How do you interpret "overnight" prep time?

For longer prep steps, such as proofing bread overnight, salting/brining meat overnight, do you interpret "overnight" as 8h? For slow fermenting breads I usually take "overnight" to mean about a night, and set up my baking to continue in the morning. But for something like salting a steak or chicken, I'm unlikely to eat it when I wake up in the morning! In that case "overnight" would turn into almost a full 24h. Instead, I prep the meat in the morning before I go to work to eat that evening. I'm just curious how other cooks/bakers interpret "overnight" steps, thanks!

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Nancy
Nancy October 3, 2018

I interpret it similarly, usually considering a range of 8-12 hours needed for the changes the recipe author wants to happen.
If making the first time, I will probably check at the 8 hour mark to see if there's a need to stop the action.
Casual use of the term "overnight" to mean or suggest one day in fridge can be annoying & misleading.
Do the same as you with a meat dish asking for something "overnight" - start it morning of day intended to make for dinner.

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Stephanie B.
Stephanie B. October 3, 2018

Thanks Nancy, I'm glad I'm doing it right!

Alyssa
Alyssa October 3, 2018

I usually think of overnight as at least 8 hours. For bread, though, I like to let it rise a little bit longer (12ish hours) to let the gluten and flavors develop.

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Stephanie B.
Stephanie B. October 3, 2018

Bread is easier to see and feel the change...but I'm certainly not skilled enough to tell the difference between an 8 and 12h salted steak by giving it the poke test lol

702551
702551 October 3, 2018

I'm probably in the minority here, but when I read something like "overnight" I don't expect to be finishing up prep at 10pm and to be back in front of the stove at 6am.

I see "overnight" as somewhere between 10-12 hours. Of course, this can depend on the recipe.

The better recipe authors will actually specify the number of hours if it makes a real difference. If there is a point where the preparation starts to degrade in quality or change in chemical nature, a good recipe author will explicitly identify that threshold.

That's how I see it.

Disclaimer: 95+% of my cooking is done without recipes and I gave up baking years ago.

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