean and load the bag. This style of machine is found in most retail outlets, by several manufactures.

Quality nozzle-style machines require someone to clean them! The benefits are nozzle-style vacuum packers run three to five times longer before over heating, pull 26 hg vacuum consistently and will seal a wet bag each and every time. Nozzle-style vacuum packers are still the most durable home-style vacuum packer built. Nozzle-style machine are usually found in commercial outlets, Internet or at some Expo shows. These machines are harder to find but worth the effort.

Our society has the ever-growing disposable generation of instant gratification. They want things cheap and for the product to work like the expensive items. I hear all the time at shows "there's no difference" This type person is not in touch with the true cost of manufacturing products. The fact is there are extreme differences.

Jun 30, 2015
Tom34 in Cookware

Curent best vacuum sealer?

To the best of my knowledge, the original nozzle machines did not have a model number on them but they all looked identical except for the writing on the front. The 1st one said Foodsaver by Tilla, the 2nd one said Vacufresh & the 3rd one said VacUack.

The first 2 were made in Italy & the 3rd one was made in China. Even though the 3rd one was made in China, it was spec'd out the same as the Italian made ones and apparently just as good (parts are interchangeable)

If you click on the blue link at the end of Whelmar's 10/28/13 post (above) it will have the last version of the machine "VacUpack".

The original nozzle machine requires the lip of the bag to slide over a nozzle which can be a bit tedious but with a little practice its not hard. Once the nozzle is sticking inside the front of the bag, YOU press about 3/4 of the way down on the handle and a mechanical switch activates the pump. When YOU determine enough air has been drawn out, YOU press all the way down on the handle. This causes the bag to be squeezed down against the heat sealing bar and a mechanical switch turns on the heat sealer. When YOU are sure the bag is sealed YOU let up and its done.

Very straight forward simple machine with heavy duty components & mechanical switches. A nice tribute to a machine that came on the market in the 1980's is that parts are still available.

After the Tila company was sold they switched to a Channel style machine which I believe was called Foodsaver II. The originals were also made in Italy and were also very good machines and easier to use than the nozzle style.

With the exception of the later VacUpack nozzle machines, the original nozzle machines will be stamped "FLAEM" nuova Made in Italy. I believe the original channel machines that followed will have something similar. Most of the time the seller will mention the "Made in Italy" stamp if its there. For every used Italian made Channel machine for sale, there are a 100 later model look a likes with significantly cheapened up components.

FLAEMNUOVA is a company. If you google it the companies site will come up and you will see a picture of the machine Dolder (PMG) is selling.

Jun 30, 2015
Tom34 in Cookware

Why do Restaurants Use Frozen French Fries?

Thats what I suspect too.

Jun 29, 2015
Tom34 in General Topics

Chemical additives lurking in fresh cuts of meat

A lot is being said about pesticides with fruits & vegetables, especially those from other countries.

It seems there is some evidence to suggest that processed foods often contain ingredients that have been linked with increased cancer risks. Same with some preservatives used in non processed foods.

Bottom line is we all have to eat to survive and on this site it goes well beyond survival and moves deeply into culinary pleasure.

Moderation is the key and it seems most Hounds have the knowledge, skill & desire to cook/eat from a very broad list of ingredients so from that perspective we are probably ahead of the pack.

Jun 29, 2015
Tom34 in Food Media & News

Why do Restaurants Use Frozen French Fries?

I have had them too & wondered if they were cut in-house or factory cut and fried in house.

Jun 28, 2015
Tom34 in General Topics

Chemical additives lurking in fresh cuts of meat

A purveyor friend sells commercially raised/slaughtered chicken with different levels of solution added. The lowest is 2% which is probably from the cleaning / chilling process you describe. The highest is like 12% which is from "Plumping".

Most of his fine dining restaurants buy the 2%.

Jun 28, 2015
Tom34 in Food Media & News

Chemical additives lurking in fresh cuts of meat

>>> (including "injected with up to 10% broth solution" -- which I avoid because I resent paying good money for salt water.) <<<

This really bothers me too both for paying protein costs for water and how the water dilutes the proteins natural flavor. Very surprised there is not more uproar over the subject.

Jun 27, 2015
Tom34 in Food Media & News

Please explain this green bean casserole thing

I have made it with french cut beans, lots of good bacon & a nice thick topping of French's breaded/fried onion rings. Little if any left at the end of the night, not sure if its a testament to the GBC or the mediocre nature of the other side dishes that surrounded the bird.

