Making Ground Beef

Several years ago, when I read the newspaper about the latest E.Coli outbreak in hamburger, I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands.  During my investigation I found that the E.Coli is a common bacteria found in the intestines of healthy beef (and humans, by the way).  It is during the butchering process that the E. Coli can get spread throughout the beef.

E. coli O157:H7 and E. coli O104:H4 are two strains of the deadly bacteria that belong to a family of bacteria that’s evolved since the 1960s.  Scientists believe E. coli and another bacteria, shigella, swapped genes, creating a form of E. coli that puts off the dangerous shiga toxin.  This toxin is what can kill you. 🙁

How to grind beef

My freshly ground beef being browned.

However, one way to protect yourself against E. Coli is to grind your own hamburger!  Of course, it’s impossible to know if the meat you are grinding has or has not been contaminated by the bacterium.  However, if you simply rinse the piece of meat very well in cold water BEFORE you grind it into hamburger, the likelihood that you will contaminate the ground beef with the E.Coli is much less! Once your beef has been ground, it should be used immediately, frozen or canned, to prevent any of the possible bacteria that may have slipped through from reproducing.

Making your own hamburger

This meat cost less than $2.09 a pound.

When I grind beef, I like to use cuts that are leaner, but really any cut of beef that is on sale is good. Sometimes I even buy the ones that are marked down because their expiration date is getting close!  It’s okay – the beef is still perfectly sound, though it may have lost it’s blood red “bloom” because of the packaging.  Bring the meat home and immediately put it in the refrigerator, still in it’s package, and then prepare your equipment.  I like to bleach my cutting board and rinse with hot water before I put meat on it, and I have a specific cutting board that I use only for meat!  Make sure your knives and bowls are squeeky clean also!

Making your own hamburger

This roast was on sale for $2.49 a pound. I save the fat and eventually I will have enough to melt down into tallow for soap making.

First, wash the meat with cold water and wash it well. This will remove quite a few of the bacteria that may be clinging to the surface of the meat. Next, cut off any fat, gristle or icky things you don’t want in your hamburger. I just hate seeing those big blood vessels and cut them out.  I know they are perfectly edible, but it’s just a thing with me! 🙂  Of course, you have to leave a little fat if you are making hamburgers, but if you are going to just brown the meat or make a meatloaf, you can put in as little or as much fat as you want!  I go very lean with mine.  Then, cut the meat into strips.  Since I am using my KitchenAid with the handy-dandy meat grinder, I cut the meat into a size that will fit easily into the chute.  At this point, if I am not ready to devote my time to making hamburger and then cooking, freezing, or canning it (someday) right away, I will take a clean cookie sheet and line up the meat strips on it and flash freeze.  Then I can store the meat strips in a freezer bag or container for a day when I have more time to process the meat.  If I am dealing with several packages of meat at a time (which I usually do), I only cut up and process one at a time, leaving the others to stay cold in the refrigerator.

Making hamburger

My newest invention to keep the meat from spattering all over everything!

Now comes the messy part!

Fair warning:   To prevent blood from spattering out, I have devised a wonderful shield that protects my clothes, the countertop, the ceiling and the floor – a paper towel secured with a rubber band! 🙂  Seriously!  if you are using a KitchenAid meat grinder such as mine, the blood has a tendency to spatter everywhere, so take heed! The first time I did this I had on a white blouse.  Believe me, you don’t want to do this in a white blouse.  Put the dog and cat outside, secure the children and wear your least favorite clothing!  Oh, and if you really push hard on the meat going into the hopper with the plunger, it can splatter at least 10 feet!  No kidding!  So, either use my great invention or drape something (CLEAN kitchen towel) over the grinder end.

Push the meat into the chute with the plunger thingy (I don’t remember what the official name is, but you know what I mean) and not your fingers!  The meat will come out of the grinder part spitting and splattering, then down into your bowl.

Making your own hamburger

This is the part that needs to be cleaned every 4 or 5 pounds of grinding – especially for beef!

