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Old 12-08-2008, 12:39 AM   #1
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Shrinking Burger

A problem I've had with burgers (my mom too) is whenever we BBQ burgers, they shrink. It starts the size of the bun and ends about 2/3 the size of the bun. Any suggestions?

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Old 12-08-2008, 01:26 AM   #2
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It could be the percentage of fat in the ground beef. The more fat the more the hamburger will shrink. The solution is to use a leaner ground beef or make the burgers larger to accomodate the shrinking.
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Old 12-08-2008, 02:13 AM   #3
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Exactly what Sierra said, the loss of fat as it cooks causes it to shrink. You can use a leaner meat but I prefer to just make em larger than the bun to begin with. I also like to add in other bonding agents like an egg, some bread crumbs, and spices and seasonings.
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Old 12-08-2008, 04:01 AM   #4
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A problem I've had with burgers (my mom too) is whenever we BBQ burgers, they shrink. It starts the size of the bun and ends about 2/3 the size of the bun. Any suggestions?
I have a piece of 1/4" thick stainless steel plate with a handle welded to it as a weight. If you could find anything with a bit of weight in it such as a cast iron plate the problem will be solved
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Old 12-08-2008, 05:54 AM   #5
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i know that aussies are pretty tough, but i still prefer to eat hamburgers, not steel or cast iron.
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Old 12-08-2008, 09:37 AM   #6
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i know that aussies are pretty tough, but i still prefer to eat hamburgers, not steel or cast iron.
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Old 12-08-2008, 10:09 AM   #7
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It's the fat that's cooking out. Personally, I would go with making the patties over-sized and not using a lean ground beef. The lean ground does not make for a good hamburger.
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Old 12-08-2008, 01:17 PM   #8
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The fat does melt out during cooking, along with water in the meat.

All meat fibers contract with the application of heat. This contraction forces juices out of the cells where it can be lost when you press a burger while it's cooking. This is why you rest cooked meat before eating or carving it. The rest period allows the meat to relax and reabsorb those juices.

All this to say it's the contracting muscle fibers that cause the burger to shrink.
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Old 12-08-2008, 03:08 PM   #9
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I make them a bit larger than I want and after shaping them, I make an indentation in the center. This prevents them from getting "puffed up" in the middle.
Lately, I've been eating turkey burgers. Not quite the same as a nice juicy 80% lean hamburger though.
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Old 12-08-2008, 04:57 PM   #10
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Another vote here for 80 percent lean, nice ground chuck. Always make them a bit larger than the bun, they'll fit when you get done cooking them. Just don't cook em to death!
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Old 12-08-2008, 08:34 PM   #11
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Another vote here for 80 percent lean, nice ground chuck. Always make them a bit larger than the bun, they'll fit when you get done cooking them. Just don't cook em to death!
Well of course not :)

Yeah, I'd rather get a fattier meat and let it burn off than go lean.

Thanks for the advice everyone.
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Old 12-12-2008, 01:24 PM   #12
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I agree with everyone...

Use more than you think you need, make an indication and never press the burger ever to get it to cook faster...
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Old 01-25-2009, 09:43 PM   #13
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I have a slightly different view. I go for a lean meat, but I add olive oil and any other spices/additions that I feel like. The olive oil keeps the meat moist and what is left in the burger is more healthy than beef fat. I find that shrinking is minimal since the olive oil takes little volume, unlike beef fat that is solid and shrinks/melts when heated.
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Old 01-25-2009, 11:03 PM   #14
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I have a slightly different view. I go for a lean meat, but I add olive oil and any other spices/additions that I feel like. The olive oil keeps the meat moist and what is left in the burger is more healthy than beef fat. I find that shrinking is minimal since the olive oil takes little volume, unlike beef fat that is solid and shrinks/melts when heated.
IMO, if I'm going with more expensive lean meat, I'd fore-go the EVOO and enjoy the health benefits of low fat...Even though OO has some healthy EFAs, they die and turn toxic at 350f...
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Old 01-26-2009, 09:41 PM   #15
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IMO, if I'm going with more expensive lean meat, I'd fore-go the EVOO and enjoy the health benefits of low fat...Even though OO has some healthy EFAs, they die and turn toxic at 350f...
There are many theories about using oils at high temperatures. The common theme is that the higher the temperature, the more they lose their beneficial properties.
I'm mostly interested in replacing solid fats with an oil that has a less harmful effect and has to be better than fat solids.
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Old 01-27-2009, 09:24 AM   #16
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If you are making them yourself, make them slightly bigger than you want and put a nice thumbprint divot in the center of each one. Not sure why it works but it keeps them from shrinking as much.
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Old 01-27-2009, 09:40 AM   #17
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The thumbprint is a great technique, but it does not do anything to keep the burgers from shrinking. It is there because without it the burger bulges in the center. When you put the indentation in the middle then it will still bulge a little, but it will even out with the rest of the burger.
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Old 01-27-2009, 06:31 PM   #18
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So why do my burgers not shrink as much then GB? I thought the thumbprint thing was about keeping the burgers level so they seemed to fill the bun better. Am I out to lunch?
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Old 01-27-2009, 07:15 PM   #19
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Use leaner meat and make bigger patties and don't cook beyond medium.
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Old 01-27-2009, 07:27 PM   #20
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So why do my burgers not shrink as much then GB? I thought the thumbprint thing was about keeping the burgers level so they seemed to fill the bun better. Am I out to lunch?
I think they are shrinking just as much, but you are shrinking an equal amount so you don't notice it
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