Raw ground meat will only last 1-2 days in the fridge.
The process of grinding the meat takes the bacteria that is naturally on the outside of the meat and blends it throughout the volume of the ground product.
For this reason, Ground Meats need to be cooked thoroughly, an undercooked or “rare” hamburger patty is potentially dangerous. Even if I freshly grind the meat, I will always make sure it is cooked properly before service.
Cooked ground meat should be refrigerated and consumed within 3 days.
The Supermarkets have trained people to think that an intense red colour indicates freshness but ground meat that is brown in colour is not necessarily unsafe to eat or “old”.
When meat is exposed to air, its colour can change from a bright red to a brown colour.
All meat contains a pigment called myoglobin, which is the purple colour in freshly cut meat.
After exposure to air, oxymoyoglobin can convert to metmyoglobin, which has a grey/brown colour. As long as the ground meat is stored correctly in the fridge, and consumed by the “use-by” date, it is still safe to eat.
You’ll notice a sharp sour smell or slimy, sticky texture if the meat is “off”, but if you have doubts, throw it out, it is not worth the risk.
Fresh ground meat will have a cold, damp feel and a mild metallic aroma.
Supermarket “modified atmosphere packaging,” or MAP packaging contains a mix of carbon dioxide and oxygen. The gas sustains an attractive red colour in the meat much longer than the few days that exposed meat stays red in a butcher’s display cabinet.
I recommend handling the ground meat as little as possible so the burger texture is loose and the juices can run freely within the open structure.
But it can be desirable to have a tighter more bonded structure to the patty sometimes, like for a childs burger so it doesn’t fall apart on them, or if you are grilling over open flame or applying the ground meat to a skewer like in a Kebab or skinless Cevup sausage.
The more the mince is handled, the denser and more “sticky” it will become.
The Secrets of the perfect Ground meat
Beef mince is categorised by percentage of fat the mince contains.
Supermarket “Regular” mince has a fat content around 18% fat.
Low Fat or Lean mince has fat content below 10%.
Supermarket mince is usually overworked, it has been minced too fine and only looks like mince because of the way it is extruded from the mincer.
Next time you have some, take a pinch and smear it on your chopping board, it is a paste with no lumps.
A good Standard Burger mince is 80% Meat and 20% Fat.
Most good Burger chefs will use a higher Fat content than the “Standard” mix.
Less than 20% Fat and the burger will be tight and tasteless
20-30% Fat is fine to flame grill any higher fat content and the burger will drip too much fat and burn.
30-50% Fat is better to cook on a Flat Top or Skillet
Visually you can get an idea of the fat content by looking at the size and density of the white fat globules in the mince.
Grain fed will usually have a higher fat content than grass fed
Smash Burger 130-150g (4.6 – 5.3oz)
Quarter Pounder = 113g
Mounded Patty 150-200g (5.3 – 7oz)
Deluxe Butchers Mix (20% Fat)
20% Short Rib
John Torode (40% Fat)
1.5kg (40% Fat) Chuck or Beef Rib
2 tablespoons oyster Sauce
1 egg yolk
33% Short Rib
33% Rib Eye
Gordon Ramsay (30% fat)
Bread Street Kitchen (F word Burger) and Burger Restaurant Planet Hollywood Los Vegas
200g minced short rib
400g minced chuck
200g minced brisket
80g minced fat (an extra 10%)
Urban Griller Mix (30% Fat)
800g Chuck and
200g Lamb breast
Minced with 50g frozen cubes of butter and 1 teaspoon Vegemite (or two anchovies) per Kilo
The Lamb adds a “sweetness” and a depth of caramelisation to the burger that I like (Pork mince will also add a sweetness)
The butter adds to the fat content and dissolves quickly and combines with the rendering fat to provide a great frying medium.