New recipes

Reviews of the World's First Test-Tube Burger

Reviews of the World's First Test-Tube Burger

The verdict is in on $330,000 lab-grown burger served in London

Soon, these hamburgers could be made with lab-grown meat.

Last week, the world's first test-tube burger was served at an undisclosed location to undisclosed diners for a secret taste test that made it onto newspapers all over the world. And although creating the burger cost upwards of $331,200 (expensive meat-growing science, y'all), the reviews are a bit... disappointing.

"It's somewhere between a Boca Burger and a McDonald's burger," Josh Schonwald, the author of The Taste of Tomorrow said. Food scientist Hanni Rützler, the second taster, said it was like a "meatloaf without any salt and pepper." Both reviewers noted a "cake-like quality," which does not sound appetizing at all.

The burger patty, which was developed by Dutch scientist Mark Post at the University of Maastricht, was grown using stem cells from cow shoulder muscle. The cells were then multiplied in a nutrient solution to eventually become muscle cells, creating a fatless meat product to create lean beef patties.

Price aside, Post hopes that this development could help stall a food shortage crisis, cutting down global meat consumption with synthesized meat. Still, it'll be a while before lab-grown meat shows up on your supermarket shelves. "Cultured beef production has a long way to go and will not be on the market for some time as the technique still needs to be refined and altered to allow for mass production," Post told FoodNavigator. Lucky for those who prefer a little more fat in their burger patties, and don't want to feel the guilt of eating real meat.


The World's First Test-Tube Burger Was Just Cooked And Eaten

The burger, made from Cultured Beef, will be cooked in a frying pan and then served to both diners in front of invite-only guests.

The taste-testers were revealed today as C hicago author Josh Schonwald and Austrian food researcher Hanni Rützler.

The hamburger's creator, Professor Mark Post of Maastricht University, believes that in-vitro meat could end the impending food crisis and satisfy the world's growing demand for meat without destroying the environment or harming animals.

The burger is made from a real animal. This makes it different from "imitation meat," like soy protein, used in vegetarian or vegan foods.

Muscle cells are harvested from a cow. The cells are placed into a donut-shaped dish with a nutrient solution — a mix of sugars, fats, amino acids, and minerals.

The cells become muscle tissue and grow into small strands of meat.

Around 20,000 meat strands are needed to make one five-ounce burger, Post says.

Ingredients like salt, egg powder, and breadcrumbs are combined with the Cultured Beef to make the burger. Scientists use red beet juice and saffron for coloring. Without this, the meat strands are an unappetizing, grayish color due to the lack of blood cells.

The lab-grown meat was still "not tasty" when Post spoke to Reuters in 2011. The first public tasting will be the ultimate test. Have scientists created something that lives up to the real thing?

Post is optimistic he predicts that commercial production of test-tube beef could begin within the next 10 to 20 years.

Here's our first look at the Cultured Beef burger. A Cornwall chef says he is going to approach it like a traditional burger. It looks slightly paler than a normal burger.

It's browning up nicely. It has the same cooking time as a regular hamburger and smells good.

About 4 minutes to go.

Inventor Mark Post says it will take 10-20 years to get the burger into supermarkets. Post says it is "as safe as regular beef."

The burger is done. We're now ready for the tasting.

Rützler takes the first bite. She was expecting it be more juicy. "There is quite some intense taste," she said. Schonwald agrees that the texture of the meat is there, but the flavor is missing. The hamburger doesn't yet have fat, which is where most of the flavor comes from.


World's first lab-grown burger unveiled at public tasting

Researchers from the Netherlands unveiled a burger made entirely from lab-grown stem cells Monday, cooking and tasting the test tube meat at a media event in London. Dr. Mark Post, a professor at Maastricht University, heralded today's public tasting as an important step toward wide-scale adoption of synthetic meat — a transition that some see as a solution to looming environmental and agricultural crises.

The 5-ounce "cultured beef" burger was constructed from 20,000 protein strands grown from cow stem cells. The strands were compiled over the weekend and removed from a deep freezer on Monday. It cost $325,000 to produce, and was financed entirely by Google co-founder Sergey Brin. For Post, today's tasting marks the culmination of five years of research.

"we need to come up with an alternative, there's no question."

"I think people don't realize that current meat production is at its maximum, and it's not going to supply demand for the coming 40 years," Post said at today's event. "So we need to come up with an alternative, there's no question."

