Who doesn’t love eating steak? When the meat is good quality and the steak is prepared and cooked well, it can be a very tasty and delicious treat. Although eating steaks at a restaurant is easy and convenient, a true steak lover should know how to make one at home.
To help you become an excellent meat steak shopper, here are some signs to look for if you want high-quality steaks:
- Bright, red color. Look for meat that has a bright, red color. This is usually the color of meat that has been freshly cut and has not been exposed to air for a long time. This bright, red color gradually turns to brownish red after prolonged exposure to air. However, avoid any meat that has been sitting on a tray and has pink-colored water at the bottom. This usually indicates that the meat has been pumped with water. It goes without saying that dark brown meat is a no-no. Sometimes, you may even encounter meat that has a greenish hue – never buy this kind of meat! It is usually a sign of rotting or bacteria on the meat.
- White or creamy marbling. The amount of marbling in your steak can affect how juicy and soft it will turn out when cooked. Look for white or creamy marbling and avoid those with brown spots. If the marbling is yellowish, ask the seller or butcher whether it is grass-fed beef as the color of fat in grass-fed beef has a yellowish tinge.
- Fresh meaty smell. One sure sign of bad meat is a foul smell. The fresher and meatier it smells, the better it is. If you get a whiff of any sour or ammonia smell, it is better not to buy it. The same goes for any meat that has a stale smell. Meat that smells rancid should also be avoided, along with meat that has a distinct, pungent scent. When you try to smell the meat, do not put your nose to it! Instead, with a cupped hand, wave the air above the meat towards your nose to get a whiff of the meat.
So obviously, before you get into the many different ways you can prepare steaks, one important thing to learn is how to buy them, which we’ve explained in the three tips above. Nowadays, this can be easy even if you want to order steaks online because of the information available online, but you would still benefit from knowing how to spot a high-quality steak. After all, no amount of marinade and preparation can make bad meat taste good. That being said, below are some more tips on how to spot that high-quality steak.
- Not sticky texture. Fresh, good quality meat often feels springy or bouncy to the touch. It should not feel sticky at all! This can be tricky to do when you buy steaks online and sometimes, even in meat shops, as most sellers will not let just anyone touch the meat they are selling. However, make sure to check the meat at once when you can do so, either upon delivery or when you get home. If the meat has a sticky texture, return it immediately. A slimy coating over the meat usually means that bacteria has started to accumulate on it.
- Latest packaged date. If you are buying pre-packaged meat, make sure to check the label on the packaging. Most meat sellers will put a sell-by date on the label. Choose meat whose sell-by date on the label is as far in the future as possible. If the label indicates a packaged date instead of a sell-by date, choose one whose packaged date is the latest. Keep in mind also that raw meat only has around 1 to 3 days before it starts to go bad. After buying your meat, store it in the freezer to make it last longer. Make sure to cook and consume it within five days if you only store it in the fridge.
- High meat grade. Meat is graded by the USDA or United States Department of Agriculture. There is a total of eight levels of USDA meat grade, but most meat steak cuts that you can buy are categorized into three – Prime, Choice, or Select. The best quality meat steaks are graded USDA Prime, the next ones are graded USDA Choice, and lastly, the lowest meat grade for steaks are USDA Select Steaks.
Ready to go meat shopping? Remember these signs of high-quality meat and you’ll be making delicious steaks in no time.