We all need to adhere to a budget to make financial ends meet each month. That being said, we also want the best for our families that we can possibly afford. When purchasing meat, it is hard to tell sometimes, if the offerings are the best that you can buy locally.
Looking at the meat at the butcher counter, we have a lot of questions buzz in our heads. Is that particular cut a good one? How can I tell how old the meat is? How do I know if I am buying a good quality cut of meat?
If you have asked yourself any of these questions while shopping at the market, then keep reading. We are about to give you some tips to take with you and to use when shopping for meat.
How can I tell if the meat I am purchasing is good quality?
Any butcher worth his knives will know how to cut portions correctly. Butchers skilled in their craft will have cuts on display. The same types of cuts should be about the same thickness and size.
Cuts should also be cleanly butchered without tears, jagged edges, evidence of hacking or extra pieces along the sides.
If you see impressive displays, then ask the butcher your questions. If you are a good butcher, they will be able to tell you where their meat comes from. They will also be able to help you find the cut you are looking for without a lot of hassle.
Ask the butcher if they know what the meat was fed. Grass-fed meat has a more poignant taste and will be healthier than grain fed animals. You can even ask them about the butchering house that supplies the meat. Look the butchering house up when you get home to see if they are a reputable establishment.
Take a close look at the grain of the meat. The grain is the direction of the muscle fibres in the cut. Does the grain look tight and uniform? If not, then this is not a good quality piece of meat.
There are some instances where the butcher will intentionally pound the meat to tenderize the cut. This is perfectly acceptable. However, in most cuts of meat, the grain should not look broken.
It should not be loose or look uneven. It should not have a mushy appearance. These can be a sign of poor butchering or a poor quality of meat. A high-quality piece of meat should have a beautiful and tight grain.
This is a tricky area as different types of meat can have different colouring variations. Colour can also depend on the animal the meat came from. It is safe to say here that all fresh meat should have a bold vibrant colour. If the same colour is uniform throughout the cut, then the meat is of good quality.
Meat cuts with discoloured spots, or a complete discoloured appearance, can be evidence of poor handling or old meat. If you see discolouring, do not buy the cut. Choose another instead.
Not all cuts will have fat marbling. Red meats such as lamb and beef will have a fat marbling pattern. Fat marbling refers to the fat within the cut of meat. This fat resides in the meat and the muscle fibres. Leaner cuts will have very little evidence of fat marbling.
There are expensive cuts where fat marbling is important to the meat’s quality. Most of these cuts will come from the loin of the animal. In these cuts, the fat should be hard in texture and white in colour. The best cuts are where the fat is very evident and evenly distributed throughout the meat.
The fat is important to include because as the meat cooks the fat keeps the cut tender and full of flavour. Without the fat, the meat will dry out quickly and is very easy to overcook.
Buying a great quality piece of meat should not break the bank account or be terribly hard to find. It is horrible to buy a cut then take it home just to find out that it is not good.
Use these tips to become a little more informed about the meat you purchase for your family. You deserve the best cut that you can afford, and your family deserves the delicious taste that only good cuts can provide.