Got a little beef with some beef

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Joined Jan 17, 2018
Got a question for you beef experienced folk.

I’ve been cutting beef for nearly 10 years now and I’ve peeled and cut hundreds and hundreds of beef tenderloin.

The vast majority of them are a light red color, but some of them are a really deep dark red....almost purple. Fresh out of the factory vacuum-seal. What’s the difference?
 

phatch

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Oxidation. The more purple color is generally fresher, or at least packed into the cryovac faster.
 

phatch

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Last edited:
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Joined Sep 9, 2018
Purchased a whole beef tenderloin (that was not frozen) and sliced it into 1 inch steaks and froze half and kept out the other half in fridge to prove to myself that frozen meat was tougher. The frozen meat was definitely tougher and darker. The primary reason that butchers use potassium nitrate on meat is that it make it bright red, which usually indicates fresher, or that it has been treated with potassium nitrate. Human consumption of nitrates, which are converted to nitrites over time, have been determined to be carcinogenic. Fresher is better.
 
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Joined Jan 17, 2018
Thank you guys for all the info!! There is absolutely no doubt that beef is tougher out of the freezer! Even ground beef has a slightly chewier texture out of the freezer. As always, y’all are awesome and a wealth of knowledge . Thanks!
 
1,224
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Joined Mar 1, 2017
Actually, most beef color is generally the same. What changes with the type of feed is the color and texture of the fat. :)
 
3,156
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Joined Jul 13, 2012
The piece on the right looks grained to me and the left grass fed and finished. I prefer a grained meat to an all grass fed one.
 
5,652
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The piece on the right looks grained to me and the left grass fed and finished.
I would say it's the opposite: grass fed beef is normally darker than grain fed. Here's an example:

 
3,156
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Joined Jul 13, 2012
I'm looking at the fat content. The one on the right looks grained to me. Grass fed looses a lot of its marbling over the first winter and never gains it back. I will also venture to guess that the piece on the left is from a younger animal.
 
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Joined Jul 13, 2012
I don't know, but the left one doesn't look right to me either.

Here's what I do know - it takes two years to bring a grass fed steer to market weight. If you grass over winter it loses marbling and doesn't gain it back. If you grain and grass it over winter it adds marbling and hence flavor and richness. I'm a fan of that school. Could be the right one was raised on the latter method.
 
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Here's what I do know - it takes two years to bring a grass fed steer to market weight. If you grass over winter it loses marbling and doesn't gain it back. If you grain and grass it over winter it adds marbling and hence flavor and richness. I'm a fan of that school. Could be the right one was raised on the latter method.
Grass fed still has some marbling, especially the tenderloin. Here's a French butcher who specializes in grass fed beef. Note that the rib steak (Côte de Bœuf) has little marbling compared to your typical grain-fed rib steak, whereas the tenderloin (the one with the rose on top) has some marbling.

 
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The difference in color that you see has to do with the oxidation of myoglobin in the muscle tissue, not what the animal was fed. If you want to know what the cow was fed, look at the fat.

Corn and grains are higher in fat content than grass which means the meat will have robust marbling pattern that is typically ivory in color. Grass fed cattle, on the other hand, are typically more lean and depending on the content of their forage, the fat is typically more yellow than ivory. But, that is not a steadfast rule. For example, older, grain fed cattle can have yellow rather than ivory colored fat.
 

Cdp

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it has been a long time since i have seen the French terms and names on meat, in my experience your right sodium nitrate is used for marketing but also the feed changes on both the meat side and fat side,
i looked for the photo for where beef was feed barley and the other a std grain truly difference of day and night
 
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Joined Mar 21, 2008
Grass fed still has some marbling, especially the tenderloin. Here's a French butcher who specializes in grass fed beef. Note that the rib steak (Côte de Bœuf) has little marbling compared to your typical grain-fed rib steak, whereas the tenderloin (the one with the rose on top) has some marbling.



The grass fed beef I get has plenty of marbling... but the cattle are not grazing on western arid desert plants, they have lush green pastures and barely have to walk to eat...
 
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