Meat is a favorite on many people’s dinner plates every day. When you’re not doing beef, it’s probably a chicken day, or perhaps lamb is on the menu. Despite the high cost of fish these days, it is still a regular item on many people’s dinner menu at least once or twice a week. Well, meats are highly rich in protein, which plays a diverse range of roles in the human body, including growth and development. But to skip the biology class, not all meats are the same in terms of quality.
For instance, two pieces of beef may taste different even when cooked using the same recipe. This is dependent on the part of the body it was acquired from, where it is sourced, how fresh it is, and most importantly, the feeding habits of the source animal. Did you know that the nicest, bright-red-looking piece of meat on your butcher’s shelf isn’t always the freshest? If yes, how do you make sure you are getting the best chunks from the butcher?
Without further ado, here are some tips you can use to ensure you’re getting top-quality meat on the market.
1. Find Out If It’s Organic
As we mentioned earlier, meat quality is determined majorly by what the cow eats. Beef from a grass-fed ox or cow has been shown to have more health benefits compared to regular grain-fed beef. For instance, it is more abundant in omega-3 fatty acids. The level of minerals like iron, selenium, zinc, and vitamins is also higher.
Moreover, the meat is free from chemical preservatives, added hormones, GMOs, herbicides, or antibiotics, all of which can negatively impact one’s health over time. This gives you a few more reasons to go for grass-fed organic steaks the next time you go shopping for meat. You just need to identify a reputed provider of fresh-from-the-farm organic meat.
2. Smell It
Odd as it may sound, one of the best ways to make sure the meat you are carrying home is the best and freshest is through the sense of smell. It’s fair if you do not find the odor of fresh meat very likable. If the meat has anything close to a pungent smell, this should be a red flag! Get used to the smell of normal raw meat so you can notice when your butcher is playing tricks on you. The downside with this method is that you may not tell if your meat is laced with preservatives that remove the smell.
3. Examine the Surface of the Meat
Taking the time to look at the surface of the meat will save you the loss and trouble of having to get rid of it while you had anticipated a very nice meal. Closely look at the meat surface and note the meat fibers. The grain of the fibers dictates whether such meat will be tough or tender. Coarse grain means tough meat. Beef tenderloin will, on the other hand, lack these grains of fibers. All the same, your preferences should determine the type you pick. The tough meat comes with more flavor compared to the soft chunk.
4. Meat Texture
If you are looking for value for your bills when buying meat, then you need not shy off from feeling the texture of the chunk cut for you. Meat firmness is one of the things to consider when buying fresh meat from your butcher. Normally, fresh meat should be firm, dense, and dry due to the uniform packing of the muscle fibers. When the piece is offered to you looks like it’s going to fall apart then it was either handled poorly or the quality is poor. If you feel the chunks are slimy or sticky, then you should stay away. Whether it’s pork, chicken, lamb, or beef, the texture is the same for fresh meat.
5. The Sell-By-Date
Most food products will have the sell-by-date written somewhere on their packaging. Oftentimes, these dates have more to do with the quality of the product in question than food safety. Manufacturers mean to tell you that the product is fit for consumption and best before that date. The product can be consumed after the date but it is the customer’s decision whether the product is still safe for their consumption. If you intend to have the chunk somewhere in your fridge for a few more days, then be keen on these dates. It’s, however, wise to acquire the freshest chunks of meat all the time regardless of your intended time of consumption.
That’s basically it. You have a few ways you can assess your meat to ensure you are getting the best quality and selection. While ensuring flavorful roasts, fries, and boiled meat servings, these tips will, as well, go a long way in helping avoid food poisoning and parasitic infections.