|Fresh from the bag
I can’t seem to escape the term sous-vide at the moment and I have to admit, I’m a little disturbed. Sous-vide means ‘under vacuum’ and this term is used to define a cooking method that extends the shelf-life of food by cooking it for a long period of time (sometimes longer than 24 hours), under-water in vacuum sealed bags at low temperatures, usually around 60 degrees celcius. It’s the removal of oxygen and bacteria from the process which allows for the extended shelf-life. BUT. Contamination can indeed occur in the form of botulinum toxin poisoning. Yikes. Okay, so it’s not fool-proof.
I had a meeting recently with a company who are pioneering sous-vide in South Africa and I couldn’t quite wrap my head around it all. I mean sure, scientifically speaking it makes sense, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be comforatble with buying meat and other food with ridonculously long shelf-lives. You’ll be amazed at how many big South African restaurant brands serve sous-vide food, including items like curry and lambshank. Yes, there’s a restaurant you’ve been to that serves sous-vide lambshank. I’m not sure if I’m freaked out more by the shelf-life of the product I’m consuming, or the inability of restaurants to produce these items themselves. Apparently Heston Blumenthal himself is a sucker for sous-vide. Well I’ll be…
Okay, now this is the meaty part. Currently South African sous-vide food producers manufacture a product that must be chilled and has a 6 month shelf life. Technology is about to be launched enabling storage at ambient temperature for a year. Yes, that means your whole roast chicken can kick back in the pantry alongside your couscous and curry-powder for 12 months before it starts to botox itself.
How do you feel about being served meat at a restaurant that’s been sitting on an ambient shelf for 9 months? Or am I the only dinosaur who feels this is weird? I’d love to know. Oh, and check out these awesome anti-theft lunch bags I found amidst my research (here), perfect to dissuade klepto-colleagues.