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For us, smell is the most important factor in choosing good beef. If meat smells pleasant then it’s good, unpleasant and it’s bad. Freshly cut steak will have a sweet and slightly meaty smell; meat cut for too long will smell sour, as will anything wet aged in a bag.
Good beef won’t be wet or sticky to the touch, nor should it be soft and mushy.
Grass-fed beef is a deeper red than a well marbled, grain finished steak. When a steak is cut and the outside and the outside is exposed to oxygen, the meat will turn a bright red or ‘bloom’. If it’s not freshly cut, bright red indicates that the steak has been kept in an oxygen-free environment like a vacuum bag. Supermarkets are leaders in ‘wet-ageing’, the process in which steaks are vacuum packed to keep them looking fresh.
Although it’s these factors that we mostly consider when buying meat, it’s also prudent to remember that great beef comes from animals that are grass-fed as nature intended, of a pure breed, free-range, at least two to preferably three years old and growth promoter-free.
Read the entire article in the latest issue of Speciality Food, free to download here.