If you are processing a lot of meat, have another clean bowl waiting.  It doesn’t take long at all to grind the hamburger.  I can grind five pounds of beef into hamburger in less than five minutes!  But, if you are grinding more than five pounds, beware of the gristle/tendon/icky trap on the cutter blade – especially if you are using a Kitchen Aid with the grinder attachment!  This thing gets all clogged up and you will need to clean it about every 4 or 5 pounds of meat that you are grinding.

Ground beef

I package the ground beef into packets of about 1-1/2 to 2 cups – just right for one recipe of soup or chili! Or tacos – I love tacos!

Once your hamburger is ground you need to process it further.  I like to take some of the hamburger and brown it in a skillet for future meals – tacos, enchiladas, soup, chili – so once it’s browned and then cooled, I make meal sized packets and freeze it.  It is so much easier to brown your own ground hamburger right out of the bowl because it is – well – fluffy!  I couldn’t think of a better word for it, but you know how the store bought hamburger comes in this chunk that you have to break apart with a fork as it browns?  Well when you grind your own it isn’t packed down, which makes it so much easier to brown in a sauce pan.  In fact, all you have to do is stir it a little bit here and there!

Another use for the hamburger is – duh – hamburgers!  I like to add in the spices and one or two egg whites (I like to make lean hamburger, and the egg white helps the hamburger stick together when cooking) before making them into patties.  I try to touch the ground meat as little as possible, so I really like using my hamburger press for this.  I just spoon it into the press, squish it into a patty, then dump it onto a cookie sheet that is lined with parchment paper. I flash freeze them on the cookie sheet, then vacuum pack them two by two in my sucky machine (aka Food Saver) with a piece of parchment in-between.

Making meatloaf from freshly ground beef

When I make meatloaf, I just add all the spices and what-nots to the freshly ground hamburger and use the kneading attachment to mix it all together! Easy-peasy!

Another favorite use for my ground beef is to make meatloaf!  MMMmmmmmm…………meatloaf!   I take about 1-1/2 pounds of ground beef and use my favorite recipe to make small “just our size” meatloafs for my hubby and I!  These meatloafs are big enough to eat for dinner and then have a meatloaf sandwich the next day!  I form them into mounds, place them on a cookie sheet and flash freeze these also, followed by vacuum sealing.  This size freezes quickly, thaws quickly in the refrigerator, and cooks in less than an hour!  Sometimes, if I have an extra pork chop or chicken breast, I will grind that up with the beef also!

This method has worked well for me.  I have a freezer-full of potential meals that will take less time to prepare since the beef has been already browned, meatloaf that is waiting to be thawed and baked, and hamburgers ready for the grill.  The best part is that I am saving money and making my food as safe as I can for my family.

My next trick with the hamburger is learning how to can it.  I have been reading through the blogosphere on how to can hamburger and it looks fairly easy.  I think.   If you have ever canned hamburger and have written about it, please leave a note in the comments so I can find you!  Thanks!


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38 thoughts on “Making Ground Beef

  1. I have a grinder but have only ground venison – why didn’t it occur to me to grind my on beef?!? I have canned beef, pork and chicken but didn’t really blog about it I don’t think. Just go by the ball book and you should be good. I did a course online from University of Idaho, Preserve at Home. Great course, great teachers and great students.

    • Oooo… An online course for canning? That sounds fantastic! I have a pressure cooker that I understand can also be used as a canner, but those things scare me! Especially now that I know you can make bombs in them! 🙁 Anyway, I need to get over this fear because I would really like to can chicken, beef and fish! There would be a lot more room in the freezer for other things if I could do that, and from all the tutorials I have read, it looks fairly straightforward! Thanks for your visit today!

    • Just like washing our hands, rinsing the meat helps to get rid of a lot of the bacteria. Not all of it, but a lot of it! Thanks for stopping by, Heather!

  2. I love the idea of a paper towel at the end of the grinder *face palm* why didn’t I think of that before??!! Genius!!
    Thanks for linking up on Simple Saturdays!!