The burger was tasted by two volunteers — Hanni Rutzler, an Austrian researcher, and Josh Schonwald, a Chicago-based food writer. Both said that the burger felt authentic in some respects, though they noticed some peculiarities. Upon eating the burger, Hanni said it had a lot of "flavor" that was "close to meat," with a consistency she described as "perfect," though it was not "that juicy" because she knew the meat had no fat. Schonwald described the "texture, the mouthfeel" as "like meat," but also described what was "absent" as the fat of "conventional" burgers.

"I was expecting the texture to be more soft," Rutzler said, noting that the taste would have benefited from fat. "But there is quite a bit of flavor." (Post cited the development of synthetic fat as one of the "technical bottlenecks" he's currently facing.)

Post developed his "test tube burger" from muscle-repairing stem cells extracted from the shoulders of cows. When placed in a growth medium (calf serum), the cells differentiate into muscle fibers, and gradually begin to merge.

"The cells do the work on their own."

"The cells do the work on their own, we just provide the right conditions," Post told reporters Monday.

Post acknowledged that it will likely be "10 to 20 years" before cultured meat arrives on the market, citing high costs, low-volume production, and consumer apprehension as primary obstacles, though he remains confident that lab grown food could mitigate what many experts regard as an impending crisis. In a video released by Post's team, Brin said, "There are basically three things that can happen going forward. One is we will all become vegetarian -- I don't think that is really likely. The second is we ignore the issues, and that leads to continued environmental harm. And the third option is we do something new."

The world's population is expected to reach 9.6 billion by the year 2050, according to the latest projections from the United Nations. This growth is expected to put extra strain on global food supplies, and on meat, in particular. Worldwide demand for meat has increased dramatically in parallel with population levels, with consumption reaching 268 million tons in 2007 compared to just 70 million tons 50 years earlier. Demand is expected to increase with the growth of economic prosperity and middle class consumers in emerging markets like China and India.

Global crises loom on the horizon

Some estimate that food production will have to double over the next 50 years in order to feed the world's mushrooming population. But doing that through traditional agriculture will likely become more difficult due to climate change, widespread urbanization, and limited water supplies.

Post and others say artificial meat could offer a solution. A 2011 study from Oxford University found that synthetic meat would require just one percent of the land and four percent of the water that traditional livestock production currently uses. It would also present significant environmental benefits, the study found, reducing livestock-produced greenhouse gases by up to 96 percent, and using 45 percent less energy than conventional means.


But critics note that Post's technique still relies on genetic materials that originate from animals, and it's not clear whether a purely synthetic solution is on the horizon. Because the myosatellite cells he uses cannot reproduce infinitely, Post's technique will always rely on a supply of cow tissue.

Other researchers are pursuing similar projects. Scientists from Utrecht University have been working to extract embryonic stem cells from pigs and cattle, while researchers at the University of Missouri are developing a stem cell that could be derived from adult cells and reproduce indefinitely.

Some animal rights groups have welcomed Post's work, lauding it as a more humane alternative to current systems. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has offered a $1 million reward to the first person to develop lab grown chicken, but others are taking a more cautious approach to the field, citing ethical and safety concerns.

Skeptics have already labeled it "Frankenburger"

The UK Vegetarian Society today said it is "officially interested" in the possibility of synthetic meat, though the organization said it needs more information about the animal materials used before condoning or condemning it. The UK National Farmer's Union struck a similarly skeptical tone, saying in a statement that it "remains to be convinced" that cultured beef and other artificial products are necessary.

Post acknowledged concerns over the safety of his burger, though he said there's no reason to assume that it would pose any risks, saying it would be possible to engineer the meat to be even safer than products currently on the market. He also stressed that the stem cells were extracted without inflicting pain or suffering upon the cows.

Marketing lab-produced meat to consumers will likely pose challenges — skeptics have already labeled it "Frankenburger" — though Post says people would warm up to the idea if they knew about the environmental benefits it offered.

"It's up to the people, but I think there are ways of marketing it effectively."


Black Sheep Brewery – Masham

Brewery tour in North Yorkshire

The Black Sheep Brewery in Masham is well worth a visit for several reasons, not least to enjoy the landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales and its quaint villages (decorated with the remains of Tour de France bunting, bicycles and all sorts of paraphernalia on our visit today).

There’s a Visitor Centre with a ‘baa..r and bistro‘ serving fresh fayre sourced from local produce (from light bites to main courses) and several Black Sheep beers on tap (and bottled too).

