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Top Tip: Miss Vivi’s essential guide to preparing brains for the classroom

ovine brain poached in the microwave how to prepare brains for the classroom

ovine brain poached in the microwave how to prepare brains for the classroom

I am getting questions about prepping brains for the classroom so here are my Top Tips.

There is not much point putting brains into the classroom unless they have been prepped. You just end up with a pink puddle of mush.
My preference is at least 24 hours in 50% alcohol from frozen. They will float so you need to turn them over periodically or fill a container to the brim and put the lid on them to keep them submerged.

Saturated salt solution works well, too, but I am too lazy to be bothered making it when I can just dilute a bit of metho.

Patricia Hugman developed this 1 hour method that she swears by and gave it to me to put on the website. Don’t be stingy with the salt. Really load them up.…/

I heard that you can microwave brains to firm them up. This one in the picture has been subjected to 1min 30sec in water in 10 sec blasts.  It was ONE brain in a container. If you are going to do more then you will have a bigger container, more water and more brain so you will have to fiddle with the timing a bit.

I do know people that freeze them on a tray and deliver them to the classroom that way so they defrost during the dissection. I haven’t tried it but I can see how it would work.

Good luck! Terrible things, brains.

post by miss vivi at dissection connection

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Top Tip: How to defrost brains for dissection in 1 hour

sheep brain for dissection

This Top Tip comes from Patricia Hugman, Senior Laboratory Technician at St Joseph’s College Toowoomba.  Thank you, Patricia!  This is something we get asked all the time and the collective wisdom of lab techs is the best source of info.

sheep brain for dissection mmmm...... brains!

Have you ever wondered how long it would take to defrost … brains for dissection?

I found the following method for defrosting brains to be very effective & efficient

To defrost brains ‘al dente’ in 1hr

1.       Straight from freezer

2.       Place brains in packet in suitable container & cover with water (4 litre icecream container works well) sitting ‘flat’ not ‘end on’

1pkt/ container defrosts faster that 2 in one container

3.       @20min – Change water

4.       @40min – discard water, remove brains from packet, sprinkle liberally with salt, just cover with water

5.       @50min – gently separate brains, being careful of brainstem/medulla

6.       @60min – carefully remove individual brains, pat dry with paper towel and ‘serve’ to students!

On a nice summer’s day (25deg C) this timing worked a treat. Producing brains that were still firm but not icy.

Sitting on the bench (in air) produced irregular defrosting >4hr

Got a Top Tip you are willing to share with other techs?  Have a squeal to Miss Vivi and see your name in lights.

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The Gingerdead Wars: Halloween 2013

Well, it’s been quite a week in our kitchen!  In scenes reminiscent of the Ninjabread Wars of 2012 it’s been a battle of the undead gingerbread and we’ve run out of Miss Vivi’s Efficacious Anti Zombie Pills.

First, the Mummybread Man appeared.  Creeping across the kitchen bench, trailing icing bandages everywhere.  Look at his beady little eyes.

mummybread man biscuit
Mummybread man

Where there’s one, there’s always more!  Soon two more appeared to swell the ranks.

mummybread men biscuits
Mummybred men

It wasn’t long before they caught their first victim and exposed its brain to feed on.  Poor, poor zombiedead man 🙁

Mummybread men chase zombiedead man biscuit
Mummybread men create Zombiedead man

Then, of course, one thing lead to another and…

zombiedead men biscuits
Zombiedead men

… now we’ve got an infestation of Zombiedead Men on our hands.   There’s nothing for it but to crush them to bits and eat them.  mmmmm……brains!