Do you want to know how much salt to use with a certain amount of ground meat, whether the amount of salt depends on the type of meat you have, when to even season ground meat with salt, and how much salt to use at all? Well, here is your guide to perfectly salted ground meat.
In 90% of the recipes where you have minced meat as an ingredient, you do not see the exact amount of salt you should add You see the words “to your taste”. Even I have this in my recipes. Because of this, I’m attempting to assist you in determining the quantity of salt that should result in a dish that is perfectly seasoned in this post.
Methods for Salting Burger Patties
So why wouldn’t seasoning the meat before forming the patties make a burger better?
There are two groups of burger cooks when it comes to seasoning: those who rub salt and pepper into the meat rather than just seasoning the outside of the patty just before cooking. I’ve always been in the first camp; it’s just how I was taught to make hamburgers, and I’ve been obediently using that technique ever since. Then I began to consider how French culinary training emphasizes the value of seasoning every ingredient in a dish to ensure that every bite is flavorful. Could all those other burger cooks actually be right that seasoning the meat before forming the patties, or even better, before it’s ground so that the salt is evenly distributed throughout the entire burger instead of concentrated on the exterior?
This week, I made the decision to conduct a scientific investigation into the issue by putting three burger patties through a battery of tests. As a burger enthusiast, I had to endure these tests in great pain. Fortunately, the outcome put an end to the matter in my mind.
Let’s look at what salt can do to burgers now that we’ve seen the magic it can work on meat proteins in our story about brining a turkey. The three groups of patties I formed were all made from 100% ground chuck, which I bought as a single roast and treated the following ways:
- Patty 1: Seasoned only on the exterior just before cooking.
- Patty 2: Seasoned by mixing the sauce and ground beef in a bowl made of metal before forming the patties.
- Patty 3: Seasoned by salting the beef cubes before grinding and forming patties from them.
Just to be clear, every testing group received the same care, with the exception of when they were salted. The amount of salt was the same: 1 teaspoon kosher salt (the equivalent of 1/2 teaspoon table salt, or 2% by weight) per 5-ounce patty
Now, on to the testing:
Test 1: Grind Strand Length
Batches one and two, neither of which is salted until after it has been ground, are shown on the left as they come out of the grinder’s die. Batch three, which was salted before being ground, is shown on the right.
Already, the difference is quite clear. The grind on the left consists of tiny pieces of meat no longer than half an inch or so, whereas the salted grind produces long beef worms that can reach a length of three inches or more!
The proteins on a cube of beef will dissolve in salt, just as some of the meat proteins on the exterior of a piece of turkey or pork do in a brine. The proteins can cross-link with each other much more readily after being dissolved. In essence, the meat gets “stickier” to itself, which makes it easier for it to stick together and form these long strands.
Test 2: Patty Structure
I cut the beef into 5-ounce, 4-inch cubes for the next test. 5-inch wide patties. At this point, it should be noted that salt was added to the bowl of ground beef in batch two prior to forming the patties and was gently mixed into the meat. In order to eliminate any potential confounders and guarantee that any texture variations are solely due to the salt and not the mechanical action of working the salt into the meat, I tossed batches one, three, and two in their bowls exactly the same way that I tossed batch two.
I formed the patties and then gently lifted each one to drape it over a wooden rod that was 3/8″ wide and 1/2″ high.
Again, the difference is clear:
- Patty 1 began to separate, revealing a disorganized interior with little internal cohesion.
- Patty 2 also began to separate, but only just; it is significantly more flexible and cohesive.
- Patty 3 showed no signs of splitting. Despite being pressed out by half an inch, the patty’s surface was completely unharmed.
The outcome is a patty with a tighter, much more resilient structure.
Try to visualize the patty as being composed of hundreds of tiny balls of beef for a fairly accurate representation of a burger’s composition. Each of these beef balls is covered in velcro-like strips that expose proteins; the majority of the strips are closed, but some are open. One piece of meat sticks to the other with the help of the exposed velcro, giving the burgers some cohesion. Because salt dissolves proteins, more of these velcro strips open up, creating more sticky surfaces and making it much simpler for them to stick to one another. The result is a patty with a much more resilient, tight structure because the balls stick together more closely and tightly.
It was obvious to me up until this point that choosing when to salt your meat makes a significant difference, but as of yet, I’m not sure which way is preferable. Would the additional support possibly help fat stay locked into the patty as it cooks or improve the mouthfeel as I chew it if I wanted more cohesion in my burgers?
On to the carnage:
Test 3: Blunt Impact (E. Smashing to Bits)
To test how tough these burgers are, I should have built a set of robotic teeth that could chew them with the same amount of force, or at the very least, I should have chewed them myself, but I decided to find a more photo-friendly way to test instead for the sake of my sanity and the stomachs of readers.
To that end, I dropped a 6. After cutting each patty in half to look inside, I dropped a 5-pound LeCreuset Dutch oven from a height of two feet directly onto each patty. For the record, this is an awful lot of impact. It should provide a fairly accurate prediction of how the patties will crumble in your mouth.
N. B. Before attempting to repeat this experiment at home, we recommend covering your kitchen with protective plastic. Juices will fly.
- Patty 1 was completely splattered. Juice hit walls, aprons, and forearms three feet away. Tenderness rating: high.
- Patty 2 was mildly misshapen. It was still pickable up in one whole piece. Tenderness rating: moderate.
- Patty 3 showed no visible deformation. There was some juice that splattered, but the pot almost seemed to bounce back off of it. Tenderness rating: low.
The moral of the story is to avoid exposing the meat to salt until just before cooking, unless you prefer your burgers to have the resilient, bouncy texture of a sausage. In a way, this totally makes sense. In order to accomplish this specific task—breaking down the meat proteins to form a tighter, more cohesive structure—sausage meat is well-seasoned before grinding.
On the other end of the spectrum is a burger’s joy. A desirable quality is a loose, coarse, open structure, which enables the meat to crumble into small pieces in your mouth and offers plenty of hiding places for hot juices to gather inside the patty, ready to gush and drip out the moment you bite into it.
Take one last look at the two hamburgers from the beginning of the story, this time facing each other.
Not salted until just before cooking = loose, tender meat.
Salted before forming the patties = resilient, sausage-like texture. Sorry monsieurs, it just won’t fly here in America, but it’s great for charcuterie.
I declare a resounding victory for the “salt right before cooking” camp, and as a thank-you for persevering through all those pictures of burgers that went to waste, I leave you with the following porn:
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How To Season And Form Hamburger Meat For Grilling #RLCTV
How much salt per pound of ground beef for meatballs?
Meatballs need to be seasoned, period. Generally speaking, 1 teaspoon of salt per pound will produce perfectly salted meat. Reduce the salt a little bit if you’re using a salty cheese like Parmesan in the mixture. You don’t want your balls to be too salty.
Do you add salt to hamburger patties?
Timing is everything when adding salt to ground meat because it not only seasons it but also alters its texture. Here is our guidance for producing tender, flavorful burgers. Burgers undoubtedly benefit from a little salt to taste their best.
Should you mix the salt in hamburger meat?
Schend explained that it’s best to sprinkle a little salt on the patty just before you put it on the grill rather than adding salt to the burger mix. He’s not alone in this salty theory. Cook’s Illustrated even conducted an experiment to support this hypothesis.
How much salt is in a ground beef patty?
Beef, ground, 85% lean meat / 15% fat, patty, cooked, pan-broiled, 1 serving ( 3 oz )Protein (g)20 93Sodium, Na (mg)67. 15Zinc, Zn (mg)5. 27Copper, Cu (mg)0. 07Manganese, Mn (mg)0. 01.