Squeeze it Out: Getting Rid of Waterlogged Burgers
Watery vegetables make for mushy burgers. And mushy burgers are falling-apart messes. Here are some of our favorite ways to rid veggies of that pesky water. Our Vegetarian Burger Topic is brought to you by Produce for Kids, your healthy family resource for nutritious meals.
The hardest aspects of cooking vegetarian burgers is keeping them together and keeping them moist. While beef (and chicken and turkey) have fat to make them juicy, vegetarian burgers need a little help in the moisture department. So we add a variety of veggies to boost that juiciness factor. However too much moisture is not a good thing and some vegetables are notorious for releasing liquid as they cook (cough cough, mushrooms and spinach). Thus there needs to be a careful balance when making veggie burgers.
One of the best ways to ensure that your patties will stay together is to squeeze the excess water out of some of your vegetables. For some veggies (watery ones like onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, etc.) you can do this when they’re raw. For others (veggies that release liquid after cooking like spinach, mushrooms, carrots, etc.) it’s best to do it after you’ve sauteed or steamed them.
There are a variety of methods for removing the liquid:
Take a few paper towels and layer them together. Place the vegetables on the paper towel, bundle it up and give it a good squeeze. Change the paper towels if they get too wet before the water is all drained away.
To make use of this method, use a clean tea towel (one without a lot of fluff) and wrap the vegetables in the cloth. Bring the cloth together and wring it out, letting the water drip into the sink below.
We like to use cheesecloth for vegetables, or even legumes, that are pureed. Wrap a few layers of the cheese cloth around the vegetables and tie the ends to a wooden spoon. Twist the spoon to put pressure on the cheesecloth, pressing the water out.
Potato Ricer or Sieve
For vegetables that can’t fit thru small holes, use a hand-held potato ricer to press the water out.
If all else fails, I like to just squeeze the vegetables in-between my hands to get rid of some of the excess water. Mom used to say, “Never play with your food”…. Sorry, Mom.
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