Meat in any form smells and tastes good when it is fresh. Therefore, when cooking ground beef and ground beef products like hamburgers or sausages, you need to be doubly sure about the meat’s freshness.
Ground beef is a versatile food item that most families have a supply of in their freezers. It can be used in so many dishes, from lasagne and Bolognese to hamburgers and meatloaf.
The important thing to remember when buying fresh mince is to either cook it all that same day or freeze it immediately. Do not leave it sitting in the refrigerator. Ground beef is more prone to contamination than big pieces of beef like steaks because of its large surface area.
Each tiny piece of ground beef has multiple surfaces exposed to the air (containing oxygen) and to various surfaces, including the meat grinding machine and the packaging. Oxygen is one of the main things bacteria need to sustain themselves, so contaminated beef can easily give you food poisoning.
Have you ever noticed your beef smells “funny” or a bit “cheesy” while cooking it? You may have wondered if this means it should be discarded. Read on to see how to tell whether your ground beef is still safe to eat and what makes it smell like that.
Why Does My Ground Beef Smell Like Cheese? Is It Safe to Consume It or Not?
Firstly, when purchasing ground beef at your butcher or supermarket, always choose a brick red color meat. If the meat looks grey, avoid it. Instead, buy it from a store that grinds the beef themselves and puts the date stamp on. That way, you can be sure to buy meat that has been ground that same day.
However, it might have happened to you once in a while that you bought ground beef from your regular butcher. It smelled fresh and had a good color when you bought it, and while cooking, you may have noticed that the ground beef had an odor similar to cheese. This is quite an unusual occurrence, and your concern is understandable.
There are several reasons for your frozen ground beef to smell like cheese when it is cooking. However, it is fairly normal for ground beef or beef steak to smell like cheese while it is cooking.
This usually occurs with dry-aged ground beef or beef steaks that have produced a lot of lactic acids. Dry-aged steaks produce lactic acid naturally that can cause a smell similar to blue cheese.
Providing that you cook the beef at a high enough temperature (160 degrees Fahrenheit), any bacteria will be killed, and the minced beef will be safe to eat. This is why your ground beef recipe smells like cheese!
How Do I Know If My Ground Beef Is Not Safe for Consumption?
- If the ground beef has changed from a fresh reddish or reddish-brown color to a dull grey, it is no longer safe to consume.
- Smell BEFORE cooking – ground beef should not smell bad when it is raw. It should not have a sour or unpleasant smell when raw. A cheesy smell WHILE COOKING is fine, though.
- TOUCH—check the texture and feel the ground beef. If it feels sticky or slimy, it has been spoiled. Fresh ground beef should crumble easily between your fingers.
Some ground beef smells like cheese due to lactic acid formation, which is normal when meat is aging. Do take care to cook it though at a high enough temperature. A with any food issues, though, if in doubt, throw it out. It is not worth getting sick from spoiled meat to save a few dollars.