Bone Up on the Beef Counter
03/28/2016 04:33AM ● Published by Family Features
(Family Features) If you find yourself overwhelmed at the meat counter, know that you’re not alone. There are literally dozens of different cuts of beef. Add that to the plethora of labels gracing today’s food packaging, and it’s not hard to find yourself confused.
The first step is knowing how you plan to prepare your beef. Are you looking forward to a juicy steak on the grill or a rich, hearty brisket stew? Then, as you peruse the options, keep these tips in mind:
- Know the difference between prime, choice and select designations. Of the three, prime has the most white streaks within the meat known as marbling, which contributes to the overall flavor. Select cuts are leaner, with less juice and flavor, while choice falls in the middle.
- Labels such as “organic” reflect what a cow is fed throughout its life, so a package bearing the USDA organic label signifies that the animal received only 100 percent organic feed.
- Generally, the redder the beef, the fresher it is. However, be wary of meat that seems unusually vivid in color – it may have been artificially treated. Also know that brown tinged meat isn’t necessarily bad; it’s just been exposed to oxygen.
- Generally, fresh meat will spring back when pressed gently with a finger, although to varying degrees depending on the type of cut. If an indentation remains, you’re best off making a different choice.
- Be conscious of the dates on the label; don’t buy meat past its sell-by date.
If you’re still struggling to make a choice, don’t hesitate to ask for assistance from the butcher. Most take great pride in their work and are happy to answer questions to help you enjoy your purchase.