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Beef tenderness, marbling and flavour can vary immensely! That’s where the “Craft” comes in with Craft Beef. Where the ranch is located, climate, what the animals eat, how old they are, their breed – all make a difference in the taste and tenderness. Traditionally, beef has followed the typical scale of “A” “AA” “AAA” but the problem is that it only measures one single factor – marbling of the Ribeye. It ignores all other factors and has also penalized farmers for bringing something different to the table. The customer has been asking for niche products and as a beef industry, we have struggled to provide it because everything we do is on such a large scale. Craft Beef Co was started as a way of showcasing these differences and letting you decide what you like best!
As an example, I hear all the time “We tried Grass Fed Beef but we didn’t really like it. We prefer meat with more fat“. I do too, so believe me – I get it! Unfortunately, if you happen to be the person who ended up with beef off kijiji or from a friend-of-a-friend that was both old (over 24 months old) and not well marbled, you got a bit of a raw deal. Grass fed/finished beef can vary from being extremely lean with little marbling to beef that is intensely marbled. This doesn’t mean that the less marbled beef is any less tender if the animal is around 12 – 15 months old, it simply means we treat it differently in the cutting and packaging process. A younger leaner beef will likely spend less time aging because it has less fat and less sinew. A heavier, older beef animal (24 – 30 months old) will take more time in the aging process because the sinew has developed longer and the aging process is needed to tenderize it. Too much aging and you lose too much of the beef to “shrink”. Too little aging and you could lack tenderness. It is a fine balance and we rely on our processors at D’Arcy’s Meat Market in Edmonton and Bauer Meats in Torrington to make that judgement call for us.
If you don’t like a fatty beef, lean beef can be very tender if the animal is relatively young. That’s why veal used to be so popular. In an older animal, you should expect a greater level of marbling, which will bring the tenderness and increase the flavour composition. Farms like Prairie Land and Cattle, from Hardisty, AB, are a very nice mix of both and certainly fall somewhere in the middle.
Moral of the Story… If you didn’t enjoy your last Grass Fed/Finished Beef experience but you like the concept, try it from another farm. Everyone enjoys something a little different and we can help point you in the right direction.
The Craft Beef Co.
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