Buying Beef Guide

More Beef Tips!


Let the label be your guide.  The key is understanding the primal or wholesale cut - it tells you where the meat comes from on the carcass and whether it's a tender cut.  For example, the words loin and rib are clues that the beef is a tender cut.  Chuck, round and flank indicate less tender cuts.  If the beef cut on the label isn't familiar, ask your meatman to explain it.

Inspection ensures that the beef you purchase is of high quality and safe to eat.  Federal meat inspection is the responsibility of the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), a division of the USDA.

Grading is an altogether different process and is optional.  Beef can be graded for quality by the USDA.  Three grades are usually found at retail: Prime, Choice and Select. Grades are determined by evaluating the amount of marbling (flecks of fat within the lean), the texture of the lean meat and its color and appearance.  Meat with the most marbling is labeled PrimeSelect has the least amount of fat marbling.  It provides fewer calories than Prime or Choice, but it may not be as tender, juicy or flavorful.


When shopping for beef, in addition to reading the label, check for the following:

Beef should have a bright, cherry-red color, without any grayish or brownish spots.  (Vacuum packaged beef may have a darker, purplish-red color because the meat is not in direct contact with the air.  When exposed to air, the familiar cherry-red color returns.)

Make sure beef is firm to the touch rather than soft.

Choose beef that does not have excess liquid in the package.

Look for packages that are cold to the touch and not torn or punctured.

Check the sell-by date; purchase only on or before that date.

 Although it is preferable to cook your steaks, burgers, pork chops, and roasts from a thawed state, it is possible to obtain satisfactory results without thawing.

Place your meat farther from the heat when broiling or grilling. Broil or grill 1 1/2 to 2 times the suggested time for thawed steaks, burgers and pork chops. Roast 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 times that suggested for thawed roasts.

Cooking Frozen Beef

Beef may be cooked frozen or defrosted. Defrosted beef should be cooked as a fresh cut; but allow additional cooking time. Frozen roasts require 1/3 to 1/2 more time for cooking. Cooking time for frozen steaks and patties varies according to surface area, thickness, and broiling temperature. Frozen cuts should be broiled farther from the heat so they do not brown too quickly. To braise frozen pot roasts, allow approximately the same cooking time as for defrosted cuts.

Defrosting Beef

Frozen beef my be defrosted before or during cooking. It should be defrosted in the original wrapping in the refrigerator. Defrosting meat at room temperature is not a recommended procedure. The following is a timetable for defrosting frozen beef in a refrigerator:

Large roast 4-7 hours (per pound)
Small roast 3-5 hours (per pound)
Steak, one-inch thick 12-14 hours

Slow freezing is undesirable as it makes for greater breakdown of muscle cells and subsequent greater juice losses when meat is thawed.

Freeze at temperatures as far below zero as possible.

Freezer storage tips

Below are 5 FREE Cooking Guides for Beef.  They are all in PDF form for you to easily download and print.  To download any of the Beef Cooking Guides, simply right click and "Save Target As".
Or you can view them by just left clicking any of the Guides!

Beef Grilling Guide

Beef Broiling Guide

Beef Pot Roast Guide

Beef Roasting Guide

Beef Skillet Cooking Guide

Last Updated - Sunday, April 26, 2009 03:53 PM