The number one question we get asked concerning shredding protein is this: should I be shredding hot or cold?
It’s a legitimate question to ask. The temperature of your protein product when you run it through a shredding machine plays a big role in the consistency and look of the shreds.
Choose the wrong temperature (hot versus cold), and you’ll wind up with shreds you weren’t expecting — and, as many do, blame the shredding machine for the less than desirable outcome to your shreds.
Answering this question starts with having a goal in mind for your shreds.
Know the Goal
Shredding hot and shredding cold produce two very different looks and consistencies to your protein shreds. No shredding method or machine can change that fact.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What look do I want to achieve with my shreds — hand-pulled or chunky?
- What look are my target customers after?
- What is my price point and will the look I’m after (hand-pulled or chunky) sell at that price?
Knowing the look you’re trying to achieve will help you determine the temperature your protein should be at when it comes time to shred.
Shredding Hot (or Warm)
The ideal method for achieving a hand-pulled look to your shreds is by shredding hot.
A hand-pulled look is achieved when the connective tissue of the protein is broken down during the cook cycles and the muscle fibers are pulled apart from one another. Once the protein chills, it condenses, making it difficult to pull the muscle fibers apart to achieve a fine shred.
The hotter the protein (or the closer it is to having just been removed from the cook cycle), the easier it will shred and produce the hand-pulled look you are after.
Benefits to shredding hot:
- Muscle fibers are easier to shred
- Shredding reduces temperature significantly, saving time and energy in the chill cycle
- Fine shreds are only possible if you shred hot
- It gives you a more hand-pulled look
Shredding protein after it has been chilled produces a different, more coarse look to the shred.
Chilling condenses the connective tissue in the protein, making it much more difficult to pull the muscle fibers apart and achieve a hand-pulled look. Shredding cold only produces a coarse, chunky style shred.
Depending on the type of protein, the chilling process may condense the muscle fibers to the point that you made need a flattener or press to help break the muscle fibers apart in order for them the even shred. A roller conveyor or some kind of meat press should be used prior to the protein entering a meat shredding machine.
Even with a flattener or meat press, though, shredding cold will not produce a fine, hand-pulled looking shred — only a coarse, chunky shred.
What Look Do You Want?
So the question remains: what look do you want to your protein shreds? Answering this question will help you determine whether shredding hot or shredding cold is the best option.
- Shred Hot for a hand-pulled, fine shred
- Shred Cold for a coarse, chunky shred
You can learn more about the science behind cooking and shredding protein by downloading our Shredding Proteins Guide below.