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I have been eating beef burgers from various different shops however having asked them they ALL use the exact same brand and product. Here in east london uk they also all use a standard flat top grill(basically a rectangle pan). I have noticed that when I eat at one shop in particular it always comes out very salty wheares it isn't like this for other shops. I even bought some raw burgers from the salty shop and cooked them at home and it didn't taste salty. They recently closed for a few days and having now reopened there burgers no longer taste salty but just like all the other shops selling the same burger. My gues is that they reset or changed something which was allowing the burger to be salty once cooked. It cooked be that there is an optimal grill temperature to make the salt permeate. it could be that there fridge temperature was low and this allows the burgers to brine. It could have been something else.

Do you know why, what makes the burger taste so salty. It cannot be a bacth issue as the shop has produced the same results for several months until they closed. Also they all sell the same burgers and the burgers have 2grams. Do you know what factor might cause the salt to permeate into the meats tissues so well which shows in the final burger?

Is there anything I can do to get this result when cooking beef burgers at home?

Thanks

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3 Answers

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This 'trick' is used by many a fine chef. Meat is salted, wrapped and refrigerated hours or even overnight, prior to cooking. Yes, salt will draw moisture from the meat initially, but over time that moisture will migrate back into the meat taking the salt with it! The salt also breaks down the protein structure in the muscle rendering a more tender steak. The steak is rinsed and dried (a wet steak will steam not char), seasoned, and fired. Ground beef can be handled in the same fashion. Using a medium or coarse salt and erring on the less salty side, you can find the right proportion to suit your taste. Season before forming or after. Some contend that the seasoning is made bitter by the heat and flame of the grill. Go figure.

Other tips: The meat should be mixed and formed with a gentle hand — use only as much pressure as it takes to hold the patties together. For almost foolproof rare or medium-rare meat, go right from fridge to grill.

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Like I said these burgers come pre made(grinded with salt) yet the distribution was coming out good at two select stores. I have also asked the fast food shop about anything special they do and they have said no. They are a fast food burger shop and simply refrigerate and grill like everyone else. For this reason I feel it may be temperature(which causes sodium to excite and distribute) rather then other things that have been mentioned. However since grinded preperation is initially required you Bob gets the best answer although I think this question is really unanswered. –  James Wilson Dec 5 '12 at 17:02
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I sincerely doubt that anything fancy was going on here. It sounds like there was some salt left behind on the cooking surface (e.g. from cooking other things and seasoning them with salt). This is of course assuming that you're right that the burgers didn't simply contain more salt to begin with.

If you want salty burgers at home just sprinkle it on before cooking, and if that's not enough, add a bit at a time while they cook. You can also mix some into the patties if you make them yourself, though in the quantities you want that may affect the texture (see the comments). (Also, if you were looking at nutrition facts and seeing 2g of sodium, that's a huge amount for one burger - that's about the maximum recommended amount for an entire day.)

As for your emphasis on the salt permeating the meat, I don't think you have much to worry about. If you're happy with something that was apparently done without mixing anything in, you'll be fine with whatever you do; I think you're mostly just picking up on quantity of salt.

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Mixing salt into your burgers is a bad idea - it ruins the texture.: aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2009/12/… –  ElendilTheTall Nov 23 '12 at 14:41
    
I think the blogger does not realise the dehydrating effects of salt. I would like to believe there are ways to mitigate that dehydration. Like adding tapioca flour and olive oil, perhaps? I dunno if it works with beef (since I don't eat beef). I know tapioca flour works with fish patties because that is how we do it to give the patties a firm structure. –  Blessed Geek Nov 23 '12 at 15:15
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@Elendil Fair, though that's a pretty large amount of salt per burger to get that effect, and I've had burgers with enough salt for me mixed in and the texture was fine. –  Jefromi Nov 23 '12 at 16:55
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I would say with almost 100% certainty that the 'salty' taste you're referring to (and the reason you can't replicate it at home) is coming from the 'seasoned' grill top they're using to cook the burgers on.

Given that you've stated that that particular 'shop' was recently refurbished and now the burgers don't have the same taste would confirm that. They probably either cleaned or replaced the grill top they use to cook them on.

For more information on how this 'seasoned griddle' can impart flavour into what's cooked on it, do some google searches on 'seasoned grills, griddles and cast iron pans'.

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