Choosing your food wisely is essential if you want to optimize your fitness. The most common belief about red meat is that we should stay away from it as much as possible. Chicken is usually considered a healthy alternative. In actuality, this belief isn’t entirely accurate. It’s better to state and affirm that choosing meat with excellent quality is the most essential.
The most commonly found piece of red meat is the lovely, bright-red-looking one on the shelf. Were you aware that fresh meat is purple? Most of our meals consist of meat in some way. Food that’s high in protein makes an excellent addition to a healthy diet. We all don’t forget to keep it on our shopping list since it’s high in minerals, including minerals essential for the body, such as protein, zinc, and iron.
Learn how to choose the healthiest cuts at the market and how to purchase them. Our meals can be a bit more nutritionally dense if we choose appropriately when shopping for meat or poultry. Before you type in “prime meats near me” on your search engine, here are essential considerations when buying quality meat:
- Color of the Meat
What type of meat you ought to buy will depend on its color. Usually, red meat is as dark as purple. However, it can also change from red to brown. You can still eat it if it’s brown since it’s been exposed to oxygen. A lightly blushing pink meat is ideal, while dark brown meat is appropriate for game meat. You may have observed that poultry meat varies since their diet affects the color of their flesh. Fresh poultry usually has a variety of colors ranging from bluish-white to yellow.
Poultry meat must be white or light pink in color for it to be fresh. Under the wings, check to make sure the meat isn’t green. There should be no bruises or dark spots on the surface. It must have a bright red appearance when it’s red meat. The meat may appear slightly brown if it has been vacuumed packed. This kind of good quality meat can be kept in the fridge for a long time.
- The smell of the Meat
It’s sometimes possible to detect a slight odor of meat, especially in poultry meat. There shouldn’t be a massive difference between the smell of red meat and the smell of lamb or goat, as the scent is different with each different type of meat. You have to check the odor to make sure that the meat you’ll buy doesn’t smell bad.
Home cooks often find it difficult to distinguish between raw meat odor and spoiled meat since some don’t like the smell. It’s worth staying away from some meat with an unpleasant odor (and smells like rotting flesh).
- Information on the Label
Written on every package of meat are the type of meat (such as beef or pork), the wholesale cut, and the name of the cut (such as Ribeye steak). Additional information on the product can be found at the bottom of the package: price details, date prepared and expiry, weight, and the kind of meat. A packet of meat may also include nutritional information, preparation instructions, and the country of origin if available.
You may have noticed that meat packages come with two different stamps. The USDA started requiring inspections for all meat when it was established in the early 1900s. Inspecting the animal for its fitness for human consumption is a sign of its suitability. Almost every package of meat and poultry will be stamped with an inspection stamp. Grading the meat then lets us know whether it’s of good quality or not. Food companies pay an additional fee for this stamp which is usually found on meat packages.
- Right Slice and Cut
When it comes to determining what part of the animal you’re purchasing meat from, the “cut” becomes very important. Quality meat usually occurs in the rump, tenderloin, ribs, and spine of an animal. Back meat is more expensive than others because it’s more in demand. The meat cut from a good animal is also easy to cook, in contrast to other parts of the animal whose meat is more rigid and requires longer cooking time.
Look for uniformly sized cuts of meat and steer away from meat with jagged edges when choosing quality meat. This is especially true in poultry meat since lower quality chicken may not always be adequately butchered, which leads to an inability to remove joints and bones; for people who don’t like bone fragments in their chicken, you can select high-grade cuts.
In most cases, you’ll be paying for added saltwater when you purchase cheap meat. The minor cut is more flavorful but is also more expensive, as it tends to produce a pool of liquid in the pan. It’s preferable to choose a cut smaller than 2 pounds but more extensive than 125 grams.
You’ll get a better price and more beautiful pieces (with the skin) if you learn how to cut up a whole chicken. The process is straightforward: cook the bones with an onion and carrot, switch off the cooking plate and leave it in the refrigerator overnight. You can continue preparing and chopping it to pieces the next day.
- Meat Surface
Red meat contains meat fibers that can be seen with the naked eye. The meat can be rigid or tender by looking at the fibers of the meat. The grittier the meat grain, the more visible the muscle fibers, the more flavorful and tougher it is. The beef tenderloin has fewer grains than most other cuts, cooking more evenly when used in low and slow cooking.
Get ready to cook. You may want to consider cooking Chef Gordon Ramsay’s Filet Mignon with this recipe!
- Meat’s Firmness and Texture
Check the fresh meat for softness and toughness by poking it. If a good piece of meat is pressed and bounces back to its original form, it’s good. Meat that won’t return to its original shape after being poked means it’s been kept in the stocks for a long time. To be able to see the meat’s muscular structure, it shouldn’t be sticky when touched. You should be able to cut good meat without it looking clear and damp. A good indication that the meat you’re cutting is of high quality if it doesn’t fall off easily. Yellow fat indicates that the meat isn’t fresh.
A good piece of beef should be firm, tight, and dry. The muscle strands should be packed well and looks similar in appearance. If the meat seems like it’s going to break up, either it wasn’t handled carefully enough or wasn’t of high quality. It would help if you looked for poultry meat that is as firm and dry as possible. If it’s slimy or sticky, don’t purchase the meat. This goes the same for pork, beef, lamb, and poultry.