Baa..r + Bistro at the Visitor Centre

But the highlight has to be the brewery tour (£6.95 for adults, £5.95 for senior citizens) which lasts about 75 minutes.

The tour starts with a seated talk about the Theakston family’s long brewing history (in parts complex, but our guide made it thoroughly entertaining) interspersed with video footage and samples of barley and hops to smell and taste, before the ‘shepherded’ part of the tour begins in the boiler room.

Mash tun + boiler room

Apparently, this boiler room gets so hot and steamy that it’s unbearable to be in for more than a few minutes in the heat of summer. Perhaps thankfully, a new boiler was being delivered today so although we didn’t see all the equipment in full working order, that mightn’t have been such a bad thing.

What happens in this room?

crushed malt from the grist hopper gets mashed with hot water into the mash tun

starch from the malt is converted to sugars (wort)

the wort is drawn off into the copper where hops are added

when full, the copper is brought to the boil then boiled for exactly an hour

the brew gets dropped into the hop back where the hops settle at the bottom so that the brew can be pumped across to the fermentation room

Yeast residue that gets transported to the East Midlands + used in Marmite

Then it’s on to the packing and distribution area…

Preparing for disribution

…before learning a bit more about each particular beer.

Variety of Black Sheep beers, as well as kegs and casks

And the only way to finish is to taste-test your new knowledge!

Beer tasting l-r, front to back – Riggwelter, Golden Sheep, Black Sheep ale + Velo drafts (Imperial Russian Stout + All Creatures bottled)

I was particularly taken with Velo, a special, seasonal pale ale with subtle hints of orange and coriander, created for the Tour de France 2014 in North Yorkshire – perfectly hoppy and very easy drinking, and the Imperial Russian Stout – strong, dark and velvety.

Imperial Russian stout

The verdict: A great day out if you’re in the area. Or well worth arranging a trip if you’re not.


Cool Velo beer mats for the 2014 Tour de France

Address: The Black Sheep Brewery, Wellgarth, Masham, North Yorkshire, HG4 4EN

RELATED LINKS
Harrogate Borough dining:

Sukhothai – Harrogate, top Thai in Yorkshire

Exciting day at the brewery today! Our new boiler has arrived! pic.twitter.com/lEeCtSCWBf

— BlackSheep (@BlackSheepBeer) August 15, 2014


MASSIVE SCALE

The World Health Organization (WHO) says meat production is projected to rise to 376 million tons by 2030 from 218 million tons annually in 1997-1999, and demand from a growing world population is expected to rise beyond that.

According to a 2006 report by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), industrialized agriculture contributes on a “massive scale” to climate change, air pollution, land degradation, energy use, deforestation and biodiversity decline.

The meat industry contributes about 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, a proportion expected to grow as consumers in fast-developing countries such as China and India eat more meat, the report said.

Chris Mason, a professor of regenerative medicine at University College London, who was not involved in the research, said it was “great pioneering science” with the potential to ease environmental, health and animal welfare problems.

But, he added: “whilst the science looks achievable, the scalable manufacturing will require new game-changing innovation”.

Post said he was confident his concept can be scaled up to offer a viable alternative to animal meat production, but said it may be another 20 years before lab-grown meat appears on supermarket shelves.

He also conceded that the flavor of his meat must be improved if it is to become a popular choice.

Post resisted requests from journalists from all over the world eager to try a morsel of the world’s first cultured beef burger, saying there was not enough to go around.


Does Microwaving Food Kill the Nutrients?

In a study by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, it was found that broccoli cooked in a microwave retained all of its minerals except for vitamin C, which leached into the added water. Vitamin C is extremely volatile, so any form of cooking would result in its loss. Fortunately, vitamin C is bountiful in many raw fruits and vegetables, so you can make up for it easily. Additionally, microwaves have been shown to cause the least amount of antioxidant loss in 20 vegetables when compared to boiling, frying, and pressure-cooking!


Get a home in the world’s first floating city with prices between $25,000 for a studio and $1.5 billion for a signature estate mansion


Do you fancy living in the world’s first floating city? It’s now possible if you hold anything between $20,000 to $1.5 billion in your pocket. The human-made Blue Estate Island is a gorgeous new development in the Caribbean Sea, offering people everything from a ring level studio apartment to mega-mansions. The human-made island was built from scratch using -high-performance’ concrete modules measuring 4921ft by 3280ft in total, which equals an area half the size of Monaco. This floating city will be home to more than 15,000 permanent residents, numerous businesses, schools, and hospitals. Let’s take a look at what’s inside the dream-home of the future?

