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Ground Beef History - The history of hamburger

The burger on a bun originated in Erie County


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Ground Beef - Beef Mince

© 2007 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone

Ground Beef History

Chopped or minced beef is certainly not a new innovation. It has long been used in savory meat pies dating back to ancient times. Beef tartare, consisting of finely chopped raw steak or high-quality beef mixed with various herbs and spices, dates back to Russian medieval times. The Tartars were known to shred their meat and eat it raw. These days the raw experience is enhanced by the addition of a raw egg placed in an indentation on top of the mound of seasoned raw beef.

Take the idea of tartare to the fire, and voila! Hamburgers. Although the term hamburger is derived from the city in Germany, the original Hamburg steak was a piece of meat which was pounded until tender, not chopped or ground. The hamburg shows up in print in 1834 in America on the menu at New York's Delmonico Restaurant, where Hamburg steak was a prominent item. The burger on a bun is claimed to be the concoction of Charles and Frank Menches. It seems these two vendors ran out of sandwich pork at the Erie County Fair in 1885 and switched to beef.

In the late 19th century, Dr. James Henry Salisbury came up with chopped beef patties to cure Civil War soldiers sufferering from "camp diarrhea." The patties were made of meat from disease-free animal muscle fibers with no fat, cartilage or connective tissues, seasoned, and broiled. Dr. Salisbury advocated eating beef three times a day for a healthy constitution. The term "Salisbury steak" dates back in print to 1897, and is considered a forerunner of the current hamburger.

By 1902, hamburger had evolved to the meat being put twice through a grinder and mixed with onion and pepper, much closer to the hamburger we know and love today. By 1912, the hamburger as ground beef on a yeast roll had caught on, and the term burger soon stretched to include other meat and seafood cooked meat sandwiches. Cheese as a topper shows up in print at least as far back as 1938. The distinction of being the first hamburger stand belongs to White Castle whose first store opened in Wichita, Kansas in 1921.

Hamburgers on a bun are the ground beef form most consumed by Americans, with the average consumption being three hamburgers a week per person. However, enterprising cooks have come up with a variety of new ways to use ground beef in other home-cooked meals.

It should be noted that Americans often use the terms ground beef and hamburger interchangeably when discussing ground beef as opposed to burgers. Outside the United States, it is referred to as minced beef, beef mince, mincemeat or simply mince. Original mincemeat pies were made with spiced, ground or minced meat. Today, particularly in the States, mincemeat pies are usually made with a spiced mixture of raisins or other fruit, along with nuts.

More About Ground Beef and Hamburger Recipes:

Ground Beef Cooking Tips
Ground Beef Labels and Fat Content
Ground Beef Selection and Storage
What is in ground beef? FAQ
How to Grind Your Own Ground Beef
Ground Beef Coloration and Safe Handling
Ground Beef History
Ground Beef Recipes - Hamburger Recipes
Ground Beef - Beef Mince Photo © 2007 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to About.com, Inc.


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