Searing Meat Does Not Lock in Moisture
By Terry D. Johnson
The idea that searing meat locks in the juices has been around since the middle of the 19th century. According to the theory, searing changes the structure of the outside of the meat, preventing the escape of moisture during subsequent cooking. It’s still a popular technique – despite demonstrably failing at its purported task.
This is a simple enough one to test. Take two cuts of meat, sear one, cook both, and weigh them to determine whether the seared meat loses less moisture than the unseared cut. Numerous experiments have shown that the seared meat typically loses at least as much moisture, and possibly more.
Does this mean you should avoid searing meat entirely? Not at all. Browning (or caramelization) of the meat’s surface will introduce flavors and texture. A good sear is still a worthy component of a good chef’s toolbox – but not because it laminates your prime rib.