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Burgers & Salting


Shalmanese
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Interesting. I always salt before grinding, just because it mixes the salt thoroughly without forcing you to overwork the ground meat ... it's generally best to work the meat as little as possible.

I've never experience a bouncy, sausage-like texture. I find them extremely tender.

Edited by paulraphael (log)

Notes from the underbelly

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Saw this earlier and wondered then why salt at all before frying? The article doesn't show my preference which is to only salt the finished product. I fry in butter in a cast iron skillet with no salt, except what might be in the butter if I use salted.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

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I remember when I was emailing back and forth with the rep from Ajinomoto about Activa, he mentioned that salt will increase the proteins available for binding.. I wonder if that has anything to do with this? With more available proteins, I wonder if the glutaminases already present in the meat start to bind after a while? Then again, it's no problem if you grind with salt just prior to cooking - there will be no time for any enzyme activity... but if you were to grind, then hold for a day or two, who knows.... mmmmm hamburger sausage......

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It might be signifcant that they used 2% of the meat's weight in salt. That's a lot. I don't know if it's more than what mcdonalds and bk use, but it's more than I can stomach by a factor of 2. I use about .75% salt by weight. I want the salt to make the burger taste more like beef, not to make it taste like a salk lick.

There are other variables the article doesn't mention: how long before grinding did they salt? What size grinding disk? I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that if the meat is salted right before chilling (up to an hour before grinding) and ground with a course disk (1/8") you will observe none of the transformation they're describing. I've done this countless times, and I've done it while experimenting with many different cuts of meat.

Notes from the underbelly

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I wonder if it just comes down to needing to handle the meat differently if you salt first? I'm with paulraphael, I always salt first, and use less than they do, and my burgers look more like the "good" burger in their study than the "bad" one. Certainly they aren't hockey pucks! I think by attempting to be "scientifically rigorous" and holding all other variables constant, they are coming to a misleading conclusion. The point is, if you salt first, you can't hold all the other variables constant, you have to treat the burger differently. You use less salt (IMO) and you barely work the meat at all, since the additional protein bonds make the meat stick to itself much better without the need for firmly pressing it together.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I think by attempting to be "scientifically rigorous" and holding all other variables constant, they are coming to a misleading conclusion.

Well, they're not even acknowledging the myriad variables they haven't controlled. People throw around words like "scientific" without understanding what the word means. It's more than observation. At the very least, a scientific approach to this experiment would require them, in their analysis, to discuss all the limitations of their approach, and all the variables they were unable to consider. By failing to do that, and by coming to an absolute and simplistic conclusion ("salting before grinding makes sausage!") they've done junk science.

Notes from the underbelly

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I grind with a 3/8"plate and salt and pepper lightly after the first grind and then grind again..it does not get ground finer just evens up the salt and gets more of the meat out of the grinder..whithout the tendons,,ligaments etc...

Bud

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I always salt before grinding but I usually make the patties and cook them within an hour or so of grinding. I find the meat to be perfect for holding together just enough to not be sloppy but is still tender to the tooth. I've never seen a burger like the one they produced in their experiment. Methinks the 2% salt is way too much.

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I also believe this is junk science. They're using something to form the patty, with no indication of amount of force, etc. There are other weaknesses.

How you form the patty is the biggest factor in how it'll turn out, based on my anecdotal and empirical research. :)

V

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Wow. This is some paragraph:

Both of these burgers were made from the same cut of beef (chuck eye) from the same cow (Bessie), cut and trimmed the same way, ground on the same grinder (KitchenAid) with the same die at the same temperature (3/16-inch, well chilled), formed with the same hands (mine) to the same weight and size (5 ounces, 4.5-inches across), cooked in the same skillet (cast iron) at the same temperature (ripping hot) for the same amount of time (4 minutes total), and sliced open with the same knife (very sharp).

I don't know if this is a joke or not, but I don't think "well chilled" is a very useful measure of temperature, particularly given the crucial relationship temp has to the bind. In addition, temp during grinding is the crucial variable to the bind, not temp at patty formation.

Where's Thomas Dolby ("Science!") when you need him?

Edited by Chris Amirault
to add grinding note (log)

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Its controlled within the ability of the average home cook to control such an experiment.

"well chilled" may not provide a reproducible temperature range for confirmation studies, but if the experimenter used the same fridge and prechilled the die for the same length of time, thats a reasonable degree of control.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Given the issues I just raised, I guess I'd hold someone tossing the word "science" around to a higher standard.

Especially since (to co-opt scientific jargon) several people here have been unable to duplicate their results.

Not that anyone here has tried to replicate the exact conditions of their experiment--but considering that their intent was to simulate real world burger-making conditions, and their conclusion was presented as universally true--then we can trust there's something seriously wrong with their methods.

Notes from the underbelly

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  • 1 year later...

So did anyone else do a better controlled test of this?

I usually grind my burgers and then lightly salt and toss the ground meat before forming the patties. Now I'm wondering if I don't want to salt right before I grind, do it the old way or hold off until right before cooking.

Also, I'm planning on forming the patties tonight but won't cook until tomorrow. If I salt tonight will they be any different then if I wait and salt tomorrow and form the patties then?

Edited by BadRabbit (log)
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So did anyone else do a better controlled test of this?

I usually grind my burgers and then lightly salt and toss the ground meat before forming the patties. Now I'm wondering if I don't want to salt right before I grind, do it the old way or hold off until right before cooking.

Also, I'm planning on forming the patties tonight but won't cook until tomorrow. If I salt tonight will they be any different then if I wait and salt tomorrow and form the patties then?

I do the same as you, adding a touch of salt and pepper, before formingthe patties,tried it other ways ,but thatcomes out the best...(and with my opinion and a C note,you might be able to buy something useful,,)(joke)

Bud

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Do you think grinding tendons to the mixture would be a good idea?

Does it render to collagen during short cooking?

I have been using tendons for stock, they are great for that, amazing

gelly stock :) Also grind some beef heart for flavor.

I think if you have your grinder set up as mine is they won't come thru the plate.

I always end up with them on the cutter that rubs on the plate,and I toss them when I clean the grinder

Bud

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Do you think grinding tendons to the mixture would be a good idea?

Does it render to collagen during short cooking?

I have been using tendons for stock, they are great for that, amazing

gelly stock :) Also grind some beef heart for flavor.

From what I remember (without rechecking a source like McGee), collagen wouldn't render during such brief, relatively high-temperature cooking; you need to go 'low and slow' for that to happen (e.g. simmering for at least an hour).

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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As explained in Modernist Cuisine (3•235), salt extracts "the meat protein mycosin, which forms a strong, elastic gel when cooked. That may be desirable in sausage making, but it produces a rubbery burger."

This is why salting the meat during grinding, or salting the mixture overall, produces a tighter, more "sausage-like" burger -- and why it is advisable to salt only the outside of the burger just before (and during, and after) cooking.

--

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