Roast Beef lunchmeat; why is it wet?

My gf has been buying roast beef lunch meat. No complaints, it’s delicious, but why is it always so wet? Other lunch meats are different. Bologna, sliced ham, the underappreciated olive loaf, braunschweiger, are all “normal” compared to roast beef that is wet.

I’m not talking about the birefringence sheen, but rather the moisture that’s present. I’ve tried repackaging it after drying it off with paper towels, but the wetness seems to return.

Because it’s real beef and should have a higher moisture content than the processed meats or other meats like turkey and chicken. The other meats will lose their consistency if they contain too much water but that’s not a problem for roast beef and they want it as wet as possible to maximize the yield per pound.

Also, sliced lunchmeat roast beef is usually pretty rare to medium-rare, which likely leaves it more juicy than other, more processed lunch meats which are more thoroughly cooked.

In addition, it’s injected with various preservatives, tenderizers, and water.

Beef , Contains Up To 10% Of A Solution Of: Water, Salt, Sodium Phosphate, Dextrose, Potassium Lactate, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Yeast Extract, Sugar, Sodium Diacetate, Beef Stock, Natural Flavors, Coated With: Dextrose, Salt, Caramel Color, Paprika, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Natural Flavors.

My guess would be that it’s dependent on how the meat is prepared. AFAIK roast beef isn’t cured like ham or charcuterie-type stuff like olive loaf, bologna, salami, pepperoni, etc… are, and that might have something to do with it, as the curing process removes a lot of moisture from the meat to begin with, making it denser and less moist.

Huh. The sliced ham I buy is always quite wet. Even the bologna is damp. Maybe it depends on your humidity?

Mmm. Olive loaf. Gonna have to look for that.

This would explain the caramel coloring, I guess. Is still-pink-in-the-middle sliced roast beef available in some places? Our regular ol’ local grocery stores don’t seem to carry any roast beef like that, but I’d be interested to find some.

If I get prepackaged roast beef lunchmeat, say Oscar Mayer brand or whatever, it will be pretty thoroughly cooked and grayish brown in the middle, but when I buy the roast beef at the deli counter that they slice for you off of a big prime rib, it can be extremely rare in the middle-- almost like carpaccio. It varies. You can ask for them to slice you a test piece to see if it meets your approval. I always ask for one, even though I know I’m going to get a pound sliced, because hey, bonus slice.

The roast beef Costco carries is pink-to-red.

In addition to this, the roast beef contained in freshly made sandwiches at a grocer’s deli counter tends to be quite rare. Harris Teeter’s, for example, one pounder on sandwich bread is like this:

Interesting. Roast beef po-boys are very popular and iconic locally, but the roast beef is typically cooked through. I will have to seek out rarer cuts as described in this thread.

Pics below are representative of the local style:

Well, some deli roast beef is cured. If you look at, say, the Oscar Meyer one (or at least one of them), it says: “cured roast beef” right on the packaging. It has a pinkish color to it because of the nitrates/nitrites (whether from sodium/potassium nitrate/nitrte or celery powder/juice), but it’s a different kind of hue than rare roast beef.

I assume the others are wet because it’s plumped full of liquid, as evidenced by the list above. When I buy roast beef sliced from house-roasted beef, it’s not particularly wet.

And, yeah, I don’t get how it’s more wet than other deli items. Basic deli ham is pretty wet, as is bologna, the round chicken slices, and any of the “loafs”, but I guess it depends on what you mean by “wet.” The better hams and turkeys are on the drier side.

A roast beef po-boy was one of the must-try items on a trip to NOLA* in March last year. It was better than I expected and I expected it to be great. It is in the same family as Italian beef that we get around here but with a more pot roasty or beef stewy flavor and we don’t do the veggie garnish. Both beef type are simmered in gravy which is probably what drives the pink out. Both can be a sloppy wet mess, too.

*though the sandwich I ate was from a place in Houma and possibly not even a great representative example.

Thanks to responders, this turned out to be interesting.

Buona’s occasionally turns up in Giant Food’s delivery inventory. Great stuff and those big containers are really useful.

According to the USDA “Ham, sliced, pre-package, deli meat, water added” is
75% water by weight and has 1040 mg Sodium, 261 mg Phosphorus and 425 mg Potassium pr. 100g.

I’m not finding deli roast beef, but “Beef, loin, tenderloin roast, separable lean only, boneless, trimmed to 0” fat, select, cooked, roasted" is 66% water by weight and has 54 mg Sodium, 259 mg Phosphorus and 352 mg Potassium pr. 100g.

My guess is that your roast beef is wetter because it has a fraction of the salt of, for instance, sliced ham.

The smaller 2-3 sandwich tubs are $4.99 at Aldi locally. I like to keep one ready in the freezer.

Yeah, it’ll vary by location, but generally they are roasted to about 145 or so, chilled, sliced, and then warmed up in a beef gravy/jus that is ideally held at 155F. The usual cuts are top sirloin, top round, or bottom round – not the typical pot roast cuts which are cooked until they fall apart shred. (The ones in the picture of the New Orleans po’ boy do look like a similar cut to Chicago Italian beefs, so perhaps the pot roast flavor comes from the gravy, which is a more beefy, roux-thickened looking gravy vs the jus-type of thin gravy the Chicago Italian beef has.)

A company that I used to work for sold a machine that injected enzymes etc into meat to tenderize it and (incidentally) to add weight.

Roast beef lunchmeat is a bit pricey, innit? Compare it with Braunschweiger, which is like thirty cents a hogshead.