September 26, 2018

GROUND BEEF RECALLS: How to grind your own hamburger patties and ground beef

I've posted this 'theme' of a post a number of times in the past but it seems fitting to post again as there is yet another big recall of ground beef going on, and it just so happens I plan to grind more beef either today or tomorrow anyway.

If you've not been to An American Housewife's site before or maybe just need to know how simple it is to grind your own beef into hamburger or ground beef, then today's post is for you!
From the news on the latest USDA recall of beef effecting Sam's Club and Target, Safeway and Meijer....

Products affected by a recent ground beef recall linked to a deadly E. coli outbreak were sold at Target, Sam's Club, Safeway and Meijer stores, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

On Sept. 19, Cargill Meat Solutions recalled 132,000 pounds of its ground beef sold nationwide after an August investigation linked its products to an E. coli outbreak that killed one person and sickened at least 17 others between July 5 and July 25, 2018.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Safety Inspection Service says it is concerned that some consumers may still have the tainted products in their freezers and cautions anyone who purchased the beef to throw it away immediately or return it to the place of purchase.

While the recall affects Sam's Club, Safeway and Meijer stores nationwide, the contaminated products are believed to have only been sold at Target locations in California, Florida and Iowa, according to a statement by the USDA
"This list may not include all retail locations that have received the recalled product or may include retail locations that did not actually receive the recalled product," the USDA also warned.

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 usually scare me 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.

  • All you need is a meat grinder - electric or manual.
  • There are also attachments you can buy to use right on your KitchenAid mixers (KitchenAid Food Grinder Attachment)
  • And you do not need to invest in an expensive model if you are just using it for household use.
  • You can purchase a meat grinder for about $60 (electric) there are manuals for about $25-30 - I'll link to some at the bottom of this post.  IF you find you need or want to invest in a more powerful version you can invest in them but for 'every so often' use around your house, the basic lower end models work fine!  I've had mine for YEARS now and use it about every 2 months.  We grind our own own beef for ground beef packages to use in sloppy joes, lasagna, taco meat, etc. as well as making our own hamburger patties.  We also use it to grind chicken and pork as I make our own chicken, spinach sausages, etc.  And ours is a low-end Weston grinder that cost us about $50 on sale at Lowe's.
  1. You simply choose a roast of your choice (we like chuck roasts for the best flavor)
  2. Cut off as much or little of the fat as you wish - making your meat as lean as you like. (Fat add flavors and moisture).
  3. Cut the meat into pieces to fit through the feed tube of your meat grinder.
  4. Assemble your meat grinder, turn it on, and put the pieces of your roast through the feed tube, that grinds it up for you and turns it out as ground beef.
  5. At this point you can use it, season it, package it, freeze it, cook and then freeze it... whatever you wish.

And if you've only used one cut of meat (your roast) you have very little chance of it being contaminated as it's 'one cut' instead of a store bought ground mixture of 20, 50, 400 different cuts of meat from as many cows.

I typically food seal ours for the freezer.  Here are hamburger patties and packages of ground beef ready for taco's, lasagna or sloppy joe's.

IT'S FUN.  (Especially if you have The Littles helping you - they think this is a great activity.)

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.

Products related to this post (if you can't find them locally, are available through Amazon):
KitchenAid Food Grinder Attachment
Weston Products Weston Brands Grinder and No.5 Stuffer, White
Weston Electric Heavy Duty Grinder, Silver
2 8"X50' Rolls of FoodVacBags Vacuum Sealer Bags - Make Your Own Size Bag!
Weston Products Weston Brands Vaccum Sealer, Harvest Guard Portable, Black
Weston 10 Manual Tinned Meat Grinder and Sausage Stuffer, 4.5mm & 10mm plates, + 3 sausage funnels
Weston 575 Watt Electric Heavy Duty Grinder, Silver


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September 24, 2018

Homemade Banana Bread

I have a really yummy banana bread recipe I posted back in 2014 that I made up one night before bed by looking at 3 or 4 old 'grandma' recipes and doing what feel right with those as the basis for my brainstorm.  (  This post is really just a "oh yeah" post for anyone who has bananas to use up - just make banana bread!  If you don't want to eat it now, just wrap it in plastic wrap and then foil and toss it into your freeze until you want to defrost and serve it.

Banana Bread

4 ripe bananas
1 c sugar or equivalent sweetener
1/2 c applesauce of choice
2 eggs
1 t baking soda
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
1 t vanilla
2 c flour
*optional:  chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees while you mash the bananas in a bowl with a mixer.  Stir in the sugar and let it stand for 15 minutes.  Add the applesauce and eggs.  Beat. Add the rest of the ingredients and pour into a 9X5" greased loaf pan.  Bake 45-55 minutes until the toothpick or sharp knife test into the center comes out clean.  Let it stand for 10 minutes in the pan before you remove and let cool completely.

