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Confused about beef for burgers

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I've been learning how to cook burgers at home for awhile now but I'm still confused about the beef choices. Normally, I use ground chuck, but it gets expensive when I have to start feeding more than a couple of mouths. Not as expensive as going to a good burger place, but it still adds up.

The ground chuck I normally get is 80/20. The thing that confuses me are the other beef varieties at the store. There is a similarly packaged beef that is 70/30, but then there is a "tubed" version of ground beef that is also 70/30. The similarly packaged one looks very close to ground chuck, but the tubed one looks different when I unwrap it from the tube. It's hard to explain other than that one looks like spaghetti strands and the tubed one doesn't. Is there a reason for that? And which ones do you guys use for your burgers?

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  1. Avoid the tube if you can. Generally, I've found it to be tasteless. Not for burger. Not for chili.
    Lots of mouths=discount on family pack sizes. Get the cheaper 70/30.

    2 Replies
    1. re: monavano

      I've never used the tube stuff but wonder if it's ground into mush. Actually I've been grinding my own for a few years now.

      1. re: monavano

        +1
        I thought of taking a tube to the trash as I used partial amount for 2 small burgers then I used partial in Swedish meatballs- very odd flavorless off texture too. no more Stater Bros tube GB for me

      2. i think that is just the method of grinding, rather than the meat to fat ratio, that is causing it to look different.However higher fat(cheaper) is probably usually ground in a machine that can extrude more and more quickly and perhaps differently. the ratio may show more or less red to white in he meat itself

        1. I'm using Estancia grass-fed ground chuck from Uruguay. More expensive, but better for a good hamburger. I use less expensive ground beef in a meatloaf.

          4 Replies
          1. re: GH1618

            Where are you? Uruguay seems far away to ship beef from, but maybe I'm out of the loop.

            1. re: bbqboy

              San Francisco Bay Area. Estancia is a California company.

              1. re: GH1618

                Can you taste a difference from American grass fed beef?

                1. re: bbqboy

                  I haven't done a side-by-side comparison. That's the premium ground beef at the market I prefer for fresh meat, so I buy it and I like the result. I don't think their regular ground chuck is grass fed.

          2. The tubed one - and others that are not stranded - have added water. Crushed ice is added to the beef before grinding. There may also be the "pink slime" blended in.

            Always look for the stranded type of ground meat, which is a sign that it has not been "diluted".
            I am not sure where I learned this - maybe America's Test Kitchen.

            1 Reply
            1. re: greygarious

              LOL. When I come out with especially esoteric pieces of info I always figure it's from NPR :)

            2. As a kid my mom would always add finely chopped mushrooms, onions, and crushed crackers or oatmeal to stretch to make more patties- also added great flavor