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Costco Fresh Ground Beef not great

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zackly Feb 5, 2014 11:47 AM

I'm a huge Costco fan and shop there frequently. One item I'm not fond of is their fresh ground beef. It makes lousy burgers, dry and tough. Does anyone know what they are grinding? It looks like some kind of round to me, very lean.

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  1. JTPhilly RE: zackly Feb 5, 2014 11:50 AM

    unless you watch your butcher grind up a chuck steak in front of your eyes I am not sure you really want to ask "what are they grinding" anywhere.

    edit to add..
    one thing I hate that supermarkets do is market "lean" ground beef as better - for burgers this is not the case you want a fatty cut. You will actually get a better burger out of the cheap stuff in a tube that %75 or %80 lean vs the more expensive %90 - of course you still don't what to know what or who is really in the tube

    4 Replies
    1. re: JTPhilly
      BananaBirkLarsen RE: JTPhilly Feb 5, 2014 12:14 PM

      Lean ground beef isn't more expensive because it's better, it's more expensive because it costs more to make. More meat has to be ground, as opposed to cheaper fat being used to fill out the mix. Where I work, fattier ground beef is made from the trim left over from when the whole cow is broken down. This trim is around 80% lean and 20% fat. Lean beef has to be ground either from cuts that could be sold as steaks, roasts or stew meat, or from picking the leanest pieces out of the trim (leaving the remaining fat to be sold on its own at a much reduced cost). Granted, this is just the way we do things. Every butcher and supermarket seems to have a different system. That said, compare the cost of lean ground beef to the cost of a round roast. It's probably fairly similar.

      Another thing to consider is that lean ground beef turns dark a lot faster than fattier ground beef (unless it has been gassed with carbon monoxide, which I hear is fairly common), so many supermarkets may be trying to move the (more expensive) product before it turns dark and nobody will buy it.

      1. re: BananaBirkLarsen
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        Chowrin RE: BananaBirkLarsen Feb 5, 2014 12:46 PM

        Does costco regrind the steaks they've got in house? Because I've sure seen a lot of variation in their "at least 88% lean"...

        1. re: BananaBirkLarsen
          JTPhilly RE: BananaBirkLarsen Feb 5, 2014 12:47 PM

          Interesting point on the darkening, I don't disagree it costs more and should but I think a lot of people buy the more expensive lean ground meat thinking it will be better and healthier when in fact it makes for terrible burgers. I suppose it is the consumer preference for less fat that drives this as much as the merchandising does.

        2. re: JTPhilly
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          Chowrin RE: JTPhilly Feb 5, 2014 12:46 PM

          i like me a lean burger. Dunno about you.

        3. sal_acid RE: zackly Feb 5, 2014 11:53 AM

          Just bought some in DE that was 80/20 and not at all lean.

          1. JungMann RE: zackly Feb 5, 2014 12:02 PM

            Did you check the fat to meat ratio on your package? My Costco sells 88% lean ground beef. A lot of people prefer 80/20, but I find the 88/12 at Costco isn't bad at medium rare.

            2 Replies
            1. re: JungMann
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              zackly RE: JungMann Feb 5, 2014 12:28 PM

              Yes, mine is also 88/12.

              1. re: JungMann
                biondanonima RE: JungMann Feb 5, 2014 12:49 PM

                I buy the 88/12 from Costco frequently but I'm not sure I trust their numbers. It tends to be a lot greasier than 85/15 I buy elsewhere. I'm sure it depends on the location, though, since they grind on site.

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                thimes RE: zackly Feb 5, 2014 12:38 PM

                I also dislike Costco's ground beef. It never feels right, always makes lousy burgers, doesn't form a patty well, and always seems dry. I agree.

                On the up side - they are one of the few retailers that re-test for e-coli in house before grinding. It has made them unpopular with major beef distributors but I applaud their effort.

                I just wish I liked it better.

                1 Reply
                1. re: thimes
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                  zackly RE: thimes Feb 5, 2014 12:52 PM

                  If you notice Costco sells a lot of fresh items that are not the most desirable (standard) size or variety. For example in produce russet potatoes, lemons and some apples are very large. Because these items are generally served in single portions but are sold by weight (as opposed to being sold by pieces) they are cheaper. I wonder if this is why they don't grind chuck 80/20? It has gotten too expensive.

                2. j
                  joonjoon RE: zackly Feb 5, 2014 12:46 PM

                  Their ground beef is too lean for burgers.

                  1. c
                    Chowrin RE: zackly Feb 5, 2014 12:47 PM

                    I always want to taste meat, not fat. So give me something dry and tough, but have it taste like beef.

                    Costco's ground beef is delish!

                    (also, you might like it better in cassarole or meatloaf).

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Chowrin
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                      zackly RE: Chowrin Feb 5, 2014 01:45 PM

                      Yes, I use it for chili,meatloaf, meat sauce for pasta etc.

                    2. KaimukiMan RE: zackly Feb 5, 2014 06:07 PM

                      Zacky, as others have mentioned costco ground beef is 88/12 in most places. Personally I like leaner meat, but you do have to be more careful in cooking it. 80/20 or even 75/25 is preferred by a lot of people, they prefer the mouth feel of the fattier burger. It does feel "moister", but I don't like the slimy feel it leaves in my mouth.

                      I dislike whole milk for the same reason. Of course I have to admit to a penchant for drinking half and half and whipping cream right out of the carton and loving the fatty coating in my mouth after. There is just no accounting for taste.

                      As for what I use it for - everything. Burgers, chili, spaghetti, lasagna, tacos, meatloaf, meatballs. In short anything that calls for ground beef.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: KaimukiMan
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                        Chowrin RE: KaimukiMan Feb 5, 2014 07:50 PM

                        I think a lot of people have a taste fetish for "moist" meat, and an aversion to "tough" meat. I'm the opposite.

                        I don't like whole milk either -- hadn't connected the two.

                      2. juliejulez RE: zackly Feb 5, 2014 08:14 PM

                        My Costco sells 88% lean, and I think that's too lean for a good burger. I grind my own for burgers, usually chuck roasts. But, I find the Costco ground beef to be fine to use for other applications.

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                          treb RE: zackly Feb 6, 2014 07:05 AM

                          I find that Costco beef is great but, not for hamburgers 'cus it's too lean, it's also a great value. When making burgers, I usually cut it with some ground pork to add fat and flavor. It also makes for good meatloaf, meatballs. BTW - you might consider editing the topic line 'cus their ground beef IS great but, NOT FOR HAMBURGERS.

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                            thimes RE: zackly Feb 6, 2014 07:21 AM

                            There seems to be a lot of comments that it is because it is too lean . . . . I don't even like it compared to lean beef I get from other sources when I want lean beef . . . it still has an unusual texture to it for me.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: thimes
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                              zackly RE: thimes Feb 6, 2014 07:42 AM

                              Agreed, the texture is different from ground chuck. Not much fat & ground less fine (through larger grinder holes) than is the norm yields a different texture and I still contend it's round maybe bottom round.

                              1. re: zackly
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                                Rene RE: zackly Feb 6, 2014 10:58 PM

                                Costco 88/12 is more lean than 80/20 chuck... I find it to be a terrific lean beef for many things NOT BURGER.

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