An Overview of Cooking
Cooking was invented nearly 2 million years ago. The earliest hearths were started 790,000 years ago, and 250,000 years ago, cooking fires spread around the world. It’s likely that temperatures were high enough to satisfy the cooking requirements for all types of meats. For example, the cooking temperature for goat meat would have been attained by burning wood.
Several ancient civilizations worshiped the hearth. The ancient Greeks believed that Hestia was the goddess of the hearth. The Roman counterpart was Vesta. In the Zoroastrian religion, every house was expected to offer sacrifices and prayers before a hearth.
The standardization of food occurred during the Industrial Revolution. Canning and preservation became the norm. The push for healthier diets lead to the creation of the food pyramid. It was first published in 1974 in Sweden. An updated version of the food pyramid was released by the USDA in 1992. It was replaced in 2011 by the MyPlate nutrition guide.
The Hearth was the First Fireplace
A hearth is a brick or stone-lined fireplace. In a typical medieval hall, the hearth was placed in the center of the hall. The smoke would escape through a smoke hole in the roof. Later designs placed the hearth on the side of the hall with a chimney.
The Indo-European root ‘ker’ is the foundation of the word ‘hearth.’ It means ‘burning,’ ‘fire,’ or ‘heat.’ Ancient hearths contain the remains of ash, animal bones, carbonized shells, and charcoal.
The first tax on hearths were established during the Byzantine Empire from 802-811. In England, taxes on hearths were first introduced in 1662.
The Official Gauge for Cooking Meat is ‘Doneness’
‘Doneness’ is the term for how juicy and thoroughly cooked a cut of meat is. Usually, beef is graded in terms of ‘doneness.’ There are several grades. ‘Extra-rare’ indicates that the meat is very red. ‘Rare’ indicates that the meat has a red center, and it is soft. ‘Medium rare’ indicates that the meat has a warm red center, and it is firmer. ‘Medium’ indicates that the meat has a pink color and is firm. ‘Medium well’ indicates that the meat has a small amount of pink color in the center. ‘Well done’ indicates that the meat is gray-brown, and it is firm. The final grade is ‘overcooked’ which indicates that the meat is blackened and hard.
Here’s the Temperature Recommendations
To prevent foodborne illnesses, meat should be cooked to a temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. If the meat is seared to a temperature of 302 degrees Fahrenheit, it is browned through different reactions. Caramelization of sugars is one reaction that is achieved at this temperature. The Maillard reaction of amino acids is also achieved. Well done cuts are dry.
The best way to measure the temperature is with a meat thermometer. Take a core measurement by pushing the probe into the meat. Use goat meat as an example. The goat temperature can be read on a digital display or on a dial. Some thermometers indicate when the desired goat temperature is achieved by popping. These types of thermometers are commonly found in turkeys.
The temperature of goat should be 145 degrees as well. Goat meat isn’t as popular as other types of meats, but it’s healthier. In fact, if the temperature of goat meat reaches 145 degrees, it’s just as good as beef or lamb. The temperature of goat meat during cooking doesn’t have any added benefit. The high cooking temperature ensures that the meat is safe to eat. Goat meat has lower cholesterol and less fat than other types of red meat.