You’ve probably heard that you should sear your steaks to seal in the juices, right?

The fact is, searing your steaks creates no “seal” or waterproof barrier to prevent the juices from escaping from the inside.

This is actually a grilling myth that just won’t die, and the common misconception can be traced back to the German chemist, Justus von Liebig. Back in 1847, his theory was that when you sear your meat, the brown “crust” that forms create a barrier that keeps juices in.  His idea spread uncontrollably right after the publication of that concept in his book “Researches on the Chemistry of Food.” But, let’s be honest, this famous crust is of course not waterproof. Juices continue to get squeezed out during cooking. The sizzling that you hear throughout cooking is proof, as this is the meat’s juices seeping out and vaporizing.

Yet most of the cooking experts agree that searing does not seal in juices. In fact, grilling meat in a pan over high heat actually leads to moisture loss. Alton Brown  did an experiment to prove it. In his Food Network video, he weighed 2 steaks, one of them was seared before roasting and the other one was just finished roasting in the oven. The roasted steak lost 13 % of its weight while cooking, while the seared and roasted steak lost about 19 %. The thing is that meat is about 70% of water and much of that juice is locked in hundreds of thin muscle fibers. Heating meat always squeezes out juices and nothing can stop that process.

As food scientist Harold McGee says in his landmark book On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen 
“The crust that forms around the surface of the meat is not waterproof, as any cook has experienced: the continuing sizzle of meat in the pan or oven or on the grill is the sound of moisture continually escaping and vaporizing.”

By the way, no one says that you shouldn’t sear meat. Searing serves the very important purpose of building flavor and texture. A very hot skillet creates a golden, caramelized crust through a process called the Maillard reaction. Cooking above 250 degrees imparts that savory flavor and aroma that will leave you salivating. So, I ask you, what is the real secret to a juicy, full-flavoured steak?