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Science and psychology of "warmed-over flavor"

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    Science and psychology of "warmed-over flavor"

    Ever wonder why some people won't eat leftovers? Or why some meat dishes don't taste quite the same the day after they are cooked? It could be related to a phenomenon called "warmed-over flavor" (WOF).

    I enjoyed reading this report from Serious Eats about WOF at https://www.seriouseats.com/2017/08/...cken-meat.html. Here are some key points from this report --

    "Food scientists have devoted years of research to determining precisely what alchemy occurs in leftover food to give it WOF, and how to prevent it from happening in mass-produced meat products, like deli meats....

    "...home cooks have a more limited range of options to slow down WOF-inducing reactions. The best way, according to Decker, is to take a page from the industrial playbook and limit cooked meats' exposure to oxygen as soon as feasibly possible. You don't have to take your dinner guests' plates while they're still eating, but you might pack the leftovers tightly in heat-safe containers after everyone is served. If you're especially sensitive to warmed-over flavor, you may even consider investing in a vacuum sealer of your own....

    "Flavorful sauces are another potential solution, since they create a barrier to air, which will slow down WOF-forming processes—especially in soups, stews, or curries in which smaller morsels of meat are fully submerged.... As an added benefit, a punchy sauce will help mask any WOF when you reheat the leftovers the next day....

    "The most universal finding from our taste-testing was more philosophical than anything else: When you put a bite of food in your mouth and critically scrutinize it for any funky flavor, more often than not, you're going to find it....

    "...it's a challenge to eat leftovers with WOF. He employs a technique called "planned-overs," a one-two punch that incorporates both careful planning of meals and thinking ahead to how their leftovers can be applied to tasty new dishes. Because flavors tend to be less pronounced in cold food, try second-day meals that avoid the microwave to keep WOF under the radar....

    "...if he knows that a particular meal won't be good the second or third time around, he makes an effort to adjust the recipe so that it feeds the number of people he's serving and no more. With no leftovers, there's no need to worry about WOF...."
    Last edited by IowaGirl; March 9, 2021, 08:05 AM.

    #2
    Originally posted by IowaGirl View Post
    Ever wonder why some people won't eat leftovers?
    Nope; never!

    There isn't a week goes by in this humble abode that leftovers aren't consumed with gusto. Who doesn't enjoy next day pizza? Or thinly sliced, left-over steak fried up with some eggs over easy and hash-browns?

    Comment


      #3
      Yea gotta agree with dubob, we often plan for leftovers. Say we're cooking grilled chicken on a Saturday evening, I'll actually cook 4x the amount so we have left over chicken for several days afterward. Certain foods do well with leftovers, others don't. I know a perfectly cooked, medium rare steak just isn't the same the next day. Still tastes alright but the re-heat invariably over cooks the meat.

      It's an interesting topic though, thanks for posting. I agree with the writer that a lot of it is simply in our heads.

      Comment


      • bardsleyque
        bardsleyque commented
        Editing a comment
        left over steak works well in steak salad!

      #4
      Like Troutman, I usually make enough of dinner for leftover lunch the next day. Or, cook enough chicken to last a few days to be served in various ways - mainly over salad. And if that is the case, I don’t reheat the chicken. I have become better at vac sealing food whenI cook large batches for freezing. That has helped preserve, as the article states.

      Overall, I don’t mind leftovers, but the one thing that I will not or prefer not to eat as leftovers is when I make Paella. There is something to the dish that just doesn’t taste great the day after. But, usually, everyone eats the Paella day of so there isn’t much for leftovers.

      thanks for sharing the article!

      Comment


      • dubob
        dubob commented
        Editing a comment
        A pulled pork cook will leave leftovers for the two of us that will make excellent lunch sandwiches for weeks afterward - vac sealed and frozen of course. And lets NOT forget about leftover ribs & brisket - oh my! 😁
        Last edited by dubob; March 9, 2021, 10:10 AM.

