I-Burger

So… Living in a cattle ranching area, I never expected to see these on my grocer’s shelf. Well, surprise, surprise: yesterday, there they were. I have really wanted to try them. I eat meat because it’s super low-carb and frankly because it tastes awesome, but… I’d rather not.

So I threw these on the grill, and cooked them, observantly, as I wasn’t sure how much like a similar actual burger patty they would cook. Turns out, pretty similar. No worries there. 10/10.

First thing I noticed was that the burgers cooked evenly; a little too evenly, in that they didn’t pick up any more-cooked grill lines the way meat does. The burgers’ entire surfaces just cooked up darker and darker, although I will say that visually, the general color progression was very burger-like. Okay. So maybe an 8/10 for esthetics. Pretty much looks like a hamburger, albeit one made in a frying pan, even though it wasn’t.

Second thing I noticed was the smell; or really, the lack of one. No savory meat-cooking smell. Huh. 3/10 (it gets 3 because it didn’t smell bad.)

I had dill pickle chips and my favorite catsup ready. I didn’t involve buns, because (a), I don’t need the extra carbs, and (b) I really wanted to taste these burgers. Not bread. Onward:

First 3 careful bites, nothing on them. Just “let’s see what it tastes like.” Well… it didn’t really taste like anything. Not meat… not bad… not… something I’d order again if served at a restaurant. 3/10 again, because it didn’t taste bad. This isn’t good, it just means there’s no taste in there I’d say “that needs to go.” I really don’t understand how anyone at the manufacturer’s lab could say “this is ready to ship as a burger!” It’s not. It just isn’t. Understand here, I really wanted to like these.

So, on went ketchup and pickle on the next few forks of IB, and that was like… eating pickles with ketchup. Oy. So I tried adding garlic salt, pepper and onion flakes. Both with and without condiments. In various combinations. Still didn’t bring out any burger flavor, although all together there certainly was a more complex taste. Just not a burger taste. Seasoned condiments is essentially what I ended up with. Plus just a little bit of texture. And as to that:

The texture is well on the “gooey” side. Hamburger meat, even McDonald’s hamburger meat, has at least some fibrous character. These Impossible Burgers did not. So the mouth feel… distinctly different. Not like eating meat. Not horrible in any way, just not like meat. 5/10.

I ate all of the two patties (that was a fair bit of money sitting there, to be frank), and I got through it okay. No stomach issues afterwards. No funny aftertaste. I felt comfortably full. So 9/10 for straight-up edibility. [Addendum: No problems with the digestive system over the next couple of days, either. So edibility upgraded to 10/10]

Nutrition: according to the label, which I have no reason to doubt, the nutrient load here is pretty good. But… it’s not low or zero carb. That’s one of the things meat really has going for it. If it had been low or zero carb, I’d have given 10/10 here. But low carb is really important, so 6/10 on nutrition. Sorry.

Environment: Total win. 10/10.

Price: Ouch. 1/10. Good grief. Not paying those prices for this product. As a taste test, once, sure. As a staple? Not on your life.

Summary

I won’t try these again unless/until they hit me with “brand new improved flavor” in their marketing… and I believe them. Which might be difficult, given this experience.

I still have high hopes for cultured (vat grown) meats, but just as it took years for plant-based burgers to show up here, it’ll probably take just as long for cultured meat to show up… and it’s really not even out there yet, at least in the USA. There are some chicken products actually on the market elsewhere, so things are moving along. I wish I could try them, sigh.

Right now, if you crave hamburger, my suggestion is that you go get some actual hamburger. Beef. If you get 85% lean, it’ll be considerably more tasty than the low fat blends. Those fats really contribute to the overall flavor load. If your burgers shrink a whole lot when you cook them, your butcher is probably cutting the hamburger with ice when preparing it. Change sources. Never char a burger; browning is okay — the term is caramelization — but black is not. Carbonized meat hates you with a passion and will eventually screw up your body, regardless of if you like the taste of burned meat.

If you want a nice steak, trust me and pick up a boneless ribeye. it’ll cost you (food prices are just generally a horror right now), but it’ll be awesome, presuming you grill it kindly.

I really, really wanted this to be an “OMG, Wonderful” review. But no. They’re not that. They’re not even adequate if I ignore the price — which might be the most impossible thing about them.