    • Hahaha – yup, learned that one by experience! Seriously, the first time I ground meat I had spatters on every surface within a 6 foot range of the grinder! You would have thought I was in a horror movie! Thanks for hosting your hop on Simple Saturdays – have a great weekend!

  3. I am so glad I read this! I purchased an early 1950s electric mixer this weekend and it came with grinder and juicer attachments and I can’t wait to use them. I was planning on making my own ground hamburger meat but would have been splattered with raw not-so-good stuff if I didn’t read your post first!

    So, thank you so much for saving me and my kitchen! : )

    • If I can save just one kitchen, the article was worth it! 🙂 Hopefully you will find that yours doesn’t spatter as much. Those early models were so beautifully built that I am sure you are going to really enjoy using it! Congratulations on your purchase!

  4. Great tips! I am going to tell my husband. He bought the attachment for our kitchen aid recently and makes a huge mess whenever he uses it. I told him I was going to make him be like Dexter – the show – and put heavy plastic down everywhere and wear a heavy duty apron. I like your idea of the towel with the rubber band to prevent the splatter. I can not even be in there when he does it because I am all germ phobic. I am going behind him cleaning and it annoys him! I did buy a disposable plastic table cloth last time and put that over the whole counter area – that helps, too.

    • Oh my, yes, the plastic table cloth trick should work quite well! At least you can just fold it up and throw it into the wash! I would bet that using the paper towel and rubber band trick, along with the plastic table cloth, you are completely good to go! I am kinda germ phobic also – which is why I wanted to grind my own meat! I have a little more control and know exactly where that meat has been. I have seen nasty behind the scenes TV documentaries where the meat might fall onto the floor and they just pick it up and grind it up – not even washing it off! And this was at a major grocery retailer! Nope. I will grind my own, thank you! It was nice to hear from you, Kimberlee!

  5. Hello! I saw your linky on Think Pink Sundays at the Flamingo Toes blog, and thought I’d stop by to say hi! LOVE your blog! I really need a meat grinder…

    • Hello Gingi! Yes, if you eat ground beef (or turkey or chicken or pork) you should definitely get a meat grinder! Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Love this post. My husband and I have been looking at ways to help lower the amount of preservatives that we ingest and one way was hunting/buying a whole cow to process. Unfortunately I had no idea how to process meat, and I thought it would be very complicated, but you’ve made it seem super easy. Definitely going to have to give it a try and I love the idea of precooking and pattying the meat. Thanks for posting.

    • So glad you stopped by, Christa! I would also love to be able to buy a whole cow – well, maybe half a cow (grass fed, of course) – and put it in the freezer or canner! I am also in the process of trying to figure out my hamburger beef jerky maker! So, I will have frozen, canned and dehydrated beef! Someday. Right now we are trying not to keep our freezer full because our house will be on the market in another month or two, and when it sells we won’t be able to use our freezer for a while. We are building our home up on our future homestead, and when that’s finished we will get back into the swing of freezing!

  7. I just got the Kitchen Aid meat grinder and a food saver for my birthday! I love them but I see what you mean about the blade, it does catch weird things and it’s sort of a pain to have to stop and clean it out. But I love having it and knowing that at the very least, the hamburger I make only came from ONE cow, unlike ground meat you buy in the store!

    • Good point, Kim! Yes, my hamburger comes from only one cow! In fact, when I am processing a lot of meat, I always keep the different batches separate. So, with one batch I might leave in a bit more fat, and that batch will be made into hamburger patties. The next batch might be especially lean, great for browned ground beef. The next batch might be about 50/50 – perfect for meatloaf! You get the picture! I am so glad to came by, Kim! I will stop by your site later this afternoon!

    • Actually, rinsing off the beef will take care of a lot of the bacteria – just like washing your hands will do. Of course, it would be impossible to get rid of all the bacteria, but at least you can greatly reduce the numbers! But then, no matter where you get your beef, it’s always important to remember to cook it thoroughly!

  8. I am SO glad you shared this and linked up!! I just got a meat grinder for my kitchen-aid mixer. I haven’t ground anything yet, but now I feel like I might be able to now. Thanks so much!

