January 11, 2016

Grinding my own ground beef (hamburger) from roasts today!

I took these photos from my last beef grinding session and they've been sitting in my files for when I do a post about making your own hamburger patties from a chuck (or other cut) of roast.  But... I never got around to that post and I love to clean out clutter in my files - AND it just so happens that today is another "make ahead" cooking kind of day so I'm posting them.

As I've mentioned in my homemade chicken, feta & spinach sausages (link), I don't use any expensive, 'wow' kind of appliances.  I have an affordable meat grinder my husband picked up at Lowe's - you can also find them at other stores and Amazon.

The US has pretty strict food safety standards, but even so, bacteria is in meats and in ground beef, fairly common.  Commercially ground beef using many cuts of beef along with trimmings and fat from many cows. That means if only one is infected with E. coli or other bacteria it is spread throughout the entire batch of ground beef.  Now, E. coli doesn't actually scare me at all because I like to cook all our burgers, meatballs, meatloaf, etc. until 'well done' and cooking beef over 140 degrees kills it and makes it safe.  The FDA suggests everyone cook ground beef to 160 degrees for safety.  This makes it safe to eat as bacteria is killed.

I like to grind my own beef not only to ensure my ground beef is coming from one source - one cut - likely not to have bacteria and I always give a quick 'wash' and pat down to my roasts anyway;  but the taste of freshly ground beef is superior to the ground beef I buy packaged at the store.  I also am able to make my ground beef into patties and seasoned the way our family likes them before I package them and put them into the deep freezer for later meals.

If you are interested in what the government has to say about ground beef - this is from the FDA's website;

What kind of bacteria can be in ground beef? Are they dangerous?
Bacteria are everywhere in our environment; virtually any food can harbor bacteria. In foods of animal origin, pathogenic (illness-causing) bacteria, such as Salmonella, Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli (STECs), Campylobacter jejuni, Listeria monocytogenes, and Staphylococcus aureus, cause illness. These harmful bacteria cannot be seen or smelled.

If the pathogens are present when meat is ground, then more of the meat surface is exposed to the harmful bacteria. Also, grinding allows any bacteria present on the surface to be mixed throughout the meat. Bacteria multiply rapidly in the "Danger Zone" — temperatures between 40 and 140 °F (4.4 and 60 °C). To keep bacterial levels low, store ground beef at 40 °F (4.4 °C) or below and use within 2 days, or freeze. To destroy harmful bacteria, cook ground beef to a safe minimum internal temperature of 160 °F (71.1 °C).

Other bacteria cause spoilage. Spoilage bacteria generally are not harmful, but they will cause food to deteriorate or lose quality by developing a bad odor or feeling sticky on the outside.

Why is the E. coli O157:H7 bacterium of special concern in ground beef? 
E. coli O157:H7 is the most well-known Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), though other STEC strains have also been identified. STECs produce large quantities of a potent toxin that forms in the intestine and causes severe damage to the lining of the intestine. This causes a disease called hemorrhagic colitis, and may also cause Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, particularly in young children. STECs can colonize in the intestines of animals, which could contaminate muscle meat at slaughter.

E. coli O157:H7 bacteria survive refrigerator and freezer temperatures. Once they get in food, they can multiply very slowly at temperatures as low as 44 °F (6.7 °C). While the actual infectious dose is unknown, most scientists believe it takes only a small number of this strain of E. coli to cause serious illness and even death, especially in children and older adults. The bacteria are killed by thorough cooking, which for ground beef is an internal temperature of 160 °F (71.1 °C) as measured by a food thermometer.

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