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Cooking Temps vs Elevation

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  • dubob
    Club Member
    • Mar 2019
    • 129
    • Mormon Mecca
    • Bob Hicks, from Mormon Mecca
      Camp Chef Woodwind SG w/Sear Box
      I’m 78 years young and going as hard as I can for as long as I can.
      “Free men don't ask permission to bear arms.”
      “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

    Cooking Temps vs Elevation

    In pressure canning of fish and fowl, you must account for your elevation/altitude above sea level to achieve the safe cooking temperatures to kill the harmful bacteria. Is the same true for regular cooking of meats or fish in a smoker? I’ve never seen that in a recipe or in my manuals for my Bradley smoker or my CC pellet grill. Any thoughts or links to previous discussions on this subject?

    The reason I ask is that a friend told me he pulls his brisket/pulled pork cooks at 195 instead of 200-205 because we live at 4200 MSL. I never heard or read that before and kind of think it is not valid. So, what say you?
  • dubob
    Club Member
    • Mar 2019
    • 129
    • Mormon Mecca
    • Bob Hicks, from Mormon Mecca
      Camp Chef Woodwind SG w/Sear Box
      I’m 78 years young and going as hard as I can for as long as I can.
      “Free men don't ask permission to bear arms.”
      “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

    #2
    From another website suggestion, I contacted my local extension service - Utah State University Extension Service - and this is the response I got back:
    Originally posted by Utah State University Extension Service
    There are two different safety concerns here. With canning, the danger is the spores of Clostridium botulinum. Acidic foods such as fruits, tomatoes, and pickles have a low enough pH (< 4.6) to control C. bot growth. Because meats have higher pH (typically 5.5 – 6.5), any C. bot spores in the bottle can become vegetative and produce toxin. So for bottling/canning meats you must apply sufficient pressure to raise the temperature well above boiling point to destroy spores. This is basis for higher pressure at higher elevations (because water boils at a lower temperature here than at sea level).


    With normal cooking, the danger is living bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella. There are some cases where we worry about spore formers, but that is due to improper cooling or holding hot foods at temperatures below 140F. So in smoking brisket, the important factor is to reach a safe internal temperature. Often the internal temp is well above what’s considered safe, because long cooking times are required to achieve the desired texture (being able to “pull” the meat apart).
    Bottom line is - no adjustment needed.

    Comment


    • CaptainMike
      CaptainMike commented
      Editing a comment
      We're at 4,000 ft as well and find the the differences to be pretty negligible. We do adjust for canning, and baked goods can come off a little quicker, but everything else is about the same as when we lived at 700'
  • Huskee
    Pit Boss
    • May 2014
    • 14980
    • central MI, USA
    • Follow me on Instagram, huskeesbarbecue

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    #3
    Food safety aside, you may find that yes, a slightly lower temp works in high altitudes for both cook time (<220 would equal 225 at sea level, for instance) and finish temp (less than the coveted "203"). How much "less"?, well, not enough to warrant a big change in your methods, or it'd be spoken of all over. Considering you can smoke a brisket or ribs at 200, 225, 250, or 275, the 5-10 degrees of difference altitude will get you might be a moot point.

    I'm at 900' and I have pulled many a brisket at 195-197 and then went with the faux cambro hold and it was perfect. There's so much variance it's hard to get a scientific set point with meat like with water boiling.

    Comment

    • tstalafuse
      Club Member
      • Mar 2018
      • 61
      • Florissant, Colorado

      #4
      I am at 9100 ft and have found that I have to get a really tight seal and wrap (esp brisket, ribs, pork butts) to reach the final cook temp because of the lower boiling point. Otherwise, I have to cook whatever it is much longer, to the point of drying it completely out, to reach the the point that it probes/cuts correctly.

      Not trying to take this in a different direction, but I wonder what the folks from Utah State think of Sous Vide at 130 for more than 4hrs...
      ​​​​​​​

      Comment


      • dubob
        dubob commented
        Editing a comment
        No problem. I'm new to sous vide - never heard of it until about a month ago - and I've experimented with pork steak long cooks. I've done one at 24 hrs and one at 48 hours and I'm not dead yet. 😁 I'll email them back and ask. I would guess that if you haven't mishandled the meat and gotten it from a healthy source there really shouldn't be a problem. But good point. The pork steaks were done at 160*F.
        Last edited by dubob; April 17, 2019, 06:01 PM.
    • tstalafuse
      Club Member
      • Mar 2018
      • 61
      • Florissant, Colorado

      #5
      The new guidelines say pork is "done" beginning at 145...

      Comment


      • dubob
        dubob commented
        Editing a comment
        The pork steaks were 'cooked' at 160*F. They were 'done' at 24 and at 48 hours. 😁

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