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Ground Beef Turns Color Overnight

 
 
Reply Mon 21 Jan, 2008 06:54 am
I bought some ground beef yesterday, that I wanted to use in a meat loaf. I had to wait for the butcher to grind it, so I knew, (or thought that I knew) that it was fresh. The color was a nice red, through and through. This morning, when I took out the meat to prepare it, the outside of the meat was still bright red, but it had turned brown on the inside.

Why does this happen? I always had a paranoid suspicion that the butchers sometimes used older meat for ground beef, but how do they keep the outside of the beef so red?

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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 18,295 • Replies: 25
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tycoon
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Jan, 2008 07:08 am
The outside of the meat blooms to a nice red because of oxidization with the air. If you exposed the brown meat you observe inside to the air, you would notice it would acquire the rosier color as well.

Ground meat can be the repository of unsold steaks and roasts and even unsold ground beef from the day before. This is not necessarily a bad thing. If the meat department stays ahead of the bacterial curve and grinds meat from, say, an unsold roast that was cut less than three days ago, the ground beef will not be adveresly affected. However, grinding product that has been allowed to sit more than 3 days and has taken on a grayish color will introduce bacteria into the ground meat and will produce a product that will smell quirky and quickly turn off color.

Your nose is the best indicator of quality ground beef.
Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Jan, 2008 07:33 am
tycoon- Thanks. The meat smelled very fresh when I bought it yesterday, so I think that there will be no problems. I have always made it a point to use ground beef (or at least cook it) within a day or so of buying it.
0 Replies
 
tycoon
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Jan, 2008 08:28 am
Quick use or immediate freezing is crucial. Ground beef by its very nature is a highly perishable product. Grinding introduces thousands of surfaces in which bacteria can flourish.

I think everyone should give thought to developing a strategy on buying ground beef. Some simple things to avoid will go a long way in helping you avoid undesireable product.

For instance, I used to always buy the three or five pound chubs that were simply purchased by the meat department from packing houses that did nothing but provide ground meat to the industry. My thinking was simple--these packing houses always used freshly-processed beef, never having to worry about unsold steaks and roasts sitting on a shelf. However, after a spate of e coli outbreaks from these packers, I have shied away from them. Obviously, basic meat handling processes are not always being adhered to.

I purchased a 1/2 horse grinder from Cabelas for less than $100. Whenever beef chuck roasts are on sale I purchase about 20 lbs worth and twice-grind my own ground beef. This is clearly the preferred method, producing a wonderful tasting hamburger that is naturally about 80% lean. But I don't always have the time and certainly everyone will not find this practical.

A simple strategy to employ is to stay away from smaller shops. The larger the supermarket, the better the turnover, the fresher the ground beef, IMO. I look for cleanliness of the meat department, particularly the display shelves. I like to flip over a corner of the red or green plastic that lays atop the steel shelves and look underneath to see how well housekeeping is performed. This provides important clues to the overall health of the department and how well they do in their battle with bacteria.

Is there off-color meat in the display case? DANGER! There's only one place where that bacteria-laden meat will end up. Don't buy ground meats from this establishment.

I wonder if anyone else has any strategies in purchasing ground meat.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Jan, 2008 04:02 pm
My favorite way to prepare hamburgers is to get the butcher to give me a few pounds of ground beef (fresh), which is wrapped in paper, only, no plastic. This i leave in the refrigerator for about a week, and then i make it into patties--one or two to cook and eat right away, the rest to be frozen. The frozen patties are prefect, because they can go right into a hot skillet, and be quickly cooked to the medium rare i prefer.

If i want a hamburger right away, i'll cook one then, but i prefer to at least leave a patty or two out overnight (again, wrapped in paper) before cooking it. To me, the perfect hamburger has just a slight aroma, which is stronger when cooked.

I realize this is not to the taste of many people, so i don't offer such hamburgers to others. If i used such meat for a meatloaf (and there ain't nothin' no sublimer than a meatloaf sammich ! ! ! ), the intent would be to eat it myself, not to serve to others.
0 Replies
 
tycoon
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Jan, 2008 01:24 pm
I've never heard of anything like that Setanta. You're actually trying to introduce a sour off-taste to the burger? Have you ever considered adding a bit of vinegar to fresh ground beef to try to replicate the taste? Letting it sit for a week and then cooking it only to medium rare are two no-nos in the ground beef biz. How long have you been doing this?

