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When was the last time you were cooking your burger patty only to see a reddish liquid oozing out of the meat?
It’s something most people experience, and, often enough, it’s also misunderstood.
This apparent ‘bleeding’ that happens is really a natural thing, and there are several ways you can prevent it.
For starters, it may be reassuring to know that it’s usually not real blood.
Most of the time, it’s only water and myoglobin (a protein) that trickles out when you start cooking or grilling the meat.
And there are several ways you can lessen it or stop it altogether. Keeping your patties at room temperature, evenly cooking both sides, and making thinner patties are a few ways you can prevent this ‘bleeding.’
However, understanding why this happens is a good place to start. Then, we can discuss tips on how to stop a burger ‘bleeding’ while cooking.
Why is my burger ‘bleeding’?
The first thing to clarify is why this bleeding occurs. As already mentioned, it’s normally not blood but a combination of water and myoglobin that you’re seeing.
So, what is myoglobin, anyway?
Myoglobin is a protein that contains heme-iron, and it’s an important part of any red meat. So much that it’s the myoglobin that gives any meat its unmistakable red color.
It’s essentially the protein that stores oxygen in the animal’s muscle cells, like its cousin protein, hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the creature’s blood cells.
What is really happening
When you cook the meat, the cell structures will start breaking down because of the heat. Meat already has a lot of moisture in it.
So, as the heat passes through, the moisture gets released, and along with it, the myoglobin in the cells.
The resulting liquid that comes out makes it look like the meat is bleeding.
To be clear, these are compounds that are also present in the animal’s blood. So, in one sense, it is bleeding in part.
However, any grilling or cooking you’re doing is enough to dispel or ‘cook’ any trace amounts of blood that may also be present.
So, there’s no reason for worry as far as nutrition, and healthy eating goes.
But many people find the sight unappetizing. For others, they simply want to remove it even if they know what’s going on.
So, here are some simple ways you can decrease it or possibly prevent it from happening.
Tips on how to stop a burger ‘bleeding’ while cooking
Leave your patties at room temperature
Leaving your patties out at room temperature for a few minutes can help decrease the ‘bleeding’ when cooking.
It’s usually a good idea to let it sit for 3-5 minutes. As the meat approaches room temperature, more moisture escapes.
Also, the myoglobin content will also decrease over time.
You may notice a slight change in color, but that should be expected. In any case, the myoglobin and water will be released if you start cooking right away.
So, think of it as allowing some of the myoglobin and moisture to escape before you start cooking.
This step may not entirely stop the ‘bleeding,’ but it will certainly reduce the volume.
Press the middle of the patties to make an indentation
Another way you can help lessen the flow of this red liquid is by making an impression in the middle of the patties.
You can use your thumb or a finger to press somewhere at the center of the patty. If you leave it as it is, the middle will usually swell up when you start heating and cooking it.
This makes more of the raw bits in the middle start oozing out like blood.
So, having a smaller mass in the middle can help prevent it (or at least lessen it).
Make your patties thinner.
A common mistake that most burger enthusiasts make is preparing patties that are too thick. Yes, they look awesome, but it can lead to uneven cooking.
The outer parts will get cooked first, but you can end up with inner layers slightly raw. And the water and myoglobin at the center will start spilling out because they’re not cooked.
An easy fix here is to prepare the patties thinner. That way, you don’t have bulging patties that burn on the outside while the insides remain undercooked.
The result is that you see much less ‘bleeding’ because all the parts get cooked evenly.
Cook both sides for an equal duration.
It’s easy to get distracted with company or conversations when cooking and grilling burgers. You end up overcooking one side while the other side doesn’t get as much heat.
The undercooked side will release more moisture and myoglobin while cooking.
To fix this, just make sure you’re flipping the patties evenly. If each side gets an equal degree of heat and cooking, you’ll see less of the ‘bleeding’ too.
As an added bonus, your evenly cooked burger will taste great no matter which side you bite it.
Let burgers rest after cooking.
Allow your burgers to sit at room temperature for a minute even after they’re done. Yes, we all enjoy munching in immediately after the burger is ready.
But letting it sit for a minute (or even half a minute) will give it time to settle down.
A good trick here is to place the sizzling patties on paper towels.
If there are trace amounts of myoglobin remaining, the paper towel will soak them up.
That way, you don’t have to see the reddish liquid oozing out when you’re digging in.
Burgers are a staple snack, or meal loved all over the world. But the sight of red liquid flowing out when cooking or eating can be unsightly for many people.
Here’s a summary of how to prevent this ‘bleeding.’
- While preparing patties, avoid making them too thick.
- Before cooking, let the patties sit at room temperature for a few minutes.
- Ensure that the middle of the patties doesn’t bulge. Use a finger to press it in if you think it’s too thick at the center.
- Ensure even cooking on both sides.
- When cooked, let the burgers sit for a minute in paper towels to soak up additional myoglobin and moisture.
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