What is “Organic” beef?
To qualify as “organic” by federal standards, our feed would have to include ingredients that have never been treated with pesticides, herbicides, or synthetic fertilizer. The cost of those feeds is extremely expensive and getting more so each year. Feeding our cattle organically would raise our price considerably and would require that we pass it on to you our customer, raising your prices by at least 50-100%. We believe our natural methods are more than sufficient to provide healthy, high quality beef at a price our customers can afford.
What is “Natural” beef?
“Natural Beef” is from animals that have received no antibiotics in their feed and have no growth implants. In contrast, almost all beef that you buy in the grocery stores comes from feedlots where the feed is “medicated” with antibiotics and the animals receive estrogen growth implants.
Dry Aging vs Wet Aging
For the best prime quality beef, aging is done by the so-called dry method, where the beef is hung in a cooler for a prescribed time prior to cutting. Dry aging results in a loss of meat over time due to water evaporation, but is said to concentrate the flavor of the meat. The fat would mostly get trimmed away during the butchering, but before then it would protect the meat during the dry aging period, in which the carcass hangs in a cold locker while natural enzymes break down tough muscle fiber and tenderize the meat.
An alternative method is wet aging, where the meat is stored in large vacuum bags that seal the moisture in. Wet aging reduces the loss of meat due to evaporation, resulting in a heavier saleable meat cut, but generally doesn’t develop an agreeably flavorful taste to the degree that dry aging does. It’s worth noting that although the best steakhouse steaks are dry-aged, most supermarket beef is wet-aged in a plastic bags that prevents shrinkage but also precludes the concentration of beefy flavor that occurs with water loss. This also slows down the natural enzyme breakdown of the tough muscle fiber, resulting in a tougher less tasty cut of meat.
Beef really is like cheese or tomatoes or any other food: The proof is in the pudding, not in claims about the pudding. The cook needs to explore and sample with an open mind.
What are the grades of meat?
There are eight grades of meat: prime, choice, select, standard, commercial, utility, cutter, and canner. Young beef is categorized as prime, choice, select, and standard, whereas commercial, utility, cutter, and canner grades refer to more mature meat. In most supermarkets, you will find primarily choice and select grades of beef.
Prime, the most rare quality of meat, is not readily available on supermarket shelves. It is served primarily in hotels and restaurants as part of first-rate meals. Heavily marbled with fat, it is the most tender, juicy, and flavorful of beef cuts.
Choice is the most prevalent fine-quality consumer beef, followed by select, leaner cuts of beef, which have been gaining in popularity with consumers.
Standard and commercial grades of beef are “brand name” or “ungraded,” meaning that a supermarket can stamp it with its own label.
Utility, cutter, and canner grades are used as ground beef and hot dogs. These are the lowest of the beef grades. Retired dairy or breeding cows are generally slaughtered between 6-8 years of age, and their less tender meat is usually sold ungraded, as ground or otherwise processed product.
How many pounds of meat will my freezer hold?
This will depend on the size of your freezer and that would be measured in cubic feet. A rule of thumb is one cubic foot of freezer space for each 35-40 pounds of cut and wrapped meat. Allow slightly more space when the meat is packaged in odd shapes.
How long can I store the frozen beef?
When you buy beef from Circle K Angus Farm, it will be in a vacuum-sealed package and frozen solid. If you don’t plan on eating your beef right away, we recommend that you store it in your freezer. We recommend that you use a traditional freezer with a temperature at or below 0 degrees F and never higher than 5 degrees F.
Below are the recommended durations for keeping our beef in your freezer:
- Ground Beef: 9-12 months
- Roasts: Up to 12 months
- Steaks: Up to 12 Months
How should I defrost the beef?
We recommend that you keep the beef frozen in its original packaging. When you are ready to use it, remove it from the freezer and defrost in the refrigerator. Defrost our beef products as follows:
- Large roasts: 4-8 hours per pound
- Small roasts: 3-6 hours per pound
- Steaks and burgers: (one inch thick) 10-12 hours
If you’re pressed for time, however, you can:
Place our vacuum-sealed package in a sink filled with cold water. Make sure the package is watertight! Remove the beef from its package and microwave it on the “defrost” setting (be careful not to cook the meat in the microwave). We do not recommend thawing beef at room temperature.
How much beef in a whole, a side (half) or quarter?
Individual animals vary but our estimate on a young beef weighing 1000 on the hoof (live weight), is 480 pounds in a whole (freezer weight), 240 pounds in a side, 120 pounds in a quarter (a quarter is not the front or back of a side, but an equally divided side or half). Remember that this is an average. It will vary with the amount of trimming you require. Animals also vary in size and yield. Some people will get a little more and others a little less.
What kind of cuts do I get? What is the percentage of steaks and hamburger?
Here are percentages based on the way our butcher recommends to cuts the beef. These differ with every individual animal, and would change depending on how you cut your beef. * Steaks (Rib, T-bone, Porterhouse, Sirloin, Flank) about 19%. * Roasts (Chuck, Arm, Sirloin Tip) about 17% * Round cuts (Eye Roast, Top Round Steaks, Bottom Round) about 9% * Hamburger (depends on how lean or fat) about 45%. * Miscellaneous (Short Ribs, Stew meat, Tongue, Liver, etc) about 10%.