Meat is a great protein and vitamin source needed to maintain good health, so it’s important to pick the right kind to get all its nutritional benefits. Buying quality meat can be a bit tricky since not everyone is familiar with the important things one should pay attention to.
If you want to have the perfect piece of meat at your dinner table, we’re here to give you a few pointers on what to look out for when purchasing quality meat.
1. Purchase meat from a well-known butcher shop
Knowing and understanding how the meat was sourced and bred is important to determine its quality. You can browse around the neighborhood or simply go online and google “butcher shop near me” to find the perfect place to buy quality meat at good prices. You can look for a shop that does whole-animal butchering as they will know where their meat is coming from.
Getting your information from the butcher can be quite beneficial since they know best about the meat they’re selling and can walk you through recipes, techniques, and offer dinner ideas. If you love your meat and want the best quality, listen to your butcher, because they can teach you a lot.
Depending on the type of meat you’re buying you should pay attention to the color. For example, red meat should be dark, varying between red, purple, and brown. Know that if it’s brown it means that it has been exposed to the sun, but it’s still safe to eat. Pork meat should be a light pink color, and game meat should be dark brown.
On the other hand, if the beef is pink, or the pork is grey then it’s not going to taste good. When purchasing poultry, keep in mind that the meat should be white or light pink, and keep your eyes open for hints of green color under the wings. Also, the surface shouldn’t have any blood clots or bruises.
Not everyone likes to smell fresh meat, but remember that it’s the best way to determine whether the meat is still fresh. If the smell is pungent or smells like rotten flesh, then throw it out. Generally, poultry meat is odor-free but it can have a slightly meaty odor on rare occasions. Red meat has a specific smell depending on the type, meaning it shouldn’t be any different from the typical smell of lamb or goat.
Remember that no matter what type of meat you’re purchasing, it shouldn’t have any pungent or strong smell. If the scent is too powerful then the chances are that the meat is not fresh. Ask your butcher for recommendations, but trust your senses.
The texture of the meat can tell the quality of it. Beef should be dry, firm, and dense, and the muscle fibers should be tightly packed. If it looks like it’s falling apart, it can be due to poor quality or poor handling. For poultry meat, the texture should be firm and muscle fibers should be visible. Bear in mind that poultry meat shouldn’t be slimy, and when touched it should be dry rather than sticky.
If the meat is translucent when cut, and if red meat has a yellow or watery texture, then it is not fresh. These standards should apply to any type of meat whether lamb, beef, pork, or chicken. Also, pay attention to the meat cuts, and the surface since the grain of fibers will tell if it’s tough or tender.
5. Meat fat
Some people don’t prefer to eat meat that has plenty of fat. They usually ask the butcher to remove it, or they do it themselves when cooking. On the other hand, when purchasing premium beef it is essential to look for one that has white flecks and streaks of fat throughout the muscle, meaning it will be juicy, tender, and extremely tasty when eaten.
This type of fat is called marbling, and the finer the marbling the tastier the meat will be. One type of beef that is prized for its marbling is Wagyu beef which is well-known for its tenderness and flavor. Note that this type of beef is quite expensive but worth it.
There are plenty of other things one should consider when purchasing quality meat including storage, packaging, the sell-by date, and use-by-date.
On the other hand, when buying from a butcher shop one should rely on their senses and knowledge about meat, but also consult with the butcher. Spotting good quality meat is easy by the way it’s butchered, so look for smooth cuts that are uniformly sized, and stay away from jagged-edged meat.