Cell Damage and Fluid Loss

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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As raw meat freezes, the growing crystals protrude into the soft cell membranes and puncture them. When the meat is thawed, the ice crystals melt and unplug the holes they’ve made in the muscle cells, and the tissue as a whole readily leaks a fluid rich in salts, vitamins, proteins, and pigments. Then when the meat is cooked, it loses more fluid than usual, and more readily ends up dry, dense, and tough. Cooked meat suffers less from freezing because its tissue has already been damaged and lost fluid when it was heated.