Jun 27, 2015
Tom34 in General Topics
1

What is swai fish?

I hardly have a Steingarten palette but even after a 5th of good spirits I don't see how the flavor of Swai could possibly resemble that of crab meat but if it works for you its one hell of a good deal.

Curent best vacuum sealer?

Hey Donna,

Click the little + symbol above and all the content of the posts in this thread will appear. Read them over tomorrow as there is a lot of good dialog concerning the old original nozzle machine. Check out Whelmar's 10/28/13 post with links to PMG (Thom Dolder) who sold the machines when they first came out and eventually bought the patent and sold them under the name Vacupack. His older site & video's have a wealth if information on these machines including videos that show how they operate & cleaning and repair instructions. May have to snoop around a little to find them.

I will get back to you on Mon or Tues after you have had a chance to read up a little on the original machine.

Jun 27, 2015
Tom34 in Cookware

Please explain this green bean casserole thing

Honestly, most of the stuff that ends up on a Thanksgiving table doesn't excite me and that includes the bird. GB casserole just kind of goes with the flow.

Jun 26, 2015
Tom34 in General Topics

Curent best vacuum sealer?

Any time Donna. We Jersey folks stick together!

The Weston has been around a long time. They may have moved the hole I don't know. Something super absorbent placed in the trough might help. A little piece of tubing attached to the hole would also help.

If I am not mistaken the the Ary Vacmaster Pro series indicates the vacuum hole is at the top of the trough (probably a shot across the bow of Weston).

If you go to Ebay and enter "Original Tila Foodsaver" a couple of the original Italian made Foodsavers come up. These were the ones that started it all. Powerful piston pumps and a super powerful sealing system. Bullet proof & fully re-build able. Down side for many is there are no automatic controls (fine by me) and a little more work to line up the bag just right under the nozzle. I have 3 of them, one for me and one for each daughter when the time comes.

Jun 26, 2015
Tom34 in Cookware
1

Please explain this green bean casserole thing

I don't think I wound serve it to discerning friends or Hounds but for my In-laws its perfect :-)

Jun 25, 2015
Tom34 in General Topics
1

Subway made 2 mistakes that are destroying its business

Yeah, like every other franchise, they have millions invested product research and marketing. On Chow, we have a tendency to focus more on quality than market factors. We really aren't representative of society as a whole.

Jun 25, 2015
Tom34 in Chains
2

Style of Fillet knife

You guys have a nice variety, thats for sure.

We have some artificial reefs (Railroad cars and such) that hold monster Flounder but you need 80 lb PowerPro with a broom stick of a rod & serious arm strength to keep them from getting back inside once they hit.

Grouper is a real nice meaty/steak like fish. Do you go for them in the Gulf. Few times that I have you learn real fast to yank like hell up and reel down real fast to keep them from getting back in their holes and shafing the line.

Jun 25, 2015
Tom34 in Cookware

Walmart steak,not that I would but has anyone tried? [Moved from General Chowhounding board]

My Walmart sells vacuum sealed Select. If other locations are selling Choice I would guess its commodity choice. Probably cut and gassed at a central location. Wonder if its needled like Costco steaks.

Jun 25, 2015
Tom34 in Chains

Walmart steak,not that I would but has anyone tried? [Moved from General Chowhounding board]

Prime is usually better than Choice and high prime like you get from your local butcher that you have mentioned is in a whole different class from run of the mill Costco Prime.

Around my way Aldi is a low end discount store. USDA Select at best and the portioned fillets I saw there were tail scraps held together with meat glue. Slice into one and the grain goes in all different directions.

Damned if I can tell the difference between US & Canadian beef.

I never oil & your right about the salt debate.

Jun 25, 2015
Tom34 in Chains

Style of Fillet knife

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtPzE...

This is very close to how we used to do it. Takes a little practice but very fast and very little waste. Long thin blade works best for this style cleaning.

I like nice expensive knives and have a decent block full but honestly the cheap high carbon Dexter's get the job done as good as anything for filleting fish. Also won't cry if it lands tip first on a steel boat deck or worse if you get one last 1/10 of a second look at it before it hits the water and joins the junk on the sea bed.

The meat also breaks better from the bones if the fish are ice cold.

Jun 25, 2015
Tom34 in Cookware