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Grinding my own beef for burgers- why the freezer treatment?

I am always asking questions related to food safety for some reason. It's the natural sciences student in me that never graduated apparently...

Reading up I'm finding I'm to put the grinder attachment in the freezer first, to flash freeze the meat and then I'm only to grind only a couple of pounds to keep the apparatus and meat from heating up too much and putting the meat in "the danger zone" for too long.

I am targeting a medium burger so NOT having microbes in play would be highly desirable .. but if my meat is "infected" it seems to me it's going to be infected at the end of a 140deg cooking process period regardless of temp while being ground. Is the thinking that my small amount of microbes if ground while cold is safer than the multitude that would grow if I leave the beef out for a long period and room temp?

100 microbes won't make you sick but 10,000 microbes will? I do remember, from science classes, how fast microbial critters multiply.

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  1. I'm not going to get into a food safety discussion because I live in a "magic house." But when I've read all the freezing/cold stuff it's supposed to make it easier to grind and/or give it a better texture. And to that I say --- poppycock :) I've been grinding beef, pork and lamb for several years now. The KA grinder attachment is used right out the box. The meat comes straight out of the fridge and is sitting on a cutting board for probably 20 minutes or so. I do 5-10# at a time. And every result is perfect. People talk about splattering and I've never seen a drop of that. Again, get the safety info you're comfortable with but as to the rest, I'd recommend just doing as I do. If you don't like the result then make it more difficult. You're gonna love your home ground meat so much it's unlikely you'll ever order a burger in a restaurant!

    5 Replies
    1. re: c oliver

      Getting the meat ultra cold or slightly frozen allows the grinder blade to more easily cut, as opposed to mush, the meat. If it mushes, you get what is referred to as "smear" where the fat doesn't stay incorporated and the grind gets dry & crumbly when cooked. Not such a big deal for a rare hamburger but a very big deal if you're making sausage.

      1. re: rjbh20

        I make sausage also and have never had the problem that others have. Maybe cause we turn our heat UP to 60 when we get up in the morning :) Next time I grind meat I'll try to remember to take a picture.

          1. re: c oliver

            OKAY!!! We ground pork yesterday and I took pix - lots of pix :) The meat came straight out of the fridge (38 degrees) and the grinding attachments right out of the box. No mush. Below are the results. Yeah, yeah, I got a little carried away:)
            PS: The last pic makes it look like the meat was rare; it wasn't.

             
             
             
             
             
             
             
      2. Like c oliver mentioned, freezing the meat and equipment has nothing to do with food safety that I'm aware of. However, I disagree that it doesn't affect the outcome. One time, I did not freeze anything beforehand and my meat ended up "gummy" and stickier than it should be after going through the grinder... presumably because the fat part got too warm. It still tasted fine, but the texture was not optimal.

        3 Replies
        1. re: juliejulez

          I DO make sure that the grinder doesn't feel warm to the touch and will give it a rest every few minutes. But the texture has always been perfect. I use 7-bone beef chuck, pork and lamb shoulder.

          1. re: juliejulez

            Thanks for the replies. The warming fat issue makes perfect sense to me. I've ground meat for meatballs before and noticed that towards the end of the "run" it was getting mushy and sticky.

            I've already frozen the grinder so no harm there. I'll make sure the meat is cold but probably not go to the extreme of flash freezing it.

            We're doing grass fed chuck and some brisket.. about 1/2 - 1/2. I'm worried it's going to be too lean but we'll see.Tempted to throw a little bacon in there just in case :-)

            1. re: e_bone

              It will be too lean, in my experience . I love grass fed beef but it needs more fat if ground.

          2. It doesn't have anything to do with food safety. The texture of the meat is not as good if you grind it warm.

            1 Reply
            1. re: jaykayen

              Well, I wouldn't get the meat "warm" but ours comes out of the fridge and will be out probably 20 minutes from the beginning to the end of the grinding process. Texture is perfect.

            2. quick freezing provides for better grind, the meat won't get mushy.