    • You are so welcome, Steph! Have fun with the meat grinder – it really works well. I usually grind beef with the smaller of the two metal hole thingys – I think it gives the beef a better texture. Don’t forget to try chicken or turkey also! And you can use it to make pork sausage too! Seriously, I’m not getting compensated in any way from Kitchen Aid, but I do love my mixer and it’s attachments!

      • I made hamburgers tonight and used my meat grinder for the first time. THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!!! This post was such a big help. I used the paper towel like you suggested and didn’t have a single drop go anywhere besides the ‘fancy shield’. I can’t wait to try even more meats. 😀

  9. Great article. Love the pics too because they really show your meat grinding operation well. I love make-ahead meals. Also, the tip about rinsing meat well under cold water is awesome. Thanks so much.

    • Thank you, Nathalie! Actually, I make quite a few make-ahead meals. When I make enchiladas, I usually make 3 meal’s worth, eating one that night and freezing the other two. I do the same with lasagna, stuffed pasta shells and meatloaf. After all, once you have all the ingredients in front of you, it only takes a few minutes more to make several dishes worth! I also like to cook two rack of ribs in the crockpot, eat one that night and freeze the other for another day. When my husband barbeques chicken, he will do a whole bunch and then I freeze them in meal sized packets, usually 3 or 4 dinners worth. Essentially, I have turned my freezer into a “fast-food” grocery store! Thanks for stopping by, hope to hear from you again soon!

  10. I’ve never ground my own beef (although I do have a KitchenAid Mixer). I buy organic, pasture-finished beef from a ranch here in NM. I trust it a lot more than I do beef from anywhere else.

    I like the idea of grinding my own though, as then I could have smaller amounts. Being just my daughter and I usually, even a half pound can sometimes be too much.

    • Yes, as long as your butcher is careful, your beef should be good to go! However, I would still encourage you to grind your own. You can make your hamburger as fat or lean as you would like. You can even grind in other things at the same time – carrots, potatoes, onions – or even another meat such as pork or poultry! This makes meatloaf so easy and sausages that taste wonderful! Thanks for your thoughts, Stephanie.

    • I love mine too! I have the grinder/pasta maker attachment, the sausage stuffer and the icecream maker! I think next I want either the juicer or the pasta roller! Don’t we sound like a commercial!

  11. Thank you for this very thorough tutorial. I bought a hand grinder at a thrift store last summer, but have yet to use it. I never thought about grinding my own beef. I’ll be watching for some good beef sales so I can give this a try. Thank you for sharing it at What We Accomplished Wednesdays. Have a happy day! ~Deborah

    • From what I understand, beef will be on sale real soon. It’s a good thing for consumers but a bad thing for the beef ranchers (which will eventually be a bad thing for consumers as well). Between the drought in California and Arizona and the freezing weather elsewhere, it’s been a hard year for the ranchers and they are having to sell off the beef rather than feed them through the rest of the winter. So, prepare to stock up soon!

  12. I just got a stand mixer for Christmas and have the grinder attachment on my wishlist. I’ll be referring back to your tips since this is something I want to do. Have you made your own sausage as well?

  13. Hi! I also grind my own beef, chicken and turkey. I make sausage or combine the meat with other ingredients to make savory pies, soups and chilis. I use my hand to shield myself from splatter but found I got less splatter by cutting the meat into thinner strips and not using the fine grinding disk. Also, if you’re grinding meat for a meat loaf or savory pie, consider finishing up your grinding session by throwing some onion or other veggie through the grinder. It makes clean up a little easier.

    This $50 attachment is worth its weight in gold. If you have a Kitchen Aid mixer, I highly recommend it!


  14. Hi there, I enjoyed your post. Before we raised our own beef and pork, I only bought roast cuts and ground them myself when I needed ground meat. Once we started raising our own beef, my problem became one of fitting it all in my freezer. I couldn’t. So I began canning it. Here’s a link to my blog where I talk about what to do with the 60+ pounds of ground beef I couldn’t get in the chest freezer. In the comments I share how to find some good beef canning recipes. Keep up the good work! -Kristine

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