Beef 101

September 10, 2012

Shopping for beef and still confused with all of the choices? Here is your quick 101 for shopping for beef

What is Beef?
Beef is the culinary description for meat from adult domestic bovine (cattle), a principal source of protein throughout the US, South America, and Europe.

How to Buy:
Frozen beef: should be rock solid; refrigerated: should feel firm to the touch. Cherry red color w/o brown or grey, very little liquid; marbling, white. Vacuum-packed beef has darker, purplish-red color. Bright red indicates exposure to oxygen. Sold ground, (5-10, 15-20 or 30% fat); 15 cuts/roasts and ribs; 20 cuts/steaks, 5 prepared cuts/fajitas, kabobs, stew.

How to Read the Label:
Note expiration date. 50 percent is graded, at discretion/cost of meat processors. Prime: most marbling, most tender; Choice: most widely available, less marbling; Select: least marbling, leanest cut, less juice and flavor. Majority is grain-fed: cattle who roam grassy pastures, then are contained in feedlots to eat grains for 3 to 6 months to enhance marbling. Grass-finished cattle spend majority of life grazing. Natural beef: minimally processed, no additives. Organic beef certified w/USDA Organic Seal; grass finished or grain fed beef can be organic. Kosher beef does not include hindquarters; slaughtered to kosher rules. USDA allows antibiotics, additives.

How to Use:
Stir or pan fry, roast, grill, stew, or bake. 3-6 oz is one serving.

How to Store:
Refrigerate raw or cooked at 40°F., freeze at 0°F. Always thaw in refrigerator in container to hold juices. Refrigerate and use in 3-5 days; ground beef, 1-2 days; or freeze in original wrapper up to 2 weeks. For longer, cover w/foil, put in plastic bag, note date, cut, size.

Health Benefits:
A great source of protein, zinc, vitamins B12 and B6, iron, niacin, phosphorus, selenium, and iron.

Smarter Shopping:
Buy beef last. Store an ice cooler. Ask questions and read labels!

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