Question of the Week
Answer: There are many factors that can affect the quality and tenderness of beef. Some of them are caused by production, some by processing, and some by cooking. The list below identifies several resources can help you address these various factors.
Especially useful is the ATTRA publication Organic and Grass-finished Beef Cattle Production. This publication has some good information that may help, including this quote: "Carcass quality is very important and is often overlooked by new grass-finished beef producers. Many of the 'grass-finished' beef cattle produced today are actually under-finished. A more accurate term for these cattle is 'grass-fed.' The end product from these cattle has little back fat and not enough marbling, and it can be dry and tough when cooked." Page 6 of this publication can help you evaluate your feeding regimen and if that might be affecting meat tenderness.
The article from The Stockman Grassfarmer has some good points to consider, too. It is possible that meat toughness is due to processing. You may need to have a conversation with your processor to work out those specific needs. Tenderness issues can also be caused by the cooking method. If your customers are new to grass-fed beef, they may need some education on how to properly handle and cook your beef. The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook has some great tips for cooking grass-fed meat and some great recipes, too.
Rinehart, Lee. 2011. Organic and Grass-finished Beef Cattle Production. ATTRA publication. https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/summaries/summary.php?pub=193
Pordomingo, A. 2005. Grass Feeding Does Not Cause Meat Toughness or Off Flavors. The Stockman Grassfarmer. Vol. 62, No. 5. p. 10-11.
Wortsell, R. No date. How to make sure your grass fed beef is tender—process it right. http://www.slideshare.net/worstellr/how-to-make-sure-your-grass-fed-beef-is-tender
Martz, Fred. 2000. Pasture-Based Finishing of Cattle and Eating Quality of Beef. http://aes.missouri.edu/fsrc/research/pasture.stm
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