People often make the assumption that buying a half or quarter from a local producer and having it made into ground beef is a superior way of ensuring a fresh, top notch quality product. Think again. I wouldn't even consider it without a lot of safeguards in place first. I would need to see the beef on the hoof, verify what it has been feeding on, be on hand during the slaughter, inspect the locker it will be hanging in, and be on hand during the boning, grinding, wrapping and freezing process. It's unlikely a federal inspector will ever be on hand to examine the carcass, so these steps become necessary just to ensure the safety and purity of the product. In short, I would never do it.
0 Replies
 
cjhsa
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Jan, 2008 01:36 pm
Alternatively you can grind your own. If you have a meat grinder or food processor, just buy chuck steaks or round steaks. Rinse the steaks off really well before grinding them and you will reduce your risk of contamination. How? By avoiding the meat grinder at the butcher's shop. That is where most cross contamination occurs, at least for meats they grind on the premises.

I know that many stores don't grind meat, it comes ground, prepackaged. They fill the containers with carbon monoxide (yes CO), so the meat looks the right color. This meat comes in a plastic container with a sheet of plastic over the top with a tight seal.
0 Replies
 
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Jan, 2008 01:49 pm
I always butchered my own beef/hogs/lambs. Put them in the corral next to the barn, put them down with one shot from my .270, hung from the rafters to bleed out and gut, aged the beef for 10 days roasts and steaks cut first then misc like burger I used a pto driven grinder and an old sink. After all was said and done I truck all the wrapped meat to my local slaughter house and put in their flash freezer. After 3 days home again and into one of my 3 chest freezers in the back of the machine shed.
0 Replies
 
tycoon
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Jan, 2008 02:02 pm
cjhsa wrote:
Alternatively you can grind your own. If you have a meat grinder or food processor, just buy chuck steaks or round steaks.


Chuck will give you an 80% lean to fat ration, perfect IMO . Round will be upwards of 90%. Unless you must restrict your fat intake, most people will find the ground round a little too dry for their taste.

cjhsa wrote:

I know that many stores don't grind meat, it comes ground, prepackaged. They fill the containers with carbon monoxide (yes CO), so the meat looks the right color. This meat comes in a plastic container with a sheet of plastic over the top with a tight seal.


This is a technique pioneered by Wal-Mart, and has allowed the Supercenters to increase their shelf life of meats considerably.
0 Replies
 
tycoon
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Jan, 2008 02:05 pm
dyslexia wrote:
I always butchered my own beef/hogs/lambs. Put them in the corral next to the barn, put them down with one shot from my .270, hung from the rafters to bleed out and gut, aged the beef for 10 days roasts and steaks cut first then misc like burger I used a pto driven grinder and an old sink. After all was said and done I truck all the wrapped meat to my local slaughter house and put in their flash freezer. After 3 days home again and into one of my 3 chest freezers in the back of the machine shed.


A lot of work, isn't it? I always think when leveling my trusty .270 on a deer, "Are you sure you want to pull the trigger? There's a lot of work ahead for you."
0 Replies
 
Amigo
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Jan, 2008 02:07 pm
Phoenix, I hear that they actually spry some kind stuff on the meat to keep it looking fresh and red but when the butcher grinds it up he doesn't do this so it naturally does this. So really your meat is just short some spray junk that makes it look red.

I was told this by some whole food hippie people.
alex240101
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Jan, 2008 02:37 pm
A ground meat thread. Great one. My input.
I have heard of people ageing their meat in the refrigerator for a week, before they use it. That sounds strange to me too. There's a steakhouse a few towns away, they serves steaks that melt in you mouth. Their ageing process is a secret. I did hear though, that their aged meat is a dark brown before it hits the grill. Now, where am I going to get a steak tonight.
0 Replies
 
Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Jan, 2008 02:43 pm
I have a neighbor who used to be in the meat business. He once told me how to age meat, but I never even put his ideas to use. I do believe that he aged the meat in a vacuum packed plastic container for a month in the refrigerator. One day I have to ask him again for the exact recipe. I would not want to get that one wrong! Sad

