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I got a kg of ground beef and put two tablespoons of salt with it. I also put a lot of spices, stuff like paprika, black pepper, allspice, tumeric, lots of garlic, and two tbsp vinegar. This is basically an Armenian sausage.

I mixed this all up well, stuff it into a clean stocking tied at both ends (I flatten it out for maximum air exposure) then store it in the fridge for approximately 4-5 days before freezing it. I keep it in the fridge to give it a chance to sort of dry out, after that it's ready to eat. There is definitely a great improvement doing this rather than using it on the spot the first day.

My question is, given the decent salt content and it being really heavy on the spices, that would prevent it from going bad right? When I cook it, I make sure it's very well cooked just in case so anything bad in it would die out.

Just want to know if this is a terrible idea in general. I've done it before with great success, but from what I read, I don't know if it's technically safe.

  • two teaspoons is not nearly enough salt – Neil Meyer Jul 4 '16 at 19:25
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Yes, from a food safety perspective, this is a terrible idea and not safe.

  • Shelf life of ground meat
    Typical recommendations for ground meat is 1, max. 2 days in the refrigerator. Ground meat has a very large surface area and the grinding step can mix bacteria that previously were only on the surface of a whole piece (and unable to penetrate) throughout the meat.
  • Salt as preservative
    Salt (NaCl) is a preservative, but you need up to 20% of the meat weight, which is far more than your two tablespoons. The preserving effect is acchieved by osmosis, drawing the liquid out of the meat cells. As that amount mixed in would make the food unpalatable, it is used on the surface of of large pieces - think ham. Curing salts work differently, they contain sodium nitrite and similar salts.
  • Spices as preservative
    Spices do have some effect, but not to a degree to make ground meat stable. Note that excessive use of spices may aid in digestion, but even more was traditionally used to mask "off" (read: slightly spoiled) tastes and smells.
  • Vinegar as preservative
    A very dangerous bacterium is Clostridium botulinum, causing botulism. It can be inhibited in low-ph environements. Yet two tablespoons of vinegar won't get you in a safe ph range.
  • Cooking to make food safe
    While heat will kill most bacteria and molds, it will not necessarily kill the toxins produced by them before. (It does work for botulinum toxin, though.)

Our posts on food safety and shelf life:
How long can I store a food in the pantry, refrigerator, or freezer?
Why is it dangerous to eat meat which has been left out and then cooked?


On traditional recipes:

"Not safe" does not automatically mean "will make you sick". Those recommendations are based on statistics and include a safety margin. But if you or someone with a possibly weaker immune system does get sick, the consequences can be lethal.

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"Invent your own sausage recipe" is not generally recognized as safe.

Following an established/tested recipe/procedure is highly advisable.

Many of the toxins formed by organisms that make food go bad are themselves heat stable - not removed by cooking, even if cooking kills the organism that made the toxins in the first place.

You are playing the food equivalent of Russian Roulette...

  • Culinary Russian Roulette as I always like to call it. – Neil Meyer Jul 4 '16 at 19:24
  • There's nothing wrong with inventing your own sausage recipe. The point is how you handle the food (e.g., cook it), not what kind of recipe it is. – Robert Jul 5 '16 at 3:00
  • Cooking is a very small part of "handling" in sausage, and what you do before you "cook it' can leave things that will kill you, and that won't care how you cook it. Inventing your own seasoned hamburger recipe that you cook promptly - go for it. Doing more or less the same thing and aging it, without having a recipe that has been tested, is Culinary Russian Roulette. It won't kill you every time, but it's not safe. – Ecnerwal Jul 5 '16 at 14:14

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