Squeeze it Out: Getting Rid of Waterlogged Burgers
Learn the trick to making juicy vegetarian burgers that actually hold together. It’s all about getting the water out of them. 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. Or, put the veggies into a fine mesh sieve, put it in the sink and press down on the vegetables with your hands.
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.
Disclosure: Produce for Kids has provided giveaway items and social media promotion in exchange for mentions in the Vegetarian Burger Series. Also, the senior editor of this site is a paid brand ambassador for Produce for Kids. All opinions are ours and honest, always.
This post originally appeared in July, 2016 and was revised and republished in August, 2017.