      #5
      I love leftovers. My wife rarely touches them. (More for me) I have fun trying to get creative with them. I always come up with something tasty.
      Last edited by Jfrosty27; March 9, 2021, 11:40 AM.

      Comment


        #6
        I have learned over the years that hubs and I will reliably eat one meal of leftovers within the next day or three, but we rarely will eat two meals of leftovers, no matter how tasty. Just too much of a good thing.

        If there's a third meal's worth of leftovers (or possibly a fourth if I make a big batch o' soup), I usually vac seal and freeze these extra portions.

        I also have learned I prefer meat leftovers to be warmed just enough to take the chill off. Meat that's hotter than that seems dry and not as tasty to me.

        Comment


        • Jfrosty27
          Jfrosty27 commented
          Editing a comment
          I agree with you on warming meat. Just enough to take off the chill. Usually the microwave on 40%, covered, does the trick.

        • Razor
          Razor commented
          Editing a comment
          Jfrosty27 turning the microwave down is the key. For our microwave 2 minutes at 50% is a magical formula. 😂

          Longer warm time at a lower power makes all the difference in the world and I’ll bet you a large majority of people don’t realize there are power settings.

        #7
        In my world, seafood is the one thing that is just not leftover friendly.

        Comment


        • Michael_in_TX
          Michael_in_TX commented
          Editing a comment
          (the only exception to this now that I think about it might be a seafood stew or something)

        • dubob
          dubob commented
          Editing a comment
          It doesn't happen very often, and it isn't really 'seafood', but on the rare occassions that we have left over oven baked yellow perch (panko crust), we love it warmed up the next day or 2. Boiled crawdads (mud bugs) are good any time, hot or cold. But that's just us. I don't recall we ever had any fried catfish leftovers; now what I mean Vern. 😄

        • IowaGirl
          IowaGirl commented
          Editing a comment
          Don't usually have leftover fish, but on the few occasions that's happened, I'll remove the breading (if present), crumble it, and make fish salad (like tuna salad, only not tuna). That's often pretty decent.

        #8
        We were told by a friend several years ago that we cook in bulk. Ha ha. We thought that was funny, but like several have mentioned already we sometimes do cook to have leftovers. I do agree that leftover meat is best not over warmed. Also agree that a Vac Sealer is a good friend at our house.

        Comment


          #9
          Soups, chili, and stews are great leftover we always make extra. Grilled foods can be okay. Always the risk of over cooking when re-heating. I do like sliced leftover steak and eggs. We will make chicken salad out of leftover roast chicken. Always save the bones for stock. Boneless thighs make a nice sandwich for lunch the next day.

          We also make extra spaghetti sauce and meatballs for the freezer.
          Last edited by Old Glory; March 9, 2021, 04:05 PM.

          Comment


            #10
            My favorite use of leftovers is breakfast. Mix it into and omelet, wrap it up with scrambled eggs to make a burrito or just reheat and drop a fried egg on top. And maybe for lunch. OK, sometimes supper too.

            Comment


            • Jfrosty27
              Jfrosty27 commented
              Editing a comment
              Agreed. I had a lot of lobster meat leftover from a feast on Saturday. Mad an omelet out of it. Just eggs, LOTS of lobster, S&P. So yummy. But it was about a $70 omelet so it should be!

            #11
            With just two of us we end up with leftovers regularly. The first thing I do is store them in ziplock bags. If I decide to move them to the freezer or to discard in a few days then they are ready to go. I'm reluctant to warm leftovers in the microwave, they can develop an old taste with just a bit too much time in there. Much of our leftover meats go into Mexican dishes. Steak or chicken make great fajitas. Green chili chicken enchiladas are a favorite. We love brisket tacos. I like mine with pico and a slice of avocado. As I've discussed here several times I think tamales are one of the best uses of pulled pork. All these add enough flavor to make your leftover meat taste great.

