What Does “Ground” Mean in Cooking? How to Grind Spices Like a Pro
It’s usually referring to meat that’s been finely chopped or ground into small pieces. The texture of ground meat or spices can vary from coarse to fine depending on how it’s been prepared.
In this article, I’ll explain what ground means in cooking and how it’s used.
In this post we'll cover:
- 1 What is Ground Meat and How to Use It in Cooking?
- 2 Exploring the World of Ground Spices in Cooking
- 3 Grinding Spices: Finding the Right Size
- 4 Conclusion
What is Ground Meat and How to Use It in Cooking?
Ground meat is a type of meat that has been prepared by chopping or grinding it into small pieces. It is a common product that is usually sold in the form of beef, but it can also be made from other types of meats such as pork, chicken, and turkey. The meat is finely chopped or ground to transform it from its original cuts into smaller bits that are easier to cook and handle.
Types of Ground Meat
There are different types of ground meat that you can buy depending on your specific needs. The most common types of ground meat are:
- Coarse ground meat: This type of ground meat is made by chopping the meat into larger pieces. It is usually used for making dishes like chili or meatloaf.
- Finely ground meat: This type of ground meat is made by chopping the meat into smaller pieces. It is usually used for making dishes like burgers or meatballs.
Myth: Ground Meat Contains Unwanted Parts
There is a common misconception that ground meat contains unwanted parts of the animal. However, this is not true. Ground meat is made from familiar cuts of meat that are good for eating. In fact, when you buy ground meat, you have the option to pick the type of meat and the cuts that you want to use.
Grinding Meat: The Process
The process of grinding meat is important to get the right end product. Here are some things to keep in mind when grinding meat:
- Buy fresh meat: Fresh meat is better for grinding because it has less chance of containing harmful bacteria.
- Remove fat: Optimum grinding requires removing any unwanted fat from the meat.
- Handle with care: When grinding meat, it is important to handle it with care to avoid overworking the proteins in the meat.
- Salt: Salted surface of the meat can help to tenderize it.
Using Ground Meat in Cooking
Ground meat is a versatile ingredient that can be used in many different ways. Here are some tips for using ground meat in cooking:
- Burgers: Ground meat is a popular choice for making burgers. To make a good burger, use lean ground meat and hold back on overworking the fibers and connective tissue in the meat.
- Meatballs: Ground meat can also be used to make meatballs. To make tender meatballs, add thinly sliced onions and soak bread in milk before mixing it with the meat.
- Chili: Coarse ground meat is a great choice for making chili. Cook it for a few hours to allow the flavors to meld together.
- Mince: Ground meat can also be used as a substitute for minced meat in recipes.
Exploring the World of Ground Spices in Cooking
Ground spices are simply dried spices that have been ground into a fine powder form. They are a popular way to add flavor and aroma to dishes, and are used in a wide variety of cuisines around the world. Unlike whole spices, which can be stored for longer periods of time, ground spices tend to lose their potency more quickly and should be used within a few months of grinding.
Grinding and Storing Ground Spices
When it comes to grinding and storing ground spices, there are a few key things to keep in mind:
- Grinding: If you’re grinding your own spices at home, it’s important to choose the right type of grinder. Electric grinders are typically faster and require less effort, but manual grinders allow for greater control over the grind size. It’s also important to measure your spices properly to ensure that you’re using the right amount in your recipe.
- Storing: To keep your ground spices fresh for as long as possible, store them in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Avoid storing them near sources of heat or moisture, as this can cause the spices to lose their flavor more quickly. It’s also a good idea to label your containers with the date that the spices were ground, so that you can keep track of how long they’ve been stored.
Grinding Spices: Finding the Right Size
When it comes to grinding spices, having the right tool is crucial. Chefs typically use either a dedicated spice grinder or an electric coffee grinder. Both have their pros and cons, so consider the following when choosing:
- Dedicated spice grinders are great for small pieces and offer a range of grinding sizes.
- Electric coffee grinders require a bit more effort to clean but can convert from coffee to spice grinding easily.
Grinding Size Matters
The size of the grind can entirely change the way a dish tastes. Here are some things to consider when choosing the right size:
- For a typical recipe, start with a medium grind and adjust from there.
- Depending on the dish, you may want to choose a finer or coarser grind.
- For dishes that require a lot of cooking time, a finer grind is better, as it will break down more easily.
- For dishes that require less cooking time, a coarser grind is better, as it will hold its shape better.
How Fine Should You Grind Spices?
The answer to this question depends entirely on the dish you’re preparing. Here are some general guidelines:
- For dishes that require a fiery kick, a fine grind will deliver more heat.
- For dishes that require a bit of body, a coarser grind will contribute more texture.
- For dishes that require a unique shape, a coarser grind will hold its shape better.
The Final Step: Adding Ground Spices to Your Dish
Now that you’ve ground your spices to the appropriate size and stored them properly, it’s time to add them to your dish. Here are some tips:
- Add ground spices at the beginning of the cooking process to allow them to fully infuse the dish.
- For dishes with a lot of fat, onions, or other ingredients that can absorb the spices, add them at the beginning.
- For dishes that require a gentle stir, add the spices towards the end of the cooking process.
- For dishes that require an extra kick, add a small amount of freshly ground spices right before serving.
So, ground just means chopped or ground up, but it can also mean the type of meat.
It’s important to know the right type of meat for the right dish, and it’s also important to know how to handle the meat and how to cook it. So, don’t be afraid to try new things and have fun cooking!
Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.