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% Fat in Ground Beef

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There are good portion of us here who buys their beef already ground rather than grinding it ourselves. I have been buying mine lately from a small family owned grocery store with a very good butcher. They proudly proclaim they grind their own ground beef fresh several times a day. Just like all stores, they label their ground beef by the percentage of fat it contains.

My question is, how do they determine the beef is 80%, 85%, etc.? More importantly, how do I know if it's if it's accurate? Is there any way for me to check at home if my 85% ground beef is really 85% beef? Can you take a certain amount of raw beef and weigh it? Or should I just trust them?

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  1. They weigh the amount of meat, and then they weight the amount of fat they add. Just a quick calculation.

    If you are questioning their veracity on ground beef (which is more than likely inspected somewhere along the line), then you probably shouldn't be shopping there anyway.

    3 Replies
    1. re: sunshine842

      I wasn't questioning the honesty of this place, but just the question in general.

      I'm not sure what you mean by, "They weigh the meat and the weigh the fat." A pound of meat weighs a pound and a pound of fat weighs a pound. And some of the meat they grind already has fat in it. Is there a certain volume they use to determine the fat to meat ratio?

      1. re: al b. darned

        If they're grinding 10 pounds of meat, they'll want to end up with about 8.5 pounds of meat, and 1.5 pounds of fat to get 15% fat.

        While a pound is a pound, it's still only a pound if the scale says it's a pound -- so it all has to be weighed.

        Chococats response below tells you how they measure the fat already present in the meat.

        1. re: sunshine842

          >>>
          If they're grinding 10 pounds of meat, they'll want to end up with about 8.5 pounds of meat, and 1.5 pounds of fat to get 15% fat.
          <<<
          Funny how the most obvious answer never floats to the top of one's brain and they create a thread like this. Thanks, sunshine.

    2. Most shops that house- grind their beef have special devices to measure the fat in ground beef- I think Univex makes one, as does Hobart. They are pretty easy to use- put in a small meat sample and the thing goes through a couple of heating cycles, the fat loss is measured, and voila- the machine tells you the % fat in the meat. I suppose you could get a used one on eBay if you really wanted to know. If you are that distrustful, you can always switch suppliers.