Grind Your Own Meat For Safe(r) Burgers

You might have seen, or heard about, a front-page New York Times story about ground beef, one that definitely raises a few health and safety questions about your standard burger. One solution then, is to grind your own beef.

Photo by VirtualErn.

Of course, no meat is perfect —ground beef (that's minced meat to us Aussies) in particular has a lot of surface area and needs to be closely looked after to hit the right internal temperature while cooking. But buying a whole cut of meat that you know the quality and source of eliminates a vast number of variables that commercial products leave you guessing at.

NY Times food writer Mark Bittman has suggested that if you don't have your own grinder, a standard food processor can do a fine job of meat grinding, if you watch what's happening:

Next, don't overprocess. You want the equivalent of chopped meat, not a meat purée. The finer you grind the meat, the more likely you are to pack it together too tightly, which will make the burger tough.

If you want to delve a bit deeper into the specifics of ground beef issues, a Grocery Guy blog post will indulge your curiosity — just don't read it right before lunch. That said, he brings up a nice halfway compromise to making a mess of your kitchen counter: Get to know your butcher and have him or her grind your meat to order. That post also contains a few more nitty-gritty tips on cuts, seasoning and patty preparation.

Have you long been DIY-ing your burger patties? Got any tips for those of us looking to escape the shrink-wrapped section? Share the wisdom in the comments.

For the Love of a Good Burger [The Minimalist/NYTimes]


    Last Friday night I cooked myself some kangaroo burgers. You might think killing cute and cuddly things is wrong, but consider that 50 million of them currently bound around Australia, and we cull 6.5 million every year (according to Wikipedia) in order to stop them overpopulating.

    Due to the fact that random hunting of them is illegal (and quite icky anyway), the meat doesn't keep well, and there are very few suppliers, you basically have no choice but to buy it vacuum-packed.

    You could plausibly buy a kangaroo fillet and mince it yourself, but I can't testify to the success of that. I bought pre-minced stuff.

    I made my patties up with 500g kangaroo mince, 2 slices of freshly-crumbed bread, and half an onion, chopped. I was going to chuck in an egg, but I didn't need it.

    The taste of kangaroo is quite similar to beef, and it's much better for Australia's environment: cattle produce methane (one of the worst greenhouse gasses), kangaroos do not; cattle have feet that destroy land, kangaroos do not; and cattle and not native, kangaroos are.

      Although kangaroo meat in itself has health benefits, there is a lot of misinformation regarding the use of kangaroo meat as an environmentally sustainable option. A health report has brought to light that the harvest and storage methods are far from adequate, and many samples of kangaroo meat were found to be unsanitary and containing ecoli. As such, Russia has ceased to import kangaroo meat as the safety of the meat cannot be guaranteed. Also, studies have shown that kangaroos are not a sustainable alternative to livestock. The amount of meat on each kangaroo is very minimal, meaning that an unsustainably large number would need to be harvested to replace livestock. It would quickly mean the extinction of the kangaroo. The Kangaroo industry of Australia is perpetuating many myths such as overpopulation of kangaroos in order to continue to expand it's commercial harvests - and therefore it's profits. Greenpeace has issued a statement that research shows that kangaroo meat is not an environmentally better alternative to livestock.
      It is important to be aware of all the issues surrounding food production before we start parroting ,misinformation that is fed to us by those who wish to build econmic empires.

        Of course I'm not suggesting that we should all only eat kangaroo and never any other meats. That would be unhealthy in itself.

        Greanpeace are not the most neutral organisation in this debate. Nor is the kangaroo industry, I grant you that. That said, the quotas for the cull are not set by either of these groups.

        From Wikipedia ( "The actual number of each species that can be taken is set annually by state wildlife authorities after their management plans have been approved by the federal government. This figure is around 15-20% of the total population, and is adjusted according to seasonal conditions. These plans are highly detailed and must be renewed every five years. If there is no management plan in place, there can be no culling."

        From this, I gather that neither side has any input into how many are killed.

