Many of us would go for the brightest red piece of meat on the shelf when we shop for meat. However, unlike what you may think, fresh meat looks purple; the oxygen in the air gives essence that bright red color we see in the supermarket. On the same note, brown meat is not spoiled either.
So, what impacts the quality of the meat we eat? If you’re a meat-eater, you probably want to know a lot about the type of meat you usually cook or eat. Many factors contribute to good meat and many that you need to look out for. This is why we put this article together. This is a simple guide on what you should pay attention to when you buy and cook meat at home.
1. Jagged-Edge Cuts
Good quality meat and poultry can be easily distinguished by the way it was cut or butchered. When you shop for meat, aim to get the smoothest cuts available or the ones that are uniformly sized. This will keep you away from the meat of animals that were not butchered properly. Avoid jagged-edged meat and lower grade cuts, especially when buying poultry as less care is usually put in butchering and removing the bones and joints of chicken. Many people prefer not to have small bones in their cooked chicken, that’s why you need to choose higher grade cuts.
2. Pungent Smelling Meat
It can be difficult to take a good sniff of fresh meat for so many people even if they’re meat-eaters. However, smelling is one of the best methods to detect spoiled meat and check whether the meat is fresh or not. It’s also hard for many people to tell the difference between raw meat funk and a spoiled meat scent. If the meat you’re buying smells pungent in any way, or similar to rotting flesh, then you need to stay away from it.
3. The Storage
Not enough people pay attention to the freezer and fridge storage of the meat they’re buying. If you’re an organic ground beef eater, you need to store your meats at a temperature below 40 degrees F to prevent the quick spread of bacteria. This is critical to ensuring that the meat you’re cooking is of high quality. This is why you need to make sure you’re buying meat from a store that keeps all meat and poultry at the right temperature.
4. The Meat Texture
Both beef and poultry meat should feel dense, dry, and firm. When you take a close look at beef, the muscle fibers should be uniform and tightly packed. Poor quality and poor handling can lead meat to look like it’s falling apart. At the same time, poor quality poultry would feel rather sticky and slimy, in that case, put it away and look for another poultry brand.
5. The Surface of the Meat
Meat fibers on the surface of meat let you know whether the meat is tender or tough. Meat that is tough will have coarse grains with visible muscle fibers. This kind of meat takes time to cook and packs a lot of flavors. Go for these tough cuts if you’re into slow cooking, however, you may need to choose smoother surfaces for tender meat. For example, beef tenderloin will have fewer visible grains on its surface, that’s why it tends to be tender during cooking.
7. The Color
The color of the meat you buy depends entirely on the type of meat you want to get. For example, the red meat you buy should be dark in color. It’s also okay for red meat to appear in any color resembling purple, red, or brown. This is because brown would only mean the meat was exposed to oxygen in the air. So, it’s completely safe to eat brown meat. Conversely, pork meat should have a light pink color, while fresh poultry can appear white, blue, or yellow. This is because the diet of the chickens affects the color of their meat.
Ensuring the quality of the meat you’re buying or cooking is not an easy thing. For example, you may need to smell a piece of meat before you can determine if it’s fresh or not. Fresh meat can be spotted easily using simple factors such as the texture, surface of the meat, and color. Rough meat exteriors always indicate the toughness of the meat as well as the richness of the flavors. While soft, smooth cuts would mean you’re having a tender piece of meat for dinner. These tips will help you buy and eat the best meats in terms of quality.