Author Topic: Cooking Temps vs Elevation  (Read 3147 times)

Offline dubob

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 90
Cooking Temps vs Elevation
« on: April 17, 2019, 08:27:56 am »
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?
Bob Hicks, from Utah
I’m 77 years young and going as hard as I can for as long as I can.
“Free men don't ask permission to bear arms.” ― Glen Aldrich
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” ― Dr. Seuss

Offline Orion

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 356
Re: Cooking Temps vs Elevation
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2019, 10:31:38 am »
When cooking with a bbq, smoker or oven you do not adjust temperature dependant on altitude when cooking meat, fish ect. 250 degrees is 250 regardless of whether you are at sea level or in Denver Colorado. The only reason you would adjust temperature is to alter the speed at which your meat cooks or the level of rareness you have want it.

What changes with elavation is the temperature at which water turns from liquid to steam (boils). As  elevation increases atmospheric pressure decreases. Less pressure on a pot of water means it will boil at a lower temp. Sea level fresh water boils at 212 F. In Denver at pot of fresh water will boil at about 204 F.

The purpose of a pressure canner is to simulate an increase in atmospheric pressure so the water boils at a higher temp. At sea level a pressure canner should be set to operate at a minimum of 10 psi which causes the water to boil at about 240 F.  Think of it as taking the water deep into a mine shaft where the atmospheric pressure is much higher than at sea level.

The reason for needing to raise the boiling point to 240 F is to kill bacteria that will spoil food in a long term canned storage environment. If you are high in elevation (Denver) then you need to start with the baseline 10 psi in a pressure canner and add another psi for every 1000 ft above sea level. This means you need about 15 psi in your Denver pressure cooker to achieve 240 F.

The key is that once water is boiled regardless of elevation it will not get hotter unless you subject it to pressure. On the other hand I can turn my bbq or smoker on and achieve any temperature I want at any elevation to cook a steak.

Long story short ... your friend is mistaken. Cooking in your Bradley and pressure canning are entirely different processes and require entirely different knowledge. Do not use any of the figures or numbers I used as examples to illustrate the point. Always cook meat to your local health regulations and always use canners (water bath and pressure) according to health regulations. The two are not the same.

Hope that clarifies the subject for you.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2019, 10:45:42 am by Orion »
It's going to take a lifetime to smoke all this.

Offline dubob

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 90
Re: Cooking Temps vs Elevation
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2019, 11:34:10 am »
Yes, that mirrors what I found out from another website suggestion that I contact my local extension service.  I emailed the Utah State University Extension Service and this is the response I got back:
Quote from: 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.
Bob Hicks, from Utah
I’m 77 years young and going as hard as I can for as long as I can.
“Free men don't ask permission to bear arms.” ― Glen Aldrich
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” ― Dr. Seuss

Offline coopergetready

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Re: Cooking Temps vs Elevation
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2021, 02:12:13 am »

Quote
Bottom line is - no adjustment needed.

During normal cooking and keeping hot food under lower temperatures, I always worry about Salmonella.
I think elevation affects the fire itself. But I'm always checking the thermometer. And if it says I have reached the required temperature, I stick to the prescribed time and temperature.
I guess I should do some testing of my own though.

Offline Habanero Smoker

  • Member Extraordinaire
  • ******
  • Posts: 15,132
  • KCBS - Master Certified Barbecue Judge
Re: Cooking Temps vs Elevation
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2021, 01:37:39 pm »

Quote
Bottom line is - no adjustment needed.

During normal cooking and keeping hot food under lower temperatures, I always worry about Salmonella.
I think elevation affects the fire itself. But I'm always checking the thermometer. And if it says I have reached the required temperature, I stick to the prescribed time and temperature.
I guess I should do some testing of my own though.

Below is a link that contains more useful information.