            Comment


            • dubob
              dubob commented
              Editing a comment
              I have mastered the art of using a microwave. It took YEARS of practice and more than a few failures. But BOY, you should see me now. 🤣🤣🤣

            #12
            Since I am now cookin for 4, me, myself & I with an occasional bit for the Derb, I count on leftovers. I still haven’t got passed the givin a rip about cookin fer myself yet. When I do I always remind myself that I’m a pretty decent cook. I used to cook all the time, no motivation now. With that said, I thrive on leftovers & most often the chili/soup rule is in effect, better the second day. Pizza, I used to say “the breakfast of champions”.

            Comment


            • dubob
              dubob commented
              Editing a comment
              I like your attitude FireMan.

            • IowaGirl
              IowaGirl commented
              Editing a comment
              I hear ya, FireMan. It's hard cooking for one, specially when you're used to a spouse or family being around. In the years after I was divorced, I got into some real bad habits around eating and cooking. One was not cooking at all -- just snacking or going hungry. I broke myself of that, but then I found myself cleaning up at the same time I was eating. I made myself stop, sit down, and pay attention to my food. Music helped. Or a good book. But I got to really hate eating alone.

            #13
            We eat leftovers more at my house than not - we always cook enough to eat for 2-3 days when it comes to dinners. My kids grew up eating like that too. Recently we were cooking burgers for some of the kids, and I was requested by my wife to make sure I made enough for several days. We ate smash burgers and leftover smash burgers for a couple of days, and on the 3rd day I turned the last dozen into some pretty tasty chili that we ate for 2 days.

            I have a sister in law who won’t touch ANYTHING leftover - and therefore neither will her two daughters. They throw it out or send it home with someone else. There is also an anti mayonnaise fetish where she hates mayo and gags at the smell (at age 62!), and her grown daughters hate it too because of it. Wierd. Oh, and don’t get me started on their inability to eat bone-in chicken or turkey.

            My opinion is that most of this hating on leftovers is entirely mental. To me, if you preserve the food and reheat it properly, and don’t just nuke it and dry it out, it can taste quite good as leftovers.

            I feel the main exceptions are fish/seafood, which doesn’t keep well, or fried foods. It’s hard to reheat fried stuff and have it crispy again. I’ve got one wing recipe that reheats well - some twice fried Korean style wings.
            Last edited by jfmorris; March 9, 2021, 08:07 PM.

            Comment


            • FireMan
              FireMan commented
              Editing a comment
              A trick with “the don’t just nuke it & dry it out” is put a small cup or bowl of water in the nukelator. I know there was another post where I was harping on listening to Meatheads post of an interview with Doc Blonder. Just might get ya thinkin differnt. Ernest was impressed.

            #14
            Leftovers are key in our house. With fast food places charging 8-9 bucks, I’d rather tote in my lunch pail and make my office envious of whatever was for dinner the night before or whatever we prepped for lunches on Sunday.

            Comment


              #15
              I think one of the ways to manage leftovers wisely is to be careful about what gets put in the freezer and what doesn't. It's tempting to stash a less-than-yummy meal in the freezer, but that results in a freezer full of food that doesn't get eaten.

              It's gotta be tasty A or A+ stuff to be worthy of freezing. Food that gets a B or C grade needs to be consumed, not frozen.

              The gal who works with me says her 80something mother in law has 3 freezers in her basement full of stale buns and other dribs and drabs of food. If she can't eat that last 1/2 cup of corn, it goes in the freezer. The second floor of her house is also full of staples that are going stale. If the kids try to slow down her buying or try to clean out the freezers, she gets real resistant and anxious. This is a case of "leftovers gone wild."
              Last edited by IowaGirl; March 9, 2021, 04:59 PM.

              Comment


              • FireMan
                FireMan commented
                Editing a comment
                Yup, a less than yummy meal in the freezer is a frozen less than yummy meal! What a gas of a story you told about granny. Sounds like somethin else is goin on there, or not goin on.

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