The Blue Estate homes go on sale today until 2022, with full completion expected in 2025. If all goes as planned, some properties will be available for hand-over by 2023.


Living in such a dream-like setup can be a beautiful reality for everyone as they offer studio apartments for $20,000 and opulent mega-mansion for nearly a billion or more.


The island is flanked by beautiful facades and water bodies, keeping the island life vibe intact. They have used high-performance concrete modules for the same.


The floating homes offer ample areas to lounge and rejuvenate and are a short trip away from Miami and the Bahamian Islands.


The outside walls measure over 160ft, will ‘dwarf the ocean’s biggest waves,’ making the estate safe from the water body’s wild currents.


According to the developers, the floating city will be powered using renewable sources to maintain a negative CO2 output.


A great sense of community will prevail in the city where people can come together at parks, business centers, international schools, clinics, etc.


Test Tube Hamburger: £250,000 Stem Cell Patty Cooked And Eaten (And Google's Sergey Brin Picked Up The Bill)

The world's first test-tube burger, made from lab-grown meat, was today cooked and served in London - thanks to a very well-known benefactor from the world of tech.

Google's resident 'mad scientist' (an co-founder) Sergey Brin reportedly invested £215,000 in the project, and was on hand (via video) to explain the mission.

In a video shown before the burger was cooked in butter by chef Richard McGeown - wearing a pair of Google Glasses, naturally - Brin said he was backing the technology because it could be "transformative for the world".

He said: "There are basically three things that can happen going forward - one is that we can all become vegetarian. I don't think that's really likely."

"The second is we ignore the issues and that leads to continued environmental harm and the third option is we do something new.

"Some people think this is science fiction - it's not real, it's somewhere out there. I actually think that's a good thing.

"If what you're doing is not seen by some people as science fiction it's probably not transformative enough. It's really just proof of concept right now.

"We're trying to create the first cultured beef hamburger. From there I'm optimistic we can really scale by leaps and bounds."

The 5oz (142g) patty, which cost £250,000 to produce, was dished up before an invited audience.

Scientist-turned-chef Professor Mark Post produced the burger from 20,000 tiny strips of meat grown from cow stem cells.

After trying his own creation for the first time today, he said: "I think it's a very good start, it proved that we can do this, that we can make it and to provide a start to build upon - I am very pleased with it."

Chicago author Josh Schonwald and Austrian food researcher Hanni Rutzler gave the meat's taste a mixed review after becoming the first to try it.

After taking a bite, Ms Rutzler said there was "intense taste" but that she had expected a softer texture.

"It's close to meat, it's not that juicy, but the consistence is perfect," she said.

"The absence is the fat, it's a leanness to it, but the bite feels like a conventional hamburger," Schonwald said.

"This is kind of an unnatural experience in that I can't tell you over the past 20 years how many times I have had a burger without ketchup or onions or jalapenos or bacon."

Prof Post believes the new burger could herald a food revolution, with artificial meat products appearing in supermarkets in as little as 10 years.

The raw ingredients which went into creating the burger sound distinctly unappetising - 0.02in (0.5mm) thick strips of pinkish yellow lab-grown tissue.

A multi-step process is used to turn a dish of stem cells into a burger that can be grilled or fried:

A major advantage of test-tube meat is that it can be customised for health, for instance by boosting levels of polyunsaturated fats, Prof Post has said.

Manufacturing steaks instead of minced meat presents a much greater technical challenge, requiring some kind of blood vessel system to carry nutrients and oxygen to the centre of the tissue. Making artificial chicken or fish from stem cells might be easier.


Recipe Summary

  • 6 slices bacon
  • 1 tablespoon bacon drippings
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup shredded Colby-Jack cheese, or more to taste (Optional)
  • cooking spray
  • 2 slices Colby-Jack cheese (Optional)
  • 2 thin tomato slices
  • 2 slices avocado
  • 2 hamburger buns, split

Place bacon in a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned but not totally crisp, about 8 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Retain 1 tablespoon bacon drippings.

Mix ground beef, bread crumbs, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and retained bacon drippings in a bowl until thoroughly combined divide meat mixture into 4 equal portions. Form each portion into a large patty, making them as thin as possible. Sprinkle shredded Colby-Jack cheese onto 2 of the patties, leaving an edge about 3/4 inch wide uncovered. Place second patty onto the cheese and press the edges of the patties together to create 2 cheese-stuffed burgers. Place stuffed patties into freezer to chill slightly, about 10 minutes.

Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat.

Spray the grill grate with cooking spray and place burgers onto grill turn heat to low, place lid over grill, and cook until outsides of burgers are lightly charred and cheese has melted, about 10 minutes per side. Maintain grill temperature at about 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Use a spray bottle of water to control flames flames should just lightly contact the bottoms of the burgers to create a slight char. After the first flip, place 3 partially-cooked bacon slices onto each burger.

About 2 minutes before burgers are done, place a Colby-Jack cheese slice onto each burger top with tomato and avocado slices and transfer burgers to plate to rest for 1 or 2 minutes. Serve burgers on hamburger buns.


What's The Best Way To Grind Beef? | The Burger Lab

My wife has been out of the country for the last three weeks, and will be gone for eight weeks longer, which has instigated a number of changes in my lifestyle. First, I've taken to sleeping on the couch with Dumpling (the dog's not allowed on the bed and I feel weird sleeping alone). I've also chosen to adopt the well known do-no-chores-but-perform-a-massive-cleanup-the-day-before-she-gets-back strategy of house cleaning management. Finally, without my wife around to constantly mention that the air in our apartment is heavy with the scent of beef fat, I've had the chance to continue my research into the realms of ground meat with unimpeded haste.

I'm a cook by trade but a grinder by nature. Nothing pleases me more than the careful, controlled deconstruction and reconstruction of what nature has so carefully put together. The Howard Roark of cows, if you will. As for the method of deconstruction, my usual go-to is the KitchenAid meat grinder (check out this article for tips on how to use it), but is that always the best method? What about the food processor? Hand chopping? Or—dare I say it—pre-ground beef?

I gathered my meat grinder, food processor, gigantic Chinese cleaver, and 10 pounds of fresh beef chuck to find out.

A Note On Temperature

I know that I've mentioned this before, but I'd like to stress once more that the most important step for effective grinding is to chill the meat and the grinder. The warmer meat gets, the softer it becomes, and the harder it is to chop. Fat, in particular, has a tendency to smear, like this:

The meat on the left was ground in an un-chilled grinder, while the meat on the right was ground in a grinder that was chilled in the freezer for a couple of hours. As you can easily see, the mealy, pulpy stuff on the left looks a whole lot less like ground beef than the clean grind on the right, and it cooks up accordingly badly.

With properly ground beef, the fat is distributed throughout the lean in distinct pockets. As the burger heats and this fat melts, it ensures a loose textured patty with tiny bursts of juice speckled throughout. Smeared fat, on the other hand, tends to leave the meat with a mealy texture and leaks out of the patty much more easily. The result is a dry burger with a pulpy texture. I know which one I'd rather put in my mouth.

Grinding Methods Head-to-Head

For my tastes test, I gathered a couple of pounds of beef ground through each of four methods: store-bought 80 percent lean ground chuck, chuck ground in the meat grinder, chuck chopped in a food processor, and chuck finely chopped by hand.

I tasted the beef cooked into two types of burgers. The first was my Best Burger For a Single Man or Woman—a simple affair designed to maximize crispness and looseness of the patty. They're made by very loosely pushing together the ground beef into a thin patty that then gets pan-seared until well browned and crisp all over. By default, because of its thinness, it gets cooked to around medium (but is by no means dry!).

For the second, I went for a larger-format 8-ounce patty cooked using the Spotted Pig's Charbroiled Burger method: Seared hard in a grill pan (it's still too cold to break out the real grill), the transferred to a cooler pan to cook through to medium rare.

Both types of burgers were analyzed for texture, flavor, and ease of use. Here are the results.

Pre-Ground Beef

Flavor: Not bad. Quite fatty, but only mildly beefy. In my experience, flavor can vary greatly from day to day and store to store—you never know exactly what's going into the ground beef, so a lot of it comes down to luck of the draw.

Texture: Compact, dense, slightly mealy.

Ease of Use: Very easy—buy the pack and open it up. The only difficult part is forming the patties properly—the very compressed meat is less shapeable than loose, freshly-ground beef.

Overall Impression/Best Uses: It's fine in a pinch, but will never make a memorable burger. It was far better in the thinner style patty than the thick patty where its denseness and poor texture really come out. The best way to cook store-bought beef is actually by the Shake Shack smash method, since with that method, the meat gets quite compacted anyway.