High-Altitude Cooking


     I
         don't
                   inhale.
  ::)

Offline Wendya

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Re: Cooking Temps vs Elevation
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2021, 12:39:53 am »
It's advantageous to know about the right temperature in cooking. Also, for me is very important to use the correct proportions of ingredients. That's why I use an ultramodern new kitchen scale. I found it out on a cooking forum with receipts, and I remained astonished about its description. I ordered it, and I can say that my dishes are tastier because I use the proper proportions. It looks very sick. I got it from https://www.amazon.com/Vont-Beautiful-Measurement-Stainless-Batteries/dp/B08SW6F5SZ. They now got a significant discount for it. It's the best kitchen helper.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2021, 12:21:44 am by Wendya »

Offline dubob

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 90
Re: Cooking Temps vs Elevation
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2021, 06:36:33 am »

Quote
Bottom line is - no adjustment needed.

During normal cooking and keeping hot food under lower temperatures, I always worry about Salmonella.
I think elevation affects the fire itself. But I'm always checking the thermometer. And if it says I have reached the required temperature, I stick to the prescribed time and temperature.
I guess I should do some testing of my own though.
From the link that Habanero Smoker provided:
Quote from: USDA
How do high altitudes affect the cooking of meat and poultry?
Meat and poultry products are composed of muscle, connective tissue, fat, and bone. The muscle is approximately 75% water (although different cuts of meat may have more or less water) and 20% protein, with the remaining 5% representing a combination of fat, carbohydrates and minerals. The leaner the meat, the higher the water content (less fat means more protein, thus more water).

With such high water content, meat and poultry are susceptible to drying out while being cooked if special precautions are not taken. Cooking meat and poultry at high altitudes may require adjustments in both time and moisture. This is especially true for meat cooked by simmering or braising. Depending on the density and size of the pieces, meats and poultry cooked by moist heat may take up to one-fourth more cooking time when cooked at 5,000 feet. Use the sea-level time and temperature guidelines when oven-roasting meat and poultry, as oven temperatures are not affected by altitude changes.
Smokers (as in Bradley) are essentially an oven.  The water pan does not contribute to the cooking temp but MAY cause an increase in the time it takes to get to the desired temp for the meat being cooked.  Most charts list an internal meat temp of 165*F for poultry which is what we look for when wanting to eat immediately when that temp is reached.  But poultry can also be safe to eat at lower temps following the following chart:
Quote from: Amazing Food Made Easy
The safety of food is not just based on the temperature, but also the time. With traditional cooking it is so hard to maintain a set temperature so most of us have grown up ignoring the time aspect of the equation. But for something like sous vide chicken breasts safety, once it is heated to a specific temperature it will become pasteurized and safe to eat when held at:

136°F (57.7°C) for 70 minutes
140°F (60.0°C) for 30 minutes
145°F (62.8°C) for 12 minutes
150°F (65.6°C) for 4 minutes
165°F (74°C) for 5 seconds. 
I use sous vide on pork steaks (24 hours) & chicken (2-3 hours) done to 145*F.  If you want to smoke the meat, follow this little tip:
Quote from: Amazing Ribs
Smoking
It gets better. When the meat comes out of the bag, it can go into a smoker. All it takes is 30 minutes in smoky air and you will taste it. And the internal temp of the meat barely rises. Another trick is to chill the food when it comes out of the water bath and smoke or sear it a day or three later. This process even seems to improve the flavor!
Bob Hicks, from Utah
I’m 77 years young and going as hard as I can for as long as I can.
“Free men don't ask permission to bear arms.” ― Glen Aldrich
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” ― Dr. Seuss

Offline MGRex

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Re: Cooking Temps vs Elevation
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2021, 10:39:34 am »
You do not adjust the temperature according to the height when cooking meat, fish, etc. You can only adjust the temperature to change the speed at which your meat is cooked or the level of rare that you want. But I'm on a diet. Eating all you can eat puts extra strain on your energy metabolism. It can increase your risk of developing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and stroke.  Regular exercise is also necessary to maintain proper nutrition. I was following a keto diet, but after reading https://eatpropergood.com/blogs/a-proper-good-blog/can-you-have-a-cheat-day-on-keto, I realized I was doing it wrong.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2021, 11:53:30 am by MGRex »

Offline TedEbear

  • Member Extraordinaire
  • ******
  • Posts: 2,640
Re: Cooking Temps vs Elevation
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2021, 12:43:16 pm »
You do not adjust the temperature according to the height when cooking meat, fish, etc.

According to the FDA you do.

High Altitude Cooking