What You Need to Know About Buying Beef

What is Aging?

Aging beef can dramatically improve tenderness and flavour. In the aging process, beef is held at controlled temperatures and humidity for a period. During this time, enzymes naturally occurring in the meat break down some of the connective tissue that contributes to toughness.

Look for beef that is aged at least 14 to 21 days. Check with your meat counter representative for details about the aging policy of the beef they sell. We at Stemmler Meats age our beef for this length of time. Most times it is 21 days!

What Is Marbling and Grading?

Marbling refers to the amount of fine white flecks of fat that you see running through the lean meat. It can enhance the juiciness and flavour of beef.

Grading can indicate the amount of marbling in the meat. Grading is a voluntary process of the Canadian Beef Industry. Canada’s Top Grades, ranging from most to least marbling are Canada AAA, Canada AA, or Canada A. At Stemmler Meats, we sell “AAA to A” graded beef. We tend to lean toward the leaner grade of “A”. Beef can be sold ungraded but eating quality can vary drastically. Grading has nothing to do with inspection.

What is Inspection?

Canada has a complex Meat Inspection System in place to help ensure we all have access to a safe, wholesome food supply. Inspection is not related to eating quality or Grading. Inspection can take place at the federal, provincial and municipal government levels – to obtain more information about Canada’s Meat Inspection System, visit www.canadabeef.ca.


Why Are There Colour Differences in Beef?

Colour can vary due to many factors including packaging material, amount of aging, store temperature and condition of the meat. A bright red colour is NOT always the best indication of freshness or quality.

As beef is exposed to oxygen, it quickly turns cherry red. Meat not exposed to oxygen will remain dark. This is why a package of ground beef can be red at the surface but dark purple in the centre. Likewise, beef in airtight packaging can naturally be a dark purplish or grey colour on the surface.

Beef that has been well aged can have a slightly darker colour. Even grey in appearance.

If you have any additional questions, do not hesitate to ask! We at Stemmler’s would be more than happy to inform you further!