What to Look For When Buying Meat: 7 Tips

Whether you are going to the grocery store or to the local butcher, you want to make sure that you are buying the best cuts of meat out there!

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There is nothing worse than going home to find that the meat is either too fatty, too lean, or simply not a good cut at all. While sometimes you just may get unlucky with your choice, there are things that you can do to spot what meat is going to be good to buy. Here are some tips to ensure that your dinner is a success.

Order From a Reputable Source

If you are looking to buy meat online and have it delivered to you, you are going to want to ensure you are buying from a reliable source. As you have no ways of inspecting the meat, you have no idea of what you are going to get beforehand. This can lead to many examples where you order thinking you are going to get a quality cut of meat, but later get disappointed when a bad piece comes. The professionals at Grutto recommend shopping online with companies that are reputable and known for their quality cuts of meat. These companies have their reputation on the line whenever they deliver, so you know you are going to be getting the best from them. Looking at the company itself is one of the first things that you have to look for when buying meat.

The Color

Most of the time if you are in the store, meat is going to be packaged up. This can make it difficult to smell however you will be able to get a look at the color of the meat. Red meat should be dark red. If there are any lighter colors on it, you should seriously be questioning the quality of the cut. A typical color for red meat is purple, red, or brown. If there is any brown on the red meat, it is normally because it has been exposed to oxygen. While this isn’t that big of a deal, it is something to watch out for if your meat is shrink-wrapped. Pork on the other hand should be a light pink color almost like it is blushing while game meat should be a dark brown. The color of chicken can also vary as it can be a nice white to a yellow. Be on the lookout for the color of your meat whenever you are going to be buying.

The Smell

If you do have the opportunity to actually smell the meat, this is something you should do. While raw meat might not have the greatest smell to even standard meat lovers, you should still get into this habit. Typically meat will have a sort of strange smell to it, but it shouldn’t be too pungent or too strong. If the smell is extremely repulsive, there is a good chance that the cut is rotten. If there is a smell that is off but it is not strong in any way, that is just the standard smell associated with raw meat. It can be difficult to tell the difference at first, but with enough practice, you will begin to know when meat is spoiled or okay.

The Surface Of the Meat

When looking at meat, you will notice lines on the surface that are meat fibers. Take a look at the grain of these fibers as they are a good indicator of the type of meat that you are going to get. Course lines are going to result in a meat that is a lot tougher but can also pack a lot more flavor. Softer pieces of meat are going to result in a much more tender cut. It all comes down to preference here and you can always add some extra seasoning to a tender cut if you feel that there isn’t enough flavor.

Look at the Cut Itself

When at the store or the butcher, take a look at the actual cut of the meat. If a trained butcher has cut it, the cuts should all be fairly uniform and look extremely similar. If meat is not smooth, it is generally a sign that something went wrong with cutting and therefore you should look to avoid it. This is especially a concern with chicken as an inexperienced butcher can leave small bones in it. Analyze your cut of meat and compare it to the others there to ensure you are getting one that was cut properly.

The Fat

Fat on meat is indicated by the white spots on the surface. This is known as marbling. While you don’t want a piece that is completely covered in fat, you do want some marbling as it is going to make a huge difference in flavor. Typically speaking, meats with fine marbling are generally much higher quality of cut and are going to provide great flavor, albeit at a high price.

The Date

Finally, take a look at the packaging of the meat and see when it has to be sold. All meat has a best before date and while you can eat it afterward, typically it is going to lose a lot of its flavor and it might cause some problems internally for you. When shopping for meat, look for ones with the latest best by date as that gives you the most time to prepare it and store it. This is important if you are planning on cooking something that takes a few days to prepare. Never neglect the information on the actual packaging, especially the date.

These are all things that you should look for when you are buying meat at the butcher or the grocery store. At first, it might be difficult to remember all these things, however with a bit of practice, you will soon be able to find the best cuts of meat all the time. Our final tip is to avoid going to lower-end grocery stores if you want quality meat. While they are going to be cheaper there, the quality of meat is also going to be less. What do you look for in your meat?