        I agree that we should have more information about where our food comes from, especially our meat. I've tried vegetarianism, and it's not for me. Instead, I try to respect the animals that I eat, and make sure that they are free of harmful chemicals (ie only eating free-range chicken).

        To me, based on the *unbiased* evidence that I have, kangaroo seems a sustainable addition to my diet.

        As for your health concerns about ecoli etc, I believe the supplier I bought my meat from (my local butcher) follows the necessary methods in order for the meat to stay safe. However, I will be more careful in future, thanks for the heads-up.

        I would love to see the report that you have read from Greanpeace.

        My mistake, I copied the wrong URL for that quote. It's actually from an ABC report, the URL of which is

      Hi there.
      Interested where you get all your figures from about the kangaroo population and kill figures? Surely you checked your own Govt. figures? The population is only at 25 million over the whole country and the average kill is between 3-4 million. Greys population has dropped by some 64% over the last 7 years and with few dominant males available to shoot, females are shot and their joeys bashed over the head with a blunt instrument.
      If you want to eat Kangaroo then thats your choice but please get your facts right first before you start implying that by eating them it is controlling the population. Australian human population is one of the fastest growing taking over more and more "native land" forcing these native residents to move away from their homeland. They were in Australia millions of years ago. I assume that you are a descendant from the first Europeans who landed on Australian soil over 200 years ago so what gives you the right to say that it's best to kill these animals just so that you can live without greenhouse gasses? Think about pollution and carbon emissions first before you start blaming the kangaroos! We all have a right to an opinion.

    Of course kangaroo meat has bacteria! These animals are "game" and their hygiene and health cannot be assured. It is "eat at your own risk". Shooters go out at night, in the heat and dust, and kill these animals - presumably getting them "humanely" with a heat shot. But this is not the case, often. Many are shot at and go away to die in agony. The sick ones are more likely to be shot. Our native animals are stress-prone and the terror must be horrific for them. Up to 1 million joeys are just dragged out of their pouches to be bashed or decapitated. It is NOT a humane industry. Processors can carry very little water and the bodies are not checked until much later when they are boned. Why should Russia eat this meat? It is shameful to Australia that we are responsible for the largest terrestrial wildlife massacre in the world, for a few million$$$.
    Steve Irwin once said "It's embarrassing that Australian's eat their own Wildlife." I couldn't agree more.It's pathetic.Kangaroos are the victims of the largest land based slaughter of wildlife in the world.

    Consider this - we kill a 60 kilo roo, we then can only use 1.5% of its body for meat.... In NSW alone this year, 1,250,000 kangaroos will be shot - this is not including joeys.. NSW ALONE. 50 million in Australia you say, incorrect. 25 million; and we need to wonder how anyone get those numbers... (excuse me stand still whilst i count you). Lets take into count the drought, meaning starvation, human expansion, road kills and redneck shooters. The fact that of the 1,250,000 roos killed in NSW, 50% of them will be females. Every female shot will have a joey in pouch, a joey at foot still dependent on milk and one waiting to be born.. they are clever you know - kangaroos will hold young until the conditions are perfect to breed and populate. So how can they over populate? We kill them to control their numbers - that's hogwash, its all about money. In Bathurst last week, 140 were killed in the name of 'safety' for the race.. not population control. 150,000 is the number to be killed in the Bathurst area alone this year, with numbers like that - and the amount of joeys that are murdered along with the decent size and good gene pool adults, how can you tell me that the KII is a sustainable industry?? The shooters themselves are winging that they have to go looking too far and long for decent size roos. I would'nt rely on one source of information - there is plenty more out that that is more up to date that Wikka. And Greenpeace, well they dont actully say yes or no, but then again they are all for killing seals - again just for the money.

    I wouldn't eat an animal that has been left of the side of the road, stomachs open and full of dust.. the chiller bins don't work correctly and don't keep proper temps, wild pigs are also stored in these bins.. So its only Ecoli we have to worry about..... go for it - eat the national icon and get sick, make them extinct and tell yourself that its ok as they are 'sustainable'... I hope your children like looking at picture books.

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