- Meat Fat
Fat streaks and flecks of white in the meat will make it juicier and tastier. These fat deposits are termed marbling, and the more marbling there is, the more flavorful the meat. There’s a high demand for Wagyu beef for its marbling and its natural sweetness and tenderness. These types of meat are pretty expensive as well.
- Go For Skinless
Meat contains saturated fat, which has a high-calorie content and may lead to an increased risk of cardiac ailments. Take, chicken meat for example. It increases the number of calories and saturated fat in your meal if you keep the skin on your chicken. A cup of chicken breast with skin consists of 276 calories, while a cup without skin has 231 calories, based on the USDA report.
- Ensure Food Safety Standards
Each packaged meat product must be given a label certified by the Food Safety and Standards Authority to assure food safety standards are met. Some examples of these guidelines set out in handling meat include:
- Safe Freezing
The storage temperature is also a factor in the amount of safe freezing and refrigeration. You should keep your freezer at or below 0°F (-17.8°C). Foods are preserved and stay fresh if they are stored this way.
- Safe Storage Times
Uncooked poultry can be kept frozen until 9 months. Uncooked fish could go as far as 6 months in the freezer. And ground meat can be frozen until 3 to 4 months.
- Check Sell-By Date
Best before dates usually reflect whether an item is of good quality rather than how safe it is. Products are at their freshness at their best before a specific date. After the expiration date, consumers who buy food should decide whether the food item still is safe to eat.
It’s advisable to buy meat with the latest “best-before” or “sale-by” dates if you don’t need to cook the meat right away. You don’t have to worry about spoiled meat for a few days in your refrigerator this way.
- Check Use-By Date
A meat’s use-by date is significant since it indicates the degree of danger the meat is of spoiling. You ought to consume any meat before or at the latest before its use-by date. After this date, it could already be dangerous to eat it. A piece of ground beef is especially vulnerable to spoilage because it was processed and handled more than a steak. Ground beef wasn’t only exposed to more bacteria but also been exposed to more touch.
Processed meat and poultry products need to feel cold when touched. They should experience excellent preservation through storage, transport, and processing. If the product is warm, it has probably not been stored properly at the proper temperature. Also, be sure to select packages that are tightly wrapped and don’t have cracks or tears. Also, be sure that there’s no extra liquid within them, indicating overheating or over-storage. Make sure that the packages of vacuum-packed products aren’t broken or leaking.
Few people consider the fridge and freezer storage as they shop for fresh meat. Why is this important? It’s imperative to have a temperature-controlled environment within a facility to ensure the meat stays fresh. You may see the fridge is a bit warmer than usual, or you may even notice the water dripping from the freezer. This could indicate a technical problem, which could mean your meat isn’t that new.
Looking for signs of damage or dirt in the packaging can give you an indication of the quality of meat, even if the meat itself isn’t affected directly. Your beef may have been handled with dirty hands if you see marks inside the packaging. If the package has been damaged, the possibility of contamination increases.
- Ask The Butcher
There’s a meat expert at your disposal behind the counter, so you should take advantage of their advice and knowledge. A butcher can advise you on every aspect of meat if you’re not sure. You’ll receive advice from them regarding what to look for, which cut is best for your dish, which meat is freshest in-store, how to cook the meat, and even receive a discount on bulk purchases!
Specific Details of Each Meat
There are certain specifications associated with different kind of meats. Read on to explore the things you must know before you go on to buy meat. Read on to know better.
If the meat is pink in color with no marks, it’s guaranteed to be good, but avoid choosing it if it has a pale yellowish hue. Though it’s moist, it shouldn’t be slimy in texture. Also, take note of the smell, as good quality pork should entail no strange odor. Typically, pork that’s rotting develops a sour smell that gets stronger and more intense with time.
Lamb should be a pinkish-red color with white fat and marbling. There’s a slight gaminess to raw lamb, especially when it has just been opened in its package. This smell should vanish quickly, and no other odor of spoilage should accompany it.
Once exposed to air, the beef will turn a bright red color to the color of a cherry. If the meat is preserved in a sealed bag, its color is typically deeper purplish-red. There is slightly different information on the package for ground meat compared to whole pieces of meat. There will most likely be a percentage lean to a percentage fat, such as 70% lean to 30% fat.
No matter what kind of poultry you choose, it should be pink rather than gray. However, a dark wingtip is acceptable, but avoid feathers that have purple or green discolorations on the neck or chest. Don’t use poultry with any bruises around the neck.
Generally speaking, the leanest cuts have information on their labels. Look for terms like tenderloin or rounds in the name of your chosen meat cuts. If you find such words, you can be sure the meat is lean. The leanest meat in poultry is the breast part. If you’d like to try other lean meat alternatives from pork and poultry, you could try goat, buffalo, or venison. Remember to eat the right meat, which is good for you.
Shop for nonperishables first and then meats and poultry. Ask for the meat and poultry to be bagged separately from the rest of your grocery to avoid cross-contamination. Then, when you get home, quickly store the meat in the refrigerator or freezer.
You should refrigerate or freeze meat quickly after it is purchased to prevent harmful bacteria from spreading through it. If the products can’t be refrigerated in 30 minutes, store them in an iced box or cooler. You must keep your food safe from the farm to your family’s dinner. Also, if you plan your grocery visits well, it could help you take care of your meats properly immediately after buying them.