OPTIONAL:  Nuts.  I love adding chopped walnuts in my banana bread - I have family members who hate nuts in theirs.  I make both.  If you add 1/2 cup or so of chopped nuts, be sure to sprinkle extra on top so you can tell which loaves have nuts and which don't.

You might also be interested in this related links to pans available through Amazon;

Wilton Perfect Results Large Nonstick Loaf Pan, 9.25 by 5.25-Inch
Farberware Nonstick Bakeware Bread and Meat Loaf Pan Set, 2-Piece, Gray
Rachael Ray Oven Lovin' Non-Stick Bakeware 9" x 5" Loaf Pan, Orange


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Homemade Pudding Pops - Chocolate and Vanilla

I happen to be the very proud owner of vintage Tupperware popcicle molds - the exact ones my Mother owned back in the early 1970's.  But when I was shopping at my local Walmart a few weeks ago I came across these primary colored ice pop molds that were on clearance.  For a quarter (yes, a quarter!) I picked up 4 of them.

I wasn't in the mood for popcicles and we didn't have any 'littles' visiting us any time soon so I decided to make pudding pops as that was something I knew both my husband and I would eat!  We are old enough to recall the awesome Jello Pudding Pops of the 80's but obviously a copy-cat recipe of those would be very difficult to make.  In addition to that, we normally don't eat sugar so I wanted to make a sugar free version.

In the end, I used a cook-n-serve package of chocolate pudding; made with almond milk and I made homemade vanilla pudding from scratch.  I've made 'pudding pops' in the past using regular milk and no gelatin; but they were too icy and the water in the milk made them almost like a milk popcicle (yuck) so this time the almond milk and heavy cream, along with some unflavored gelatin, gave it a much creamier texture.

I'm assuming you can use instant pudding - I just don't care for the taste of it.  Also - feel free to use regular with-sugar pudding and use evaporated milk instead of almond milk/cream.

Pudding Pops

1 package cook and serve chocolate pudding
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (unflavored or vanilla)
1 cup evaporated milk, half and half or heavy cream
1 teaspoons vanilla (freezing the pops mellows the vanilla flavoring so I like to add a bit extra)
1 pkg. unflavored gelatin with a couple tablespoons of cold water to soften it

Sprinkle the dry unflavored gelatin over a couple tablespoons cold water.  Let it set to soften a couple minutes.  Mix the pudding mix according to directions but use a mixture of almond milk and heavy cream or half and half.  You can also use evaporated milk (this is the the kind without water in it; NOT the same as sweetened condensed milk). Whisk in the gelatin mixture and cook over medium heat according to directions on the pudding package.  Let it cool for 5-10 minutes while you get the molds ready.  Pour into the molds and freeze for 10-12 hours as the pudding mixture is so warm it will take longer to cool then freeze.  If you opt to use instant, it should freeze in 3-4 hours instead.

For the Vanilla versions I simply made homemade vanilla pudding, added the gelatin and repeated the instructions above by pouring and freezing.

1 c half and half or cream
1 c unsweetened almond milk
1/2 c natural granulated sweetener
2 t unflavored gelatin
3 egg yolks
3 T butter - real
4 t vanilla extract

Sprinkle the dry gelatin over a couple tablespoons of water or half and half.  Let it set. Combine the sweetener and milk(s) of choice in a pan on the stove.  Cook over medium heat until the sweetener is dissolved.  Beat the egg yolks in a bowl and slowly drizzle in about a cup of the hot milk(s) mixture in while whisking.  As soon as it's incorporated, pour this back into the pan with the milk/sweeteners.  Whisk in the gelatin and the vanilla.  After a couple minutes of cooking and whisking; Turn off the heat, add the butter.  Let this cool for 5-10 minutes while you get the molds ready.  When it's cooled a bit, pour and deep freeze for 10-12 hours.

Run hot water over the pop-ice molds for a minute to loosen the pudding pop from the mold so it slides out easily.

You might also be interested in these related products available through Amazon links;

Ozera Reusable Popsicle Molds Ice Pop Molds Maker - Set of 6 - With Silicone Funnel & Cleaning Brush - Green
Norpro Frozen Ice Pop Maker with 24 Wooden Sticks
Zoku Classic Pop Molds, 6 Easy-release Popsicle Molds With Sticks and Drip-guards, BPA-free
Popsicle Molds Set - BPA Free - 6 Ice Pop Makers + Silicone Funnel + Cleaning Brush + Ice Cream Recipes E-book - by Lebice


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