When I buy chopped beef, I usually get the 4% fat. It is dry, but I usually add some "stuff" to add flavor.
0 Replies
 
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Jan, 2008 02:47 pm
Phoenix32890 wrote:
I have a neighbor who used to be in the meat business. He once told me how to age meat, but I never even put his ideas to use. I do believe that he aged the meat in a vacuum packed plastic container for a month in the refrigerator. One day I have to ask him again for the exact recipe. I would not want to get that one wrong! Sad

When I buy chopped beef, I usually get the 4% fat. It is dry, but I usually add some "stuff" to add flavor.
wow 4%? I avoid anything under 20% fat and cook it rare.
0 Replies
 
Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Jan, 2008 02:49 pm
http://www.goodcooking.com/steak/aging/aging.htm

The guy who wrote this is from Iowa, so I suppose he knows what he is doing. I would still be a little leery about aging my own meat.
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Jan, 2008 02:50 pm
dyslexia- If I had your body fat content, I would not be at all concerned about eating too much fat! Laughing

I pass my burgers under the flame, just to kill the germs.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Jan, 2008 03:08 pm
tycoon wrote:
I've never heard of anything like that Setanta. You're actually trying to introduce a sour off-taste to the burger?


It is neither sour nor "off-taste." Because it is not to your taste, that does not mean that it is "off-taste." The beef at the butcher shop has not been aged, so i age it myself. In many places in Europe and North America, until quite recently in history, a carcass was hung up to age for several days.

Quote:
Have you ever considered adding a bit of vinegar to fresh ground beef to try to replicate the taste?


I detest vinegar. The smell of it cooking will drive me from the house.

Quote:
Letting it sit for a week and then cooking it only to medium rare are two no-nos in the ground beef biz. How long have you been doing this?


I've been doing it all my life. If the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees, it is allegedly safe. However, my experience is that, given that my preferred "temperature" probably doesn't hit 160 degrees for long enough, nevertheless i've never suffered any sepsis or food poisoning.

You think your way, and i'll think mine.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Jan, 2008 03:09 pm
weve killed and cleaned our own dexter cattle and HErefords. Its always prefereable to "age" the meat. We , after carcassing , hang the quarters in a friends abbatoir reefer. We leave it till it ages a couple weeks and develops a "rind"
Ever hear of "Aged" beef?

Dys likes a little flame with his burgers.
0 Replies
 
cjhsa
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Jan, 2008 03:09 pm
I love a rare to medium rare steak, but undercooked ground meat is, well, just gross. Nothing like a good old double bacteria burger.

Aged steaks are great but you'll rarely find one outside of a steakhouse unless it was done at home, or you know a really good butcher. Aged meats lose water content, and gain in price.
0 Replies
 
Laine
 
  1  
Reply Wed 21 Jul, 2010 04:04 pm
@Amigo,
They don't spray something on, they run carbon monoxide through the meat.

From USDA webpage:http://www.fsis.usda.gov/factsheets/ground_beef_and_food_safety/index.asp
"Why is pre-packaged ground beef red on the outside and sometimes dull, grayish-brown inside?
Oxygen from the air reacts with meat pigments to form a bright red color which is usually seen on the surface of meat purchased in the supermarket. The pigment responsible for the red color in meat is oxymyoglobin, a substance found in all warm-blooded animals. Fresh cut meat is purplish in color. The interior of the meat may be grayish brown due to lack of oxygen; however, if all the meat in the package has turned gray or brown, it may be beginning to spoil. "

from:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_monoxide#Meat_coloring
"Carbon monoxide is used in modified atmosphere packaging systems in the US, mainly with fresh meat products such as beef, pork, and fish to keep them looking fresh. The carbon monoxide combines with myoglobin to form carboxymyoglobin, a bright cherry red pigment. Carboxymyoglobin is more stable than the oxygenated form of myoglobin, oxymyoglobin, which can become oxidized to the brown pigment, metmyoglobin. This stable red color can persist much longer than in normally packaged meat.[46] Typical levels of carbon monoxide used in the facilities that use this process are between 0.4% to 0.5%. . . In 2004 the FDA approved CO as primary packaging method..."


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