Everyone wants to cook the most delicious meals for their family to enjoy. While it might be helpful to be skilled in cooking and have the best recipe to whip up the best-tasting dish, plenty of other things factor into how your food tastes, including the quality of ingredients you use.
One of the best ways to get the richest flavor is by using high-quality ingredients, from the meat down to the seasonings. This will enable you to make the most of your dish. Before you buy for your special dinner, there are several things you need to check to ensure the most flavorful dish. To help you out, listed below are some tips when buying quality meat for your recipe:
1. Check The Color Of The Meat
The meat’s color would be the first thing you see when you go meat shopping. The better the color of the meat, the more you can be sure it’s fresh and of the best quality. However, the right color of fresh meat varies depending on the type of meat.
If you’re buying chicken, the meat should be white with a slight pinkish tone. Stay away from any meat with a green tint on its joints, along with bruises or clots.
If you’re buying red meat, ensure it’s a bright red, which indicates maximum freshness. However, some meats that have been vacuum sealed might appear slightly dark due to the meat’s natural reaction to oxygen.
2. Inspect The Cut
Another way to know if the meat is of the best quality is by checking how it’s been cut. While cutting might seem like a minor thing, incorrect cutting techniques can affect the meat’s quality and flavor. To ensure your meat is of excellent quality, you should inspect how it was cut.
Ideally, the meat should be sliced smoothly and evenly. If there are jagged edges, you should put the meat back as this typically indicates poor meat handling. This can also signify that some joints and small bones have not been removed, which means extra work for you in the kitchen.
3. Smell The Meat
An easy way to check the meat’s quality is by smelling it. You can immediately tell if it has an odd smell, which can affect its flavor and texture. A pungent odor could indicate that the meat is . Look for ones that give off a fresh and raw meat scent.
In sum, remember to give the meat a quick sniff before adding it to your cart.
4. Check Labels And Certifications
You may have encountered different labels on meat that left you confused. It’s good to know that meat processing plants are not at liberty to use these labels without complying with the strict standards of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Below are some of those labels and what they mean:
Certified Organic: This USDA label means reduced use of synthetic hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, and other chemicals. It also means that the cattle consumed organic feed.
Natural: The USDA Natural label signifies minimal processing, no artificial ingredients, and no preservatives.
Grassfed Beef: The USDA Grassfed Beef label indicates a diet of 100% grass, whether from pasture or stored grasses.
Knowing what the labels mean can help you make better decisions when buying meat.
5. Find The Use-By Date
Most meats available at the grocery store have a use-by date that indicates when you can use the meat for cooking before it spoils. Before you buy meat, you should always check the use-by date and use it as a reference to assess the meat’s quality.
Ideally, the date should be at least three to five days from your purchase date as it indicates that the meat has just been packed. While you can use them on the same day indicated in the packaging, it’s best to look for ones with a later use-by date to guarantee the meat’s freshness.
6. Consider The Meat’s Texture
Another way to determine the meat’s quality is by checking its texture. Beef meat should be solid, dry, firm, and dense with muscle fibers tightly holding the meat together.
Before adding meat to your cart, you should check the texture by poking it slightly. If the meat is intact, it’s an indication of good quality. On the other hand, if it seems like the meat is falling apart, you should put it back.
Furthermore, avoid sticky or slimy meat, no matter what kind of meat you’re planning to purchase.
7. Look At The Packaging
The meat’s packaging plays an important role in its quality. When picking out any meat, check the packaging for dirty smudges or any damage. While it doesn’t directly affect your meat, it indicates carelessness in the packing process, making you wonder if the company adheres to safe food handling and sanitation standards.
If you notice that the packaging looks damaged or compromised, you better not take your chances as the meat might be contaminated. Also, if a specific brand’s packaging seems flimsy and easily damaged, you might want to consider a more reputable brand.
8. Spot The Fat Distribution
A good indication of the meat’s quality and flavor is its fat distribution. This influences the juiciness, tenderness, and flavor of the meat. These streaks of fat make your meat extra tasty.
Ideally, the fat should be evenly distributed throughout the entire meat. This intramuscular fat is called marbling. Meat with abundant marbling is considered Prime grade and is more tender and flavorful. However, be prepared to pay more as this type of meat is more expensive.
Buying high-quality meat is crucial to cooking the best-tasting dish. Therefore, you must be able to tell if the meat you’re picking up at the grocery store is fresh and of excellent quality.
Remember to check the color, smell, texture, fat distribution, packaging, and more. With a keen eye, you should be able to find the perfect meat that’ll deliver the richest flavor to your dishes.