The Meat Grinder

Grinding Tips: Make sure meat is cut into cubes no larger than an inch or two across, that all connective tissue is trimmed away, and that everything is cold. The meat should come from the fridge, and the grinder should come from the freezer. Use relatively high speed (6 to 8 on the stand mixer) to get the meat through quickly without heating up the machine.

Flavor: Rich and meaty. These patties retain plenty of juicy fat as they cook, both the thin and the thick versions.

Texture: Tons of nooks and crannies. As a thin patty, it gets nice, crisp pebbly edges while as a large burger, it remains tender and easily chewed.

Ease of Use: Relatively easy, provided you have a stand mixer and the grinder attachment. Cleanup can be a bit of a pain (getting meat and fat out of an L-shaped tube ain't easy), but my dishwasher takes care of most of the hard work.

Overall Impression/Best Uses: It's an excellent, quick, easy, all-purpose grinding tool that produces beef that's worlds better than the store-ground stuff.

The Food Processor

Grinding Tips: To minimize smearing, cut meat into 1- to 2-inch chunks and place them in a single layer on a sheet tray or large plate in the freezer for about fifteen minutes before grinding. Grind in batches no larger than a half pound for a 10-cup food processor. Pulse rather than constantly running the grinder to get a more even grind.

Flavor: Unless your processor blades are essentially brand new, you're going to get some degree of smearing. Thus, food-processed meat loses more of its fat during cooking than beef ground in an actual grinder, but not much more.

Texture: Not quite as pebbly or crisp as meat ground in a meat grinder, but very nice overall. It doesn't grind as evenly as a grinder, which means you get a good mix of some largish chunks, and very fine bits.

Ease of Use: Moderate. Freezing the meat adds an extra step to the process, as does working in batches. Finally, smeared beef fat is not the easiest thing to clean out of a processor bowl.

Overall Impression/Best Uses: A great, relatively low-fuss method to get home-ground beef if you don't own a stand mixer and grinder attachment. Still a significant improvement over the store-bought stuff. The unevenness of the grind did leave a few mealy patches that didn't fare so well in a thicker burger. Stick with thin, loose patties.

Hand Chopped

Grinding Tips: First and foremost, use a sharp, heavy knife. A cleaver is a great choice for this technique. Because of its weight, you won't have to use much effort yourself. As with grinding, you want your meat to stay nice and cold while chopping so that everything chops easily. Chop on a soft wooden or composite cutting board that you don't mind getting scarred a bit (the heavy cleaver will leave marks on the surface). It's easiest to work in small batches so that you can more carefully control the texture of the final grind.

Flavor: Virtually no smearing means great hole structure and juice retention during cooking.

Texture: You can chop as fine or as coarsely as you like, but no matter what, you're going to end up with a good degree of variation in the texture. This is a good thing. Your burgers end up with nice tiny bits of meat and fat for crust formation, but retain enough larger pieces that each bite has a few, steak-like moments with a touch of chew. Very satisfying indeed.

Ease of Use: There's no denying it: this process is time consuming. At least three or four times as slow as a grinder or processor. On the bright side, it's good exercise, and cleanup is a snap.

Overall Impression/Best Uses: When I've got the time, this'll be my new go-to method, particularly for thicker burgers where that steak-like quality of the chunky beef really makes for an interesting finished texture.

So there you go. If you've got the impetus, hand-chopped beef is probably the way to go for most applications, though meat ground in a real meat grinder comes in a close second.

I've said it a million times before, but if there's one thing you can do to instantly and dramatically improve your burgers, it's to stop using store-bought ground beef. Even before cooking, there's a distinct difference between the fresh ground beef on the left and the store-bought beef on the right. On the left, you can clearly see the openness of the texture, which translates to better browning, a better crust, more juiciness, and a loser texture in the finished burger.

Indeed, check out the four types of burgers cooked below and tell me which one of those things is not like the other:

That's right, it's the one on the top left. Because of its tight, compact structure, the proteins in store-bought ground beef are intertwined and stuck together much more firmly. This translates to more shrinking as it cooks. More shrinking leads to less juice and denser texture.

It's been a long time since I at a regular cheeseless burger, but I felt the hand-chopped beef deserved the spotlight all its own this time.

One last note: Hand chopping can get a little bit messy, so don't do it wearing your nicest shirt. Hopefully the blood stains on the wall will still be easy to clean 8 weeks from now when I get around to it.

More tests, more results! Follow The Food Lab on Facebook or Twitter.