When you go to the meat case to purchase beef,
there are a wide variety of options from which to choose. All of these options
can make it confusing if you don't know what to look for. If you understand what
the names mean, you'll be one step closer to proper selection.
- "Loin"and "rib" are clues
that the beef is a more tender cut.
- "Chuck", "round" and
"flank" indicate a less tender cut.
Less tender cuts will require marinading or a
slower, moist cooking method.
There are three grades that beef generally have:
Grades are determined by the amount of marbling
(flecks of fat within the meat), the texture of the meat and its color and
appearance. Prime meat has the most marbling and Select has the least.
Less marbling means less fat, therefore Select
has fewer calories. But remember, it may not be as tender, juicy or flavorful as
Choice or Prime.
When purchasing beef, there are a few things to
watch for no matter what grade or cut you choose:
- Choose beef that is bright red in color in the
fresh meat case. Remember, vacuum packaged beef in the self-serve case will
be maroon because it has not been exposed to oxygen.
- Choose beef that is firm to the touch.
- Choose beef that has little or no excess
liquid in the package.
- Look for packages that are cool to the touch
and have no wear or punctures.
- Always check the "sell-by" date.
With beef and all perishable foods, proper care
must be taken to ensure safety and maintain quality. Try to buy your meats last
on your trip through the grocery store.
After you buy beef, be sure to refrigerate or
freeze your meat as soon as you get home. If you live far from the grocery store
or meat market, bring a cooler for the ride home.
Refrigeration tips for uncooked beef:
- Be sure your refrigerator is set at 40 degrees
- Beef steaks and roasts can be refrigerated for
3 to 4 days.
- Ground beef should be used within 1 to 2 days.
- Place meat in the coldest part of the
- Place uncooked meat on a plate in the
refrigerator. That way if excess juices drip, they will not effect other
Freezing tips for uncooked beef:
- Beef steaks and roasts can be frozen for 6 to
- Ground beef can be left in the freezer for 3
to 4 months.
- Wrap meat in white freezer paper or freezer
aluminum foil to protect against freezer burn.
Do not bring meat to room temperature before
cooking. Most recipes are based on taking meat directly from the refrigerator.
In fact many recipes call for steaks to be partially frozen when cut (for easier
cutting) and then immediately cooked.
Everyone loves the great taste of beef, so you
often won't have any leftovers. But if you do:
- Promptly refrigerate or freeze all perishable
foods after the meal is over.
- Don't cool leftovers on the kitchen counter.
- Divide and wrap leftovers into smaller
portions that you'll use at one time.
- Leftover, cooked beef can be stored in the
refrigerator for 3 to 4 days and in the freezer for 2 to 3 months.
- Date leftovers so you know when you put them
in the refrigerator